Westworld 2×04 – The Riddle of the Sphinx

"You live only as long as the last person who remembers you."


At one hour and 15 minutes, this is an immensely LONG episode of Westworld. It’s a narratively dense affair that’s admittedly slow, but packed with intriguing revelations.

Daddy Delos

Let’s start with James Delos. The Riddle of the Sphinx confirms that the true purpose behind Westworld is immortality (although I’m sure other nefarious goals will be revealed soon enough). Although the organization managed to transfer Papa Delos’ consciousness onto a host body 149 times (long after his death), his mind kept rejecting the “reality” every single time. It’s a fascinating turn of events, and Peter Mullan’s turn as Delos is extraordinary.  He perfectly embodies the character’s desperation, not to mention the physical and verbal symptoms of his degenerative disease. I’d actually love to see more of the character in the future so here’s hoping….

A Man Not So Black

Speaking of fine performances, both Ed Harris and Jimmy Simpson are phenomenal as William. In fact, their performances parallel each other beautifully, displaying similar mannerisms and vocal inflections. It’s a particular treat to see Ed Harris in a different kind of setting when he finally faces off with Delos and tells him that they’ve given up on him. His ruthlessness is contrasted with the present as he shockingly saves Lawrence and his family (although he refuses to label his act “a good deed.”)

The Man in Black’s journey also culminates in a delightful bombshell of a cliffhanger: the mysterious woman who escaped the tiger’s clutches in The Raj reveals herself to be none other than William’s daughter. Seeing as how her mother killed herself and her father was obsessed with a make-believe world, she certainly won’t be in the finest mood. I can’t wait to see what this storyline has in store for us!

Look Who’s Back

Saddled with an underdeveloped character, Shannon Woodward unfortunately didn’t get much to do in season one as Elsie. I’m much more optimistic about her journey this season seeing as how she’s been paired with Bernard to find the second host/human hybrid (my guess is Ford?). There’s an added element of intrigue with a flashback revealing Bernard’s vicious murder of the drone hosts and lab techs. Although the poor host keeps insisting he has his own free will now, I’m not sure he’s not under Ford’s control anymore.

Bits & Bots

– The episode’s long opening take is very reminiscent of the Lost season 2 premiere in the hatch. It beautifully showcases Delos’ home and routine (yes, even the masturbation).

– Delos dancing –  hilarious sight.

– Super trippy moment with William giving Delos the script of their recurrent conversation.

– So they burn the room after every failed attempt? That seems unnecessarily messy to me.

– Extremely disturbing: William walking by the people being slaughtered on the train tracks.

– The nitro explosion was predictably badass.

– Logan overdosed himself. Shocking.

– Why so little Clementine this week? All she did was dump Bernard at Elsie’s cave.

– I was very amused by the revelation that Bernard’s memories aren’t “labelled” and thus he has no way to make sense of their order. How creepy.

– Strange how Akecheta, leader of Ghost Nation, doesn’t kill Stubbs. Thoughts?

– Naturally Ford is everywhere as he uses Lawrence’s daughter to deliver more clues to William.

– Read this intriguing interview with one of the showrunners: Lisa Joy.

– The episode’s title, Riddle of the Sphinx, is a reference to the riddle: “What creature starts walking on four feet, then two, and finally three?” The answer is man who starts crawling as a baby, then walking as an adult, and finally with a cane when he’s old. Delos was obviously trying to maintain the middle phase for eternity. Oops.

Digs & Dolores

Delos: I own a biotechnology company, and I’m dying of a disease whose research I defunded 15 years ago. I think my sense of humor is fuckin’ intact.

William: (to Delos) People aren’t meant to live forever. I mean, take you, for example. Ruthless philanderer with no ethics in your business or family dealings, a veritable shithead. In truth everyone prefers the memory of you to the man himself.

Elsie: I always trusted code more than people anyway.


Although it’s a bit too slow for my liking, this episode is still packed with enough bombshells to drive Westworld‘s mythology forward in a capable manner.

Nad Rating

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