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The Riddle of the Sphinx Recap

James Delos lives his life in his quarters. He listens to records, reads, smokes, exercises, feeds his goldfish, masturbates, and drinks. He drinks coffee and spills the cream that he pours in, but doesn't seem to notice. One day William comes to see him and James asks where he's been. William offers him a bottle of whiskey and James pours them both drinks. His son-in-law declines, and James asks when he can be released. William tells him that the observation period is almost over and the last step is a baseline interview. He explains that they want to capture James' state of mind, and James points out that he defunded the research project 15 years ago. William asks him if he knows where he is, and James says that he's in an office park in Carlsbad, CA. He wonders why he's being interviewed, and William says that it's for fidelity.

William takes a piece of paper out of his jacket. James looks at it and stares in shock.


Lawrence and the Man ride across the desert, and a horse passes in front of them. They follow the horse's back trail to a Chinese railroad camp. The Man checks the tracks and discovers that the workers are using living beings as ties. The foreman looks at the Man, and the Man ignores him and tells Lawrence that the tracks are heading the wrong direction. He figures that there are other contents in Robert's game, and says that he knows Lawrence's family lives in Las Mudas where the detour goes. The Man tells Lawrence that Robert is arranging a reunion.

Clementine drags Bernard to a cave and unties his hands, then walks away without a word. Bernard hears someone in the cave, grabs Clementine's discarded rifle, and investigates. Elsie is chained to the wall and tells Bernard to stay away from her. He shoots the chain off of her leg, and she grabs the rifle and aims it at him. Elsie says that Bernard knocked her out and left him there, and Bernard insists that Robert forced him to do it so they'd play the game. He explains that the Hosts are free without safeguards, and shakes from his condition. Elsie backs away and Bernard follows her, then collapses on the ground. He drops a tablet, and on it Elsie finds the data on Bernard's cognitive lock. She's shocked that he's a Host, and realizes that his life is a backstory. Elsie puts him into safe mode and says that she's not going to shut him down because he has too much to answer for.

Bernard watches the Lead Drone make cupcakes and sort out human eyeballs.

Bernard wakes up and discovers that his hands are tired, and Elsie is training a gun on him. She says that he has extensive cortical damage, and says that she altered his code to ignore the physical damage. However, Elsie warns that he won't last long without cortical fluid, and walks out of the cave. Bernard goes after her and says that no one is coming for them because Delos doesn't want them until they recover whatever data they've been gathering. Elsie points out that she has no tools, and Bernard looks around.

Bernard enters the cave.

Elsie wonders what's wrong with Bernard, and he says that there's a facility in the cave. He goes back in and examines the walls.

Bernard opens a section of the rock wall, revealing a switch.

Following his memories, Bernard finds the switch and throws it. A door opens in the fake rock wall, but Bernard doesn't remember where it goes. Bernard and Elsie enter the elevator beyond, and the door closes behind them. The elevator descends to the facility and they find a whole lab filled with corpses. There's a control unit printer on a table, and a tablet with scrambled information.

The drones go about their tasks.

The Lead Drone steps out, and Elsie shoots it. It goes down, and Bernard says that the techs there were watching the guests. He starts convulsing, and Elsie finds a syringe of cortical fluid. Bernard lies on the table, and Elsie asks if he had something to do with the project. He says that he doesn't remember but he doesn't think so, and tells her that Robert is dead. Elsie injects the cortical fluid into his neck and Bernard passes out.

The Ghost Tribe warriors take Grace and their other prisoners to their camp. Some of the Delos guards are captive as well, including Ashley. One of the warriors, Ehawee, questions the tied-up Ashley and then shoves him to the ground. Once Ehawee leaves, Grace translates and says that Ehawee said that "the time is coming." Ashley says that the warriors are only killing the Hosts, not the guests, and tells Grace that he'll get her out. Grace says that she's not looking to go.

The Man and Lawrence ride into Las Mudas and find no one on the streets. They sit down at a cantina table and a barkeep comes out to take their order. Lawrence says that he's not the domestic type, and admits that he's a son of a bitch so he stays away from them. The barkeep nervously pours them drinks, and the Man asks him what his problem is. Confederados come out, gun drawn, and Craddock draws a shotgun on the Man before he can get his revolver. The major says that Wyatt double-crossed them, and the Confederados take them to a church where they're holding the townspeople. Lawrence's daughter runs to him, and Craddock says that he and his men need food, whiskey, and ammunition. A village elder steps out to make a deal with them, and Craddock guns him down and says that he's not interested in deals.

While Craddock threatens the villagers, Lawrence warns the Man that Craddock will kill them regardless. He looks over at his wife and daughter, and reminds the Man that he once said that he had a daughter. Lawrence refuses to be shot down in front of his family, and says that the weapons are in an unmarked grave. He figures that once the Confederados get drunk, they'll grab the weapons and make a run for it. The Man stands up and suggests that he and Craddock make a deal. He tells Craddock where the weapons are, but says that he knows Craddock is going to Glory but Craddock doesn't know where it is. The Man tells him that he knows the way to Glory, and Craddock sends his men to check the graveyard.


James Delos lives his life in his quarters. He listens to records, dances, and looks at himself in the mirror. After a moment, he drinks coffee and this time pours the cream in perfectly. William comes to see him and James asks where he's been. William offers him a bottle of whiskey and James pours them both drinks. His son-in-law declines, and they repeat the same conversation as before. William takes a piece of paper out of his jacket. James looks at it and realizes that it's a transcript of the conversation that they just had. He realizes what William done and figures that he didn't recover, and asks how long it's been. William says that it's been seven years, and James says that he's ready to go. He realizes that his wife is dead, and William explains that she died of a stroke. James confirms that William is looking after his daughter Juliet, and asks about his granddaughter. William assures him that she's smart and capable, and notices James' leg twitching.

William tells James that they're going to have to keep him there a little longer for observation. James insists that he's ready, and stutters over the word "air". He starts mumbling incoherently, and William says that he'll be back the next day and walks out. The assistant is waiting, and William tells her that they have the same problems as before. He order her to terminate James, and she incinerates the room and all its contents.


Once Craddock's men get the weapons, they inspect them in the town plaza. There's nitro, and Craddock says that they'll blast their way to Glory. The barkeep's hand wavers and he pours a drink on a Confederado that he's serving. Craddock sees it, pours nitro into a shot glass, puts it on the back of the barkeep's hand, and tells him to walk a dozen steps. The Man and Lawrence watch, and the barkeep walks the dozen steps and turns. Craddock congratulates him and then shoots off his hand, killing him.

The Indians take their prisoners away and tell Grace that they're going to the first of them and he'll decide what to do with them. Akecheta is waiting, and the warriors shove their prisoners to the ground. Grace secretly works at her bonds, frees herself, and runs away. Akecheta comes over as Ehawee holds a knife to Ashley's throat, and says that he only lives as long as the last prisoner who remembers him. The Indians fade into the darkness.

Waking up, Bernard discovers that his condition has stabilized. Elsie says that she still doesn't trust him but might need his help, and the tablet is encrypted in a way she can't access. Bernard recognizes it as the same code that was in Peter's head, and vaguely remembers that Robert sent him there. Elsie says that his memories are drifting around in his processing unit, and he wouldn't know what order they come in.

Bernard activates the tablet and programs a new unit.

Looking around, Bernard says that he was there recently and figures that the techs were building something other than Hosts. He looks at the "cupcakes" and says that the techs were using the same hardware but different code. They hear a noise from behind a door and Elsie goes to investigate. Bernard warns against her going in, but Elsie says that they have to see what's inside. He realizes that he's not there with hr, and tries to remember what the techs were making when he was there the last time.

Bernard remembers approaching a tech.

As Elsie shoots the lock off the door, Bernard tells her to stop but it's too late.

Craddock ties Lawrence up and has his men beat him. He then goes into the cantina and sits down with the Man. The Man says that Lawrence isn't his friend and they're wasting time, and Craddock pours himself a shot glass full of nitro and says that he and death go way back. Lawrence's wife and daughter at nearby, and Craddock tells the wife to come over. She hesitantly does so, and Craddock dances with her and says that Death sent him back to do its bidding. Lawrence collapses, and Craddock gives the wife the glass of nitro and tells her to slowly take it to her husband. The woman looks to the Man, who looks away. While she walks across the street, Craddock tells the Man that Death will watch over them as they ride to Glory.

The Man glances over at Lawrence's daughter, and remembers his own daughter finding her mother, dead by her own hand. Snapping back to the present, the Man tells Craddock that Death's decisions are final and Craddock doesn't know Death... or he'd know that he was sitting across from Death. The Man cuts Craddock's throat with a broken bottle, kills another Confederado, uses his body as a shield, and shoots the other Confederados. He then goes to where the wife is crouched in the street, holding the glass of nitro. The Man takes it and walks over to where Craddock is trying to crawl away. He pours the nitro down Craddock's throat and says that he's watching over him, then walks over to a crate of the weapons, takes out a rifle, and gives it to Lawrence. Lawrence aims the gun at Craddock and shoots him, causing the major to explode.


James Delos lives his life in his quarters. He drinks coffee and pours the cream in perfectly. The Man comes in, and James finally realizes that it's an aged William. He figures that he didn't recover, and says that he feels better than the Man looks. They drink and repeat the same events as before. The Man admits that it's been longer than they thought, and says that James isn't leaving. James stutters over his words, and the Man says that James has reached a cognitive plateau. Every time James' mind rejects itself. and James doesn't remember any previous times. The Man explains that they've brought him back 149 times, and he's made it 39 days before degrading. He admits that he's not so sure they'll ever crack the problem, and figures that the project was a mistake. The Man says that people aren't meant to live forever, and says that James is a shithead and everyone prefers the memory of himself. When James asks if the Man wants him to stay there forever while he runs his company, and the Man says that Juliet killed herself. He says that the world is better off without James, and possibly without him.

James stands up and calls to his son Logan. The Man tells James that Logan overdoses years ago because he couldn't face reality, and no one is coming to help James. He says goodbye to James and walks out, and James tears apart his room. The assistant say that they should terminate, but the Man tells him to let the Host live because it might be useful to watch his degradation.


Elise and Bernard enter the chamber beyond the door and see James' room. She overrides the lock on the door and go in. The room is torn apart and a record spins on the turntable. Bernard finds a trail of blood and follows it to the Man's corpse. Meanwhile, Elsie finds James on his exercise back. He gets off and looks at his reflection in the mirror, and cuts another piece of his skin off of his face. James says that he can see all the way t

the bottom, turns to Elsie, and asks if she wants to see what he sees. He advances on her and grabs the barrel of her rifle, and Bernard attacks him. They fight and Bernard shoots James in the throat with the rifle. James comes back at him and Bernard throws him through the outer glass wall. Dying, James says that they said there were two devils but there's only one at the bottom and it laughs at everyone. Bernard and Elsie walk out of the room and hear James start to get up. Elsie seals the chamber and activates the incineration protocol,

Back in the lab, Bernard tells Elise that "James" was a Host and a human. He figures that they intend to keep trying to replicate humans, and Elsie says that she has to get to the Mesa and contact the mainland. Bernard tells her to wait, and says that he knows why Robert sent him there: to print a control unit for another human. He doesn't know who but figures that he has to find out, and says that they should go together. Bernard tells Elsie that since Robert died, he gets to decide who he wants to be. He begs her for the chance, and Elsie tells him that she's always trusted code more than people. She makes Bernard promise to always tell her the truth and never hurt her, and Bernard immediately agrees. Elsie goes, and Bernard sees the head technician.

Bernard picks up a control unit and pockets it, and then orders the drones to kill the human technicians. They do so as Bernard calmly watches. The drones then kill themselves, breaking their own necks. The head technician tries to crawl away, and Bernard kicks his head in.

As Bernard looks down at the dead tech, Elsie asks if everything is fine. Bernard says that everything is fine and walks out.

The next day, the Man prepares to ride out. Lawrence's wife thanks him and kisses him on the cheek, and Lawrence says that the peasants want to help the Man. The Man says that he won't be coming back. The daughter tells the Man that she knows who he is, and one good deed doesn't change it. The Man says that it wasn't a good deed, and he's just playing Robert's game to the bone. The daughter tells him that if he's looking forward then he's looking in the wrong direction. The daughter's story programming takes over and she runs to Lawrence to hug him. The Man rides out and after a minute, Lawrence and the peasants follow hm.

The men ride across the plains and come to Grace, riding a horse. She comes up, look at the Man, and greets her father.

Written by Gadfly on May 19, 2018

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