Westworld: Riddle of the Sphinx
May 13, 2018 7:54 PM - Season 2, Episode 4 - Subscribe

Is this now? If you're looking forward, you're looking in the wrong direction
posted by litera scripta manet (89 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
 
ELSIE'S BACK!!!

Well, maybe? At least she was back, at some point in Bernard's timeline...who even knows anymore.

So who do we think is the person Ford wanted Bernard to help build? Maybe an android Ford? Teresa? Elsie?

And now we know the identity of the guest from the opening sequence last episode. It's the MiB's daughter, Juliet.
posted by litera scripta manet at 7:57 PM on May 13 [4 favorites]


If you want a vision of the future, imagine Bernard stamping on a human face - forever.
posted by Mick at 7:58 PM on May 13 [12 favorites]


Peter Mullan is so fucking good.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 8:14 PM on May 13 [7 favorites]


That opening sequence was so reminiscent of Desmond in the bunker opening season 2 of Lost. I thought so even before they got to the stationary bicycle.
posted by something something at 8:19 PM on May 13 [27 favorites]


In the scene where the guests are being taken to the Ghost Nation “first of us,” I couldn’t catch what the Ghost Nation leader said to the security guy-something like “you’re only here as long as the last person who remembers you?” I know I misheard it.
posted by little mouth at 8:21 PM on May 13


Yay, Elsie is still alive!

It was fun that I saw twists coming, but only just before, with William's daughter, and Delos' legal powerlessness as an unperson.
posted by Pronoiac at 9:39 PM on May 13


And now we know the identity of the guest from the opening sequence last episode. It's the MiB's daughter, Juliet.
I believe you mean Grace. Juliet was MiB's wife—the one who committed suicide in the tub that was alluded to in this episide during the rain in Las Mudas.

I'm scratching my head about who Ford would have wanted to bring back. It's always possible that it's himself, but considering Hopkins isn't under contract any longer, my first guess would be Arnold.

I enjoyed this episode quite a bit more than the last one, but I'm not sure how much of that is just my abject delight to see Elsie again.
posted by Cogito at 9:40 PM on May 13 [2 favorites]


The wikia has William's daughter's name as Emily.
posted by Pronoiac at 9:44 PM on May 13


Oh, and I'm somewhat relieved that Delos wasn't stable as a host. It means that world leaders could be safe from impersonation for now.
posted by Pronoiac at 9:45 PM on May 13 [2 favorites]


I guess it's not clear whether Emily and Grace are the same person. If not, perhaps William had more daughters, or possibly Grace is his daughter-in-law. To be honest, that's what I'm hoping for.
posted by Cogito at 10:19 PM on May 13


I saw the quote in a Vanity Fair article as "You live only as long as the last person who remembers you."
posted by Pronoiac at 10:19 PM on May 13 [4 favorites]


Delos apparently doesn't get on the exercise bike for very long, the needle was still towards the outside of the record when he pulled it off. A couple minutes, tops.
posted by vibratory manner of working at 10:23 PM on May 13 [1 favorite]


My assumption is that “Grace” is Emily and was credited as such to disguise her identity until now. They couldn’t really name another character something like “The Man in Black” without it being immediately obvious. Between the quick dispatching of most of the major theories in this episode and Jonathan Nolan’s Reddit Rick Roll pre-season 2, I think the show runners are explicitly trying to stay a step ahead of the all-knowing Internet sleuths (at least a little more) this time around.
posted by notheotherone at 10:51 PM on May 13 [3 favorites]


I mean, they may offer some in-show explanation for an alias but everything thematically in both the James Delos robot flashbacks and the current MiB storylines points to it being his one known daughter, Emily.

I think that Bernard is heading toward creating (at Ford’s instruction) a stable host version of young William. I think Ford is going to make the MiB, who we saw regarded hosts as “fake” and failed to create a stable human to host transference, confront himself in host form, both “real” and accomplished by Ford. Based on his current trajectory, I think by that point the MiB may have come around on the “realness” of the hosts and it will be a dilemma for the audience who to side with.

Regardless of who it ends up being, I think whoever’s mind Bernard has matches the body we saw Ford making in his secret lab when he had Teresa killed.
posted by notheotherone at 11:04 PM on May 13 [7 favorites]


So my thought is that they are making duplicates of guests not in order to replace them, but in order to predict what they'll do. Actually replacing a world leader with a robot is a super risky strategy, but if you can, even for a very short period of time, instantiate a near-perfect replica of a world leader, then you can use that to predict how they'll react to different situations, to figure out which tactics and strategies can be used against them.
posted by Pyry at 11:06 PM on May 13 [18 favorites]


I think that Bernard is heading toward creating (at Ford’s instruction) a stable host version of young William
That would make sense with what young Fordbot said in Journey Into Night: The game begins where you end and ends where you began
posted by Cogito at 11:35 PM on May 13 [11 favorites]


Peter Mullan's dancing, of course, reminded me of the dance scene from Ex Machina.

So this was the first episode this season that I enjoyed as much as last season.I was beginning to lose hope there, but this one really came through for me. Maybe that was because Peter Mullan's performance was so great. Oh Bernard's "I'm fine" after the flashback. I'm finally EXCITED to see the next episode and where this is all going instead of being worried that this is Lost 2.0.
posted by miss-lapin at 1:18 AM on May 14 [2 favorites]


So if the nonsense with the confederadoes was part of Ford’s story for William, Teddy and Dolores aren’t so free, are they?

Also I still think the Young William that so-full-of-splendored Dolores is synthetic. Did anybody catch what William said or did right before the Jamesbot glitched each time? The tech seemed to think that he was stable. Maybe the transfer does work and William was sabotaging it. Maybe Bernard’s pokeball is William.

In any case, though, this was a hell of an episode.
posted by uncleozzy at 3:10 AM on May 14 [1 favorite]


Just noting that what the First of Us says to Stubbs was also told to one of the characters (I'm thinking Dolores) during the Day of the Dead-ish parade in Pariah in season 1.
posted by LionIndex at 4:20 AM on May 14


So, I’m guessing we have a robot Ford on the way. Or else this is all a way to bring back Arnold instead of Bernard.

And YAY ELSIE! I loved the moment she realized Bernard had a backstory. (But what *did* happen when he rotated out?)

So much happening visually this season with reflections - from the opening credits to Teddy’s reflection in the water and lots in between. And thematically as well.

Or maybe the theme of this season is “Bernard waking up, confused”
posted by rmd1023 at 6:04 AM on May 14


I can't be the only one who was thinking, wait, why is this robot dreaming of cupcakes? Cupcakes and eyeballs. Have I had the same dream? Am I a robot too?

okay, just me then.
posted by Catblack at 6:14 AM on May 14 [20 favorites]


Yes. I thought that too. Oh these creepy milky robots are a subset of the props dept. specializing in fancy old timey cupcakes.
posted by ian1977 at 6:30 AM on May 14 [6 favorites]


If the Ghost Nation is killing hosts and keeping humans alive, then doesn't that mean Stubbs and Grace are human?
posted by elsietheeel at 7:03 AM on May 14


I'm guessing when Bernard rotated out, he was "paused." Ford could have given him some stories about those breaks but honestly, how much do you talk about you life with your co workers? For me as little as possible. So him going away and returning with vague responses was probably enough.
posted by miss-lapin at 7:14 AM on May 14 [2 favorites]


The First of Us is Akecheta, the host we see in the outside world "tricking" Logan as part of the Argos Initiative with Angela in "Reunion", played by Zahn McClarnon.
posted by elsietheeel at 7:25 AM on May 14 [16 favorites]


Did anybody catch what William said or did right before the Jamesbot glitched each time?
There wasn't just one trigger phrase. But it always followed from the realization that he wasn't going to be able to return to the outside world and what had happened in his absence.
posted by Cogito at 7:41 AM on May 14 [2 favorites]


There's definitely a distinction that has been drawn between duplicates of a person that are good enough to pass and actual faithful replications of a consciousness.

The latter isn't happening but the former is already entirely possible (more or less) in the form of Bernard. We can't say for sure that Bernard would fool Arnold's human family and friends. But he certainly passed as human, looks like his original form, and evoked his personality in a way that both pleased his friend Ford and made the two hard to distinguish for us when the timelines were being mixed. I don't think they could get away with replacing someone with close family or friends around to scrutinize, but they could replace some people this way, if they were careful about it. You might not be able to replace world leaders and heads of business on demand like in Futureworld. But you could certainly replace enough influencers to steer society.

The mere existence of the development program seeking to make a working copy of Delos's consciousness makes clear they have more complex plans than that.

Is it to be able to bypass death? William seems content to let that go when the experiment doesn't yield the desired result. He treats it as a distraction actually.

Maybe it is to simulate people for predictive purposes.

I wonder what it means that William seems willing to let this go. What else does he have in mind instead?
posted by DirtyOldTown at 7:45 AM on May 14 [1 favorite]


DirtyOldTown-It seems based on your and Cogito's observations the key is not presenting them with information that contradicts their memory of the outside world. Delos glitches when confronted with the deaths of his wife and child. I wonder if those deaths were programmed in if it would the same.

Maeve was able to overcome her programming because of the "death" of her child. It seems there maybe a reason the park no longer allows children as hosts.
posted by miss-lapin at 8:09 AM on May 14 [1 favorite]


It seems likely the AI-as-a-way-to-cheat-death thing was the bait that William used to get his father-in-law on board with the parks, not his actual personal plan.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 8:28 AM on May 14 [3 favorites]


It seems likely the AI-as-a-way-to-cheat-death thing was the bait that William used to get his father-in-law on board with the parks, not his actual personal plan.

Seems plausible but why was he still running the experiment 30 years later? Or even a day after Delos died? He must have had another goal. I find Young William much more interesting this season.
posted by shothotbot at 8:35 AM on May 14 [4 favorites]


That's the real question, right... What is his actual goal?

To me, William's demeanor as the experiment became a failure didn't give the impression of panic or disappointment that his goal wouldn't be realized. It was more like he was doing due diligence to something he considered secondary at best and his failure meant he was free to put it behind him and focus on what really mattered.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 8:49 AM on May 14 [9 favorites]


I don't have a fully formed thought on this, but there was a lot of weird emphasis on pouring of liquid in this episode. We saw Delos pouring cream into his coffee, and how he got better at that as the iterations progressed, and then we also saw various people pouring and carrying around tequila in the village, which William seemed extremely intent on paying attention to.... Is he looking for signs that pieces of Delos are in these hosts? Or do all hosts expire after a certain period, and he's looking to see how far along they are before they all cease to function?
posted by something something at 10:04 AM on May 14 [1 favorite]


The pouring of the cream also reminded me of Ford’s meeting at the restaurant with Theresa from season one, where he stops all the hosts and the waiter keeps pouring wine into the glass until it spills out all over the table.
posted by skycrashesdown at 10:17 AM on May 14 [6 favorites]


Or Walter with his milk.
posted by LionIndex at 10:39 AM on May 14 [1 favorite]


Liquid takes on the shape of its container. Possibly a metaphor for embodied consciousness.
posted by runcibleshaw at 11:23 AM on May 14 [20 favorites]


So, the failed transfers of Delos reached cognitive plateau when William brought him up to speed on his lost life outside the lab. In s1, we saw Abernathy start glitching after he found the photo of Juliet. Has Abernathy been storing Delos and/or William in his mind egg all this time?
posted by trunk muffins at 11:39 AM on May 14 [4 favorites]


The performances of Peter Mullan, the actor playing Abernathy, and Jeffrey Wright as glitching hosts are really compelling and consistent. And I'm assuming the enormous database that Bernard found in Abernathy was the guest's data that Delos was using to create hosts for them. The consciousness thing doesn't match what Ford told us about Arnold in the first season -- that it was Arnold's idea. Or, did Delos decide that host consciousness could become a vehicle to transfer guests.

I have no idea what Delos said to Bernard when Bernard had him on the ground. Not a clue, and Mullan's accent didn't give me any problems before that. I did love Mullan's dancing.

The Raj-era guest turning out to be William's daughter is interesting given her refusal to have sex with hosts. I wonder if that's because she knows what Delos is recording? Or, something that she learned from William? I did guess who she was when she knew the Ghost Nation language.
posted by gladly at 11:44 AM on May 14 [2 favorites]


I have no idea what Delos said to Bernard when Bernard had him on the ground.

That makes two of us. I think television and movies are doing a poorer job of audio mixing over time. Or maybe my hearing is going. Maybe both?

Or are we not meant to know what he said? Based on the way it's shot and how I could *almost* make it out, I doubt that but could be convinced.
posted by rocketman at 11:57 AM on May 14 [2 favorites]


and then we also saw various people pouring and carrying around tequila in the village, which William seemed extremely intent on paying attention to..

That wasn't tequila but nitroglycerine.
posted by Pendragon at 12:40 PM on May 14 [7 favorites]


Oh, one irritated nitpick: if you're going to decorate Delos-bot's apartment with the same furnishings and technology, why incinerate the whole thing? Just freeze his motor functions and discard. There's no need to burn down the nice stuff 149 times.
posted by gladly at 12:43 PM on May 14 [29 favorites]


Delos said the following to Bernard: "They said there were two fathers. One above, one below. They lied. There was only the devil. And when you look up from the bottom, it was just his reflection...laughing back at you."
posted by elsietheeel at 12:48 PM on May 14 [12 favorites]


If you ever have trouble making out dialogue and happen to have an AppleTV, here's a nice trick:

Hold down the microphone button and say "what did she say?". It will jump back about 15 seconds and temporarily turn on captions.
posted by Cogito at 12:52 PM on May 14 [10 favorites]


And trouble with pouring liquids goes all the way back to Elsie in s1e5 trying to fix the male bartender host
posted by Cogito at 12:55 PM on May 14 [3 favorites]


Hold down the microphone button and say "what did she say?". It will jump back about 15 seconds and temporarily turn on captions.

Roku also has a dedicated Replay button on the remote that does essentially the same thing. It's invaluable!
posted by Strange Interlude at 1:20 PM on May 14 [1 favorite]


Oh, one irritated nitpick: if you're going to decorate Delos-bot's apartment with the same furnishings and technology, why incinerate the whole thing? Just freeze his motor functions and discard. There's no need to burn down the nice stuff 149 times.

I think it's to imply that they have the resources and technology to recreate the same apartment as many times as they need to, probably through the same form of automated fabrication that they use to make the hosts. Basically, every stick of furniture and every appliance was run off of a 3D printer -- which makes sense if they were attempting to replicate precisely the same living conditions for all 149 tests.
posted by Strange Interlude at 1:33 PM on May 14 [5 favorites]


I had deduced that William came to see Delos only once the glitches began to appear on their own, each iteration taking longer to glitch. The glitch first appears as trembling when Delos pours the milk. Well, that doesn't quite work, because William couldn't be less than a minute away every time that eventually happened.

Something is the trigger that gets William to visit Delos -- maybe just the techs monitoring Delos for problems? Then William comes and stress-tests Delos, forcing a definitive outcome.

Did anyone else have verisimilitude problems with the nitro stuff? But, of course, it's not actually nitro given that the park enables/disables it.

The theory earlier about a host young William both fits with the clues the show has provided so far, as well as meta-considerations like keeping that actor around.

Did no one guess last week that this was William's daughter? I'm surprised because it seems obvious in retrospect. And I jumped to that conclusion the first time I was reminded of her existence when Delos asked about his granddaughter.

Also, that was a good point someone made earlier: if the confederales were in some way furthering Robert's new game, how does that square with their earlier interactions with the apparently free-willed Wyatt? Maybe the dialogue with the daughter was just triggered by William choosing to be the hero?
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 1:45 PM on May 14 [3 favorites]


Did anyone else have verisimilitude problems with the nitro stuff?

There is bunch of stuff in the park that's named slightly different than it's real world counter part. For example, while there were Confederados in real life, the guys in the show are definitely not a bunch of Southerns who emigrated to Brazil after the American Civil War.

I think the "nitro" is the same kinda thing. They characters really hit the name "nitro" hard a bunch of times, I believe to distinguish their in-universe compound and something similar but separate to the real world nitroglycerin. Because of course, pouring out a bunch of nitroglycerin into a shot glass and all over the table would have immediately blown all of those dudes straight to hell.
posted by sideshow at 2:46 PM on May 14 [2 favorites]


Pronoiac Oh, and I'm somewhat relieved that Delos wasn't stable as a host. It means that world leaders could be safe from impersonation for now.

Well, is it? Iteration #149 was called out as being stable for 35 days before it plateaued- that's definitely long enough for a replacement leader to do a bunch of harm.

I'm also curious about the state of #149 after it was left abandoned - he certainly was very bloody, but he wasn't raging anymore.. and seemed to be acting on different impulses. Had it reached viable consciousness a la Delores?

And finally, something I noticed - Bernard sure is super-effective at self-defense for a nerdbot. He threw old mate around like it was nothing!
posted by coriolisdave at 3:33 PM on May 14 [3 favorites]


I did guess who she was when she knew the Ghost Nation language.

lakhotiyapi
posted by poffin boffin at 4:58 PM on May 14 [4 favorites]


We're currently watching The Americans, Legion, and Westworld. Two weeks ago was finally the first great episode of this season for the first, last week was finally the first great episode of this season for the second, and last night was finally the first great episode of this season for the third. Every time I begin to fear that the new golden age is over as my favorite shows fall into the rut of their later seasons, the writers pull things back from the brink. What a great time to be watching television.
posted by chortly at 10:03 PM on May 14


The moment she realized Bernard had a backstory. (But what *did* happen when he rotated out?)

Worked in the seekrit labs.
posted by tilde at 4:41 AM on May 15 [5 favorites]


Was this the first episode of the series without Evan Rachel Wood appearing?
posted by Justinian at 4:42 AM on May 15


Obviously, anyone from any era can enjoy music from any era that preceded them.

BUT...

The music choices Delos enjoyed--"Play with Fire" and "Do the Strand" were two, there might have been more--might indicate he was born around, say, 1955-1960. Peter Mullan is 58 years old, but I think his character is probably a fair bit older. He's got a daughter who is married to a man in his mid-thirties/early 40s. I've got him as mid 60s to maybe 70, 71.

This doesn't provide any definitive proof of any particular year, but based on this, I've got the show as set around 2025, maybe 2030, give or take. So not that far into the future.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 7:29 AM on May 15 [1 favorite]


I've got the show as set around 2025, maybe 2030, give or take

There was security cam footage on the show's website for last season's finale that showed a date of 2052. So if Delos' retirement was around 5-ish years after the Young William and Logan stuff in season 1, that'd put it most likely sometime around 2027-2028 (and the successive interactions with glitching host-bot Delos being around 2028-2029, mid-2030's, and close to the show's "present" of 2052).
posted by Pseudonymous Cognomen at 8:17 AM on May 15 [3 favorites]


This doesn't provide any definitive proof of any particular year, but based on this, I've got the show as set around 2025, maybe 2030, give or take. So not that far into the future.

A couple of episodes ago there was also a discussion where someone (Logan, I think, before he got the demo) was talking about what Delos was interested in investing in, and they mentioned Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality. Which to me implied that the earliest times in the show were not that far forward in time from where we are now.
posted by thecaddy at 8:40 AM on May 15


I think it's to imply that they have the resources and technology to recreate the same apartment as many times as they need to, probably through the same form of automated fabrication that they use to make the hosts. Basically, every stick of furniture and every appliance was run off of a 3D printer -- which makes sense if they were attempting to replicate precisely the same living conditions for all 149 tests.

I like this. At work, I run tests of distributed systems by rebuilding an environment from scratch each time, just as the automated pin setter at a bowling alley sweeps away any pins left standing before it sets up the next batch. Note that computer servers are also called "hosts".
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 9:47 AM on May 15 [5 favorites]


Crap, I forgot to specify that my estimate was that the young William/early Westworld as a park era is around 2025-2030. I hadn't seen that 2052 security cam tidbit.

But, allowing in enough time for William to age after that before the park's "present" that would match up, so I guess the estimation I did was reasonably accurate even if it proved unnecessary for people who caught the actual given date.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 1:08 PM on May 15


I like this. At work, I run tests of distributed systems by rebuilding an environment from scratch each time, just as the automated pin setter at a bowling alley sweeps away any pins left standing before it sets up the next batch.

That's a very helpful analogy and makes more sense.
posted by gladly at 1:22 PM on May 15 [2 favorites]


gladly: And I'm assuming the enormous database that Bernard found in Abernathy was the guest's data that Delos was using to create hosts for them.

That was stated to be a copy of Dr. Ford and Arnold's code and research (Wikipedia summary of S01E07, "Trompe L'Oeil")


Cogito: If you ever have trouble making out dialogue

You can also pull up transcripts after the fact and read along there.


On the episode title, the most common riddle of the Sphix is "Which creature has one voice and yet becomes four-footed and two-footed and three-footed?" The answer being humans (baby crawls, adult walks, senior walks with a cane). Some tell of a second riddle -- "There are two sisters: one gives birth to the other and she, in turn, gives birth to the first. Who are the two sisters?" The answer is "day and night" (both words—ἡμέρα and νύξ, respectively—are feminine in Ancient Greek).

If the title to is referring to the first riddle, perhaps it is referring to the difference between the hosts who don't age, and the guests who do? Or is it a more general idea, that of a riddle as a key to a destination? The Confederados are searching for the fabled town of Glory, Dolores (and Teddy) now seek some mega-weapon, and (old) William seeks his own game-ending location, to name a few of the seekers.


And a question from the prior episode: How would "Ganju" (an Indian man-servant type character) have the "Violent Ends" bug? I thought it was an aural glitch, passed with the catch phrase "these violent delights have violent ends." Maybe with their internal mesh networks that is used to keep narratives from colliding (and can be used to spy on the entire park, more or less)? Or perhaps that is part of the riddle, both how he was "infected" and how the phrase plays into the end game?
posted by filthy light thief at 2:54 PM on May 15 [3 favorites]


I thought we were meant at least to suspect that William was sabotaging the Delos replica each time -- perhaps through the liquor, since that would mirror the shot-glasses of nitroglycerin -- in order to avoid relinquishing his control of the company. (After the last iteration is deemed a failure, the technician says, with what I thought was surprise, something like "this one was going so well!")

Evidence against that might be William finally taking a sip that last time, though maybe whatever's in the liquor only affects hosts.

And do we know for sure how the Delos sibling-heirs died? Are we sure William didn't play a role in that, too?
posted by nobody at 3:17 PM on May 15 [9 favorites]


The internet has convinced me that the Bernard that wakes up on the beach is Arnold, reborn.
posted by booooooze at 5:16 PM on May 15 [12 favorites]


Oh my, that's a VERY interesting possibility
posted by coriolisdave at 5:59 PM on May 15


I thought we were meant at least to suspect that William was sabotaging the Delos replica each time

It seems pretty obvious to me that Delos-bot just glitches out when confronted with the nature of his reality. That "baseline interview" was probably first done with the original Delos after the mind-recording or whatever, so they know how the real James Delos responds to a particular set of stimuli and recreate the situation with every iteration. "Fidelity". But he can't deal with finding out that he actually died. That his wife and children died. That it's been a year, seven years, 25 years. He's "stable", in a closed, controlled environment; faced with reality, he degrades almost immediately. (Like Abernathy with the photo in season one.)
posted by Pseudonymous Cognomen at 6:01 PM on May 15 [13 favorites]


And do we know for sure how the Delos sibling-heirs died? Are we sure William didn't play a role in that, too?
nobody thinks that
posted by Cogito at 8:11 PM on May 15 [7 favorites]


the burning of the entire apartment is for a controlled environment as stated above, but also so old jim can't leave future jim any notes or clues (a la maeve).
posted by lalochezia at 11:16 PM on May 15 [13 favorites]


When Wiliam said he was doing a baseline interview, I expected him to start quoting Pale Fire, until I remembered that one's for replicants, not hosts.
posted by paper chromatographologist at 5:45 AM on May 16 [9 favorites]


And do we know for sure how the Delos sibling-heirs died? Are we sure William didn't play a role in that, too?

nobody thinks that


Yeah, it seems pretty clear that both Juliet and Logan died of their own accord, albeit as an unintentional secondary result of William's actions. Based on how the memory of Juliet's suicide affects him in this episode, it seems a bit presumptuous to think William played any part beyond being an emotionally distant husband. The same goes for Logan: Once William forced him out of the company, he became a junkie all on his own.

(Honestly, I'm kind of relieved we're not getting an older Logan as a character for later. He served his purpose as a foil/rival for Young William, and the show has moved well beyond that now.)
posted by Strange Interlude at 5:55 AM on May 16


Pseudonymous Cognomen: He's "stable", in a closed, controlled environment; faced with reality, he degrades almost immediately. (Like Abernathy with the photo in season one.)

Part of Abernathy's "break" is that he isn't able to un-see what is before him, as was Ford's design ("They cannot see the things that will hurt them. I've spared them that. Their lives are blissful. In a way, their existence is purer than ours, freed of the burden of self-doubt.") [S01E07 Trompe L'Oeil transcript].

Emphasis mine. Perhaps Ford learned from William's "mistakes" with Delos Sr.?
posted by filthy light thief at 7:43 AM on May 16 [3 favorites]


The trips every year for William are not just vacations being the Man in Black but to also check on the project. Also, notice he now actually seems affected by the violence visited on the hosts? Notice his facial reactions at the sadistic actions of the Confederales on the townspeople? The hosts, even those not part of the rebellion, they are capable of memory from the current loop e.g. Lawrence remembering the Man in Black having a daughter.

Are we seeing the reemergence of the younger William's moral compass? In essence, a redemption arc for one of the most ruthless and enigmatic characters?
posted by jadepearl at 9:06 AM on May 16 [2 favorites]


Perhaps Ford learned from William's "mistakes" with Delos Sr.?

Or William didn't learn from Ford's successes...or maybe they were Arnold's successes?

Are we seeing the reemergence of the younger William's moral compass? In essence, a redemption arc

Seemingly! Lisa Joy said that the fact that that shootout with the Confederados took place in the rain because of the symbolism of water as a symbolic cleansing or baptism (and related to the "baptism" thing, the Catholic rite of baptism for adults: "Do you reject the glamour of evil, and refuse to be mastered by sin?").
posted by Pseudonymous Cognomen at 9:12 AM on May 16 [1 favorite]


Are we seeing the reemergence of the younger William's moral compass? In essence, a redemption arc for one of the most ruthless and enigmatic characters?

Or is he, himself, a host? Honest question - Bernard didn't know his own "status," and he was able to get into the secure facility that was supposed to block hosts earlier this season. And then there was the "healing gun" that the Man in Black got from behind the saloon wall earlier this season - was the for human flesh, or bio-synthetic stuff of hosts?

And my other thought on the water and pouring of water - modeling and rendering water that looks appropriately realistic is tricky, so like passing the Turing test, making the hosts look and act real is a challenge in itself.
posted by filthy light thief at 9:42 AM on May 16 [2 favorites]


And then there was the "healing gun" that the Man in Black got from behind the saloon wall earlier this season - was the for human flesh, or bio-synthetic stuff of hosts?
Felix used that same tool on Sylvester after Maeve cut him with the scalpel. Are you suggesting Sylvester may also be a host?
posted by Cogito at 10:25 AM on May 16 [1 favorite]


Also, can I add that this was an excellent episode ; not only because of the performances, but because of the spectacularly hallucinatory sensation that dripped from every frame.
posted by lalochezia at 12:47 PM on May 16 [1 favorite]


So is the biotech company that Delos Sr. owns connected to some disaster in the outside world? Delos Sr. is dying from a disease that his company has once been attempting to cure. He apparently canceled that research as unprofitable, but are there other links between Delos biotech and this degenerative illness? It seemed that Juliet's suicide and Logan's death may both conceal more than appears on the surface. Any chance Juliet killed herself because she learned Delos was behind a terrible engineered disease? Or that Logan also fell into drug abuse because of this same knowledge?
posted by Kitty Stardust at 1:44 PM on May 16 [1 favorite]


Also, in Oedipus Rex, he gains kingship by solving the riddle of the Sphinx, but then his crimes come to light through a plague that ravages Thebes.
posted by Kitty Stardust at 1:51 PM on May 16 [5 favorites]


Any chance Juliet killed herself because she learned Delos was behind a terrible engineered disease?

It'd be more interesting if she killed herself because William took her to meet her "father" on the 148th attempt at "resurrection". And Logan's drug-abuse was already apparent at his father's "retirement party"; it seems more likely that he fell into drug abuse because of a fundamental weakness in his personality, and an inability to deal with having been passed over in favour of William (along with whatever experiences he had in the park, which pretty obviously left him broken).
posted by Pseudonymous Cognomen at 1:57 PM on May 16 [2 favorites]


I don't want to derail, but drug abuse isn't about a weakness of personality. James Delos seemed like an asshole, maybe Logan was using because his father was distant or abusive or something? Maybe some other trauma occurred? Maybe he was just a hedonist?

Besides, do we actually know the timeline in which William's first Westworld trip occurred? And do we know that Logan came back after being sent naked into the edges of the park at the end of that trip?
posted by elsietheeel at 2:26 PM on May 16 [6 favorites]


Trouble with carrying liquids goes back to S01E01 if you include Dolores dropping her can of condensed milk at the beginning of her loop.
posted by rhamphorhynchus at 2:37 PM on May 16 [4 favorites]


Right, elsietheeel. I guess I should have clarified that the show appeared to be attempting to link Logan's drug abuse with his comments about the people at the retirement party having destroyed the world, which seemed different to me than his previously cavalier hedonism. In that scene he seemed to be expressing true despair, which often becomes conflated with addiction in fiction.
posted by Kitty Stardust at 2:51 PM on May 16 [2 favorites]


do we actually know the timeline in which William's first Westworld trip occurred? And do we know that Logan came back after being sent naked into the edges of the park at the end of that trip?

Yep, because the "retirement party" scene takes place after William and Juliet have been married long enough to have a five-ish-year-old daughter, Logan is at the party, outside on the deck, shooting up and making bitter comments to Dolores. In the original "Logan and William go to Westworld" timeline, William and Juliet were only engaged, not married.

And I suppose "weakness of personality" isn't exactly what I meant to say; but he's experienced some trauma and is dealing with it through self-medication, pretty clearly (whatever happened in the park--which, there was a brief scene in a "things that happen this season" thing that showed him sitting naked under a tree in a desert, so, clearly after he got sent off on his ride to the edge of the park--and then being passed over by his father and losing the purpose he's thought was his for probably his entire life).
posted by Pseudonymous Cognomen at 3:23 PM on May 16 [2 favorites]


"It seems pretty obvious to me that Delos-bot just glitches out when confronted with the nature of his reality."

Maybe the writers didn't think this through, but if William's visit/info causes Delos to glitch out, then "success" can't be measured by how long "this one lasted" because it's William who chooses when to visit and present that information. And yet they talk about the hosts getting better and lasting longer each time. So even if William's visit triggers the catastrophic failure, prior to that there must be some apparant problem that initiates that visit. I thought it might be the trembling/milk thing, but William probably wouldn't be able to respond so quickly.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 4:06 PM on May 16 [1 favorite]


And I suppose "weakness of personality" isn't exactly what I meant to say; but he's experienced some trauma

"Do you wanna know what they're really celebrating up there? That, darling, is the sound of fools fiddling while the whole f*cking species starts to burn... and they lit the match."
posted by lalochezia at 5:04 PM on May 16


prior to that there must be some apparant problem that initiates that visit

Or it's just that William is overseeing the project and comes to test the latest build to see if it's a "success"; after the last visit the tech says "I don't understand, he was stable!", so there clearly wasn't some apparent problem, before then; it only manifested after finding out the truth broke his mind.
posted by Pseudonymous Cognomen at 5:39 PM on May 16 [1 favorite]


At some point, I will be whiteboarding all the interlaced timelines. You have a show that has unreliable narrators; fragmented timelines and characters, like the plot, partitioned with hallucinations and dreams. I feel that re-watching the first season will have large pay-offs while watching this season.

For the Man in Black, Westworld, is the forge that has broken, shaped and guided his life. Is he the John the Baptist to Delores or something else? I am enthralled with the line of thought of what comes not to destroy but fulfill in the succeeding episodes.
posted by jadepearl at 3:04 AM on May 17


The human host could be Bernard. He keeps breaking down.
posted by Brocktoon at 8:18 PM on May 20


If this episode leaves you blown away by Peter Mullan, may I recommend Tyrannosaur with him and Olivia Colman? It's not about dinosaurs at all, despite the title. It's about people living with violence. (Trigger warnings galore re: abuse.) But both he and Colman are stupefyingly good and the film is heartbreaking.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 1:25 PM on May 21 [1 favorite]


When Elsie was scanning Bernard's system with the tablet, it showed a visualization of a human brain and not a little host brain orb - is this just something I haven't picked up on before, or is that new?
posted by jason_steakums at 6:06 PM on May 21


Finally an episode in season 2 I liked! Elsie + Bernard in the tunnels is everything that Maeve + Hector in the tunnels should have been, but wasn't. Also as much as I <3 Dolores it was nice having a whole episode without her. William trying to bring back Old Man Delos and failing over the years was so heartbreaking, really terrific writing.
posted by Nelson at 9:48 PM on May 22


First good episode, despite the return of Elsie, who is so smart she only trusts code and then makes the robot who attacked her promise not to hurt her again because robots are all about pinky-swears. Maybe she tinkered with Bernard's settings while topping him up, but meh.

Zombie Clem is better than no Clem at all.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 8:48 AM on May 23


« Older Babylon 5: Spider in the Web...   |  Timeless: The General; Chinato... Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments