Thursday, May 17, 2018

West World, Season Two, Episode Four: The Riddle of the Sphinx

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Though we get to see some of Bernard and surprise surprise, Elsie, this episode is really all about William and how complex the man in black really is.  As you recall, when William first came to the park, he got caught up in the narrative and fell in love with Delores.  Of course, we know that this same wide eyed William, later became the man in black.  That's a huge leap and so I suppose that West World has decided that it's time to fill in some of the blanks. We know that while Logan is the one who was originally approached by Ford and Bernard to invest in West World, it was William who took the ball and ran with it, dangling a carrot in front of his disinterested father in-law to seal the deal.  

James Delos was sick and dying of a disease ironically enough he suspended funding for fifteen years ago.  It turns out that even though West World gathered DNA and information on its guests, what Delos really wanted was a chance at immortality.  If James's mind could be uploaded into a host body he could effectively live forever. This is the carrot.  We watch as James begins in his day in a spartan abode which does not seem congruent with the wealth we know he posses.  James rises, works out and pours himself a coffee with shaking hands.  James even masturbates.  It's only when William arrives that we learn that who we have been watching isn't actually James but a James host.  James has been dead for seven months now and William is there to access how well the transfer went. At this point, William is still quite sympathetic towards his deceased father in-law, wanting to fulfill the promise he made to keep the man alive in a host form, only to discover that once again the transfer didn't work. 

Over the years we watch as William ages but yet continues to show up dutifully to check the fidelity of his father in-law, only to be forced time and time again to order the host destroyed and the process to begin anew.  By the time William is old enough to be the man in black, whatever sympathy he seems to have for the now long dead James has evaporated. By this point, they've tried to reboot James 149 times and each time it proved a failure. William is concerned that the issue is that James's mind refuses to accept the reality of his death and the passage of time.  This time, William absolutely relishes telling James that not only is his wife long dead and buried but that his daughter committed suicide and that Logan died of an overdose.  Rather than accepting any of the responsibility for what happened to the Delos family, William is happy to lay the blame at James feet, declaring James a terrible person who destroyed everything he touched.  William's cruelty is so deep that this time, he doesn't destroy the James Host but leaves it to deteriorate as it deals not only with it's own personal death but the death of all its family members. 

James's host version may not have worked out but that doesn't mean that transferring a mind to a host hasn't been perfected. I firmly believe that this is the code that Delos is trying to sneak out of the park. If this truly worked, many would pay unimaginable sums to secure immortality. It leaves me wondering if William's biggest mistake is a William host?  At this point, I still don't believe that Ford is actually dead and now seeing the James experiment, it's highly likely that Ford lives on in the body of a host and is controlling William's game.

In the present, William and Lawrence have been captured by Major Craddock and his men. Despite having his forces decimated thanks to Delores, Major Craddock is determined to get to a place he calls Glory and to get there, he's going to need weapons.  To that end, Major Craddock terrorizes the residents of the small town and kills them at will.  Lawrence is worried that his wife and daughter will have to watch him die, particularly given that they wrongly view him as a hero.  It's only when Major Craddock gets around to torturing Lawrence's wife that William decides to play hero, killing Craddock's men and setting it up so that Lawrence can be the one to kill Craddock himself. This clearly represents a change because I don't believe that William pre the host revolt would have cared about Lawrence or his family, particularly because as a human, he wouldn't be in any real jeopardy. William doesn't get to bask in the glow of his newly attained hero status because Ford inhabits Lawrence's daughter and is quick to tell him that while the hosts have no memory of the horrors that William has inflicted that he cannot simply wipe away the stain of his misdeeds.  Ford points out that the journey William is on is not one of moving forward but looking to the past. This further cements my belief that the weapon that William is looking to destroy is a young host which inhabits at least a part of who he is. Could it be, that part of the reason William lost his way is because everything that was good about him was put into a host?

As William makes his way away from the town he runs onto a very familiar face. It turns out that Grace, the woman who ran away from the tiger in Raj World, is actually his daughter. 

As for Bernard, he's not doing well because he's running low on a specific kind of fluid. Fortunately, Clementine drags him into a cave where he finds Elsie. If you recall, Ford had Bernard deal with Elsie violently, so she's not trusting of Bernard when he shows up and releases her from captivity. Bernard is easily lost in his memories and has no idea whether he is experiencing something in the present or remembering something which happened before, though he is quick to attempt to assure Elise that he is no longer Ford's pawn and is acting of his own volition now.  Bernard remembers that there's an entrance to a lab in the cave and that is where they find James.  By this point host James has been suffering for decades and it's Bernard and Elise who finally put him out of his misery.  Bernard knows that something was made in this lab, he just doesn't know what and he knows that a code that he has never seen before was used. 

Not only do I believe that Ford has successfully cloned himself, I think that his first and successful attempt at cloning is actually Bernard. Because Bernard is also a host, Ford had been able to manipulate him but that doesn't mean that the essence of who Arnold was isn't also embedded into his host body, particularly because Bernard has been given a different identity to Arnold. The problem with James is that he couldn't accept his reality but by turning Arnold's clone into Bernard, he would never have had to face the reality of his death, and further, the transition would also have been eased by giving Bernard a similar backstory to the actual Arnold. Yes, this is my big theory. 

It's still really early, so there's a lot still to reveal about West World.  I firmly believe that William, Ford and Bernard have been cloned and not just made into hosts.  Where this will lead is what I don't know yet.  What we still don't know is what turned William from the man who entered the park with a white hat into the man in black. Something fundamental had to change and I think that it has to do with cloning. 

When William was railing away at James, he was in actually only expressing his own anger at himself. In truth, if James doesn't deserve to live forever then William most certainly doesn't. It's clear that William bears some responsibility in the deaths of Logan and his wife and the guilt of this ways heavily upon him.  I think William's journey is actually about returning to his idealistic self rather than dealing with his actual transgressions.  Williams mission is to save himself.

I've tried to look for clues as to what Bernard we are dealing with. At this point we are essentially viewing Westworld through Bernard's eyes and are as confused as him as to what is going on when and where.  Which version of Bernard broke into the lab and slaughtered all of the technicians?  Is Bernard actually with Elise or is he remembering his time with Elise?  William may be the focus but Bernard is the key.