The Riddle of the Sphinx


Written by Gina Atwater and Jonathan Nolan
Directed by Lisa Joy

“I’m all the way down now. I can see all the way to the bottom.”
— James Delos

James Delos goes through his daily routine in his modern, minimalist apartment. He spills milk preparing his coffee. He has a visitor: William. Delos’ son-in-law assures him “the observation period is almost over.” Delos just has to complete a “baseline interview” for “fidelity.” William reveals they’ve been having the same conversation they’ve had in the past: A dying Delos isn’t stable enough to leave the research facility.

Time has passed as a slightly older William pays a visit to Delos, who repeats his exact questions and answers from earlier. Delos didn’t recover and it’s been “seven years” according to William, who tells Delos his wife passed and that they need to keep him for further observation. Delos starts to glitch. Upon exiting the observation chamber, William gives the go ahead to terminate his father-in-law.

Decades later, a new employee tells James Delos he has a visitor: a much older William, aka the Man in Black. Delos repeats the same conversation from William’s earlier visits. The Man in Black tells Delos he’s suffering from a “cognitive plateau.” It’s the 149th time they’ve brought Delos back. The Man in Black tells James this project was a mistake and perhaps “no one is meant to live forever.” The Man in Black reveals his wife Juliette — Delos’ daughter — killed herself. Delos calls out to Logan, who is revealed to have overdosed. The Man in Black leaves the quarantined room, and directs the employee not to terminate Delos, but rather to “observe his degradation.”

“Other people tend to ignore their narratives. I don’t like other people very much.”
— The Woman

The Ghost Nation leads hostage guests and Delos employees — including Ashley Stubbs and the mystery woman who escaped from The Raj. Stubbs tells the Woman that the warriors are only killing hosts, not humans. He assures her he’ll get her and the other guests out of danger. The Woman tells Stubbs she’s “not looking to get out.” Later, the Ghost Nation leads the hostages to tribe leader Akecheta. The Woman escapes.

“It wasn’t hosts they were making… It was something else.”
— Bernard Lowe

Clementine drags Bernard Lowe to the mouth of a cave where he discovers Elsie Hughes, alive. Bernard tells her the truth about what he is. After running a diagnostic analysis, Elise tells him he has extensive damage: he needs cortical fluid. Bernard recalls he’s been to this cave before — and the facility inside. Bernard and Elsie walk through the lab: the same space Bernard and Charlotte Hale escaped to in Episode 1, “Journey Into Night,” except now it’s littered with dead researchers and drone hosts. Bernard remembers he killed them and destroyed the facility.

Disoriented, Bernard’s memories slowly replay what happened in his earlier visit to the lab. Elsie and Bernard move deeper into the facility where they come upon a visibly deteriorating James Delos, whom Bernard recognizes. A hostile Delos attacks Elsie, but Bernard fights him off. Elsie finds the surviving control terminal commences termination, burning Delos alive. She realizes Delos Corporation: “printed his body and copied his developed mind onto a control unit like our hosts.” She pieces together what the corporation is really after.

Later that night, Bernard remembers why Ford sent him to the lab in the first place: to print a control unit for another human, but he can’t remember who. Bernard tells Elsie he’s in control now and promises to never hurt her again. He flashes back to the moment he destroyed the lab and had the drone hosts kill the techs before breaking their own necks. One tech survives, but Bernard delivers the final blow. Back to the present: Bernard tells Elsie everything’s fine.

“You think death favored you… Brought you back. But death’s decisions are final.”
— The Man in Black

The Man in Black and Lawrence come upon train tracks where host workers are nailing bodies to tracks heading in the wrong direction. They decide to follow the path to Las Mudas. Once in town, the two are held at gunpoint by Major Craddock and his men who are holding the town hostage. Lawrence shows the Man in Black he has the opportunity to be the hero. Craddock toys with the townsfolk hosts using explosive nitro.

The torture continues as Craddock targets Lawrence and his wife, forcing her to walk the grounds with nitro in-hand. This triggers the Man in Black to think back to the night Juliette committed suicide in their bathtub at home. He shoots Craddock’s men and the Major.

The next day, the Man in Black prepares to leave Las Mudas but not before Ford can deliver another message via Lawrence’s daughter: “I know who you are, William. One good deed doesn’t change that.” The Man in Black assures Ford he’ll play his game “to the bone.” Ford tells him: “If you’re looking forward, you’re looking in the wrong direction.”

Lawrence gets his Las Mudas compatriots to accompany The Man in Black to his next destination. They come upon a pasture where he sees The Woman riding toward them on horseback. She closes in on the Man in Black: “Hi, Dad,” says Emily.