Recap: ‘Westworld’ season two, episode 4 – ‘The Riddle of the Sphinx’

Iñigo De Paula
Recap: ‘Westworld’ season two, episode 4 – ‘The Riddle of the Sphinx’
Unpack all the big reveals and questions in this season’s fourth episode

The Riddle of the Sphinx, Episode 4 of Westworld, was a violent affair. But while the episode had its fair share of exploding body parts and gunfights, the greatest act of violence here was psychological.

Groundhog Day, Delos-Style

We finally see the results of James Delos’ plan to upload his consciousness into a Host copy. Delos acts fitter, happier. He spends time on his stationary bike, listens to the Rolling Stones, and even has some quality time with himself in bed.

The young William enters the room and presents Delos with a bottle of scotch. Delos graciously receives the bottle, and is excited to finally leave quarantine and re-enter his life. But William needs to ask Delos a few baseline questions first.

Delos begins to twitch and freeze — it’s a cognitive plateau, William points out. The way a body rejects a transplanted organ, Delos’ mind is rejecting reality. William leaves the room, which is torched with Delos in it.

A new Delos is created, tested, and destroyed 149 times. It’s like Groundhog Day, but in a sterile, hermetically-sealed hell. On the 149th iteration, William once again enters the room, but this time it’s the older version. These tests must have taken some 30 odd years, and by this time William has grown weary – both of the test and his personal life.

On the surface, Delos is the one stuck in this endless loop. But William is very much a prisoner as well. Early in the season, he was a prisoner of his ambition. But now, having wasted decades of his life on the Westworld and James Delos projects, he’s a prisoner of regret.

William leaves the room, but stops the technician from destroying Delos. Delos was a repugnant human being. He should suffer like the people around him. It’s one thing to be trapped with your sense of reality intact. But to be trapped with no reality to anchor your consciousness to? That’s savage.

The Man in Black lightens up, just a little

Keeping Delos alive was just one thing in a long list of ruthless deeds committed by William. But in this episode, the Man in Black becomes slightly less dark. He and Lawrence head back to Las Mudas, Lawrence’s hometown. There they encounter Major Craddock and his men (thanks for setting them free, Teddy) who takes them hostage, along with the townspeople, in exchange for their weapons and supplies.

While imprisoned, Lawrence makes a reference to William’s daughter. This is interesting because Lawrence, at least in this timeline, shouldn’t know about William’s backstory. It appears like Lawrence has the ability to retain memories. And if he knows about William’s daughter, can he also remember that William once killed his wife and daughter? It’s an exciting development with major implications down the road.

Craddock carries himself with a bit more swag, after being brought back to life by Dolores. William, however, brings him back to Earth. “You think death favors you, that it brought you back,” he tells William. “But death’s decisions are final.”

William sees the suffering of the townspeople, and equates it with the death of his own wife. Driven by a burgeoning compassion, he guns down Craddock’s men. He forces Craddock do drink a shot of nitroglycerin, gets a rifle and hands it to Lawrence.

“I believe you said this was yours,” he says, which could refer to both the gun and the opportunity to kill Craddock. Lawrence takes aim, shoots, and reduces Craddock to a spray of Host body parts.

Elsie and Bernard are reunited

A super-powered Clementine drags Bernard to the mouth of a cave and leaves him there. Maybe she wanted him to glitch in peace? Bernard is experiencing frequent time slippages (effectively time-based hallucinations) and is drawn into the cave. Here he finds Elsie, alive, but chained to the ground. Elsie wakes up, and is understandably shaken by the sight of her former would-be murderer.

Bernard claims that a piece of coding added by Robert Ford was what drove him to hurt her. He frees Elsie, and reassures that he won’t harm her. Elsie quips that she trusts code more than people, and carefully accepts Bernard’s explanation.

Bernard’s mind starts slipping again, and he remembers that there’s a secret door inside the cave. They go in, and discover a room much like the one Bernard and Charlotte escaped to in the first episode.

This time, the place is riddled with (human) bodies. Elsie is shocked to see a Drone, which she kills. Her reaction confirms that they were made without most of the park team’s knowledge. She gives Bernard a generous dose of cortical fluid, which restores his cognitive functions to mostly normal.

They enter a nearby room after hearing a noise and discover a burnt-down holding cell. It was the room Delos was kept in… or is kept in. Despite trashed interior, Delos is still alive (sort of), and like the other Hosts in the park, reverts to his programmed loop.

Bernard and Elsie find a badly mutilated Delos on his stationary bike. Delos tries to attack them, but is subdued by Bernard. Delos then drops one of the greatest pieces of dialogue in the show:

“I’m all the way down now. I can see all the way to the bottom. Would you like to see what I see? They said there were two fathers one above, one below. They lied. There was only ever the devil. And when you look up from the bottom, it was just his reflection, laughing back down at you.”

Bernard and Elsie exit the room, but not before Elsie locks Delos in his cell and sets it on fire. Bernard glitches again, and remembers that it was he who killed the people in the room. Was he part of a greater plan to resurrect Ford? Or is there a different game in play here?

Ghost Nation is still a mystery

Last week, I theorized that it was Elsie who had reprogrammed the Ghost Nation to save guests. We didn’t get a whole lot of Ghost Nation scenes this week, but I’m beginning to doubt Elsie had any involvement in them. It would be hard to alter their code when stuck in a cave without your tablet.

It still looks like the Ghost Nation are saving guests, but we’ll have to wait a bit longer to see what’s going on here. Episode 5 can’t come soon enough! –

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