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How the Hell Is Sylvester Still Alive on ‘Westworld’?

We need to talk about the worst human being on this television show and his uncanny ability to beckon death and then escape it

HBO/Ringer illustration

Westworld is a show that holds a mirror up to humanity, and the results aren’t pretty. Most human characters on Westworld are awful people. There are bad people on a grand scale, who use Westworld as a way to steal people’s private data (and DNA). There are bad people on a small scale, drunken idiots with penchants for public urination. There are the park’s very wealthy guests, who do indescribably awful things to the hosts on a daily basis. And then there’s Sylvester, the persistently negative, self-loathing Delos lab technician whose whole vibe screams, “I eat microwave dinners and wear the same stained shirt four times a week.” Sylvester is, and I mean this with the most sincerity possible, the worst. In Season 1 he chastised his idealistic colleague Felix for wanting to do more with his life than remove bullet holes and semen stains from dead robots. He also seemed to have his hand in a side business in which lab techs loaned out lifeless host corpses for other Westworld employees to defile. Most importantly, though, he tried to stop Felix from helping Maeve become an über-sentient host. We last saw him in the Season 1 finale, as the robots escalated their rebellion into a hostile takeover. Delos employees were sprawled across HQ in alarming fashion, and the door closed on his story with a healthy presumption that he wasn’t long for the world.

And yet! Somehow, the single worst employee of Westworld managed to survive the Delos purge. Last week’s episode of Westworld was called “Reunion,” but Sunday night’s was the one that had Maeve walking through underground hallways, reuniting with all of her Season 1 compatriots. First she ran into Armistice, who apparently somehow fought off Delos security after getting her arm caught in a door (she also acquired a flamethrower and a shiny new metal arm, Winter Soldier–style). Armistice then led Maeve, Hector, and Sizemore to a room, and hey look, there’s Felix the Friendly Lab Tech! And—oh, god, don’t tell me he’s still alive ...

Sylvester in ‘Westworld’ HBO


There he was: Sylvester, that schlubby jerk, sitting on the floor, cuffed to a beam and desperately holding a grenade between his cheek and his neck (and sniveling, obviously; this guy always snivels).

(Side note: Armistice rigged the grenade like that to ensure that Sylvester would stay quiet, but since she and Felix were in close proximity to him, what would have happened if he sneezed? Would they all have died? That would’ve been a crappy and totally avoidable way to go.)

(Second side note: The actor who plays Sylvester is named Ptolemy Slocum, which, how is that not the name of a Westworld host? Also, if you wanted to know, Ptolemy has an impressively versatile IMDb page that includes a bit role in Will Smith’s cinematic masterpiece Hitch, voice work for the Grand Theft Auto series, and a stint as the movie trailer voice for the Honest Trailers YouTube series.)

Westworld is all about keeping viewers on their toes, but this might be the most mystifying puzzle of all: HOW IS SYLVESTER STILL ALIVE?! The fact he even survived the first season is a miracle. While Felix was more than willing to help Maeve gain sentience and find her robot daughter, Sylvester continuously antagonized Maeve and refused to help. Even as this stunning specimen sat in front of him—this living, breathing evidence of budding consciousness and ability beyond what programming could make possible—he basically made the jerking-off hand motion, insulted Felix for no reason, and did everything he could to put Maeve back to sleep. It backfired, of course, because Sylvester sucks. “I was built to read people just by looking at them, to know what they want before they do,” Maeve told him in last season’s sixth episode, while holding a scalpel to his throat. “And I know that you want to fuck me over the first chance you get.”

Intuitive stuff from Maeve, and man, did it feel good to see this little shit squirm. Unfortunately, Sylvester was able to skate by. The logical move would’ve been to dispose of him right then and there, before he could do anything to fuck her over, but she didn’t. A couple of episodes later, he tried to decommission her, because, again, he is the worst. (I know I keep saying this, but I want you to understand.) Sylvester just didn’t account for Felix being on Team Host, and that was when Maeve, newly equipped with the ability to kill humans, slit his throat.

Maeve slitting Sylvester’s throat HBO

At that moment it was like, “Oh well, obviously. The guy who was absurdly rude to literally everyone is now facing consequences. All is right in this (West)world.” But once again our dreams were thwarted! Immediately after, Maeve made Felix cauterize the wound! It was the most ridiculous last-minute rescue on TV, until Rick slit Negan’s throat in The Walking Dead’s Season 8 finale, let him bleed out for like two minutes, and then successfully got the show’s resident doctor character to stitch up the wound. That’s not how throat-slitting should work! “Come on,” Maeve instructed Felix, motioning to Westworld’s magical carotid artery-healing device. “We might need him.” NEED HIM FOR WHAT?!

Now, you’d think that literal resurrection would change a person. You’d think that nearly dying because you were a jerk would make you consider if you should continue being a jerk. Sylvester had no such moment of self-evaluation, though, and, after being saved by a host, he continued to serve as a (mostly helpless) roadblock for the host uprising, constantly reminding Felix of the futility of his helping the hosts and just generally throwing shade at Maeve. It’s one thing to insult a compliant host that you can control with your iPad, but continuing to be mean to the robo-woman who opened up your neck with the flick of a wrist? PUT SOME RESPECT ON MAEVE’S NAME.

On Sunday night, when Armistice removed the grenade from Sylvester’s mouth and uncuffed him—thereby saving his life once again—he was equally ungrateful, grumbling about his less-than-ideal situation and continuing to be hostile toward the hosts who hold his life in their hands. Sylvester, please do some self-reflecting! You are unbelievably lucky to be alive! You should be bleeding out in a room with clear walls, but instead, you get to carry around guns for cool robots.

Maeve walking HBO

As Maeve, Armistice, Hector, and Sizemore continue their odyssey to find Maeve’s daughter—next stop: Shogun World—perhaps Sylvester has found his calling as a pack mule, and maybe now he will rehabilitate himself as a person. However, if Sylvester believes he has a chance to screw over the hosts and save himself, I bet he’s gonna take it. Because he’s bad, and bad at choosing the right team. Hopefully when that does happen, Maeve won’t be as kind as she was the last time, and Sylvester will finally—finally—get what he deserves.

Disclosure: HBO is an initial investor in The Ringer.