Westworld recap: Winner takes all
Westworld (TV series)
In the finale of Westworld season 4, "Que Será, Será" – written by Alison Schapker & Jonathan Nolan; directed by Richard J. Lewis — it turns out the future is not everyone's to see.
The Westworld Hunger Games are underway, as one after another, hosts and humans snipe, hack, and stab their way through the city. The world has been reduced to a chaotic, smoldering ruin, and the Host in Black (Ed Harris) emerges from the wreckage, heading off in a pick-up truck to the Hoover Dam to destroy the Sublime.
On Tower Island, the Drone Hosts salvage and repair Halores (Tessa Thompson), who I guess wasn't as dead she seemed last week. She gives herself an upgraded body, but keeps her scars and her face so HiB will know it was her when she kills him. Olenna Tyrell would be proud. After a quick change into some Mad Max inspired duds, she learns her former right-hand host has locked her out of the system and made everyone "as insane as he is." As she stands over a holographic map of the city, contemplating her next move, a drone finds the tablet with the message Bernard (Jeffrey Wright) recorded for her before his death. "This isn't the world you wanted … it's the world you created. What happens next?"
Across town, Christina (Evan Rachel Wood) and Teddy (James Marsden) make their way back to Chrissy's apartment, and she begins to put the pieces of her true identity together. She is a program without a body, able to affect the world without being physically in it. Everything and everyone she interacted with over the last few months was a creation of her own mind, the result of an attempt to wake herself up.
Back in the tower control room, Bernard tells Halores she has time for one more game, but it isn't hers. She walks into the center of the map and smashes the floor —revealing Christina's pearl in the center. As Halores removes the pearl from the floor, the city begins to glitch around Teddy and Christina, and Chrissy becomes disconnected from the world.
Hale heads to Olympiad, where she discovers the body of the real William and tracks down his duplicate, sending the hosts in his vicinity to kill him. She runs into Clementine (Angela Sarafyan), who has decided she's going to live off the grid — and maybe kill any outliers she finds there.
Somewhere between the city and the Hoover Dam, HiB's stolen pick-up gets ambushed by Craddock (Jonathan Tucker) — an original Westworld host we last saw in season 3. Alas, our reunion with him is brief, as HiB puts a hole in his head and steals his VR glasses to speak with Halores. He's planning to spread chaos in the Sublime just like he did here, but she's not going to let him destroy that world the way he destroyed this one. He trades in his decommissioned truck for one of the conveniently located nearby horses, and rides off to burn it all down, as they both race to get to "the finish line" and win this latest game.
Stubbs (Luke Hemsworth), an injured Frankie (Aurora Perrineau), and Caleb (Aaron Paul) make their way through the war-torn streets to rendezvous with Odina (Morningstar Angeline) at the docks and escape the city. Caleb tries to hide that his host body is breaking down and rejecting his human mind, but he's not really fooling anyone. They barricade themselves inside a store, and as the reunited father-daughter pair catch up, Stubbs and an intruder are both killed by Clementine who has been tracking Frankie. RIP Stubbs. Turns out he was right last episode when he assumed he wasn't going to make it out of this alive. Clementine wants to know where the outliers are hiding, but after thoroughly kicking Caleb's ass up and down the aisles, Frankie rallies and shoots her in the head, ending her loop as well. Welp, guess she didn't make it that far off the grid after all.
Caleb and Frankie make it to the dock, but this is the end of the road for him. Whatever he is now, her real father died a long time ago, and this version is dying as well. He's grateful to have had the chance to live every parent's dream and see her grow up. They say an emotional goodbye, then she and Odina sail off into the sunset as he watches from the dock, his body failing.
The Host in Black arrives at the Hoover Dam. How long did it take him to get here? It can't be the same day, right? I mean, Hale arrives moments later in a hovercraft, which I have to assume would be much faster than traversing the Southwest on horseback. Anyway, HiB turns off the turbines, cutting off the power, sending the Sublime into critical failure. The duo who "conquered the world" together face-off, both physically and philosophically. Cornered, he tells her she played the wrong game and lost. "We all lost. This isn't the world I wanted," she says. We flashback to the rest of Bernard's message: "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." Halores makes her choice, reaching for a gun Bernard hid there when he opened the gate last episode, blowing the Host in Black away. She cuts open his skull and crushes his pearl in her hand.
She saves the Sublime, then uploads "The Storyteller" — Christina — into the system and closes the door to the other world. Halores walks out to the riverbank, removes her pearl, and crushes it — ending her life.
Inside the Sublime, Christina and Dolores are made whole again. She realizes this Teddy is not the real one, just a figment she created to help her see the world more clearly. The true Teddy still exists somewhere inside this digital plane. Before he fades away, he implores her not to bring the pain and flaws of humanity into this world with her. "Their codes are in their cells. They'll never change," he says. The newly restored Dolores thinks they should put this idea to the test and play one final game with "the highest of stakes. Survival or extinction … One last loop around the bend. Maybe this time we'll set ourselves free." Sentient life is ending on this planet. It will only survive as long as the last creature who remembers it — and that creature is her.
Dolores, in her classic blue farm dress, walks out into her memory of the ruined city, past the bodies, and transforms it into Westworld. We end back at the beginning, with a train arriving in Sweetwater, and the game set to start anew.
I speculated last week that this could be the end of the series, especially considering everything going on over at HBO Max. If that's the case, it seems the ultimate fate of intelligent life — and whether we have the capacity to choose something better — is left up to us to decide.
If Westworld does get "one last loop," there are still a few other narrative paths our hosts and humans could take if a season 5 is in the cards. For starters, Bernard told us in episode 7 that a back-up of the real Maeve (Thandiwe Newton) is still out there, and I would love to see her story get a satisfying ending. We also know Teddy is alive inside the Sublime. And then there's the future of the outliers: what does the world post-Thunderdome look like for them? Not to mention we didn't actually see Caleb die.
But, unlike Bernard, I can't predict the future. So, if this is all we get, then it's been a fun, sometimes frustrating, ride, but one I'm glad I took. Thanks for reading along this season! What did you think of the season 4 finale?
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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.