The return of ‘Westworld’ includes a time jump and the return of the best cheekbones in the business


The thing about Westworld is that the series reinvents itself a lot, and therefore very quickly. At one point it was a show about a theme park called West World and then it was about the robotic hosts trying to achieve freedom and escape the park or go to computer heaven , then it was about the surviving robots destroying human civilization and/or liberating human civilization from a supercomputer. Humans died and became robots, and robots died but some came back, and there were half a dozen copies of Dolores running around in different bodies and I don’t know how many of them still exist . Point is : Westworld has reinvented itself once again for its fourth season, and the season premiere – titled “The Auguries” – gets to work introducing us to its new world order.

Take, for example, Dolores, who is…apparently no longer Dolores! It’s Christina, a writer in New York who creates the stories of NPCs in video games. Or Caleb, who is still Caleb doing very Caleb-y things, only now he has a wife and a daughter. Maeve goes a little Scarlet Witch to a secluded cabin in the woods, and William — or the Man in Black-bot version of him, probably — is busy trying to buy the Hoover Dam. Oh, and Teddy, who died a long time ago in season two, now stands in a street watching Dolores – who, again, is Christina now.

As for the world? Turns out it’s been seven years since the last time we saw him on the brink of a revolution. Westworld jumped in time above war and the supposed collapse of civilization and plunged us into the new normal of the real world, where supercomputers no longer predict events and no longer control human lives. But don’t worry, there are still robots — and also maybe something is still able to control humans after all (specifically: flies, and possibly Christina).

What does all this mean? Shit if I know! But since it’s my job to explain this show, I guess that’s the point in the recap where I get to work and to pretend give sense.

WTF is “Christina”?

HBO continues to offer little making-of features after each episode, which can be very informative if you choose to believe what the cast and creators are saying at any given time. In last night’s featurette, Lisa Joy and Jonathan Nolan explicitly stated that Dolores was “dead”, and Evan Rachel Wood claims that her new character, Christina, is human. On a show where we’ve seen dead hosts return (and literally seen it happen in this episode!) and countless people we thought were humans turned out to be hosts, I think it’s safe to stay mistrustful. The Dolores who “died” has been erased, her memories systematically erased by Serac in her search for the key to Delos’ human data wealth. A big fight in Westworld, and in the last season in particular, it’s that our experiences are what make us who we are – it’s what made each of the copies of Dolores unique, and the loss of those memories would constitute a certain type of personality death. According to this same logic, if “Christina” remembers an entire human life, it may mean that she is one – at least until she finds out otherwise. From, oh I don’t know, a mysterious stranger with big cheekbones by James Marsden.

For now, what we do know is that Christina is a struggling loner in her job at Olympiad Entertainment because she continues to write romance stories with nostalgia for her background characters as all her boss wants is action and pain. When her bubbly roommate (Ariana DeBose) asks her if she should wear white or black shoes, Christina says they both look good, but ultimately chooses the white shoes. Christina’s life is, in many ways, an echo of Dolores Abernathy, right down to the Season 1 maze clue she finds on her fire escape. But the main takeaway is that those fictional stories she wrote for NPCs in video games might not be so fictional after all. She has a stalker named Peter who keeps calling her, begging her to stop destroying her life by writing it into a game. He claims “the tower is real” and “all these people are doing what you want them to do”, and tells him that he needs a different ending. Because apparently in the one she originally wrote, he jumps off a roof – which Christina then sees Peter do.

So: free will is still very much under threat, and somehow Christina is influencing it with her writing. Is Olympiad Entertainment just the next evolution of Rehoboam, another supercomputer pulling the strings of reality? Or is the video game another echo of Arnold’s Labyrinth, a game designed to lead Christina/Dolores to sentience?

Westworld Labyrinth.png

What does the Man In Black-Bot want now?

He wants the Hoover Dam, duh! Well, he specifically wants the huge system of servers that are hosted and powered by the dam – servers that contain something that was stolen from him. Pretty sure we just found out where the Sublime (aka Host Heaven) was transmitted at the end of season two! William still doesn’t have the access key to open it (because Bernard has it, as well as the Delos data key, which honestly might be the same key), so owning the physical servers is best thing to do, I guess. So he arrives at the dam, which belongs to a Mexican cartel, and offers them a deal: either they sell it to him today, or he’ll have it given to him for free tomorrow. They call his bluff, but then the leader comes home and sees a bunch of flies in his closet and passes out, and the next day he kills the rest of his cohorts and gives the dam to William for free – then kills himself. Somehow William, like Christina, was able to overturn man’s free will, only he did it intentionally. And, uh, with flies – which was maybe a hallucination or a metaphor or something, or maybe Delos now has Swarm o’ Flies Bots to do their bidding. I’m sure we’ll find out soon. According to the featurette, Westworld hired a “fly wrangler” to help them film the scene, I bet that fly wrangler got more work this season.

One thing that confuses me a bit is the fact that I thought I saw the Man In Black bot kill the human William in the end credits scene after last season’s finale…but in the promo for this season, we see a captive William talking to himself. Is there simply more than one man in Black-bot, or did the human William somehow survive?

Oh, I forgot: Man In Black-bot also wants to kill Caleb and Maeve

Last season, the fate of Rehoboam and humanity fell into Cal’s hands, after Dolores decided he was a human capable of making tough decisions and thinking for himself. Maeve broke up with Serac to protect him, and together they chose to erase Rehoboam and start a whole new world filled with free will and chaos for humanity. It was supposed to be the start of a war, but after seven years everything seemed to have calmed down. Cal has started a family, but waits in paranoia for the other shoe to fall off, while Maeve runs off the grid to avoid being caught by Delos. Unfortunately, Maeve’s little “control all electronics” superpower goes wobbly one day, knocking out the power in her corner and emitting a signal strong enough to pinpoint her location. The henchmen come calling, led by Colonel Brigham (a host model we haven’t seen since the start of the second season), and Maeve does what she does best (kills them with a pinache) – then connects to Brigham’s mind and reads his memories. She sees that William is the one who sent her, and she finds out who else William is after…

That’s why Maeve arrives just in time to save Cal and his daughter from another group of goons, and together they go in search of a senator that William is also looking for. One other thing bothers me though: In Maeve’s memories, we have glimpses of her time with Cal years ago, when they were destroying supercomputers together. In one shot, we see Cal badly injured, with Maeve on top of him trying to staunch the blood. I… don’t remember what happened last season, and it’s weird to show if Cal is supposed to be okay now. What if Cal died and was sort of a Cal-bot now? “But then, how would he have a seven-year-old girl!” you may be thinking, and yes, of course, fine. But Maeve also had a daughter, and she was a host all the time. I’m just saying stranger things have happened.

Where is Bernard?

He’s not in this episode, but the time jump certainly explains why he was covered in so much dust during that end-credits scene last season. It was probably exactly seven years of dust!

Where is Crispy Charlotte?

Also MIA, but since she’s running Delos, she’s probably the one telling Man in Black-bot what to do. And also, she’s still Dolores, but like… an angry evil version who I think still wants to destroy all humans.

Tori Preston is the editor of Pajiba. She tweets here. You can also listen to his weekly TV podcast, Podjiba.

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