Title: Westworld – Season 4 (2022)
Created by: Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy
Based on: Westworld by Michael Crichton
Stars: Evan Rachel Wood, Thandiwe Newton, Ed Harris, Jeffrey Wright, Tessa Thompson, Luke Hemsworth, Aaron Paul, Angela Sarafyan, James Marsden
Spoiler Alert: This review may contain spoilers for seasons 1-3 of Westworld.
There have been countless films and series exploring free will and the urges that drive us, but few do in such a unique and disturbing way as Westworld. What started as a neo-Western show based on Michael Crichton’s original 1973 science fiction film, about an amusement park where the filthy rich could let loose their inner desires on defenseless “hosts,” be they violent, sexual or otherwise, has become an exploration into the future of the human condition.
Admittedly, the show has had its ups and downs. But the fourth season takes the show in a somewhat new direction, keeping it fresh and exciting while staying true to what came before.
The story picks up seven years after the events of the third season. A war has been fought for humanity’s free will, and the robots or “hosts” has all but disappeared. But the sinister William, aka The Man in Black (played by Ed Harris), is up to his old shenanigans, plotting murder, mayhem and world domination! Meanwhile, Maeve (played by Thandiwe Newton) tries her best to stay in hiding but is called into action again when assassins come for her.
We are also introduced to the game story designer Christina (played by Evan Rachel Wood), living with her flatmate in the city, who seems to wake up day after day to the same grind: eat, sleep, work, dating, on and on. Sounds familiar? Who is she? A human? Host? Reprogrammed Dolores? The face is familiar, but her life is very different. And Bernard (played by Jeffrey Wright) is on his own quest, but I would consider revealing anything about him in this season a spoiler, so we’ll have to leave it with that for now.
The story in this fourth season of Westworld takes some time to get going, and the first couple of episodes might feel a bit slow. This might have something to do with the large time jump that happened after the third season. The world is different, and quite some time is spent checking in with the various characters from earlier seasons and getting to know the new faces.
Season four revolves around a plot by some of the few remaining hosts to control humans using infected flies and infiltrate synthetic copies of people into positions of power throughout society. Of course, this being Westworld, things are not always as they seem, and by the end of the four episodes I had access to for this review, there had been more than a few twists, turns and close calls.
Like previous seasons of Westworld, season four continues to follow separate groups of characters and an overarching central mystery. However, I felt at times that the frequent jumping between what often felt like completely different stories was tiresome. Still, I got into it after the first two or three episodes when the various story threads began to sync up.
Season four is Westworld at its darkest, creepiest and most existential. And from what I’ve seen in the four episodes I’ve watched, once it gets started, it is also the series at its most engaging since the first season. There is some great world-building here, both in the real world and in the park. Oh yes, the new park. It wouldn’t really be Westworld without a park, and here we return to where it all started. But this time updated to a 1930s mafia world: Expect a lot of old cars, dingy nightclubs and Tommy guns!
Writing a review of the fourth season of Westworld is not easy, as there are twists, turns and surprises everywhere, and I don’t want to give away too much of the story. But if you’ve been a fan of the show up until now, and even if you’ve been frustrated with some of the convoluted and uneven storytelling in the second and third seasons, the fourth season won’t disappoint. As mentioned, darker, creepier, apocalyptic – this is Westworld dipping its toe in the horror genre. And I like it!
Season four of Westworld premieres on HBO Max on the 27th of June.