Westworld recap: The Années folles of man
Westworld (TV series)
In "Annees Folles," directed by Hanelle M. Culpepper, and written by Kevin Lau and Suzanne Wrubel, our heroes walk into familiar loops with uncertain outcomes, where all paths may "lead to destruction."
We open with Bernard (Jeffrey Wright) inside the Sublime, where he —and a pale horse — wander through a series of hellish scenarios before coming upon a white building with a tower on top, like in the drawings Christina (Evan Rachel Wood) found last episode. Inside the building, he is greeted by Akecheta (Zahn McClarnon), who we last saw entering this "robot heaven" in season 2. Bernard tells him the world outside is in trouble and needs their help. Akecheta declines to go back there with him, but offers him a gift to help save the world before it's beyond all hope of survival. Time moves differently in here. Bernard can explore many possible paths to change things before he returns. In a way it feels like we've also lived a thousand lives since Bernard first went on this journey all the way back in May of 2020.
Akecheta asks if he sees where this is all going, "how it ends." Bernard says he does. In every scenario he dies. "Not every scenario. You could choose not to return to their world. You can stay here. Which will it be?" But we know which path Bernard will choose. As Akecheta points out, Bernard has an irrational love for humanity.
Cut to Bernard covered in dust, waking up in the motel where we left him at the end of season 3. He is greeted by Stubbs (Luke Hemsworth) who has been looking after him for years. When he is able to finish Stubbs' sentences, he is pleased to realize he's eliminated half the possibilities he explored. He tells Stubbs to meet him outside and to bring the shovel. He needs to test a few things.
They stop at The Road's End Diner. Bernard explains that he's trying to discern "which here is here" and that small choices trigger different variants. If he can trigger a certain series of events, they have a small chance of making it. "So if I'd ordered a BLT we'd be f—ked right now?," Stubbs jokes. As Bernard sketches the Maze on a coaster, he observes two men at the counter leave the diner, and follows them out into the parking lot. He beats them and stuffs their bodies into the trunk of the car. It's broad daylight. Does no one see this?
Anyway, Stubbs joins him outside just as a militarized SUV shows up, driven by a mysterious woman (Aurora Perrineau) who Bernard says is the key to saving the world. He shows her the drawing he made of the Maze, which prompts her to ask how long he has been with "the cause." "Seems like lifetimes," he replies. She tells them to get in — and suspicious of them and their shovel — pulls her guns on them. Which is very fair. Bernard hands her a bag, where she finds the decapitated head of a host inside. It belonged to one of the men she was supposed to meet. "He's one of them," she says, clearly not a fan of hosts. Bernard explains the meet was a set-up, an attempt to infiltrate her group. He can help her organization if she takes him to "the condemned lands." He knows that's where she and her group have been hiding, searching for something that he can find. She agrees to take them, but not without blindfolding them first.
After disabling some booby traps in the desert, they are greeted by the rest of her very armed, very Mad Max looking crew — lead by Daniel Wu from Into the Badlands. Bernard tells them he knows where to find the weapon in the sand they are looking for out there.
Meanwhile, over in "The Golden Age" — aka Temperance — our other couple, Maeleb, walk through a series of rebooted loops from Westworld. It's a really fun scene where Maeve (Thandiwe Newton) has to keep saving Caleb (Aaron Paul) from engaging with familiar story prompts. She tells him they need to get to the underground hub, and to do that, they'll have to die. Caleb doesn't seem too thrilled about this plan.
They come upon The Butterfly Club, which is this park's version of Maeve's Mariposa Saloon. Maeve is not impressed with the reimagined club or its versions of her (Cherise Boothe) and Clementine (Hannah James). Thandiwe Newton is so great in this sequence. I could watch a whole episode of Maeve giving shady reviews of the new hosts' performances. She overhears Deborah (Liza Weil) — who we briefly met on the train last episode — say she wants to find an "Easter egg," a hidden narrative she believes exists within the park that's supposed to be "better than Pariah."
Maeve grabs a table and tells Caleb they need to wait for history to repeat itself. It's not long before the player piano begins a jazz-age version of Metallica's "Enter Sandman," indicating the arrival of Temperance Hector (Nico Galán), Armistice (Michelle Boyd), and the gang — here to replay the events the originals performed in Sweetwater. Maeve declares Hector still knows how to make an entrance. Caleb, noticing a sadness in her, asks if she used to know him. She says no, he's just a shabby imitation of a man she used to know. RIP Sweetwater Hector (Rodrigo Santoro). They were so good together.
Maeleb kill the doppelgangers, then sneak onto the undertaker's truck, and infiltrate the underground hub. But Maeve quickly realizes something is wrong with this level. Seconds later, a security alarm goes off, and they are under siege by a machine gun wielding Deborah and friends on one side, and Temperance Dolores (Sierra Swartz), Teddy (James Joseph Pulido), and Angela (Amanda Booth) on the other. She realizes this entire level is the secret game Deborah mentioned earlier: "The Westworld Massacre." Maeve discovers the entrance to the real lower level, but not before being shot in the shoulder by Deborah, who declares the whole experience to be "cathartic." She must have some connection to the actual massacre. There's definitely more to Deborah than just enthusiastic park guest. Caleb covers Maeve as they make their way to the elevator.
In a very charged ride down, he repairs Maeve's shoulder. On the next level, they discover a series of hidden labs run by creepy, faceless hosts with no skin who are infecting flies with black goo - exactly like the kind that oozed out of Anastasia Whitney after she was shot in the barn in episode 2. As soon as Caleb comes near the fly farm, they begin to congregate on the glass in front of him. "They seem to like you," Maeve observes. Before they can determine what this means, she hears a harmonic tone that he can't, and follows it into another section of the lab. I assume this is the same sound the unhoused man on the High Line told Christina he and the birds could hear in episode 2.
While Caleb's been in the park with Maeve, Carver (Manny Montana) — who was supposed to be helping Caleb's family go into hiding — has been replaced by a host. Frankie (Celeste Clark) discovers the body of the real Carver, and her mother, Uwade (Nozipho McLean) tells her to hide. Host Carver searches the house for them and discovers Frankie in her bedroom closet.
Back in the lab, Maeleb discover a bank of monitors observing test subjects for Project: Chrysalis, and a large tower-like device creating the harmonic tone she has been hearing. The subjects are controlled by the sound, and Jim Navarro (Josh Randall) — from the Justice Department — is one of them. Maeve tries to unlock their cells but can't break the encryption. The sound compels them to pick up a gun and shoot themselves in the head. The next group of subjects standby, and a horrified Maeve recognizes…Frankie. Caleb runs to find her while Maeve tries even harder to get the doors open. She manages to get the cell open in time but realizes something is wrong. Before she can get to Caleb to tell him what she's discovered, she is stopped by the Host in Black (Ed Harris). He says he's been looking forward to this. She replies "not yet tired of getting your ass kicked by me," and then proceeds to kick his ass. God, I love Maeve. She shoots him and runs off to get to Caleb, but is stopped by HiB again, who tells her he's "not quite the man [he] used to be."
Frankie tells her father he can't leave. "She wants you to stay. All she needed was you." Uh-oh. It's a trap! Flashback to the closet at Caleb's house: Frankie shoots Carver in the eye with her BB gun, and Uwade finishes the job with Caleb's real gun from the safe. Uwade grabs Frankie and they run out into the night.
In the lab, Caleb realizes this is not really his daughter right as she grips his arms and OPENS HER FACE, releasing a swarm of flies that crawl into his ears. This is truly one of the most horrifying images this show has produced. I loved it.
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Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy's ambitious sci-fi thriller is based on the 1973 Michael Crichton film of the same name.