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Westworld: Generation Loss

“You feel it now, don't you? All your struggle. The burden of your so-called consciousness released. Your will is no longer your own. It belongs to me.”

Now that's more like it, Mr. Nolan.

Although, I should really praise Kevin Lau and Suzanne Wrubel, the writers of 'Generation Loss' and the previous episode. Damn fine work.

I was hoping for clarity, and I got some. Full credit to the writers for all the misdirection in the previous three episodes, and the slow buildup to this one's major revelations. The game has certainly changed.

She Won

Seasons One to Three were all about hosts and their fight to survive the human race that would see them destroyed. So the reveal that our forays with Caleb and Maeve this season were all taking place in the past and that they lost was huge. Halores succeeded with her strategy. The world is hers. Has been for 23 years. The hosts are the ones in control now. Human beings have become literal puppets on strings, slaves, livestock.

They concealed it very well, keeping us on our toes with all the other stuff going on in the rest of the episode. Caleb's infection, Maeve turning the tables on Halores and the Man in Black, their heady escape from the Golden Age, and the final confrontation at the desert construction site. So much of it felt so in the moment that it blindsided me when it was revealed to be the conclusion of Caleb's fidelity test decades after the original died.

It was a wickedly brilliant mix between the Bernard robot reveal in Season One and the post-credit scene in Season Two, where William discovers he is trapped in the same type of fidelity test he began with James Delos. But it's taken even further when Caleb tries to run again and we get the reveal that humans are now no different from hosts. Largely unconscious, operating with a bicameral mind, drones that carry out instructions received from the Tower, where Halores uses infrasound signals that correspond with the fly-parasites in her subjects' brains. Humans go about their fabricated lives, oblivious to the Tower and their total lack of agency. And the dead, like Caleb, can be casually resurrected and tormented.

And, of course, this continues to raise all sorts of questions. What is real? What's the threshold between a person and a facsimile of a person? Are our perceptions intrinsic or arbitrary? If you can't tell, does it matter? A copy of Caleb clearly feels the exact same way about his family as the "real" one did. Would his daughter feel the same way about him?

Christina's World

The discoveries in this episode also lend more context to what's going on with Christina's mysterious arc. While she is indeed naive as to the nature of her reality, Christina is not really in a simulation. This is just what the world has become. A machine-made microcosm of mankind at its apex, just like The Matrix.

Her exact place in it remains a mystery, but there are mounting hints that she and others are starting to wake up to the truth of things. Christina sleeps in all day after evidently painting a crude tower over the cityscape painting she was working on, while her roommate Maya has a flashback nightmare about her and her parents getting attacked by flies. Christina's dead stalker, Peter, also seemed to have been waking up.

It doesn't last long before Maya readjusts and gets back to prioritizing a girls' night out. She sets Christina up on a date... with Teddy. And it really does appear to be Teddy Flood, albeit more modernized. He repeats one of his old scripted catchphrases, recalls being a bounty hunter, clearly recognizes Christina and appears to be more aware of things than she is. Maybe he was able to exit the Sublime somehow, perhaps as a result of Bernard being there.

Still, there is the possibility that he is another altered character. After all, Christina feels like she knows him too.

Whatever is going on with Christina and her whimsical arc, it feels like it's going to be vital to the season. The showrunners have said that an inspiration for the character of Dolores was the classic Andrew Wyeth painting titled Christina's World. Christina seems to have a power she has yet to fully tap into. Could be this story be about her taking control, and choosing to write us a happy ending?

Too hopeful?
Desert Punks

I don't think so. As cynical and dark as this show is, it always leaves room for light.

Even if Halores's control over everything isn't threatened by Christina, her power is not secure. For one thing, the original Caleb was able to defy the influence of her parasite commands, shooting the Man in Black when ordered to shoot Maeve. And it's unclear if this is simply a kink in the parasite she failed to iron out at the time or part of Caleb's status as an Outlier who can't be fully predicted or controlled. If it's the latter, then it would seem every version of Caleb is capable of defying her.

As far as we know, Halores is not aware of Bernard's emergence from the Sublime... unless I'm right and Stubbs got replaced or brainwashed to be one of her agents (like Clementine). And even if she does know about him, it might not matter because he probably already knows she knows. If 23 years has passed since Caleb died, that means Bernard and Stubbs were in that motel room for over 30 years. Meaning, he spent the virtual equivalent of 30,000 years in the Sublime. I'd say that's more than enough time to figure everything out.

Bernard said that in every projected scenario he explored, even the few where he managed to prevent total catastrophe, he dies. Like Caleb, he might not really care what happens to him anymore. So long as he can ensure a better future for host and human alike.

Teaming up with "C" and the human resistance movement is a good start. I suppose "C" being Frankie Nichols, Caleb's daughter, was a bit obvious, but I was still impressed with how that reveal was juxtaposed with the latest iteration of Caleb realizing that he never made it back to his family.

It'd be pretty cathartic if Bernard, a host replacement forever haunted by the memory of a dead son he never had, got a chance to reunite a lost child with her dead father in the form of his host replacement. And that seems like a likely outcome now that he and Frankie have unearthed Maeve from the desert sands.

Maeve gets a lot of character development fleshed out here as well. All the stuff I thought was sketchy with them in the first few episodes turns out to have been not sketchy at all. Maeve and Caleb (briefly) won the war, but Caleb got fatally wounded in their final battle. Maeve stayed with him until she realized she wanted him to have the opportunity to have a family and a life worth fighting for. Much like Dolores, Maeve's relationship with Caleb feels largely maternal in nature. He's become like her son. It was her curiosity about Caleb's new happy life that resulted in Halores finding them both. And she blew herself and the MIB up thinking she was saving Caleb, giving him the chance to save the world and reunite with his family.

She will be crushed when she learns the truth. And very motivated to seek revenge once she's shaken the dust off. As we find out near the start of this episode, Maeve has the power to completely override Halores's system. Didn't mean much 23 years ago when it only controlled the Golden Age, but if she knocks the Tower out now, it could send the entire host-human race off of their loops.

And this is all ignoring the fact that all of this we're seeing might just be one of the Sublime's projections or some other simulacrum of past events taking place further in the future. That's Westworld, though. Endless possibilities!
Loops and reveries:

* The implication is that most humans across the world in 2088 are infected by the flies. Not all, since there are still revolutionaries who managed to escape the plague. But aside from a few host agents, the world outside Halores's sprawling Tower cities appears to be even more shabby-looking than it was 23 years earlier.

* For awhile, I was worried that the show was glossing over certain elements of Season Three. But this episode calls back on a lot of that, and I suppose previous episodes have too in a more subtle way. Rehoboam; Caleb's limbics implant; Caleb named his daughter Frankie after his deceased best friend Francis (the name Francis/Frances can mean "free man" or "free one"); the opening sequence of this season mirrors the opening of last season. Maybe we'll see one of the Serac brothers, at some point; although, I think it's implied that Halores was the one trying to use "the last of Rehoboam."

* Jumping off that last point, I had assumed Maeve and Caleb spent the majority of the seven years between seasons being at war with "William." But they've given the impression that the war only lasted about a year or two, with Maeve going into exile and Caleb raising a family after he survives getting shot.

* Can't tell if it's supposed to be tragic or poetic that Caleb is killed in a construction site. He almost was killed at the one he worked at last season, where he also watches another robot buddy die (RIP, George). More mirroring.

* Frankie's superior in the resistance movement is a man named Jay, and she's in a relationship with a woman named Odina, who also appears to have some authority. They and Stubbs split off from Bernard and Frankie to rescue an as-yet-unknown female Outlier.

* The Matrix vibes have never been more overt, but the way this season's story is framed also reminds me of Dark City or John Carpenter's They Live. Some of Ramin Djawadi's score has a vaguely Carpenter-esque sound this time around as well, at least to my untrained ear.

* Speaking of the soundtrack, it's eerie how the infrasonic booming of the Tower seems to merge with the music at points. Very unsettling.

* The Tower itself reminds me of The Dark Tower, which in that book series is the nexus in a grand universal design. Some viewers have already pointed out Dark Tower references in earlier seasons. That was another series that was constantly morphing into something new and weird with every installment.

* At the end, the building Caleb is being tested in appears to be the Olympiad Entertainment building. And people evidently aren't programmed to not notice him. He (or another copy of him) might end up running into Christina at some point.


Caleb: "This was never about the park. This was always about you spreading your disease. Everyone who comes here becomes a carrier."
Halores: "I prefer the term 'host.’"

Maeve: "And there I was thinking Wyatt was Dolores’s dark side."

Maya: "Then the flies came for me. That's the last thing I remember... before I woke up."

Christina: "Does it look like anything to you?"

Teddy: "Well, that’s the thing about this world, you know? Some of the most unbelievable things turn out to be true. And the things that feel the most real… are nothing but stories we tell ourselves."

Maeve: "Our kinds are locked in a perpetual struggle. I wanted you to do more than fight to survive. I wanted you to have something to fight for."

Caleb: "No. I’m me. It’s still me."
Halores: "Well, you’re certainly a version of you. I believe the 278th."

Halores: "The parasite worked on adults initially, but there was always some resistance. At a certain age, your brains become more rigid, difficult to change. Fortunately, that's not the case with children. Your children are so fucking good at taking orders. With them, it was seamless. The parasite growing in perfect symbiosis with their minds. It took a generation for those children to mature, for me to gain complete control over your world."

I was a tad uncertain before, but now I'm fully engaged with this season. And I'm ready for more. Five out of five bodies in the sand.


  1. Great review! Thanks for writing it!

    I can't believe Caleb's dead! I just can't wrap my mind around it! I did not see it coming!

    I had begun to wonder if we were dealing with different timelines because the thought that either Maya or C might be Caleb's daughter all grown up had crossed my mind.

    I also had my suspicions that the weapon Bernard was looking for might be Maeve because in season 3 the first thing Bernard does after being recreated by Dolores is to look for Maeve in the parks.

    Halores was acting way too smug for someone who had been kidnapped, which got me thinking something was up. However, I never saw it coming that it was either a simulation or that Caleb had died.

    I can't believe Caleb's dead!

    I like your point that Host Caleb cares about "his" family in the same way that the original did, but I never considered that C/Frankie might not feel the same way since it's not her "father". I hope there's a happy ending there!

    That's a good point you raise about the catharsis of Bernard helping Frankie reunite with her "father" when he himself lost his "son". I like the symmetry in it.

    I kept expecting Caleb to run into Christina at the end there when he's escaping from Halores. I had no idea that it might be the Olympiad Entertainment building where Halores was testing him, so thank you for pointing that out.

    I know that Christina's story connects/is important to the other stories, but I haven't figured out the connection yet. Argh! So many questions! In a good way!

    I'm so excited to see where the season takes us next!

    Thanks again for writing such a great review!

  2. Thank you for commenting, Patchcat.

    It was indeed a wickedly good episode. And I agree, Christina's story seems to be integral to the overall direction of Season 4. And maybe of the show going forward.


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