In my opinion, Season 2 of Westworld has been great so far but it is evident to me that Anthony Hopkins as Robert Ford is severely missed. He was, by far, the best thing about Season 1 and the death of Robert Ford has created a void that Season 2 has yet to fully fill. However, compelling characters still exist, especially when it comes to Bernard and the Man in Black/William. It therefore comes as no surprise that this episode, titled ‘The Riddle of the Sphinx’, which heavily focuses on these two characters is the best episode of Season 2 so far.
My Thoughts On ‘The Riddle of the Sphinx’
When it comes to Bernard, this episode picks up right after the events of ‘Virtù e Fortuna’ and the battle between the Confederados Hosts and the Humans. Bernard, with a little “guidance” by Clementine, ends up in a cave where he is reunited with Elsie who is chained up. We last saw Elsie in Season 1 with her fate left uncertain after being mysteriously attacked and it was Bernard who did this when he was under Ford’s control.
Suffice to say, Elsie was not ecstatic to see her captor again but Bernard had no recollection of this incident. They form a uneasy truce and eventually find a bunker full of dead scientists as well as a Host version of James Delos. The way this mystery unravelled throughout ‘The Riddle of the Sphinx’ was very compelling and it was cool to see how it linked to the Man in Black/William’s story in the past. Indeed, it was William who was responsible for the creation of Host James Delos.
In the past, we see that William and Delos are attempting to recreate James Delos’ consciousness in a host. In essence, a path to immortality is trying to be established. No matter how many times this is attempted, it always fails and this venture is eventually shut down by William when he is played by Ed Harris rather than Jimmi Simpson. This shows how long this experiment has been going on for and, while a failure, it seems like achieving immortality through the Hosts is an important priority for Delos.
The Mystery Of Bernard
However, as we saw with Bernard and Elsie’s story in ‘The Riddle of the Sphinx’, the Host James Delos was kept alive for years after the program was shut down and became deranged. He is found and eventually killed by Bernard and Elsie. After this, Bernard is able to recollect scattered memories from his past and remembers that, before Ford’s death, he was sent by Ford to retrieve the control unit of a second host-human hybrid. However, he cannot remember who that was for.
If I was to guess, I would assume that this second control unit would be for Ford or Arnold but we shall have to wait and see what transpires with this element of the story. We also find out through his scattered memories that the dead scientists in the bunker were killed by Bernard. Clearly, there is so much about Bernard that we do not know about and it will be interesting to see how much more we learn about his past and what it means for his future.
The Ruthlessness Of The Man in Black/William
The same can be said for the Man in Black/William who was absolutely ruthless in ‘The Riddle of the Sphinx’, both in the past and the present. Certainly, he was remorseless in the past with his decision to end the program with Host James Delos and, in the present, he showed no mercy when he killed the remaining Confederados who were spared by Teddy. Indeed, he and Lawrence are captured by the Condederados at Lawrence’s home and are held hostage with its residents which include Lawrence’s family.
Further on in the episode, the Man in Black/William gives a superb monologue about death which sets up his brutal killing spree of the Confederados. He saves the town’s residents and Lawrence’s family but Ford, through Lawrence’s daughter, tells him that one good deed does not redeem him. It seems that we have more to learn about the Man in Black/William too, particularly as he is now reunited with his daughter.
Indeed, the Man in Black/William meets Grace, the woman who killed the tiger in ‘Virtù e Fortuna’, who is actually Emily, his daughter. We know that the relationship between the two is not exactly warm and amicable and I am sure that it will be developed throughout Season 2 of Westworld. Something which I really liked was how the Man in Black/William was developed in this episode as he became more than just the imposing force that he is. He was more fleshed out as a person when it came to his family.
My Final Thoughts On ‘The Riddle of the Sphinx’
All of the things which happened in ‘The Riddle of the Sphinx’ were of such an amazing quality that, as well as being the best episode of Season 2 so far, it may also be one of the best episodes of Westworld in general. The dense and convoluted lore and mythology of this show has been deepened and the mystery of Season 2’s plot, while teased, is still intact and I am still committed to going on this journey.