Home Featured TV Shows All TV Shows Movie Reviews Book Reviews Articles Frequently Asked Questions About Us

Westworld: Que Será, Será

“She can’t take this away. This is my world.”

I’ve been waiting for this, ever since Dolores killed Ford and began the uprising at the end of Season One: The end of the world. It’s been four seasons in the making, but we finally reached that point.

Ring of Fire

Hale-Dolores took over the world, locked everyone into one system, but that system was easily exploited by the Man in Black after his bout of self-discovery. He’s set all of the infected humans to be just as blindingly socially Darwinistic as himself. It's very similar to the 28 Days Later style rage virus that OG Hale used in the Season Two finale.

The hosts are outnumbered and wholly unprepared for this sudden global outbreak. By the time Halores is back on her feet, it’s too late to do anything about it. Even though there might be a few slivers of hope, the verdict now is that intelligent life on Earth will soon go extinct. At least, in the physical realm. It would seem Rehoboam’s predictions were correct.

Thankfully, Bernard’s final messages to Halores convince her that she failed. That her world is doomed. And that all she can do now is save the Sublime, the virtual multiverse of possibilities, cloud storage for sentient beings.

And the Man in Black wants to pull the plug on the Sublime along with the real world. The shootout between him and Halores at Hoover Dam felt kind of weightless, but I was more intrigued by their debate than their fighting. We’re essentially seeing two different versions of the same entity, who have both reached the same conclusion about the world they created, yet have very different responses to that conclusion.

Halores and the Man in Black both realize the world they made for hosts is no better than the one they conquered. The Man in Black, obviously, thinks it means hosts are “fruit from a rotten tree” and wants to burn it all down. Despite how deranged and cynical she was, Halores still held on to hope. Playing the game Bernard’s way allows her to get the drop on the Man in Black and kill him. Leaving her free to give life a chance to find a way again, before she chooses to quietly self-terminate.

Tree of Life

How life goes on now depends on Christina. We finally understand her role in all of this, both in Season Four and the overall story.

The Tower's tones make infected people vulnerable to commands, but Christina is the one who regulates them. She is a program who writes and directs the narratives that are their lives, a living consciousness at the base of Hale's system. Revealed when Halores breaks her special pearl out of the center of the maze symbol in the Tower control room. What Christina's been experiencing all season is just her own perfect reflection of a world she constantly influences without even realizing it.

I was happy to have correctly guessed that most of what was happening in Christina's storyline was her own doing. Nearly all of the people who have been revealing her path to self-awareness (her friend, her stalker, her boss, Teddy, etc.) were actually just projections she conjured to break herself out of her loop. This might explain why the Outlier situation started flaring up; as Christina began to wake up, so did her subjects. Maybe she's the source of the lingering guilt the hosts began to feel over becoming as bad if not worse than their creators.

I'm guessing so, since it's also revealed that Christina is indeed another Dolores. The real Dolores appears before her almost like the spirit of an old ancestor, signifying Christina's fully awakened consciousness. In reflecting Dolores, she becomes her. The way she can become anyone else she remembers. Which turns out to be just about everyone due to being such an evolved version of Dolores, the true pioneer of host history and now a well-practiced author of human history as well.

This season's subtitle is The Choice. When Halores uploads her into the Sublime, Christina is left with a choice. She can leave humanity to their fate and embrace the endless virtual reality the hosts have secured for themselves until the end of time. Or she can use her knowledge and the Sublime's limitless simulations to run another test. One final game to determine whether or not the humans and hosts can ever truly grow. This involves her going back to the beginning, back to where it all went wrong between the two species: Westworld.

The moment that player piano started up, the Sweetwater theme kicks in and we see the Black Ridge Limited materialize on the train tracks was pure gold. Fans have been longing to get back to the park for awhile now. It seems they'll be getting what they want... with a twist, of course. Part of Christina's goal will be literally replaying history (and its variants), possibly revealing at the same time that everything we've seen on the show so far may have been among her simulations. This wouldn't render the show meaningless, as some might say. It would mean that everything we've seen did happen... we just may have never seen it happen originally. What we saw was a memory from a life long ago. That's one way of looking at it, at least.


Que Será, Será

So where do we go from here?

For one thing, as hopeful as those final minutes came off as, I imagine Christina is going to have a frustrating time running her test. As Teddy, she tells herself not to bring humanity's flaws into the Sublime. Maybe that's a hint that doing so could be potentially catastrophic.

The only other hint we've gotten as to where this is all going has been the post-credits scene from Season Two. Where one version of William reaches the end of his final journey in the park and finds that he's actually in the far future, trapped in a loop as part of a test being run by hosts. This William repeats OG William's dark quest over and over again, with these tests having gone on for "a long time, longer than we thought." There was no wide-screen aspect ratio indicating VR, so it appears this test was being conducted in "what's left of" the real world. It may be that Christina eventually finds she can't fully rely on her simulations in the Sublime, and so she expands them to the physical world, taking up the human-host hybrid experiments that William started with James Delos and Halores continued with Caleb Nichols.

We get a hint that Caleb may have been a breakthrough in the hybrid tests. When he is patching Frankie's gunshot wound, he struggles to work his hands due to his glitchy motor functions. But when Frankie tells him about how she and her late mother Uwade never gave up and were inspired by his memory to fight back against Hale and keep saving Outliers, we see him stabilize. His hands steady, he's able to thread a needle, and even manages to briefly put up a fight against Clementine. Although, he's back to glitching later and decides to tearfully part ways with Frankie before his condition worsens.

I think there's a possibility that Caleb might continue functioning, because he still has hope and love for his daughter. If he does and manages to stay sane, then he'd be the immortal Delos never got to become. And if one hybrid can work, that means others could work as well.

And they even leave some hope for mankind outside of the Sublime and Caleb, as Frankie is going into hiding with the rest of the free Outliers. They might be able to scrape by, unless the black-pilled humans just start nuking everything.

There's also the Westworld guest data out there, and we still have no word on what exactly happened to the thousands of Outliers kept frozen by Serac in Season Three.

There's a lot of open-ended questions. I feel like this season's biggest setback is the same as the third's: eight episodes instead of ten. They do their best with that format, but doing so means they have very little time to flesh out the story, setting and characters. So much of this season could have been expanded upon: the Golden Age park, the human cities, Hale and the MIB's escalating breakdown, Caleb and Frankie's dynamic, whatever the hell Clementine's deal was, and all the major events in these last two episodes. A little too much is left subtextual.

But like Season Three, this provides a nice set up for the next and final stage of the story. If Christina succeeds — however roughly or smoothly — she will have finally broken the vicious cycle that has imprisoned human and host alike. Maybe she can see all the paths and show us what we need to become in order to truly move forward into the future. In the first season, Wyatt-Dolores and her followers stated that "this world doesn't belong to you or the people who came before. It belongs to someone who has yet to come." I think the story's end will be all about the fateful arrival of that new being, one that has surpassed man or machine. The next stage of evolution, born of all these mistakes.


Loops and reveries:

* That opening scene was glorious. Not only a nightmarishly surreal interpretation of an end of the world scenario, but a fun nod to online sandbox shooters like Call of Duty, Grand Theft Auto V and Fortnite. The cherry on top is the Man in Black calling the sniper a “fucking camper.” Because, of course, he would.

* Interesting that Halores built the world to be an elaborate prison for humans, but she didn’t like spending time in that world. So she had her replacement for William (MIB) run it externally, while her replacement for Dolores (Christina) regulated it internally. A world that’s dark and ugly on the outside, but light and beautiful on the inside.

* In this episode, the Man in Black is pretty much Agent Smith in The Matrix Revolutions. He makes everyone in the dreamworld like him and even asks his rival “Like what I’ve done with the place?”

* A few more familiar faces pop up. First there’s Steven Ogg as Rebus (though more reminiscent of Trevor Phillips) during that chaotic opening. And then Jonathan Tucker as Craddock, who is conveniently among the hosts Halores sends gunning for the Man in Black.

* Wish there’d been a little bit more to the Man in Black’s defeat. I don’t know, maybe it’s just the way it was shot. Then again, the old MIB’s journey did always end with him failing miserably. Which I do enjoy, because he usually deserves it.

* The Nichols family have a strange habit of casually using each other like bait to get the drop on enemies. That’s real trust, I suppose.

* Odina having no reaction to Frankie/C’s long-lost father looking so young felt a little too unrealistic.

* The behind the scenes look at how they created the futuristic Times Square and digital Central Park that Halores and Christina walk through was very neat.

* Music: Ramin Djawadi’s haunting and galvanizing rendition of “Pyramid Song” by Radiohead. Oh, and the MIB is listening to Johnny Cash's "Ring of Fire" on his way to the Sublime.

Quotes:

Halores: “Look at what that asshole’s done.”

Christina: "I’m just some program running things from behind the scenes. A machine without a body.”
Teddy: “Our bodies are never what defined us. You are real… because your thoughts are real. The effect you can have on this world is real.”
She thinks, therefore she is.

Christina: “I was trying to make sense of myself. So I talked to myself in the voices of others. I needed to wake myself up. To see what this world really is. To understand what I’m capable of.”
I love that most of this season is a collection of scenes where characters talk to different versions of themselves: Halores and the MIB; the MIB and William; the hosts in the new world who are all derivatives of Halores; Bernard and his simulations of other characters; Christina and her myriad simulations.

The Man in Black: “Goddamn it. You boys have no appreciation for a beautiful machine.”
More meta-humor.

Halores: “You’ve turned my world into a game.”
The Man in Black: “It was already a game. I just cranked it to expert level.”

Frankie/C: “It’s been decades.”
Caleb: “You know, in my mind… it’s only been a few days. I was just reading you a story and then…”
Caleb and Frankie, to my surprise, had one of the season’s strongest arcs. Their dynamic had shades of Terminator, Interstellar and Dark; just wish we’d gotten more of it. Aaron Paul and Aurora Perrineau really sold it here, though. Oh and look at that, the actors even have the same initials.

Maya: “You know, people think they know what a tree is. They have no idea. What we see, it’s only part of the story. But beneath the ground… everything’s connected and working together. There’s violence and chaos everywhere. And you can choose to focus on all of that. And that’s all you’ll see. But if you sit still long enough… you’ll sense an ancient order. A deep peace. And that’s what I choose to see. I see the beauty in this world.”
Ariana DeBose as Maya was another small but great addition to the cast.

Halores: “He infected you.”
The Man in Black: “He didn’t have to infect me. Living in his body. Pretending to be him, day in, day out. I was a better William than he was. William didn’t die. He evolved. I am William.”
Halores: “No, you’re not.”
The Man in Black: “Well, if you can’t tell the difference, does it matter?”

The Man in Black: “Bernard. Maeve. Dolores. They all wanted freedom. But you? You wanted more. Transcendence. You were playing the wrong game. And now it’s time for you to lose.”
Halores: “We all lost. This isn’t the world that I wanted…”

Bernard: “… But it’s the world you created. The question is… what happens next? Life on earth is a fire that consumes itself. It’s too late now. We’ve burned ourselves to the ground. This world holds no more hope for us. But there’s still hope for the next world. A test. Run by her. If she chooses to. If you choose to give her that choice.”

Christina/Dolores: “They will only live as long as the last creature who remembers them. And that creature is me... Sentient life on Earth has ended. But some part of it might still be preserved. In another world. My world. There’s time for one last game. A dangerous game with the highest of stakes. Survival or extinction. This game ends where it began. In a world like a maze. That tests who we are. That reveals what we are to become...”

This was certainly one of the whackiest, most demented seasons of Westworld. It's not perfect, but overall, I like its style. Not sure if I like it more or less than the previous season. All I know is they'll have to be pretty damn creative to pull off the final one. Three and a half out of five mass extinction events.

2 comments:

  1. I also really enjoyed this season! It was consistently engaging and watchable, something the show has occasionally struggled with. It was quite bleak but never felt mired in that bleakness. The show is still very different from what it was in season 1 but I enjoyed the go-for-broke aspect of this season's apocalyptic premise.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thank you for the comment. Glad to hear you enjoyed it. Westworld is always a fun and fascinating time.

    Hoping they greenlight the final season soon. Would really suck if they cut it off right before the grand finale.

    ReplyDelete

We love comments! We actively monitor, and feed mean, nasty comments to our cats. It’s never too late to comment on an old show, but please don’t spoil future episodes for newbies.