WESTWORLD Season 2 Episode 4 Review [Spoilers] – The Riddle of the Sphinx
SPOILERS for Westworld Season 2 Episode 4 to follow.
WOW! What a massive episode of Westworld both in terms of runtime and content, and by far the best of the season so far. For the most part we extensively followed two main characters in Bernard (Jeffrey Wright) and William (Ed Harris), they’re the two most intriguing storylines right now and we made some major progress uncovering some explosive revelations. For the most part the episode takes place in only two time periods, although the stuff with Jimmi Simpson‘s young William is over a number of years and the stuff with Bernard and Elsie (Shannon Woodward) is… well… we’ll get to that.
James Delos (After Death)
So, the episode opens with James Delos (Peter Mullan) who seems to be living in isolation, at first it seems this is possibly due to his degrading health. In the opening scene he gets a visit from a younger William indicating the time period, and his struggle to pour milk could be seen as a symptom of his illness at this point. He has an “interview” with William and is then handed a letter, the contents of which he is shocked to find.
A little later in the episode we revisit Mr Delos and see that he is still in isolation, listening to records and dancing around. But very soon it becomes apparent that an eerily similar course of events is taking place as in the first scene right down to the dialogue. This is leading to the reveal at the conclusion of William and James’ conversation in which we see that the letter James reads contained a transcript of the conversation they just had, confirming that this is some sort of host version of James Delos. It’s revealed that the real James died 7 years prior to this scene and to this day William has been trying to perfect a host version to live on. But the host still shows signs of not being ready so William terminates him.
In a third and final visit to James Delos’ isolation room late in the episode he is paid another visit by William, but in a passing of the torch scenario Ed Harris’ William walks in indicating it has been a while since the last conversation we saw. In this sequence we gain a lot of insight into the history of these experiments. In trying to build a host of Mr Delos, William has bought him online 149 times and to this day his mind still falls apart after only a matter of 39 days. The reason is described as the mind rejecting reality itself. In terms of timing it’s revealed that this takes place probably shortly after the death of William’s wife Juliet as it seems William has some second thoughts about this whole process. After what is his final meeting with James rather than terminating him he leaves him activated to see how far he can completely unravel. This last conversation between them also brings to light that Logan (Ben Barnes) overdosed years prior, so there goes any chance of seeing and older and probably even a younger Logan on screen ever again.
Bernard and Elsie (After Fort Forlorn Hope)
Last episode we saw Clementine (Angela Sarafyan) drag Bernard off to who I thought would be Dolores. But it turns out she was following someone else’s orders (Ford?!) and leaves him outside a cave we haven’t seen before. Inside the cave he makes a discovery we have been waiting a very long time for; he finds Elsie chained up and thankfully still very much alive. After working out some differences as she remembers he’s the one who abducted her in season 1, she finally discovers that her friend Bernard is actually a host. Despite her initial shock she helps Bernard to stop seizing and now we have the duo on the same side again… for the most part.
Upon waking up again Bernard is met with multiple visions of his past self entering the cave and uncovering a secret Delos facility featuring the mysterious hexagonal logo that’s been popping up this season. In the Delos lab the technicians are all dead along with the drone hosts and Bernard has another vision of himself producing something in the lab. It’s possible that maybe Bernard had something to do with what Delos are doing in the park under the control of Ford. Whilst searching through the computers Elsie finds an encryption similar to what Bernard discovered in Peter Abernathy’s (Louis Herthum) head. It’s a database of information larger than anything Bernard has ever seen, the contents of which are still entirely unclear. In yet another vision he remembers himself inside the lab initiating the building of a new red spherical brain and makes the realisation that Delos aren’t exactly building hosts, possibly host/human hybrids of some sort.
Then some weird shit happens as when Elsie goes to open a locked door it seems to be revealed that what we are seeing is a Bernard in the near future (maybe) remembering his time in the lab with Elsie and retracing his steps. So what we are watching with Bernard here is a memory within a memory over three different closely positioned time periods…. I think. Also seeing as though it is revealed a little earlier in the episode that Bernard’s memories aren’t time coded we could be seeing things in out of chronological order. So can we really trust Bernard as our ‘unreliable narrator’ of sorts?
Upon entering the locked room we happen upon the chamber in which we have been seeing William interrogate the host/human hybrid of James Delos. And after all this time Jim is still there and even more unhinged than ever with self-inflicted cuts all over his face and in very bad shape. He makes an attempt to kill Bernard and Elsie but they get the better of him and that right there is the apparent end of James Delos. Could it be possible that Bernard was involved in the project transferring the consciousness of real people into a host’s body to try and cheat death… live forever? In an episode of flashbacks Bernard recalls that Ford had sent him to the lab to print a control unit for an unspecified human and then have the drone hosts kill the technicians followed by themselves. We still have no idea exactly when this took place and who the unspecified human is but I have an idea. Could it be Ford? Could this be part of the lead-up to Ford’s game which involved transferring his own consciousness to a host body before his death. That could mean he is still alive and could explain how Ford seems to be actively communicating to William randomly through hosts…
Grace and Stubbs
We catch back up with Grace (Katja Herbers) after being captured by Ghost Nation and as I expected she comes across Stubbs (Luke Hemsworth) who was also taken by them towards the end of last season. Despite the state Westworld is in Grace doesn’t seem determined to get out and is still in search of something. Ghost Nation escort Grace and Stubbs to who may be their leader and we learn that she can speak and understand their language. Before long Grace unties herself and escapes captivity leaving Stubbs behind. The Ghost Nation leader approaches Stubbs and utters the following quote connecting to the theme of immortality in this episode;
“You live only as long as the last person who remembers you”
After uttering the chilling line the entire Ghost Nation seems to leave Stubbs and the captured humans without killing or harming them… question is… why? In the last episode we saw Ghost Nation try to kill Maeve and Hector but they initially demanded that they surrender Lee to them. Whatever their goals are and whoever’s orders they are following I’m sure will come to light very soon.
William (Ford’s Game)
Aside from Bernard and Elsie’s journey, the bulk of the episode follows William and Lawrence (Clifton Collins Jr.) and they’re journey through Ford’s new narrative. They make their way to Las Mudas, the town in which Lawrence is from in his current narrative but shockingly no-one except the bartender is around. But it’s soon revealed that the confederados that Teddy (James Marsden) let live at the end of the last episode have taken the entire town hostage. Williams cleverly barters with Major Craddock (Jonathan Tucker) and reveals the location of some weapons to him and informs him that he can guide them to the valley beyond. At this point we know William isn’t actually going to go through with his arrangement.
We revisit them later in the episode with a pretty damn intense sequence where quite a bit goes down. Craddock has Lawrence’s wife deliver him a glass of the infamous nitro we’ve seen a few times in the past. After a brief flashback William has of his wife’s suicide he begins to taunt Craddock with the notion that he doesn’t know and will never know death. He proceeds to break out of his restraints and satisfyingly kills each and every one of the confederados with Lawrence delivering the final “blow” courtesy of some nitro. Turns out Teddy’s good deed didn’t make much difference because they didn’t last too much longer.
And in a final few scenes with William, Ford once again talks to him through another host, this time Lawrence’s daughter, and he tells William that if he’s looking forward, he’s looking in the wrong direction. William seems unfazed by Ford’s random appearances at this point and he rides off with Lawrence and his crew. Then the big moment comes along, as they are riding off they spot a mysterious female figure riding towards them. As she gets close it’s revealed to be Grace and then with two words; “Hi Dad”, it is revealed that she is the daughter of William whom we have only seen in one scene at a very young age. The naming of her character as Grace in the credits is obviously a clever misdirect by the writers to not give away the twist as we already know the name of William’s daughter is Emily. All of a sudden two of the most intriguing journeys this season just became 10x more interesting as we may see William and Grace/Emily team up in the season going forward.
In the end I loved this episode in its entirety because it really did start moving things along at a much quicker pace and gave us more on the big mysteries surrounding Westworld without giving us too many answers. I love how all of the storylines being focused on in here touch on that idea of immortality. Younger William trying to make James Delos live on, the Ghost Nation talking about legacy, William talking about death, everything in here connects nicely on a thematic level. The journeys focused on here also all connect in terms of the narratives; William comes across Grace/Emily, Bernard and Elsie find James Delos. Characters and storylines are starting to come together and that makes me even more excited for the coming episodes.