Let’s hope we’ll find out more with the reunion between William and his daughter. Last week, it seemed like she wasn’t interested in the hosts in the park at all. This week, she told Stubbs that she doesn’t care for people, either. So why is she here? What’s her endgame, since hunting Bengals appears to be just a fun diversion until the real adventure unfolds?
Another question for you, Spencer: How does the riddle of the sphinx, the title of this episode, relate to the plot? In Greek mythology, the sphinx (part human, part lion) guarded the city of Thebes by asking travelers what creature walks on four legs in the morning, two legs at noon, and three in the evening. When they couldn’t answer, she ate them. Is Jim the traveler and William the sphinx? Does the riddle allude to the inevitable aging and death of mankind, which Delos is trying to stave off? I’m flummoxed, so consider me sphinx-kibble for now.
Kornhaber: The answer to the sphinx’s question is a human being, but Westworld is now mulling what it would mean to redefine that term so that it might no longer fit with the sphinx’s criteria. Rather than walk on three legs in the evening, we each might implant ourselves in an eternally regenerating two-footed version—with the help of mysterious lab-made marbles and mass-produced eyeballs. Or does that mean we’d cease to be human at all?
It’s a thrill for the show to get around to pondering the philosophical conundrum and primal fantasy of immortality, which while evergreen—the ancients wanted not to die, too—is novel within the story. All season long, we’ve been told we’re to think big: “There’s an answer here to a question no one’s ever dreamed of asking,” William said a few weeks back. Now we get a glimpse of what that might mean, and it’s probably grander than simply making it so “some asshole can live forever,” as Elsie put it. Perhaps Delos has been collecting user data not to blackmail the rich, but to build clones of them—and then sell the park’s visitors their own god selves.
Here’s a riddle about riddles, though: How many questions does Elsie ask in this episode? Back when Westworld creator-sibling Christopher Nolan’s Inception came out, critics noted how Ellen Page’s character served, clunkily, as a mere audience surrogate, quizzing the other characters about what was going on in every scene. Westworld has all along relied way too much on this sort of storytelling, but it reached new tediousness with Elsie subjecting Bernard to an ongoing Q&A about his hostdom, his memory, the hidden lab, and the human-host replication project. I record her as starting at least six sentences with “What the hell … ?”
Another slave to exposition is Lawrence, though he has been serving less to interrogate the Man in Black than to be a receptacle for his ominous thematic blather and thinking-out-loud about Ford’s game. In this episode, at least, Elder William repaid his loyal listener by rescuing him and his kin from Major Craddock, whose tequila tortures pale in sadism only next to the method of railroad construction now practiced in the park. You’re right, Sophie, that this imparts a sense that William may have a soul after all. But he insists he saved the day not out of altruism, but to play Ford’s game—and that distinction may well help explain why Ford’s pigtailed proxy told William he still doesn’t get it.