Last week’s action-packed shootout was a difficult act to follow. By leaning heavily on the creepy sci-fi underpinnings the fourth episode of season two comes off just as strong, and at the same time gives Westworld‘s weakest character an awesome new twist.
The mysterious cold open has been used as an entire episode’s framework before. In “The Riddle of the Sphinx,” we open with James Delos, Logan’s father and William’s father-in-law, and the man who funded the Westworld park and its advanced robotics.
We knew from episode two that he’s dying, and that the android technology they were funding could afford him a future, of sorts.
It’s not an uncommon sci-fi trope, to be born again within a robotic body. But it’s not going so well, as we learn in bits and pieces throughout the episode. Twice young William visits his father, and we quickly realize something’s not quite right. Even by the first visit it was obvious this was a host, as William reveals a typed letter detailing their exact conversation, just after they had it.
By the second visit it’s confirmed that in an attempt to extend Delos’ life they’ve tried to imprint his mind and memories, but they degrade after a short time. Each time they terminate the host (rather violently) and start again, and this wracks a terrible emotional toll on young William.
While we’ve seen young Wiliam become hardened through the events of the first season, we’ve yet to see a flashback that actually starred Ed Harris as William. He shows up for the 149th time, which is a crazy amount of patience to continually meet with your robo-father-in-law.
By now William’s own wife has committed suicide, Logan’s overdosed, and he’s pretty sick of trying to make this Delos-bot work. He lets the host go a bit crazy then simply tells the tech to let him be rather than terminate.
We check in with poor Bernard, who’s unconsciously dragged to a cave by the still wordless Clementine. There we get a fun surprise – it’s Elsie, The Delos security personnel who was murdered last season by a Ford-controlled Bernard.
Bernard finds her manacled to the cave but alive. She’s less than happy to see her attacker. After some drama and confusion she’s freed, but Bernard is out of time, his head injury finally rendering him unconscious. Right before he’s out he reveals to her that he’s a host (something he desperately kept hidden from Hale). Her response is to patch him up, because she’s awesome like that.
Bernard leads them to a hidden facility, similar to the one he and Hale found in the first episode. His past-memories continue to haunt him throughout these sequences. They’re vivid and startling, with unsettling musical tones as we see a second Bernard walking around from his perspective. Beautifully creepy.
After some more cortical fluid injections Bernard and Elsie begin putting together the pieces of this puzzling facility, culminating with their discovery of the malfunctioning Delos-bot in a scene straight out of a horror movie. Blood, broken glass, a dead tech, and Delos, covered in blood, still a bit twitchy.
It’s actually a bit anticlimactic as Bernard easily overpowers him, and Elsie activates the termination sequence. But the discovery is startling: Delos has been tampering with putting real human consciousness into host bodies. Bernard has two big revelations.
The first is that Ford had him create another imprint for someone else (Ford himself maybe??). The second is that it was Bernard who ordered the kill attack on the entire facility after it was completed, with the drones murdering the human techs before suiciding themselves.
We assume that this was under Ford’s command, like when he attacked Elsie, and Bernard looks pretty upset by these memories. He pledges to keep helping Elsie and declares that he’s free to make his own choices from now on.
Man in Black
The Man in Black also gets to make a choice, as he and Lawrence are swiftly captured by Major Craddock. Craddock and his posse have already escaped from Delores thanks to Teddy’s mercy, and he’s at the same town as MIB looking for weapons.
MIB tries to make deal, agreeing to lead Craddock and his men to where all of them want to go. MIB wanted his own personal army, but Craddock is as nasty as they come. He revels in mutilating bartenders, beating Lawrence, and creepily threatening Lawrence’s family.
MIB finally has enough. In a fist-pumping sequence he jabs Craddock with a broken bottle, shoots down his men, pours flammable liquid down Craddock’s throat, and hands the gun to Lawrence for a some explosive justice.
This episode has one final twist left to play out. In an almost inconsequential sequence we check in with a captured Ashley at Ghost Nation HQ, where we also see the tiger-killing woman from The Raj, known as Grace.
I initially thought nothing of this character, other than we knew she had survived the uprising in the other park. She flees from capture during a weird ritual in which Ashley is sort-of threatened (I still don’t get Ghost Nation’s deal at all, and maybe that’s the point).
We don’t see her again until MIB and his crew are triumphantly riding west, and there she is. With two stirring words she reveals her identity as William’s daughter, the only person in this world whom he could possibly care about, and apparently a badass survivor in her own right.
We know that MIB has become obsessed with the park, and it’s entirely possible they haven’t seen each other in quite some time. It’s a great twist that makes me much more interested in his story.
Man in Black: Finally a solid MIB episode! We were treated to a triumphant action sequence, and I’m loving the twist that his daughter is now a player in the game. I could definitely see her playing a big role in his redemptive arc.
Elsie: Elsie is back, yay! One of my biggest gripes from last season is that they killed off this fun character suddenly with no explanation. Pairing her up with Bernard is great fun.
Craddock: Good riddance. He was a one-note asshole and I’m glad he only lasted another episode, and was dealt with swiftly by William and Lawrence.