Four Letter Nerd

Westworld Season 2, Episode 4: The Riddle of the Sphinx

Does anyone out there remember the adult amusement park Westworld was presented to us in its first season? Anybody????

Four episodes into season two, I sure don’t. All that fun the humans had at the expense of the now rebelling hosts has given way to origin stories explaining Delos’s continued involvement with the park and characters (hosts and humans alike) seeking deeper meaning with their existence.

In fact, season 2 has given us the exact of opposite of what season one was for all parties involved. Season 1 was a surface level experience with hosts doing what they were programmed to do and guests only concerned with experiencing all their flesh desired.

Season 2, on the other hand, is not only an awakening for hosts who’ve been reprogrammed by Dr. Ford to seek out their own journey. It’s a returning Elsie learning of the park’s real purpose. It’s the Man In Black moving forward on a journey of atonement (though that may not be exactly what he’s looking for) for the questionable decisions he’s made and the consequences of those decisions (and how about the MIB coming face to face with one of those consequences at the end of the episode!!!).

Another trend of season 2 that “Sphinx” continued was the sheer volume of both questions and answer with every episode. Season 1 spent most of it’s time alluding to the mysteries of the park without providing any clarification for what was really going on. Now, with every answer season 2 provides comes 4 or 5 more questions make us question just how deep the mystery goes.

And let’s hope Westworld can continue to provide the satisfactory answers to those questions because season 2 has set a very high bar in that department.

Now let’s start this recap with a look back into the past/present of Delos founder James Delos and his search for eternal life.

When can I get out of here?”

When we first see James Delos in his own personal solitary confinement, we aren’t sure if it’s an office, an apartment, or some really boring man cave.

But through three separate interactions with William, we learn one of the park’s most important secrets.

We learn during the first interview that Mr. Delos is dying of a disease he defunded research on 15 years ago (oh the irony!!!). We also learn that Delos (the company) headquarters is in Carlsbad, California (because that’s where Delos thinks he is). And most importantly, we learn that Delos must answer a series of questions in order to get out of his state of confinement.

William interviewing Delos to see if he may leave his confinement.

The first interview is cut off while Delos is reading a piece of paper. But we see what the paper said in the 2nd interview. It’s an exact text of the interview William just had with Delos.

Now, I have a theory (though I suspect many of you have the same one) that the interview is meant to prove if Delos, who is in some host like form but is not actually a host, can produce thoughts not programmed in him.

This form of Delos, whatever he is, is smart enough to know that he did die (7 years ago, in fact, between the event and the 2nd interview). But he learns that his wife has also died (died of a stroke), and that induces a significant amount of shaking.

William walks out and tells the assistant (any chance that was a young Charlotte Hale?) to “terminate the experiment.” Delos is frozen, and his solitary man cave is burned.

“I’m beginning to think this whole enterprise was a mistake.”

At first, I thought that might be the final end to the life of James Delos. But “terminate the experiment” actually just means “start over.”

And we get at least one more (of what turns out to be 149) attempt to bring James Delos back to life.

We know a significant amount of time has passed because this time, it’s the Ed Harris/Man in Black version of William who enters to interview Delos.

And the MIB brought all the his “let the world burn” skepticism with him to what turns out to be the final interview. First, he openly insults Delos, calling him a horrible man who wasn’t “meant to live forever (along with people in general)” The MIB also reveals the deaths of both Delos’s daughter (suicide) and son (Logan, who predictably died of a drug overdose). Williams leaves Delos behind angry, but he doesn’t want him terminated, leaving a horrified assistant behind to deal with the fallout.

“Is This Now?”

If you thought Westworld’s multiple timelines was confusing for you, imagine being Bernard, who switches timelines completely unaware of what period of time he is in.

And this timeline has Clementine drop him off in front of a cave: a cave that has none other than Elsie Hughes (the inquisitive tech who disappeared last year while investigating a runaway host in the park).

It was awkward for Hughes here to see Bernard, the man who chocked her unconscious and put her in this cave, now trying and rescue her and claim that Ford made him do it. Hughes doesn’t believe him at first, knocking him unconscious and tying him up. But Bernard begs Elsie to reconsider. She does learn that Bernard is a host and agrees to get him some cortical fluid. And how convenient it is for the very cave Hughes was tied up in and Bernard was dropped off at to have just the thing he needs.

“I’ve been here recently.”

After gaining access to the cave (all it took was a handle hidden behind a rock?), Elsie discovers an operating system she doesn’t recognize. Bernard recognizes it; it’s the same one that’s being shipped out of the park inside Peter Abernathy.

Everyone in the cave except for one random white host has been killed. Bernard and Elsie also recognize one more door. And enclosed inside that door is the resurrected James Delos. He’s destroyed everything inside there, including the poor assistant the MIB left behind. Delos tries to attack Elsie, but Bernard saves her. Then, Elsie “terminates” Delos for the last time.

Now, I’m not really sure of all the technobabble Bernard and Elsie were using here, so I am going to have to give my best guess. It sounds like this lab has been used to create host like bodies for James Delos. But these host units are supposed to be something different. A control unit holding some sort of consciousness for James Delos is put inside each one of them (like a soul transfer). It’s here that Bernard completes the flashback he’s been teasing us with all night.

Lowe entering the lab in his flashback.

Lowe grabbed one of those “control units,” though we never learn who it was for or why he took it. Then, it’s revealed that Bernard was the man who killed the lab techs as well directing the white hosts to kill themselves. It makes me think Ford sent Bernard in there to stop what was going on.

“You think death favors you…You didn’t recognize him sitting across from you this whole time.”

As for the present day Man in Black, well his hectic day starts with a familiar scene: sitting down in a bar in a South Texas/Mexican themed bar waiting to be ambushed.

This time, it’s Major Craddock (the Conferderado Teddy didn’t kill last week) doing the ambushing. Few characters have annoyed me as much as Major Craddock, so the end result here was especially satisfying.

Major Craddock sitting across a table from the MIB.


Craddock is holding the town hostage in hopes of finding a stash of weapons for his crew. The MIB tells him where the weapons are. But he also tells Craddock that he knows where he (Craddock) wants to go and can lead him and his men there.

The offer does nothing to quell Craddock’s thirst for plundering the poor host town. He tortures a shaking bartender and Lawrence’s wife before the MIB steps in. The two had been going back and forth about death (the night’s theme, it would seem) before the MIB (using the quote atop this section here) takes out all of Craddock’s men and makes the major drink the lighter fluid he was going to make Lawrence’s wife give to Lawrence.

After drinking down the shot glass, Lawrence takes the MIB’s gun and shoots Craddock, causing him to explode and sending him out of this show (hopefully) forever.

Now, I had a section planned towards the end of this article about my theory that Grace (the woman who escaped a Tiger attack in last week’s opening  and was taken hostage by the Ghost Nation in the final scene) being the Man In Black’s daughter. It seemed like an obvious theory, but it wasn’t going to stop me breaking down the clues (which I will detail, along with Grace’s other scenes in the episode down in the “Of Note” section) that made it clear Grace was the daughter of William, the Man in Black.

But I guess the show didn’t want this reveal being ruined by thousands of internet forums like William being the Man in Black did last year.

So Westworld got out in front of it and revealed that Grace, in just her 2nd episode ever on the show, is the MIB’s daughter and will be joining him on his continuing journey.

Of Note

-While captured with the Ghost Nation, Grace was able to speak their language. Grace also told Stubbs (more on him shortly) she didn’t want to escape Westworld. Speaking the made-up language of a pretend Indian tribe and stating her desire to never leave Westworld were clear signs to me that Grace was the estranged daughter of William, the Man in Black.

-Speaking of Stubbs, he was captured by the Ghost Nation last year. And how did Stubbs escape the clutches of his captors? Well, they just left. That was anti-climatic.

-There was a scene last season where a guest tried thanking the MIB for helping his daughter live. I wonder if the experiments the company’s been running on Delos have been used successfully on others.

-And speaking of this disease Delos had, just how widespread is it? Is there some sort of epidemic going on that Delos has helped cure?

-“I know who you are William. One good deed doesn’t change that.” Ford speaking from the grave through a host AGAIN!!!!

-One more MIB note: The MIB and Lawrence journeyed by what looked like the building of the Transcontinental Railroad (with the exception that people were being used instead of planks to connect the rails). But the MIB said that railroad should have been going North instead of West.

What We Learned

-The Delos Corporation has been trying to bring founder James Delos alive for many years and attempted to do so 149 times.

-Sometime in the course of his experimenting, William became of cynical of the whole enterprise and decided it was all fake.

-Grace is the Man In Black/William’s daughter and is a regular attendee of the park.

-Dr. Ford (we think) programmed Bernard to end all the research being done outside of the room holding James Delos.

-Elsie is alive and assisting Bernard.

Next week marks the halfway point (yes, we are already there, folks!!!) of Westworld’s 2nd season. See you then.




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Jeff Merrick

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