Westworld‘s fourth episode, “The Riddle of the Sphinx” provided the most insight into the inception of the park we’ve probably ever gotten. While Dolores was absent for the entirety of the episode, her presence wasn’t really missed thanks to the fantastic backstory we get from both William and Bernard.
As with any other review, SPOILERS will follow.
You’ve been warned.
Like most other Westworld episodes, the showrunners love to fuck with us in regards to the meaning of the titles. This episode is no exception, and probably one of the more fitting titles in how it relates to the content. The Riddle of the Sphinx is a fable from ancient Greece. The Sphinx, you see, was the guardian to the city of Thebes. Anyone who wished to enter, had to solve the Sphinx’s riddle, if they wished to pass through.
“I walk on four legs in the morning, two legs in the afternoon, and three legs at night. What am I?”- The Sphinx of Thebes
The answer, for those of you bad at riddles, is a human. We walk on four legs when we’re infants, two when we’re adults and 3 legs implies we walk with a cane when we’re old. It’s a sad but true analogy about our cycle of life, one that Ford was trying to break.
We will get to Ford in a moment though, as the emphasis of this meaning more directly applies to Jim Delos, William’s father-in-law, and his role in this weeks episode. The episode opens with Jim in some circular apartment kind of room. He goes about his seemingly natural routine until he is interrupted by a face in his mirror. In walks the younger William, with a bottle of whiskey. He has a conversation with Jim about a specific test and questions he needs to ask him, and then hands Jim a packet of folded over papers. We don’t initially find out what that paper says but Jim’s expression leads us to believe its something juicy. For those of you that already caught on, from what we watched, yes Jim has been turned into a Host. We see the same scenario play out TWO more times throughout the episode, and each one shows us a different, older, version of William, but Jim remains the same.
Jim was dying of cancer. What they tried to do was implant his consciousness into a host version of himself. The issue arose when his host body had to come to terms with the fact that he was, well, now a Host. This caused a short-circuit repeatedly each time William went through the motions with Jim. Sadly, Jim’s legacy never went anywhere, because they could never figure out the reason these malfunctions kept happening. It isn’t until Bernard stumbles upon a very crazy version of Jim that we find out his fate.
While I won’t spoil everything for you, and those of you that have already watched the episode know what “fate” I’m referring to, the importance of all of this is FORD. Yes, William never figured out how to achieve immortality through consciousness transplant. BUT, what if Ford did?! Think back to the season 1 finale. Ford seemed oddly comfortable with Dolores blowing his brains out in front of his investors. Perhaps this is because he cracked the code and uploaded himself into a new Host, or even the over-arcing host network that Bernard touched on at the beginning of this season, prior to his demise at the hands of one of his favorite robots. This could also explain why he continues to harass William through various Hosts in the park. The showrunners have already confirmed we haven’t seen the last of Ford, and while this could just be referring to the flash back when we see a younger, CG version, of Ford, why couldn’t it be a more literal hint at whats to come?? This is Westworld after all, and they love their mind-blowing twists.
Digging further into this theory, this potential transfer of consciousness could also be what Agent Hale is trying to find and sneak out of the park. She does have an odd obsession with finding Peter Abernathy, Dolores’ father, after all. Obviously the idea of being able to live forever is an appealing prospect to almost anyone given the opportunity, and I’m sure it is one Delos would be thrilled to make a profit off of. MAYBE Ford figured it out and is trying to hide the secret from the Delos Corporation for obvious reasons. I’m sure a global corporation such as themselves would LOVE to have control over a Host President or Foreign officials, Ford could be the only thing standing between them and their darkest desires. All of this would also explain Bernard seeing them harvest DNA from park-goers in the sketchy, off site lab. After all, cloning humans is something the franchise has already touched on, in the sequel to the Westworld movie, Futureworld. Looking at all of this evidence, it wouldn’t be surprising to find out this is where the show was heading, and the prospect of seeing more Anthony Hopkins’ Ford is a welcome thought.
Ford taunts William further in this episode and drops a hint that I am sure we will learn more about later on in the show. “You still don’t understand the real game we’re playing here. If you’re looking forward, you’re looking in the wrong direction.” This implies that maybe Ford’s game for William is about righting your wrongs or even paying for decisions you made when you were younger. If the answers William is looking for are in the past, that surely means we will get to see even more of what made some of our favorite characters the people/Hosts they are today.
Bernard also had time to shine this episode as well. It seems he isn’t the narrator we thought he was. It turns out his mind is WAY more fucked than we have been led to believe, and because of that, can we really trust anything he’s “seeing” right now?? Half of his time in this episode is with a very alive Elsie, or at least she’s alive in the time leading up to Bernard washing up on the beach. It turns out he was hallucinating a majority of what we were watching happen. His subconscious was leading him back to lab 12 for some reason. The very same lab Jim Delos was created and held in.
Bernard thinks he was sent here, by Ford, in the past to create another control unit for some human’s brain. This is exactly what the company was trying to do with Jim Delos, but WHO was this for?? He was then ordered to murder all witnesses involved, and his memories of the incident were even buried for a time. This could easily all be pointing back to the resurrection of Ford. In the season premiere, Bernard discussed the concept of a “mesh network”, a way for Hosts to communicate with each other, almost like a hive mind. What if this control unit was for Ford, and this mesh network is how he’s jumping from Host to Host?
Oh yea, and William’s daughter is that woman from the Raj, the India park with the tigers. I can’t wait to see that family feud go down, now that they’ve come face to face for the first time in god knows how long.