The city is in chaos, but a newly-resurrected Hale isn’t about to let a bullet to the head spoil her plans. As she heads for a confrontation with the ‘Man in Black’ version of William, it seems Bernard has one last message for her about a choice she must make for the future of the entire world.
William arrives at the Sublime facility at the Hoover Dam determined to wipe out everything and miles away , Caleb and Frankie must say their final goodbyes.
One way or another, so many stories are about to come to a close. And atop a building, looking out over a burning world, Christina/Dolores finally understands her place as the storyteller and must now shape her own destiny.
Is this the place her story must end or does she have one left to tell?
“Que Será, Será Whatever will be, will be.
The future’s not ours to see…”
The Season Three finale starts off with signs of chaos on the city streets with hosts fighting each other and possible humans – it’s hard to keep track. But a string of carnage ensues as we see one kill another only to be killed themselves as they traverse the streets in a nihilistic circle of death. There’s also a sting of brief guest-stars along the way: The Walking Dead/Snowpiercer‘s Steven Ogg re-appears as one of the doomed street-level hosts as bullets fly and ‘blood’ spilled, all leading to William’s determination to go to the source. Later Debris‘ Jonathan Tucker also plays a doomed agitator gunned down by Hale.
The penultimate episode seemed to bravely kill off several prominent members of the main cast but, somewhat as predicted, the finale wastes little time in making some of those goodbyes less sticky than others. It takes pure minutes to get Tessa Thompson’s Hale up and running again… and in a reinforced body to boot. Bernard remains ceased-to-be but Jeffrey Wright is still around in the sense we see more of the vid-messages he left behind him. Thadiwe Newton’s Maeve, a big reason for watching, sadly remains defunct.
We saw use of the imposing Hoover Dam location early in this season, so it makes sense that we’d return to it again at some point. William and Hale have their showdown at the facility which cranks up the tension as they play cat-and-mouse amongst the towers and turbines but it’s effectively a drawn-out shoot-out with both taking major damage before they succumb to their fates. But yet again, fans will acknowledge Westworld’s tendency to bring people back time after time, so the fatalities (definitive though they seem for these incarnations) somewhat lack the impact of a true ‘Red Wedding’ when you’re continuously thinking ‘Even if they die, they could come back…‘
Part of the season has concerned Bernard’s ‘multiverse’ examination of every possible scenario, guiding him to the best (if hardly great) outcome with which he can guarantee some sort of future for humanity. Shot down by William last week, it appeared that his foresight logically only extended to his ‘death’, which made some sense. Yet this week, several events happen after that death that makes you wonder how he could have seen them, even in the Matrix-like state. As he predicted, Luke Hemsworth’s Stubbs doesn’t make it, killed in a brutal but rather quick and senseless death via Clementine (Angela Sarafyan). Bernard’s last ‘gift’ also gives Hale an ‘out’ – should she want to take it -hiding a gun just where and when she will need it at the Sublime’s Hoover Dam facility. To me, there’s fantastical foresight as a story-element and then just plot contrivance and this feels like an element of ‘predicative software’ slightly too far.
We established in last week’s episode that Christina is indeed part of the original Dolores program and that she’s been writing the ‘stories’ of those around her in the city. Que Será, Será takes it one further and explains that absolutely everything around Christina is artificial and that she doesn’t actually exist there. She’s in the Sublime (at least, I think so?) and the likes of her room-mate Maya(Ariana Debose) and Teddy (James Marsden) are essentially just constructs she created to prompt her against Hale’s oversight and guide her to a realisation of her situation. As the season ends she uses this new-found self-awareness of her self-awareness to remold everything around her and we return to the frontier appearance of Westworld as we originally saw it in the first season and with Dolores explaining there’s one story left to tell.
Caleb and Frankie’s reunion is bittersweet with Caleb knowing that this incarnation won’t survive long and he has just enough time to make a heartfelt goodbye as Frankie leaves on the boat with her girlfriend Odine (Morningstar Angeline), heading to one of the few outlier locations that Clementine wanted to find before Frankie killed her with her last round. As always Aaron Paul and Aurora Perrineau deliver the goods.
At this point there’s no news of a fifth season. The question has to be whether there’s is a call for one? It’s a strange question given that the show has been a critical success in the sense of its ambition, budget, production design and its quality cast but at the same time it can be an infuriatingly complex, high-brow drama with often hard-to-follow story-arcs and lengthy, multi-year waits that strain even the most die-hard fan’s loyalty and memory of what’s happening to whom and why.
If this is the end then the Season Four finale feels okay and more accessible than the last two runs, but more like a comma than a complete full-stop with a literal on-screen statement of intent that there’s still more the story-tellers want to play with. Subjectively, I’d like to see it continue as it’s rare to see a show with ambition and resources to do so, but the counter-balance to continuing onwards is whether the show could really offer anything truly new worth saying. It’s been a continual examination of the human condition, human nature and questions of sentience but what would a fifth season and ‘one more loop around the bend…’ actually offer that hasn’t already been presented in one way or another? Sometimes a maze works better when there is a way out rather than going deeper. Enigmatic and chronological sleights-of-hand with your audience only gets you so far after repetition. What’s more, with Westworld being one of the most expensive shows on television will HBO want to spend the requisite amount needed for it to maintain the needed production qualities? As we’ve noted, the current cull and financial oversight for profits at Warner Bros./Discovery, the owners of HBO, doesn’t make any productions feel safe…
Game Over..? Only time will tell.
- Production Design / VFX10