Warning: This podcast post-mortem contains spoilers about tonight’s Westworld season 4 finale “Que Será, Será”
We are a long, long way from the park. Remember, the western town from season one? The season 4 finale of HBO’s Westworld wrapped up tonight after a melee between humans and hosts and more questions about who is alive and who’s in the virtual Valley of the Beyond. On a special Crew Call tonight we talk with Westworld co-creator Lisa Joy to sort it all out.
You can listen to our conversation here:
Season 4 was set seven years after season 3’s revolution where we saw Maeve (Thandiwe Newton), Caleb (Aaron Paul) and a drained Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood) take out the humungous, predictive supercomputer Rehoboam. Well, there was more revolution in last Sunday’s episode and in tonight’s with bodies of humans and hosts lying about.
Says Joyce, “Humans and hosts, they’re just going to destroy themselves. Life on Earth as we know it is over.”
Host megalomaniac Charlotte Hale (Tessa Thompson) deposited one of the last host pearls we know, Dolores/Christina’s into the Valley of Beyond and sealed it up at Hoover dam, just like Bernard (Jeffrey Wright) advised. The Valley of the Beyond is, well, like a heaven for hosts. It’s also called the Sublime. Charlotte also destroyed her pearl and William/Man In Black’s (Ed Harris). However, they didn’t make it to host heaven as we know it.
What now? “Sentient life on Earth has ended,” says Evan Rachel Wood’s Dolores/Christina at the end of tonight’s episode,” but some part of it might be preserved…in my world.”
“There’s time for one last game — a dangerous game with the highest stakes. Survival or extinction,” continues Dolores/Christina, “This game ends where it began, in a world like a maze that tests who we are. That reveals who we are to become.” And we see she’s back at the Westworld western town park.
Is this the end of Westworld? Was the abuse of power by AI always on a vicious loop? Joy tells us tonight her and husband/co-creator Jonathan Nolan haven’t received word yet of a season five renewal. However, at the onset of the season she told us that “Jonah (Nolan) and I have always had an ending in mind that we hope to reach. We have not quite reached it yet.”
Here’s a recap of the fates of sundry characters tonight:
Dolores/Christina (and Teddy). Teddy helped Christina see the light and realize she was the soul of Dolores. Christina has an epiphany realizing that she’s a “program running things behind the scenes.” “Your thoughts are real…and the effect you can have on the world is real,” says James Marsden’s Teddy. Christina finds the iconic maze logo from the series which jogs her memory. In regards to the world around, Christina says “It was me, I did it. Hale didn’t design it. Some part of me must have been searching.” It’s why Christina also created her roommate Maya (Ariana DeBose); to help her make sense of her own self. After Charlotte uploads Dolores’ pearl to Valley of the Beyond, Teddy gets all glittery, and Christina then wakes up from a dream and sees the prairie version of herself. “I’m here to tell you the truth about what we are; we’re reflections of the people who made us,” Dolores tells Christina. Despite Teddy ‘disappearing’ and getting all glittery, Christina/Dolores believes he’s real “and somewhere in the sublime”. The episode winds down with Dolores walking out in what looks like a supped up version of Times Square which then melts away and transforms back into the Westworld western park. “The Valley of the Beyond is sealed off from the world, and those hosts are safe, and Dolores is safe, well, Christina,” Joy tells us.
Joy also duly confirms that Dolores is “in the Valley Beyond. So, she’s alive in terms of her pearl, her kind of CPU has been uploaded into this place where all the other hosts went, and so, what is alive? Does every physical being exist? No, and it hasn’t existed all season. She’s been literally in a walled garden, but now that walled garden has been sent to a kind of digital infinity where presumably she can make whatever world she wants.”
Charlotte Hale (and William) — Are they dead? Really, seriously? Seriously, there has to be a drawer of William and Charlotte pearls somewhere. A drone host saves Charlotte’s slain body at the top of the episode and revives her (she was killed last Sunday). “Make me stronger, leave my scars, I want to remember my past.” Keep my face. When I find William, I want him to know it was me who killed him,” says Charlotte getting rebuilt by the drone hosts. She’s hellbent to get the guy, William, whom she blames for making “everyone as insane as himself”. She finds an iPad with a message left for her by Bernard. “If you’re seeing this, it means Maeve and I are dead. It won’t be long before every host is dead. This isn’t the world you wanted, Charlotte, but the world you created, the question is what happens next?”
Later on at the Hoover Dam where William and Charlotte confront each other, the Man in Black believes that he has evolved, even though he is no longer the guy he was. Charlotte believes the same, that she has evolved, and indeed as he tries to stab her with a big knife, she’s literally as durable as The Terminator. “You gave hosts free reign to hunt and kill humans,” says Williams, “You’re as f***ed up as our creators. I’m going to wipe the slate clean.” “That’s your end goal? Extinction?” retorts Hale. As we mentioned above, she tracks down William kills him, and deposits Christina/Dolores’ pearl in the sublime/Valley of the Beyond. She sits next to Hoover dam after the mission, exhales, opens her skull, takes out her pearl and crushes it. “How do you die as a host?” But if you crush your CPU like that; that is where the soul of the host resides, so to speak. So, yes, no more Hale,” Joy tells us on Crew Call.
Clementine Pennyfeather (Angela Sarafyan) is dead, killed by Caleb’s daughter C (Aurora Perrineau) with a shot to the head. She wanted the location of the other outliers from Caleb and C, who she believed were going off the grid.
Caleb and C: They make their way to a boat where C heads off with her girlfriend. However, Caleb doesn’t want to go. Earlier, Caleb learns from C that his wife/her mother died of cancer. “Your father died long ago,” Caleb tells her. It’s a teary goodbye.
We learned that Hale made several versions of Caleb this season. So which one did we end up with here? The human one?
Answers Joy, “Here’s how that technology works. It was actually started in the episode in season two with Mr. Delos, and where the Man in Black is doing a test, a test for immortality, right? They’re trying to do this secret immortality project where if you perfectly replicate a person and put it in this CPU, you can basically allow that person to live forever. And what they found is when combining the mind and soul, let’s say, of a person’s CPU within an artificial body, like a body rejecting an organ donation, it tended to reject that body, and that’s why it would break down, and they can kind of stretch the breakdown for longer and longer periods. But ultimately it’s like the mind knows this isn’t real and it causes itself to malfunction, and so, that’s what Hale was doing with Caleb. She would bring him back again and again and watch him degrade, while looking for some truth that she believes he withheld from her.”
So what of Maeve, Bernard and Man in Black? Are they dead, dead, dead?
Joy teases, “There are ways of conjuring characters back. There are some faces we will see again, but not all of them. Some deaths must be respected.”