October 4, 2022

Violent delights come to a satisfying end in Westworld’s fitting finale – review

And now, the end is here. Westworld faces the final curtain of its fourth season – and perhaps the show – with gunfights galore and enough bloodshed to keep even Ed Harris’s nihilistic Man in Black sated. Sadly, there’s no last-minute resurrection for fan-favourite Maeve (Thandiwie Newton), and Bernard (Jeffrey Wright) appears only via posthumous video message, but otherwise the gang’s all here for an often emotional farewell. Let the final chapter commence…

William’s urge to purge

Last week’s episode saw William back in his full Man in Black regalia, kicking off one final battle royale: the purge to end all purges (not to mention life on earth itself). We begin with various humans and hosts murdering each other in the chaos before a young sniper meets his end at the hands of the Man in Black, who helps himself to his victim’s rifle and truck. “You know the rules,” he growls. “Winner takes all.”

Not all of William’s victims seem to want to stay dead, however. Back at her mind control tower, the murdered Charlotte Hale (Tessa Thompson) is rescued by her all-white drone hosts. After they solder up the nasty bullet hole in her head, she instructs them to rebuild her stronger and faster – but to keep her face, so that William will know who it is that’s after him. After all this time, perhaps Hale has grown accustomed to her face. While being given her Terminator overhaul, she also receives a cryptic video message from the departed Bernard. “This isn’t the world you wanted, Charlotte, but it’s the world you created,” he tells her. “The question is: What happens next?”

Dolores: Rebooted

As Christina (Evan Rachel Wood) and Teddy (James Marsden) wander through city streets littered with corpses, she finally understands the true nature of her existence: “I’m just some programme running things from behind the scenes.” That moment of revelation leads her to realise that she’s been leaving clues to try to wake herself up. She drew the maze outside her apartment herself, and even best friend Maya (Ariana DeBose) is her creation too: “I talked to myself in the voices of others.”

Christina’s epiphany arrives just in time for Hale to unplug her brain pearl from the mainframe of the city she’s been running. Next, Hale goes to visit the corpse of William – still suspended in his Vitruvian Man cell – where she meets Clementine (Angela Sarafyan). She’s here to spell out last week’s plot twist. “You brought William back thinking you could keep him as your pet,” she tells Hale. “You were wrong.” Hale asks for her help hunting down William, but Clementine has another vision of freedom: she wants to live off the grid, which means she needs to find the Outliers.

To kick off the hunt for William, Hale dispatches a couple of goons to attack him while he’s out driving his truck, listening to Johnny Cash sing about the “Ring of Fire”. The ill-fated pair don’t give him much trouble aside from shooting up his vehicle, which tees up a delicious line-reading from Harris: “Goddammit, you boys have no appreciation for a beautiful machine!” He plucks a pair of VR glasses off one dead goon, allowing him to enter a high-tech Zoom call with Hale. She sets out the remaining stakes: William has succeeded in burning down the world. Next he’s going after robot heaven, aka the Sublime. Hale intends to stop him. “So you’re joining my game,” smirks William. “I’m delighted!”

Aurora Perrineau as C in ‘Westworld’

(John Johnson/HBO)

Father and child reunion

Elsewhere, Caleb (Aaron Paul), his daughter C (Aurora Perrineau) and the always dependable Stubbs (Luke Hemsworth) are still trying to escape William’s purge. C is limping badly after being shot in the leg, but Stubbs is more concerned about Caleb, whose mind is literally rejecting its robot body. Stubbs has seen it all before. “In the old Delos experiments,” he says, “They never took.”

Before long they hole up in an abandoned supermarket. Apparently the place is all out of painkillers, but by a stroke of luck there’s a decent-looking bottle of whisky left so Caleb and C can share a tear-jerking daddy-daughter drink.

Meanwhile, Stubbs is off competently dealing with an intruder but proves no match for Clementine, who emerges out of the shadows to kill the pair of them. She has a menancing stand-off with C, but she’s not there to kill her. She’s come to demand a ride to the Outliers, or at least to find a location where she can live off the map. Caleb’s attempt to rescue his daughter just results in Clementine kicking his ass around the supermarket aisles, but it’s C who gets the last word with her final bullet.

Caleb succeeds in delivering C to her escape boat, but that’s as far as he can go. He’s done with life as a robot. “Frankie, your father died long ago,” points out Caleb version 279. “Whatever I am, I’ve died before. This isn’t so bad.”

The beautiful and the damned

William and Hale arrive nearly simultaneously back where this season began: the Hoover Dam. William, fittingly, is on horseback, while Hale opts for something more like a sleek helicopter Uber. They face things with a thrilling climatic shoot out that’s only settled when Hale reaches for the gun Bernard stashed in a tunnel last episode, blowing the Man in Black’s skull wide open.

That leaves Hale free to complete Bernard’s mission: delivering the Christina/Dolores brain pearl to the Great Beyond. A screen reveals Dolores’s true title: “The Storyteller.” With the upload accomplished, Hale strips down to her robot parts and sits by the water before her incredibly metal final moments: taking out her own brain pearl and crushing it with her fist into a fine dust.

All that remains is for Dolores, back in her season one finery, to understand her nature as the Storyteller charged with keeping some spark of this doomed civilisation alive. “The world is a graveyard of stories. Hosts and humans were given the gift of intelligent life, and we used it to usher in our own annihilation,” she says. ”Sentient life on earth has ended. But some part of it might be preserved, in another world. My world.”

Fittingly for a show so often concerned with the closed loops that make up our lives, Westworld ends right back where it started. “This game ends where it began. In a world like a maze. That tests who we are. That reveals what we are to become,” says Dolores in a voiceover, as a familiar train takes her back across the dusty plains for one last visit to Westworld. “Maybe this time,” she says. “We’ll set ourselves free.”

‘Westworld’ season four episode eight is available on HBO Max in the US from Sunday 14 August and Sky Atlantic in the UK from Monday 15 August

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