US military reportedly acts against ransomware groups The cost of flying internationally Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse trailer Omicron vs. delta Free COVID at-home test kits Cyber Week deals

Westworld recap: Best episode yet reveals who Man in Black and Delos truly are

Delos Incorporated wants your DNA, your mind, your brains, your heart and all of your data. Sound like another company we know?

Anybody who had "DNA collection for nefarious purposes" on their Westworld bingo card, please come collect your prize.

The fourth episode of the season, The Riddle of the Sphinx, is co-showrunner Lisa Joy's directorial debut and a perfect departure from the tone of this season. After being so terribly bored by last week's bloody episode, this was everything I love about the awesome madness that is Westworld's layers.

Delos is immortal, maybe

And yes, the theory has been around -- this YouTube video from HaxDogma from last week is just a recent example -- but that's not really the most striking part.

It's that it's really easy to believe this will happen in the near future.

This could 100 percent be a post we would have see in this universe/timeline.

Caitlin Petrakovitz/CNET

Mostly because it's already begun. Maybe because we hear a new horror story about a data breach every day.

Is it really so hard to believe that a huge corporation could capture your imagination so completely that you would freely supply your DNA, your gaze, your likes and dislikes? No, it really isn't, and that's why this was the most important Westworld episode to date. 

While we're pretty sure Elsie burns the crap out of Papa Delos and that's the last we'll see of him in the present timeline, we can't even be kind of sure because Bernard knows there's "another control unit" (aka center of those mind light bulbs) floating around out there. Which begs the Q: IS THIS HOW FORD COMES BACK?!?!???

I don't think so, but I can't for the life of me think of who else has uploaded their consciousness to Delos: Logan? Emily for safe keeping? William, but without his knowledge because we all know Ford is a dick? The possibilities are endless, and include characters we haven't even met yet!

As he devolves, Delos begins to reach for straws and we learn this final look at the fucked up host is after Juliet's suicide (his daughter, William's wife), and that Logan died of an overdose (but diiiiiid heeeee?). The non-host host destroys his well-decorated apartment and is left to rot in peace... until Elsie and Bernard find him and destroy him yet again. 

Key moment: William telling Delos, "If you can't tell, does it even matter?" As a callback, it was simply perfect, and as a direct answer, it raises bigger questions, such as what is Delos' endgame for this science? Why couldn't they perfect it, and how did Ford do so with these hosts (using the maze)? 

Elsie's back!

Not sure if we should thank Bernard or Clementine for this one (OK, Clem), but it's great to see nonetheless. Elsie is an extension of the audience, fumbling around as we piece together not only the timeline but also all the new info we've been learning about Bernard. 

Is this now, or then, or will it be soon? Is he still under Ford's programming or is this truly a new experience? 


Bernard seems true to his word that he wants to protect Elsie, but who really knows *still.*


We can surmise that Bernard thinks Clem was actually acting as a pawn in Ford's game, and we have no reason to suspect that isn't true -- other than the fact Ford kept this lab under wraps and hidden from Bernard himself for years. Why would he want Bernard to remember it? We learn this was where Delos was, err, raised over the years and assume that's what Ford wanted him to know. Well, that and the all-important Second Control Unit we mentioned.

Once we enter the underground lair (for lack of a better creepy word), things get stranger. We're not sure this isn't the same lab we entered 12 to 13 days ago with Charlotte Hale (Tessa Thompson), but it seems unlikely based on the machines, placement of the lab in the park and the outline of the workspace. (But it's Westworld so I'm not ruling anything out.) 

Bernard is lost in his own time slippage in this timeline, and we still can't trust his version of events even after Elsie pumps him full of cortical fluid. Especially when we see that he helped the drone hosts kill the human lab workers, despite his present-day protestations that he's thinking for himself now and he'd never lie. I do so want to believe in the goodness of Bernard, though! 

Before the pair set fire to Delos, Delos gets creepy on Bernard, with a story about God and the Devil -- coupled with The Rolling Stones's Play with Fire. This was a mortality-heavy episode (which we will discuss more in-depth on tomorrow's show!).

Key moment: Well, aside from Elsie being back and kind of messing up our ideas of the timeline, her decision to choose to help Bernard is major. This is the host who assaulted her and dragged her to the middle of nowhere. Who left her with nothing and then was barely surviving when he came back to her. Elsie's empathy for Bernard's situation is striking, and even though I think we see a huge shift in her trust in hosts overall, the fact that she still retains even any feelings toward him is commendable.


I think he still has a heart, no matter what he tells "Ford."

John P. Johnson/HBO

Man in Black has a heart (?)

And Lawrence is waking up. As Lawrence and the Man in Black head back to the former's home, MiB starts to notice little differences in his host buddy. In the middle of some serious shit going down, Lawrence remembers MiB has a daughter, and maybe even that he has a heart (from waaaay back when). The fact is, we're seeing him wake up and I'm so excited how that will affect his relationship with William.

Man in Black also refers to himself as Death numerous times in this storyline. His banter with Major Craddock (Jonathan Tucker) is dripping with fear on the part of William -- a truly new sensation for everyone involved. 

"You think Death favors you... Death is always true. You haven't known a true thing in all your life," William tells the host soldier. William tells Craddock he can never know what it truly means to be alive because he can never know True Death. 

Then he goes full Man in Black, body shield and all, and kills the hosts holding his friends captive in town. Yes, his friends. The Man in Black is beginning to remember that original, nice guy William even as he literally helps explode a man. 

Key moment: Our look at William's wife's suicide was heartbreaking. William has alluded to that moment before, and we learn it changed his view on the immortality of Delos and their work in the park. But did the experiments truly end? Did Ford uncover a deeper truth about mortality and humanity?


Welcome to the madness.



Seriously, I called it. I knew it, I said it the moment she appeared onscreen, and I told anyone who would listen. Plus I love this addition to MiB's storyline moving forward. 

From the moment she entered our eyeballs in The Raj, we should have known: Who else but a badass "in" on the true goals of Delos would avoid an experience with a host so deftly (or so violently, depending on your point of view)? Emily knows what's been going down at the park with regards to the data and DNA collection, but we never see her interacting with Grandpa Delos. Did William keep the true mystery hidden from her? Seems likely, but it also seems utterly likely that she is there to help burn it all down. 

Was this reunion crafted by Ford too? Doubtful, but as usual, not impossible. All the signs that William was to "play this game alone" lead me to believe Emily is here of her own accord -- or rather, quite possibly the same destructive mission as her father, unbeknownst to her though.

Editors' note: This piece was originally published Sunday, May 13, and has since been updated with our newest Morning After After Show.

Westworld season 2 airs Sunday nights on HBO. Check your local listings for timing and channels.