Need to catch up? Check out the previous Westworld recap here.
Holy Hurley, are we back on The Island?
You’ll have to forgive me if it seems like I’m a little drunk on Dharma Initiative beer, but the opening of this week’s Westworld is such an homage to Westworld executive producer J.J. Abrams’ puzzling ABC drama that I half expected Dominic Monaghan to show up and slap his hand against the glass of Jim’s cell with “You’re a Robot Not Penny’s boat” scrawled across his palm.
Here’s how I know the Lisa Joy-directed “The Riddle of the Sphinx” isn’t a lost episode of Lost: It actually gives us some fairly important answers — and quickly. And, as Joy and EP Jonathan Nolan promised TVLine a while back, it also is “a bloodbath.” Read on for a breakdown of the hour’s biggest developments.
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LIFE INSIDE THE HATCH | You’ll recall that when we saw Jim Delos at his retirement party, he wasn’t feeling 100 percent and made reference to his (impending?) mortality. But as the episode opens, he’s looking rather hearty as he goes about his life in a very mod apartment that feels futuristic yet dated, like the space dramas of the ’70s
The first hint we get that something’s not exactly right comes when Jim makes himself some coffee and his hand keeps pouring the creamer, spilling it the way we saw malfunctioning hosts spill in Season 1. But then a woman’s face appears in the mirror — which apparently doubles as a telecommunications screen — and announces that he’s got a visitor.
It’s William, bearing booze and telling his father-in-law that the “observation period is almost over, then the next step is an interview. It’s a baseline conversation that’ll give ’em something to refer back to.” Jim is a little confused, and a bit testy about having to stay longer in whatever facility is housing him. He doesn’t understand why he and William are supposed to have the same conversation over and over. Then William hands him a piece of paper.
The next time we see Jim, he’s still in his room, dancing to Roxy Music’s “Do the Strand.” When William arrives, holding the same bottle of booze as before, they engage in a very similar conversation to the one we saw previously. But when Jim reads the paper William hands him, he realizes it’s a script for the talk they’re currently having. “I take it I didn’t recover,” he says, and William confirms that it’s been seven years since the real Jim’s death and that Jim’s wife has passed away during that time. HostJim asks if he’s still in California, and William echoes IntroAngela when he replies, “If you can’t tell, does it matter?”
HostJim is agitated, and his speech begins to falter as he sputters his rage. “It’s good to have you back, Jim,” William snarks as he exits the apartment… which from the outside is just a circular, glass observation room at Delos’ Mesa Hub. After a tech and William agree that HostJim is showing “same problems as before” but that they’d made it to Day 7, which is “progress,” William gives the order to terminate the build. HostJim abruptly freezes in his actions, and then a fire that will eventually destroy everything within the glass walls begins in the center of the room.
William’s final visit comes much later — like, when he’s The Man in Black age. After some initial confusion, HostJim goes right back into his loop, “I take it I didn’t recover,” etc. This time around, HostJim is very glitch with his words. “You’re feeling it, aren’t you?” TMIB asks. “The engineers call it a cognitive plateu. Your mind is stable for a few hours, a few days, then it starts to fall apart. Every time.” He theorizes that the mind is rejecting reality and/or itself. (Side note: Earlier this season, I felt like Jimmi Simpson was taking on some of Ed Harris’ vocal cadences. Here, I feel like Harris is working Simpson’s facial reactions into his performance. Anyone else notice?) Oh, and this is Day 35 of the 149th time that Delos scientists have tried to make HostJim happen.
Thing is, The Man in Black isn’t so sure that the endeavor is even worth it anymore. “People aren’t meant to live forever,” he says, rattling off some harsh truths: Jim’s family is dead — his wife passed, daughter Juliet killed herself, and son Logan overdosed. “The world is better off without you, Jim. Possibly without me,” The Man in Black continues. HostJim twitches in aggravation and frustration as The Man in Black exits. But the older man stops the tech from terminating this build, noting “It might be useful to observe his degradation over the next few days.”
WHAT BERNARD KNEW | Clementine drags Bernard to a cave, unties him and drops her gun next to him before turning and leaving the way she came. When he hears a noise inside, he investigates and… it’s Elsie!!! Yay! She’s chained up, subsisting on protein bars and REALLY pissed, but she’s alive! After he frees her, she grabs the rifle and turns it on him: After all, he’s the one who choked her and left her there. He explains that he was only working on Ford’s programming: “He wrote a game, and we’re all in it.”
Unfortunately, that’s right about when all of the cortical fluid he sucked up in the season premiere runs dry. As he collapses, he exhorts her to help him, thrusting his tablet at her. Elsie is in denial that her mentor is an android. “You have a family. You have a wife,” she protests. Then, it dawns. “You have… a backstory.” She puts him in safe mode and does what she can, but when he comes to, she announces he won’t last long without more fluid. She’s planning to leave him there but he fills her in on the host uprising and the fact that Delos isn’t sending help until they find something (aka Peter Abernathy) they’re looking for.
When Bernard has a snatch of memory indicating that he’s been in the cave before, he manages to find a hidden lever that opens an elevator that takes them down to a secret lab full of dead Delos scientists and drone hosts. “This is a control unit printer. What are they doing with this?” Elsie wonders. “I think they were watching the guests,” Bernard says absently, starting to tweak again and unable to answer whether or not he was involved in the off-the-books research.
She gives him an emergency injection of the fluid he so sorely needs, and when he comes to, he admits that he’s lost in his memories, unsure of whether “now” is actually “now” and not “then.” She explains that’s because his recollections are just “drifting around in him,” thanks to the damage from his self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. And then just as Bernard is getting an inkling that he was in the clandestine research area recently, he and Elsie hear noises coming from the molding chamber.
When they cautiously approach, there’s a body on the ground: It’s the tech who was talking to The Man in Black about HostJim earlier. And that’s when it becomes clear that the last iteration of HostJim was never deactivated, and he’s clearly lost his (fabricated) mind. He’s bloody, the place is trashed, and he picks up a shard of broken mirror and carves into his face as he tells Elsie, “I’m all the way down now. I can see all the way to the bottom.” Then he goes after her, but Bernard jumps in and takes him down. Then Elsie initiates the destruction protocol. “Tell me that was a host and not a human,” she says. “I think it was both,” Bernard answers. He makes his case once more: He’s no longer under Ford’s control, he tells Elsie, and “for the first time, I get to decide who I want to be. Please give me that chance.” She agrees, with the caveat that he never lie to her or hurt her again. “Of course,” he says. But wait — Bernard is having a flash of plucking a red orb off a 3-D printer in the secret lab… and then whispering to the drone hosts, just before they kill every human in the lab and then break their own necks. Bernard himself stomped one worker’s head in. Funny how he doesn’t share that part, eh?
FAMILY REUNION | The female guest we met at The Raj — whose name is Grace — is marched into camp with other Ghost Nation prisoners. Stubbs is captive there, as well. He assures her that there’s a protocol in place to save her. “Thanks, but I’m not looking to get out of here,” she responds. Later that night, as the prisoners are being marched to meet “the first of us,” Grace somehow manages to escape.
Meanwhile, The Man in Black and Lawrence return to Lawrence’s hometown, which is under the nefarious control of Craddock and his men. What the Confederados really want is the cache of guns and explosives the townsfolk hid there after their rebellion: When Lawrence tells The Man in Black where the ammunition is kept, he eagerly volunteers that information to Craddock. There’s a whole lot of back and forth between Craddock and The Man in Black about death (and Jonathan Tucker is quite good as they parry), but then The Man in Black tires of the whole ordeal. “You think you know death, but you don’t,” he says. “You didn’t recognize him sitting across from you this whole time.” Then he breaks a glass, slits Craddock’s throat and guns down the rest of the Confederados (with an assist from Lawrence).
When Craddock is crawling across the town square, The Man in Black forces him to drink a shot of nitro, then lets Lawrence fire the bullet that turns Craddock into a human Roman candle. Everyone rejoices; Lawrence’s cousins even decide to join the trip to Glory. But then Lawrence’s daughter — the girl who spoke cryptically to The Man in Black last season — does so again. “They may not remember, but I know who you are, William. One good deed doesn’t change that,” she warns. “If you’re looking forward, you’re looking in the wrong direction.”
A while after the men ride off on their horses, they’re met by a rider coming from the opposite direction: It’s Grace. “Hi, Dad,” she says to The Man in Black. (Side note: I’d like to act more surprised about the revelation that Grace is The Man in Black’s daughter, but we kinda saw this one coming from far across the prairie, didn’t we?)
Now it’s your turn. What did you think of the episode? Sound off in the comments!