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Westworld Walkthrough: S2E4 – “The Riddle of the Sphinx”

The hit HBO show Westworld is back for a second season. Each week we’re we’re going to be walking through each new episode, and giving our thoughts on how thing played out. Fair warning we’re going to get into some spoiler territory here.

I have to hand it to Lisa Joy, Jonathan Nolan, Gina Atwater, and the rest of the team behind this show. They are delivering some insanely intense, incredibly full, and remarkably brilliant material each and every episode. This week brought answers to a few lingering questions, and also gave us a few new questions to mull over. But that’s essentially become the status quo of the show, in the best way possible. We’re going to change things up a bit this week and dive into those answers and the questions left at the end of the show.

Image via HBO

Where is Elsie?

We finally get to find out what happened to Elsie after her disappearance at the end of Season 1. It’s become incredibly curious that she still hasn’t been seen in the “now” timeline when Delos finally sends people in to take back the park. But there’s still a lot we don’t know about the time leading up to that. As for where she’s been, Bernard didn’t kill her. Ford had him knock her out and chain her up in a cave far into the park. He knew she was a threat to his plan, but he didn’t want to kill her. Presumably because she could be an ally to Bernard. As of the end of the episode her and Bernard are moving out on their own mission, which we’ll get to in a few.

Image via HBO

What was Delos doing in the park?

We get to see three scenes throughout the episode of William meeting with James Delos. And what seems in the first scene, which begins the episode, as James being prepped to enter the park as a guest. Or for him to be turned into a host. Is something much more than that. Delos has been working for roughly 30 years on using the park/hosts capabilities to create a sort of hybrid of human and host. Starting with James Delos himself. When his health began failing they began work to create this hybrid that would replace him and live forever. A host body with his mind inside of it.

But it hasn’t worked. After 149 attempts, he still seems to fall apart. Delos’ engineers can’t seem to put him together in a way where his mind accepts reality. Where it can comprehend that idea that he isn’t a person but a host. Usually after an attempt has failed, they incinerate it and rebuild it from scratch. But after the death of his wife, Juliet, William decided that he was done with this. That some people weren’t meant to live forever. But he didn’t destroy the James host. He told the attending tech to keep him alive and watch how he degrades over the next few days.

But it lasted longer than that. Bernard and Elsie find a lab hidden within the cave she was taken to. And inside it is the holding chamber for James. They find it destroyed, and the attending tech killed. James is riding an exercise bike when they come in, and immediately attacks them. His face is torn up, as if it’s been cut by him or by the tech trying to save his own life. Bernard ends up seemingly killing him, but as they leave, he comes to again. Elsie ends up setting the holding cell on fire to destroy him.

The tech code that Charlotte and Delos are trying to get out of the park is their attempt to get all of the work they’ve done to create the James host, out of the park. You can’t blame them for wanting to remove it considering they’ve been trying to make it work for 30 years. But the question now becomes why. If William decided that bringing back James Delos isn’t viable and shouldn’t be done. Who are they trying to replicate? And why?

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Who is “Grace?”

In the last episode we were introduced to the character of Grace, a guest who was visiting “The Raj.” The sixth park, which is based on Indian culture. The way the episode presented Grace it was impossible for her to be just another guest. Especially given that she seemed to be looking for something deeper in the park. Something that we’ve seen in the Man in Black. The end of the episode sees the Man in Black, as well as Lawrence and a few of his people meeting Grace on horseback, after she escapes from the Ghost Nation earlier in the episode.

When they get close enough to see each other Grace says to William, “hi dad.” The interesting thing here is that we’ve only heard about one daughter of William’s. And in the second episode we were introduced to his daughter Emily, as a child. So is Grace Emily, or was there another daughter? And why is she at the park? She blamed her father for her mother’s suicide. William alludes to the idea that his daughter told him that Juliet knew the horrible things he did in the park.

If this park is the root cause of what her mother died for, why would she come? The only thing I can guess, especially based on the markings in her notebook that we saw in the previous episode, is that she’s looking for the Delos labs. That she’s discovered what the company is doing and wants to find the James host. Whether it’s for good or bad intentions it’s the thing that makes the most sense. The question is whether William will help or harm her quest, and what their relationship looks like moving forward.

William essentially lost his wife already to this place, is he willing to lose his daughter as well? But maybe that’s part of Ford’s game. Maybe Ford wants to use her against William. It wouldn’t surprise me in the least.

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What’s going on with Bernard?

Elsie explains that Bernard is essentially malfunctioning because he had shot himself. That when Ford made him kill himself in the 9th episode of Season 1, he was never fully repaired and is needing cortical fluid to function properly. Because of the damage he’s unable to remember things chronologically. When he remembers something his mind is fully in that moment, and he’s not aware that it’s just a memory. It looks as though Bernard is still having these problems in the “now” timeline. It’ll be interesting to see how long this can keep going before it gives him away as a host.

Image via HBO

Have we really seen the last of the James Delos host?

While death for the hosts and the guests seems to be a more permanent situation now, I have a hard time believing that we would be introduced to this huge Game Changer of a character, only for him to be wiped out in the same episode. We didn’t see the James Delos host completely go up in flames. So he could have found a way to escape the fire. And having him leave his cell and escape into the park, would be a major step forward for the show. Especially if he escapes with the Delos extraction team.

I also think there’s a good chance that we may see him again to explore why William left him alive for so long. He doesn’t exactly seem like the sentimental type. There’s also the possibility that someone else stepped in and kept him alive. Maybe even Grace/Emily.

Image via HBO

Who is the other hybrid host?

Bernard realizes before leaving the lab with Elsie that he had been there before. That Ford sent him there to collect a control piece for another hybrid host. During which, he killed everyone in the lab, including the drone hosts. Which was a nice reminder that Bernard may have some more power in the park because he essentially was the first hybrid host. Bernard an Elsie leave the lab hoping to find the control unit and determine who the other host is. Is it someone we already know? Is it someone we haven’t met yet? Is it a doppelgänger for someone we already know?

I’m almost willing to bet it’s someone we already know. Someone that isn’t a host. Although there’s not a lot of people on that list, Charlotte, Ashley, William, Sizemore, Elsie, and Grace are the only real humans. The only two that would really make sense to me are Grace or William. But that’s difficult too because it depends on how they’re being used in Ford’s game. Is Ford trying to use William to help free the hosts, and this would help. Is he going to use Grace to manipulate William? Either one would be possible, and fit perfectly within Ford’s new narrative.

Image via HBO

What does Ford truly want from William?

Ford has very obviously constructed William down a specific path. One that as Lawrence’s daughter explains, is about looking back. But what is he wanting him to find? I think we’ll see more of William finding Juliet after she killed herself. That scene where William remembered that experience as Major Craddock talked about his relationship with death, was beautifully constructed. Lisa Joy’s work on that whole section of the episode. The scenes at the table, the flashbacks, William taking out the Confederados. It was all perfect.

I am sad to see Jonathan Tucker’s departure from the show, although there’s always a chance he could come back if Craddock is featured in a flashback. But man, the way William turns and takes him out. A moment that isn’t exactly him turning “white hat” again, but maybe “gray hat?” And that whole monologue William gives about death, “you think you know death? You didn’t recognize him sitting across from you this whole time.” Pure gold.

Maybe that’s what Ford wants. William has been playing the villain all these years. But maybe it’s finally time for him to play the hero. Maybe his role in the end is to help Ford free these hosts. Because Ford knows that William has seen more in them. The whole first season was about William realizing what Arnold did about the hosts, especially Dolores. Even when you look at William’s journey as the “Man in Black.” He was trying to find what Arnold hid in the park. But what Arnold hid, was what William saw all those years ago. Maybe the fact that he shouldn’t be looking “forward,” has to do with that.

We’ll be back next week when we take a look at next week’s episode “Akane No Mai.” Be sure to catch Westworld every Sunday at 9pm on HBO.


Image via HBO

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