Warning: The following contains full spoilers for the Westworld: Season 4 episode “Well Enough Alone.”
To read our review of last week’s Westworld: Season 4 premiere, “The Auguries,” click here.
“Well Enough Alone” contained rudimentary Westworld intrigue and revelations — including notable unveilings about Charlotte’s evil plan and the introduction of a new theme park at the end — but it also very much felt like an addendum to last week’s premiere, focusing a bit too much on lengthy scenes featuring host William being smug and taking down political foes. This scenario was already the centerpiece of Season 4’s opening A.I. chess move at the Hoover Dam so seeing William do more of the same felt like a misuse of time.
It’s good that Ed Harris is getting more to do in Season 4, and “Well Enough Alone” even gave us, briefly, real William (even if it was just a scene where Charlotte woke him, taunted him, and then put him back in cold storage), but as the host pawn of Charlotte, the public face of her diabolical plot to enslave the world, his scenes are already wearing thin. At a certain point, because William is so vague with his threats (a lot of it’s very “do what I say, or else”), you might think he enjoys the metaphoric “mustache twirling” villain game too much. If not, then maybe he should try being more direct and saying “Look, fall in line or I’m going to kill you and replace you with a robot.” Float that idea. See how it lands.
Check out our video review of Westworld’s Season 4 premiere here…
There wasn’t much happening this week that added to the saga, though the episode wasn’t bereft of movement either. Caleb and Maeve flirted a bit on their adventure, pointing toward a romantic past we’ve not been privy to involving them possibly hooking up in a lighthouse as human/host couple. Anyhow, they bopped along, following William’s trecherous trail of replacing prominent figures with hosts and/or loading them up with “flies” that puppet them while they’re alive and awake (or reclaiming old Dolores hosts, like Angela Sarafyan’s Clementine). There was appropriate action and violence — including menacing guest spots for Heroes’ Jack Coleman and Deep Blue Sea’s Saffron Burrows — but compared to what’s come before it, on the show, it seemed like a rather simplified puzzle trail.
This streamlining of story is most likely by design now (following critiques about Westworld being more structural gimmick than substance), though the show also feels very sparsely populated these days; a lot of empty pavilions, business parks, and wide open spaces with only a few characters present. Even when Caleb and Maeve head to the “obvious trap” daytime opera, the auditorium’s empty (as were the entire grounds outside, which the duo didn’t seem to notice).
This week’s ending, of course, dropped the curtain on how Season 4, despite being a decade away from the Westworld massacre, will circle back and give us theme park antics. The Golden Age, revealed to both Caleb and Maeve (on a train complete with Lili Simmons’ returning “Clementine 2”), seems to be a Roaring ’20s playground, no doubt hiding nefarious intentions. What could be lurking beneath the fun here, behind the choice between white and black fedoras? Let’s sift through Charlotte’s wicked game a bit, and also pull Christina’s story into the mix.
Season 3 of Westworld saw humans being, more or less, controlled by machines. It was all background noise of course, under the watchful eye of Rehoboam, but the script had been appropriately flipped. The only snag was that people didn’t know their lives were being molded and manipulated (and capped). Now that humanity’s A.I. cruise control is gone, thanks to the riots, Charlotte wants to go bigger and badder.
What Charlotte says to William (and also the dude from the Justice Department) — about doing the same to humans as humans did to them — seems to imply not just A.I. dominance but also the cruel added ingredient of imprisonment. Much like how the hosts were treated at Westworld, humans might be destined for a world where robots controlling them is no longer a secret, almost like a global theme park where everyone’s lives are pre-written and masterminded by gleefully merciless bots, basically turning all humanity into NPCs. Is Charlotte after the Sublime Key so she can retrieve all the hosts from there, or lock people in there Matrix-style? Or both?
How does this connect to Christina? Well, she writes stories for NPCs and a paranoid guy just tracked her down (though now it seems he died a while back — a game loop?) and accused her of controlling his entire life. Seeing as how we’re in a show that loves to play around with time, it could be that Christina’s story is taking place years after the Caleb and Maeve drama, in a future where people are already being “Free Guy’d” around life, like game characters. Is it the Sublime? The twist here though, right now, which seems to fly in the face of Charlotte’s plan, is that it’s still a secret and only a few can see through this Matrix (and can “hear the music” from “the Tower”). There’s little doubt that these two stories — the only two stories for the first two episodes — are connected, but the specifics still need to be learned.
The Sci-Fi Writer You Didn’t Know Wrote Everything: Philip K. Dick