Loops converge as everyone seeks to “dredge up the past.”

Westworld (TV series)

S4 E4

No cold opening this week on Westworld, we jump right into the main titles. This chapter, "Generation Loss," directed by Paul Cameron, and written by Kevin Lau and Suzanne Wrubel, has a lot of (desert) ground to cover.

As Caleb (Aaron Paul) struggles against the parasite invading his brain, flashbacks to the events of the lighthouse are seen, which were alluded to in episode 2.  Maeleb prepares to destroy "the last of Rehoboam," and they cautiously broach the subject of what life for them will look like when the war is over. They accomplish their mission, but not before one surviving guard shoots Caleb, hindering their clean getaway. Laying on the ground, bleeding out, Caleb tells Maeve (Thandiwe Newton) it seems he'll never know "freedom." Maeve hacks into his Incite implant — the "drip" he used to treat his PTSD in season 3 — to show him what freedom feels like. "I've felt it. A long time ago," she says and shows him her time with her daughter on the homestead back in Westworld.

The flashback is interrupted by the voice of Charlotte (Tessa Thompson) — aka Halores — gloating about turning him and his kind into her pets. The park is designed to be "the super spreader event of the century." Everyone who comes to the park will become a carrier, leaving with their debauched memories and her parasites. Or as she prefers to call these carriers — "hosts." Heh.

While Halores is busy with Caleb, Maeve discovers that William (Ed Harris) is now a host. They fight, but the Host in Black gets the upper hand, and she narrowly escapes, leading him on a chase through the lower level. She lures him into the Project: Chrysalis control room where she takes control of the harmonic amplifier and turns it all the way up, shattering the glass cells and knocking Halores, HiB, and Caleb to the ground.

Caleb and Maeve regain their footing and take Halores hostage with a piece of broken glass. They are going to stop this thing before it spreads any further. I'm a little confused at this point as to how much danger Halores is really in. If she's upgraded the hosts in other ways (i.e. resistance to Maeve's Wi-Fi telepathy) wouldn't it stand to reason they would no longer be vulnerable to human forms of death in the same way they were as hosts in the park?

Regardless, they make their way into Temperance and search for a way to get to the edge of the park for extraction. She taunts Maeve, telling her she could have lived in peace if she hadn't gotten so "sentimental." Caleb asks what she means but the moment is interrupted by the sounds of the tone — the machine has been turned back on. Caleb struggles against it as they are hunted through the streets by hosts and guests alike. Before they escape in a commandeered bootlegger's truck, Caleb is stabbed in the side.

Bleeding in the passenger seat, he asks Maeve if she's going to disappear on him again. She tells him she didn't disappear on him last time. She sat at his bedside for weeks and was confronted with his mortality. As she watched Uwade (Nozipho McLean) care for him in the hospital, she saw a vision of what it could be like for him to be free, and it was extraordinary. In a very Sarah Connor-esque flashback, Maeve walks down a deserted highway and says "Our kinds are locked in a perpetual struggle. I wanted you to do more than fight to survive. I wanted you to have something to fight for." She stayed away, alone, all these years to keep him safe, until one day she got curious and reached out through the grid to find him (as we saw in the premiere), and that's how "hell" found them.

They reach a demolition site, where the Host in Black is waiting for them. He and Maeve fight, while Caleb takes Halores to a control room and contacts his team. He struggles against the parasite and is able to resist Halores's command to kill Maeve, but is unable to stop HiB from shooting Maeve in the chest. Maeve gets ahold of the Host in Black, uses her powers to activate explosives all over the site, and whispers: "One lesson the park taught me. Always insist on mutual satisfaction." She tells Caleb she'll see him in the next life, and the bombs go off, destroying her and the Host in Black.

Blinding lights shine through the windows of the control room as the extraction team arrives. A devastated Caleb, struggling with his wound, tells Halores he won't rest until everything she's built has been destroyed. "Frankie will not grow up in a world where she is controlled by you."

Speaking of the world outside the park — back in NYC, Christina (Evan Rachel Wood) has overslept after a night of frenzied painting. Maya (Ariana DeBose) wakes her and shares that she has had trouble sleeping as well. She recounts a gruesome nightmare about a family picnic where she and her parents are overcome by a swarm of flies. This is not a good portent of how things are going to turn out for Maeleb's mission.

She uncovers Christina's painting, revealing two things: (1) Maya has boundary issues, and (2) Christina has been painting images of the tower. "Jesus, what's it supposed to be," she asks. Everyone's a critic. Poor Christina, no one seems to enjoy any of her creative pursuits. Maya uses this as another opportunity to strong arm her friend into a blind date/night on the town.

At a swanky bar later that night, Maya gives Christina a quick application of lipstick, and when she drops the tube, it rolls to the feet of Teddy (James Marsden) — just as Dolores' can used to back in Westworld. He picks it up, hands it to Christina, and delivers his old line from the park: "Don't mind me. Just trying to look chivalrous." The sight of him catches Christina off guard. There's something familiar about him. Are we sure James Marsden isn't actually a host? Those cheekbones are not human!

On their date, Christina is apprehensive and resists his "cheesy" pick-up lines. But still … she can't shake the feeling they've met before. It seems Teddy is aware of who he is and is trying to poke Christina to see if Dolores is in there. It's a charming scene and I'm glad he's back. His presence was missed. They make a toast to wherever her path may lead.

Bernard (Jeffery Wright) and Stubbs'(Luke Hemsworth) path has led them to a rebel base camp in "the condemned lands," where their fate is a subject of debate between "C" (Aurora Perrineau) and rebel leader "J" (Daniel Wu). "J" thinks Bernard is taking her on a "misguided treasure hunt." They just found another "outlier" and need to extract her before she is hunted down. This should be her priority. She's lost objectivity. A standoff ensues between the two, until "J" relents and declares he's taking Stubbs with him as collateral, and she is free to go off in search of her mythological weapon.

Out in the desert, Bernard leads "C" to what she's been after. Bernard tells her he knows she isn't really looking for a weapon — she's looking for her father. She says they've told her since she was a child that he was dead, but she's never believed it. If it's true, his body will be here. They start digging. And this is where our storylines begin to converge…

At the demolition site, Halores prods Caleb, asking if he knows how he got here. After an antagonistic back and forth, she reveals to a disoriented Caleb he died here 23 years ago. It wasn't his team that arrived that night, it was hers. Everything he is experiencing is an interview to establish a baseline for fidelity. He is the 278th version of Caleb. She explains that adults were able to resist the parasite initially, but children were much easier. It grew in symbiosis with their young minds, and when that generation reached maturity, she was able to gain complete control over their world.

He begins to see the truth. He's not at a demolition site, he's in a glass interview room, on the upper level of a skyscraper overlooking New York City.

Bernard uncovers a demolition site sign in the sand. He apologizes to "C" — who is really the adult Frankie. There is a body, but it's not her father's. Caleb isn't here, but the weapon he promised is. He reveals the damaged face of Maeve.

Caleb makes a run for it. He bursts out of the elevators and races through the lobby of Olympiad Entertainment — where Christina works as a writer. Caleb pushes past a crowd of pedestrians and sees a giant tower in the distance. The harmonic tone blares. The pedestrians stop dead in their tracks, frozen like the hosts in the park. Halores is in complete control. She has won. "Welcome to my world," she says, as a black bag is thrown over his head and he is dragged away. The pedestrians resume moving as we pan to the tower off the coast of New York.

This was the best episode of season 4 so far. It feels like all the ideas are gelling together in a more narratively satisfying way than they have since season 1. We're at the midpoint, so hopefully this momentum continues. What did you think?   

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Westworld (TV series)

Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy's ambitious sci-fi thriller is based on the 1973 Michael Crichton film of the same name.

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