Title: Westworld: “The Riddle of the Sphinx”
Air Date: May 13, 2018
Check out our reviews of previous episodes from season two here:
Last week lit the fires, and these week blew the roof off the sucker. Tonight’s episode of Westworld, “The Riddle of the Sphinx,” finally answered one of the big questions, as well as a few of the smaller ones. It also opened up several new cans of worms, and it also looks like we’ll finally be diving into Shogun World completely next week. Color me excited.
The opening scene set the tone for the episode: we started out inside a fancy, modern apartment, with James Delos, Sr. (Peter Mullan) working out and listening to the Rolling Stones. He was soon interrupted by William (Jimmi Simpson) for a brief interview. By returning to multiple iterations of this scene throughout the episode, we had the big reveal that many had caught onto this season: Delos’s ultimate plan was to make people immortal by implanting their consciousness into a recreation of their body. However, they had run into a few big snags: mainly that the host minds were rejecting reality after a short amount of time.
Westworld‘s big philosophical question this season is along the lines of this statement: “What is reality?” This episode expanded on that idea with William asking James Delos “If you can’t tell the difference, does it really matter?” And, even though William (much later on, this time as Ed Harris) seems like he is starting to question whether Delos’s plan for the park will work at all, it does appear that the company was still striding forward with the plan. It also served up one of the most intense scenes we’ve seen yet on Westworld. We’ll come back to that in a bit though.
William’s older self, the Man in Black, also had plenty to do this week. He brought Lawrence (Clifton Collins Jr.) back to the latter’s hometown, which had been overrun by the Confederados. You remember them: last week, they were betrayed by Dolores/Wyatt (Evan Rachel Wood) and sacrificed to help kill off a squad of Delos mercenaries. Their leader, Major Craddock (Johnathan Tucker), has taken over and seems convinced that he is in control of Death due to his recent resurrections. After taking the town hostage and generally acting like a right prick, Craddock tells the Man in Black that he is in league with Death itself.
“You think you know Death? You don’t. You didn’t recognize him sitting across from you this entire time,” the Man in Black tells him, stabbing him in the neck with a broken bottle and gunning down Craddock’s men. This shootout ended with one of the most gruesome finishes we’ve seen on the show, with the Man in Black pouring nitroglycerin down Craddock’s throat before Lawrence shoots him with a rifle, igniting the liquid and making Craddock go up in flames.
It will be interesting to see if Westworld tries for some semblance of a redemption arc with William, considering what a total monster he has been thus far. “The Riddle of the Sphinx” felt like it might be taking some steps in that direction, especially with the reveal that the woman who escaped from British Colonial India World last week and from the Ghost Nation tribe this week is actually his daughter. And now they’re reunited!
Considering the Man in Black told Lawrence that his daughter blames him for his wife’s suicide, this will probably be awkward.
We also spent a ton of time with Bernard (Jeffrey Wright) this week, who was reunited with Elsie (Shannon Woodward). Elsie has apparently been chained up in a cave for quite some time, and she rightfully does not trust Bernard – after all, he was the one who choked her out and locked her there. The two of them find a secret bunker, through what will surely be an extra confusing and interesting new habit of Bernard’s: his memories just happen, and he envisions himself in them. Therefore, we can never really trust that any scene with Bernard is actually happening in the current time frame.
Which probably means that Elsie is probably actually not actually alive, and is actually a host. But I digress.
Their discovery of the secret bunker where William was working on Mr. Delos is the intense scene we mentioned at the beginning of this article, as it gave us a serious look at the Dr. Frankenstein effects Delos’s experiments are having. Watching James Delos get off his exercise bike, slice his face open, and attack was a terrifying scene, and watching Bernard kick ass to defend Elsie was phenomenal as well. It also synced nicely with watching Bernard kill all the Delos employees in the secret bunker not long after. And now, the big question is this: just who else Delos was trying to immortalize?
It has to be William’s daughter, right? Or William himself? Or Ford? Or… well, that’s kind of what Westworld does to you.
Verdict: Overall, this was a phenomenal episode of Westworld. The best of this season, and possibly the best the show has put out yet. It was intense, answered questions, asked a lot more, and just hit all the right buttons. All the actors continue to knock it out of the park, and the show only looks like it will continue to fire on all cylinders.
- Phenomenal acting
- Intense and gratifying scenes
- Good pacing
- Hopefully, the show doesn't get too fake-out oriented with Bernard's new memory issue.