Previously on Westworld, “Virtù e Fortuna”
We’d gathered that James Delos was terminally ill from a few cryptic remarks made in “Reunion,” and the needle was definitely pointed in the “turn real humans into Hosts” direction thanks to Logan’s slurred words to Dolores in the same episode. “The Riddle of the Sphinx” confirms both theories, but also hints at more secrets buried within the park, the Man in Black, and the late Dr. Ford.
James Delos’ mind was uploaded into a Host in his image and kept in an observation room set to look like an apartment. Over the years, William visits his father-in-law whose mind never fully takes to its new body. Though he lasts longer and longer each time, he eventually reaches a cognitive plateau and begins to malfunction. After nearly 150 attempts, the Man in Black (now looking the same age as, if not older than, his father-in-law) comes to believe his experiment is a failure, and concedes that people might not be meant to live forever. Instead of allowing Delos’ body to be terminated like the previous attempts, he instructs the technician to monitor his degradation in case it provides useful info.
Or, he’s just an asshole.
“You live only as long as the last person who remembers you.”
The woman from The Raj is taken to a Ghost Nation camp where other guests and park staff, including Stubbs, are being held. Stubbs has noted that their captors aren’t killing humans, only other Hosts. He’s sure he can get them out of there safely, but the mystery woman says she has no plans of leaving the park. They’re brought before the Ghost Nation’s leader, Akechete, last seen in “Reunion” as Angela’s companion. The woman from The Raj makes a run for it, leaving Stubbs to receive Akechete’s judgement.
Appealing the Verdict
The Man in Black and Lawrence arrive in Las Mudas, Lawrence’s hometown, and find that his family and the townspeople are being held by Major Craddock and a few of his men. He wants their supplies and weapons, which were hidden, so he can make it to Glory. Lawrence knows that once the weapons are given up, they’ll be killed anyway. Still, MIB tells Craddock where the weapons are in exchange for his assistance in getting to their destination; he knows the way for sure and Craddock doesn’t. Perhaps because he’s still smarting from Dolores’ double cross, or maybe he’s just an asshole, too, Craddock continues to drink and torture the people of Las Mudas.
The setting brings to mind the last time we saw MIB here, when he was the one twirling Lawrence’s wife around in a dance before killing her. The rain and Lawrence’s daughter crying also reminds MIB of the night he found his wife’s body. As he said last season in Las Mudas, he lives for this shit. He takes out Craddock’s men, saves Lawrence’s wife, and gives Lawrence the pleasure of finishing Craddock himself. Grateful, Lawrence and his cousins offer to accompany MIB, and on their way they come across the woman from The Raj.
The After Party
Clementine takes Bernard to a cave and leaves. Inside, he finds Elsie, alive and not-so-well since he choked her out and left her chained in the cave with a stack of protein bars and a bucket. Bernard tries to explain that Ford made him do it, and that goes over as well as you might expect until she realizes Bernard is a Host and he literally had no other choice. He’s also currently about to shut down for good. He remembers going to the cave before and accessing a secret lab within, much like the one he visited with Charlotte a day or so ago.
Inside, Elsie manages to save Bernard with cortical fluid, and they explore the rest of the facility where they find dead technicians and evidence that someone (Bernard assumes Ford) was printing control Hosts with human consciousness. Deeper into the maze, they find James Delos, still malfunctioning, cut up, and mumbling.
“I’m all the way down now. I can see all the way to the bottom.”
Bernard saves Elsie from an attack by Delos, and she initiates the termination process. Bernard, who has been experiencing trace decay the whole time, realizes that he can’t trust what he believes is the present. At one point, he admits that Elsie isn’t really there; he’s just remembering the time that she was and when they found Delos. He also knows that Ford ordered him there once before to print the mind of someone meant to be implanted within another control Host, but he doesn’t remember who that was. He does remember ordering the drones to kill the technicians and then themselves, before crushing the skull of one technician with his foot. Elsie pulls him from the memory and offers to help him figure find the truth, but only if he promises no more lies and that he’ll never hurt her again.
Analysis. What Prompted That Response?
- I find it funny that Bernard is assuming that Ford is still pulling his strings. It’s a natural assumption; he’s done it Bernard’s entire “life,” and Ford was certainly brilliant enough. But there are some massive coincidences to swallow if that is the case. It appeared that Clementine was following Dolores’ orders, so why would she bring Bernard to the cave? And Ford seems to pop up in other Hosts at very convenient times: the child Robert Host talking to MIB, Giancarlo Esposito’s Host in Pariah, and, I believe, Lawrence in this episode. How he is able to adjust to circumstances he’s not around to witness… unless…
- Ford’s mind was the one he had Bernard print for a control Host in his image? Well, let’s be real: He probably had one made to look like his younger self. Wouldn’t you?
- But that’s incredibly predictable, and as much as I’d like to see Anthony Hopkins again, I’m hoping the reveal is a bit more “Wow! Didn’t see that coming!” Perhaps another MIB? Or a William? Either would be an interesting adversary once MIB reaches the end of the game.
- On a previous podcast, I wondered if they were setting MIB up for some kind of redemption. I never thought his test made much sense. Just because he didn’t feel anything when he killed Maeve and her daughter, or when he did any of the terrible things he did while in the park, does that really means he’s evil? He always knew they weren’t human. This week, Lawrence’s feelings about his family mirror what MIB said last season, essentially: my family thinks I’m great, but they’ve never seen the dark side of me because I never bring it home. Well, MIB found out the hard way that his wife and daughter were aware of his darkness and it drove his wife to suicide. This scene felt like it was done not just so that we make the connection, but so that MIB does as well and it’s more of Ford’s manipulation. At one point, Lawrence mentions MIB’s daughter, but MIB seems confident he never told Lawrence about Emily. Having Craddock be MIB as he was in Las Mudas last season, plus the rain reminding MIB of Emily’s death, feels like something Ford constructed. But was Ford really interested in helping MIB become a better man? He appears in Lawrence’s daughter to remind MIB that one good deed doesn’t erase all the bad he’s done.
- Another moment of self-reflection occurred during one of the episodes greatest scenes: older William telling a malfunctioning Delos that the world was better off without him, and perhaps would be better off without William as well. This appears to have occurred shortly before the events of season one when MIB was sure he was not leaving the park.
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Westworld S2E4 Review Score
"The Riddle of the Sphinx"
Westworld – S2E4 – “The Riddle of the Sphinx” | Starring: Evan Rachel Wood, Ed Harris, James Marsden, Thandie Newton, Jeffrey Wright, Rodrigo Santoro, Simon Quarterman, Luke Hemsworth, Tessa Thompson, Gustaf Skarsgård