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The Three Most Pressing Questions From ‘Westworld’ Episode 4

Delos isn’t just in the business of theme parks, and the Man in Black’s mission is becoming clearer

HBO/Ringer illustration

We didn’t get any Dolores or Maeve (or Shogun World) in the fourth episode of Westworld Season 2, “The Riddle of the Sphinx,” but a show that loves questions finally gave us some answers. Delos has spent years trying to resurrect the company founder, IMDb lied when the site called the Episode 3 mystery woman “Grace,” and we got definitive proof that Westworld bar owners need to hire bouncers. But answers just lead to more questions, so grab a bucket and some protein bars and let’s dive into this week’s most pressing questions.

Has Delos Uploaded Other Human Minds Into Hosts?

The fourth episode shows us James Delos’s journey from human to host (and him listening to “Play With Fire” off of the Rolling Stones album Out of Our Heads). He died roughly three decades before the present timeline, but Delos scientists copied his mind onto a control unit (a host brain) and implanted it into a copy of his body so he could “live” forever. The process didn’t work — he got stuck on what William called a “cognitive plateau” — but the implications of this technology upend much of what we know about the nature of Delos’s business. The first question that comes to mind: Is Delos the only person whose mind has been uploaded to a control unit? We see Bernard staring at a control unit in the lab …

Screenshots via HBO

… and then we see him sneak it into his pocket. If Bernard stole one of the control units, it may be because someone’s mind is on it.

The most obvious conclusion is that it’s Ford’s mind on the control unit. Ford’s final words before he died were “Mozart, Beethoven, and Chopin never died. They simply became music.” Perhaps his version of “becoming music” is continuing as a host-human hybrid, and he made Bernard preserve his consciousness somewhere in the park. In the pilot, Ford tells Bernard that humanity has peaked, and that one day, “perhaps we shall even resurrect the dead,” Ford says. “Call forth Lazarus from his cave.”

If it isn’t Ford’s mind that Bernard pilfered, the next option might be even more intriguing: Arnold’s. Ford likely used the same technology to copy Arnold’s body that was used to copy Delos’s body; Delos died just a few years after Arnold, so the technology to capture Arnold’s mind may have already existed at the time of his death. And the show has already alluded to Bernard having pieces of Arnold beyond his physical appearance.

“You don’t know who you are, do you?” Dolores tells Bernard in Episode 3. “The man you’re based on? I wonder if there is any of him in you?”

What Is Ford Trying to Tell William?

The Man in Black and Lawrence head to Lawrence’s hometown, where they get held hostage by Major Craddock and the Confederados before William defuses the situation (well, metaphorically). When the dust and blood and small bits of Craddock settle, Lawrence’s daughter approaches William and tells him that he still doesn’t understand the real game. “If you’re looking forward, you’re looking in the wrong direction,” says the daughter, channeling ghost-in-the-machine Ford. This scene is similar to one from the season premiere, when the host version of kid Ford tells William to “find the door,” which “begins where you end, and ends where you began.” Kids say the darndest things in Westworld.

When you look at those clues together, it’s clear that William needs to confront his past. The moment he “began” may refer to when he transformed from the young, idealistic white-hat William into the black-hat Debbie Downer with a taste for murder. William says that started by falling in — and out of — love with Dolores.

“You didn’t make me interested in you, you made me interested in me,” William says in the second episode of this season. “Turns out you’re not even a thing. You’re a reflection. You know who loves staring at their own reflection? Everybody.”

If he wants to find the Door, he may have to rewind his relationship with Dolores — and go from killing her father to helping Dolores save him.

To borrow the words of James Delos, that might sound a bit far-fetched, but the same conversation happened for the second time in this episode. Outside the cantina, after flashing back to his wife’s death by suicide, William saves Lawrence’s wife. Left unsaid is that he was also certainly thinking of a scene from Episode 2 of Season 1, “Chestnut,” when William threatened Lawrence’s family in almost the exact same way that Craddock did to find the Maze. Here’s William in Season 1 sitting at the cantina, unloading his gun with Lawrence before he kills the bartender and Lawrence’s cousins ambush him.

And here is the scene from this week before Craddock shows up in this episode.

Here’s William dancing with Lawrence’s wife after he killed Lawrence’s cousins. Moments later William shoots her in the head, and Lawrence’s daughter tells William the Maze is not meant for him.

And here’s Craddock dancing with Lawrence’s wife in this episode.

We can debate about why, but clearly William had a change of heart after seeing someone else inflict the same horrors he did. This time he makes a different choice, and it ends with him riding off with Lawrence’s cousins into the sunset. Now that he is reunited with his daughter, he may begin to try to reverse many of his horrible deeds.

What Is the Data Inside of Peter Abernathy?

The USPeter drive did not make an appearance in this episode, but the revelations about James Delos have implications for what’s behind Peter’s chronic migraines. We know that Charlotte Hale uploaded a massive file into Peter with Delos’s (the company, not the guy) highest-priority data in Season 1. The Season 2 premiere seemed to explain what that data was when Bernard (and all of us) learned that Delos has a Facebook-like database that collects everything about its consumers, but instead of your likes, the company collects your DNA. Many (including me) have assumed the data Charlotte uploaded into Abernathy is this valuable consumer data/blackmail material, but now there is reason to doubt that.

The Man in Black mentions that the company is a year or two away from viably transplanting James Delos’s human mind into a host. If the company is actually on the cusp of transferring a human mind into a mechanical body, it makes sense why Delos (the company) wants the mind control unit of Delos (the guy). After Bernard and Elsie discover (and destroy) James Delos in the lab, Elsie puts the pieces together about why the company wants the information so bad.

“Fuck that,” Elsie says. “They’re gonna get us all killed so some asshole can live forever?”

If this is true (and it seems true), then much of Delos’s consciousness is lying dormant in Peter Abernathy’s mind, like Voldemort and Professor Quirrell. This creates a fascinating situation in which both of William’s fathers-in-law — one by marriage, one by love — are in the same body. William failed one father, but perhaps he can still serve the other by helping Dolores. Then again, if James Delos awakens inside Peter, he might want to play with fire.


The next episode is titled “Akane No Mai.” The episode description is “ショーグン・ワールドへようこそ (Welcome to Shogun World).” Buckle up.

Disclosure: HBO is an initial investor in The Ringer.