Spoilers below for the Season 4 premiere of Westworld, so be warned if you haven’t yet tapped into the madness.
After a hiatus lasting just over two years — and I’m sure the specific number of days it was gone is itself a clue about the future — Westworld finally returned to HBO for the start of what will assuredly be an enjoyable head-scratcher of a fourth season. The highly anticipated premiere, titled “The Auguries,” picked up in the story seven years after the chaotic rebellion that capped off Season 3, and almost seemed like it was part of a normal, traditional series at times, from Evan Rachel Wood’s new and seemingly human character Christina to the all-around lack of Delos and the parks (outside of flashbacks).
Of course, co-creators Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy had plenty of rampant weirdness and mysteriousness and low-key hilarity on display throughout, giving audiences plenty to think about during the wait for Episode 2. So let’s take a look at the four biggest takeaways from Westworld’s Season 4 opener, followed by some more random musings.
Evan Rachel Wood’s Christina May Be Partly Responsible For Gamers’ Suicides
While the details are a bit smudgy, Evan Rachel Wood’s non-Dolores — whom we’ll refer to as Christina for clarity and because it’s her actual name — works for some kind of a gaming company as a writer who seems to work mostly with realistic, situational experiences. Though she’d prefer to craft tales more in line with Dolores’ farmgirl origins, her boss (played by The Vampire Diaries’ vet Michael Malarkey) wants more sexed-up and violent fare. So for the most part, that side of Christina’s life felt pretty tame and non-controversial. But then there were the phone calls that Christina was getting, seemingly all from one ranting and raving dude named Peter (played by 12 Monkeys vet Aaron Stanford), who claimed that her games have ruined his and others’ lives.
Westworld easily could have kept that loose thread dangling for another episode or two, but instead hastened things by having Peter accost Christina outside her home. This guy, with his talk of The Tower and other non-sequiturs, doesn’t know how to rationally stand still and explain himself, however, and the confusion reached the point where Peter jumped off of a building in front of Christina, questioning whether or not her game was causing it to happen. Not exactly normal shit to deal with, and the fact that Christina is seeing the Maze symbol…well it doesn’t bode normal either.
But Christina didn’t act like she had any idea what Peter was talking about, even in private moments away from her roommate. And she certainly didn’t appear to be programming any mind-controlling games when she was seen at work. So while the whole “technology dictating people’s actions” idea is obviously right in line with Westworld’s mission statement, it’s not yet clear what the hell is up with The Tower and how Christina factors into it. And let’s face it, it may never be.
The Man In Black Is On A Mission Involving A Crapload Of Flies
By the time Westworld’s premiere ended, it was almost easy to forget that the episode started off so extremely bizarrely, with Ed Harris’ Man-Bot in Black attempting to literally buy the Hoover Dam. Understandably, no one jumped at his immediate offer, but then no one else seemed to understand just how dead-set he was on taking possession of said dam. His actions, which are presumably being guided in some way by Charlotte Hale, seem to be focused on regaining access to data that was stolen eight years prior.
Jonathan Nolan did confirm the Man in Black’s quest ties back to something we saw in Season 2, so it can be gathered the information he’s seeking used to be housed within Delos’ property, presumably within the many mega-servers that were in the Forge. (And could technically be once more, given the seven-year time jump.) But since this is Westworld, the data probably isn’t what we’re expecting it to be, so there’s no point in speculating too hard about it at the moment.
But we might as well speculate on what the hell is up with those flies, because that was a truly horrific moment. And it wasn’t completely clear whether it was real and tangible, or just something being hallucinated by this character that Big Sky’s Arturo Del Puerto portrayed. Whatever the case may be, the flies were surely sent somehow by Man in Black or his higher-ups, and they’re somehow capable of making people bend to others’ will. To the point where someone slicing their own throat is on the list of commands. As if just the visuals of huge swaths of flies weren’t already bothersome enough.
I Will Follow Maeve Into Any Rebellion, Caleb Not So Much
While we didn’t spend as much time with Thandiwe Newton’s Maeve as I would have liked — roughly the whole episode, give or take 30 seconds — it appears as if her narrative push early on this season will revolve around her trying to take out everyone that the Man in Black seems to be sending out to kill her. Even though I’m not entirely convinced that’s even the case, considering it was hard to gauge anyone’s full intentions from just the few memories that Maeve viewed from her attacker.
Whoever it is that’s been trying to track her down over the years, they should get ready for a mound of bodies to start piling up, both of the human and host variety, because Maeve is not one to back down when put up against a threat. And my money is on that character “winning” out in the end, even if there’s no true victory in Westworld.
But do I feel great about Caleb jumping into the mission alongside Maeve? Not exactly. Especially after seeing how his home life is going. As mildly heartwarming as it is that he’s a doting husband and father who loves target practice, he’s apparently been overtaken by PTSD and paranoia more than ever in the last seven years. And while there’s nothing necessarily wrong with those traits in and of themselves, they almost definitely foreshadow troublesome times ahead for ol’ Caleb. Which probably means Maeve will suffer by extension, which would not be great.
More Major Characters Should Have Appeared
I can fully understand why a show with plots as dense as Westworld may need to start a new season off without all of its parts and mechanisms in motion. Especially when dealing with actors playing new roles, time jumps, and other new characters to introduce. So I don’t fault the Season 4 premiere for keeping other favorite characters at bay while setting up all the dominos yet to fall.
However, I’d be remiss if I didn’t remark on how the episode was impacted by the lack of its ensemble sharing the screen together, at least ahead of Maeve showing up in the nick of time to save Caleb and his daughter from being capped. And considering that was a badass moment, it helps to prove my point.
Even if we didn’t get more genuine ensemble moments, I would have also been happy to spend two or three scenes with Jeffrey Wright’s Bernard, who was last seen shaking off dust after a presumed trip to the Sublime. Why we gotta wait at least another week to find out what’s up with that? WHYYY?!? Also, let’s see some non-flashback Clementine!
Other Delos-Approved Thoughts About "The Auguries"
- Who’d have guessed that Ariana DeBose was exactly what Westworld needed? Clearly the casting director, who deserves a bunch of “Way to go!” balloons.
- Totally understood that those were all CGI flies, but someone should have told Arturo Del Puerto to react a little bit more “freaked the fuck out”-ishly in that moment, considering how WTF things were. He was beyond startlingly calm, considering I would have shattered porcelain with my screams after seeing that horde of flies.
- I like that the fly form was incorporated into the Season 4 opening title sequence. Nothing goes together in nightmares quite like flies and skulls.
- When Christina passed a seemingly homeless man while walking through the city, he definitely mentioned The Tower looming over everyone, which definitely wasn’t a coincidence. But was he one of the people that was “ruined” by the game like Peter?
- Christina’s boss kinda sucks, and both her conversations with him and her dinner date felt like they were themselves written by A.I., which I feel is worth noting in the folder marked “Possible Evidence For Why Season 4’s Real World Is Actually A Park.”
- How did returning star James Marsden show up right on time there in the end, and what does his character have to do with any of this?
- Nothing has more inherent chill than Maeve meditating inside a snowy cabin as Jimi Hendrix plays.
- “Now be a dear and close your eyes, would you?” Cold. As. Ice.
- It’s kind of weird to watch Evan Rachel Wood as a Westworld character other than the deceased (or whatever) Dolores, even after Season 3’s body-swapping. I already know I won’t be able to break away from the feeling that there are identity-related twists to come for Christina.
- “Tabs” are the Season 4 equivalent of Season 3’s “Drip,” I’m guessing. At least as far as fad drugs go, if not for being similar in its effects and purpose of usage.
- I don’t really understand what Maeve’s power outage was about, in that I don’t see why she was going so hard on her memories at that point in time, seven years after going on the lam. Does A.I. get the seven-year itch, as it were?
- Prediction: Frankie’s Bear Bear doll is no doubt going to get destroyed, and it will be a Top 3 tragedy for the season.
- Do we think Maeve’s scabbard is a smelly gross mess that she doesn’t care about, since she’s not human, or do we think she cleans it when necessary? Because she most definitely did not wipe that blade off before sticking it back in there, and it was doused in blood or whatever life fluid.
- As happy as I was to see Ariana DeBose on screen, that’s how happy and surprised I was to see Good Girls vet Manny Montana popping up as Carver near the end of the episode. He brought a lot to Mayans M.C. Season 4 in recent months, so here’s hoping he gets showcased on Westworld as well.
Be sure to watch new episodes of Westworld on HBO every Sunday night at 10:00 p.m. ET, with episodes also available with HBO Max subscriptions, and then check out all of my random thoughts on a similar weekly basis. While waiting, head to our 2022 TV premiere schedule to see what other new and returning shows are on the way.
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Nick is a Cajun Country native, and is often asked why he doesn't sound like that's the case. His love for his wife and daughters is almost equaled by his love of gasp-for-breath laughter and gasp-for-breath horror. A lifetime spent in the vicinity of a television screen led to his current dream job, as well as his knowledge of too many TV themes and ad jingles.