HBO returned to Westworld this Sunday night, kicking off its fourth season with new mysteries, new threats, and the return of a fan-favorite character we haven’t seen since Season 2.
Season 4 opens on a seemingly unscathed William/The Man in Black (played by Ed Harris), who may or may not be the host-copy from the closing minutes of “Crisis Theory”/the Season 3 finale. He arrives at a mysterious canyon facility owned by a cartel-adjacent organization. Built over and around a massive lake, this place and its contents are immensely valuable to William. He claims that its contents were stolen from him and that he wants all of it back. The cartel members refuse his offer… and William has them all killed.
The focus then shifts to new character, Christina (series vet Evan Rachel Wood), a video game writer whose aversion to fun annoys her outgoing roommate, Maya (Schmigadoon!‘s Ariana DeBose). It isn’t unreasonable to assume that Christina is just another Dolores copy; Hector said it best last season: “Death is overrated for ones like us.”
While it seems unlikely that Dolores survived the events of Season 3, there’s a layer to Wood’s performance here suggesting just that. (Series co-creator Jonathan Nolan has insisted that Dolores is dead, but who’s to say he wasn’t referring to one of her copies and not the original?) Predictably, though, the story switches to other POV characters before anything is revealed.
Seven years after destroying data monster Rehoboam, Caleb Nichols (Aaron Paul) is finally living his life on his terms. Kind of. The Biblically-named supercomputer and its co-creator, Engerraund Serac (Vincent Cassel), are no longer in the picture. Rehoboam’s destruction gave way to the New World, where “you can be whoever the f–k you want.” Apparently, Caleb’s version of “whatever you want” is a thankless gig hauling electrical coils across the tops of skyscrapers. He’s got a wife and a daughter now, too.
Maeve (Thandiwe Newton), meanwhile, has locked herself away in a cabin in the woods. She’s cycling through many of the memories we know she struggles to cope with, including the first set of memories from way back at the park in the first season. She’s presumably in hiding after beating Serac, who looked pretty defeated last time we saw him. She heads to a nearby town for supplies and learns that people are looking for her. She hurries back to her hideout, where surly, mustached soldiers are combing every inch of the wintry woods. She kills them and confronts their leader, who reveals himself as an android before Maeve hacks him to pieces with an axe. She pores over his memories and discovers William is looking for her, after which she torches the cabin and leaves.
Circling back to Christina, we find out that she’s being stalked by a man pleading for her to “stop doing this to us.” Not an abundance of clarity there, but that’s not the show’s way. This is shaping up to be one of the biggest mysteries of her arc.
After a night out with Maya, Christina encounters the stalker in person, and he attacks her before disappearing. The next morning, the man kills himself by jumping off the roof of her apartment building.
Maeve eventually makes her way back to Caleb, who’s struggling to be content with his humdrum (but stable) life. She saves his daughter from an assailant and tells him William is after them both. Caleb and Maeve leave to intercept William’s next target: a senator in California. Whatever William is planning, it’s clearly trouble for the surviving characters.
The episode closes on a teary Christina monologuing on her balcony about how empty she feels, how she doesn’t know why she feels so lost, and that she wants a happy ending to her story. As she turns in for the night, Teddy (James Marsden) looks up at her from the street below.
Maybe next week we’ll get some Bernard Lowe (Jeffrey Wright)….
What did you think/make of Westworld‘s return after more than two years? Will you stay tuned?