The Danger of Fan Theories [No Spoilers]

This post DOES NOT CONTAIN SPOILERS for anything – I’m doing my best to keep it vague. This is a bit of an offshoot from my post last week, in which I explained how rewatching Westworld and how rewatching any series can make you appreciate all of its subtleties. In this post, I’d like to examine the risk of rewatching something too much.

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My girlfriend had mentioned that she was interested in watching Westworld, which I thought was perfect. I had just finished watching Season 2, and thought there was something to be gained by rewatching it – hence my last post, all about the appeal of revisiting a series and noticing all the subtle foreshadowing and payoffs. And it was neat to see the way she gets to know and connect to the characters; the way she’d be wowed by exciting action sequences; and, most interestingly, the way she reacted to plot twists. Namely, the one big plot twist at the end of the first season.

If you’ve seen the first season of Westworld, I don’t need to explain the plot twist I’m referring to. But for the unfamiliar, this plot twist is significant because the Westworld fan community, particularly those on Reddit, quickly pieced together the twist – which was revealed overtly in the season’s final episode – before the season was even halfway done. Pretty quickly, this one little fan theory was shared widely across the internet, and was even covered in some significant entertainment websites. And this wouldn’t have amounted to anything – if the prediction had been wrong.But this uber-popular fan theory which developed so quickly turned out to be right.

Suddenly, a reaction that should have been one of complete, unthinkable amazement turns into “Wow, I guess Reddit was right.” And as time goes on, I realized just what’s lost in being a part of an active, speculative, (overly-speculative) fandom I remember being appreciative of the work that went into structuring the story so that it had this elaborately-constructed plot twist, but I wasn’t amazed.

And watching the big twist with my girlfriend help contextualize just what is lost in the over-speculation that comes with a series like this. When she got to that point, I had to pause the show for a few minutes just to answer a few questions and give her a minute to digest what had just happened. I wish I could have experienced the sheer amazement of what she experienced. And that’s what comes from watching the show in a vacuum, away from the discourse.

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Similarly, think about the long-time-coming big parentage revelation in the Season 6 finale of Game of Thrones. No member of the fandom reacted with amazement – everyone said, “Oh, yeah. That makes sense.” But tell someone to binge-watch the show from start to finish in a short interval of time, without looking into anything on the internet, and you’ll find a much more genuine and shocked reaction.

I’m not saying that people shouldn’t read fan theories or shouldn’t speculate what is going to happen. But it’s important to keep in mind the sense of amazement that is lost when fan theories turn out to be right. It’s crucial to decide what’s more important to you as a member of the audience and fandom; do you want to be amazed? Or do you want to be right?

4 thoughts on “The Danger of Fan Theories [No Spoilers]

    1. Yeah I was interested to see what the WW showrunners thought about it. One showrunner said that he’d prefer people to be less speculative and not guess the twists – but the other showrunner said that she likes to see people work out the answers. So eh, who knows. I think I’d prefer to be dazzled

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I’m kind of torn on this one. I usually don’t read speculations and spoilers ahead of time, but that doesn’t mean I don’t make guesses on my own. Having a theory validated can be just as enjoyable as being blown away by a surprise ending, depending on whether or not it goes the way you want.

    Liked by 1 person

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