Westworld Season 2 has been surprisingly slow so far, compared with Season 1. Bernard has been piecing events together, while Dolores is making her way to The Valley Beyond. In Season 2, Episode 4, “The Riddle of the Sphinx,” Bernard investigated a secret lab with Elsie (who’s alive–yay!) and last week’s mystery woman turned out to be William’s daughter, Emily. But let’s not gloss over the extraordinary revelation: Delos, under William’s guidance, has been trying to recreate actual people, memories, tics, and all, as android hosts.
Or, more specifically, they’ve been making a person. Jim Delos died decades earlier than the show’s present, but some version of him–an endless succession of twisted, twitching golems–has been alive in a secret lab under Westworld for all the intervening years. William has been working for 30 years to perfect the technology to make a being who’s more than a host, but less than a person. And he failed.
Undoubtedly this is William’s “greatest mistake,” as he described it in an earlier episode. This secret lab must be where it all comes together: it’s the dig site that young William showed Dolores earlier this season, and it’s the “true purpose” that Dolores hinted about with Teddy. In Ford’s new game, Bill needs to “end it where it began.” That could still have multiple meanings–last we saw Dolores, she was heading to Sweetwater, where many things have begun–but it likely refers to this lab of horrors as well.
This was William’s big project–possibly even the reason behind everything he did over his decades in charge of Westworld. Is it also the reason Delos has been collecting DNA and other data from guests? Are there more human-hosts than just this one? Has Delos, as one theory posits, been replacing guests with lookalike hosts and sending them out into the world? And to what end?
Creating a host with a person’s memories and personality doesn’t extend the person’s life. Immortality is not the goal here–despite Bill’s tongue-in-cheek admission that “people aren’t meant to live forever,” as if that’s a revelation. That was never the goal. Jim Delos is dead. He could only live on as a copy. And William must have had a reason for wanting him to, though it’s not yet clear what it was.
How does Bernard fit in? Bernard isn’t a copy of Arnold–not in the same way Jim-Bot is a copy of the real Jim Delos. Ford simply based Bernard on his old business partner. As Ford’s personal monster, Bernard could Ford’s dirty work for him. That probably explains what Bernard was doing in this lab the first time around–when he wiped the place clean and killed everyone inside. Ford likely opposed William’s research as a perversion of his original vision for the park, and ordered Bernard to destroy it.
Bernard also remembers printing a new “control unit” down there, raising the question once again of whether Ford is really dead. Now we can ask whether there’s some kind of Ford human-robot hybrid running around, too. If so, what did Ford lose to create it? As the Jim Delos-Bot says repeatedly–although that’s unbeknownst to him–“If you aim to cheat the devil, you owe him an offering.” What was William’s offering? His family?
As has become usual in Westworld Season 2, the present day storyline is much less interesting. We didn’t have to suffer through any Dolores proselytizing this week, but Bill spent the whole episode basically retracing his steps. He may be playing the good guy for now, but he’s still only playing. Why did he even need Lawrence in the first place? Why is he doing any of this? No doubt it will become clear at some point, but right now the Man in Black’s storyline isn’t all that compelling.
All these revelations raise another troubling question: If this was William’s real goal all along, why did he give a damn about whatever he thought the “maze” was during Season 1? If the park’s true purpose was to copy human minds into artificial bodies, what did Bill have to gain from playing Ford’s game? What does he have to gain now?
Maybe his daughter Emily–oh yeah, as many viewers guessed, that’s who actress Katja Herbers is playing–will help sort things out.