Picture: John Johnson/HBO
I knew the Vessel wasn’t doing any good. It seemed fitting that the grim and dystopian final shots of New York in the fourth episode of WestworldThe fourth season of featured Hudson Yards’ silliest feature on Manhattan’s West Side. Almost all hope is gone halfway through Westworld season four. This hour felt a little rushed as three separate storylines coalesced into one and skipped decades of potential story. There’s at least an entire season of television in all those time jumps, buried like a body in the sand. Less tell us what happened and more show us what is happening, please! We now know what the Big Bad’s evil plan is because he has already succeeded. That said, “Generation Loss” moves the story to a compelling place and gives us plenty to chew on.
Before we begin, here’s a refresher on the timeline so far. Maeve and Caleb’s mission is set seven years after the events of season three and at the start of Hale’s fly-goop scheme. We then skip 23 years forward, bringing Maeve, William, Hale, and Caleb up to speed on Bernard’s desert adventure with Caleb’s adult daughter, Frankie, who goes through “C,” and the romantic comedy/dark mystery from Cristina. Going forward, I think it’s safe to say that we’ll stay in “Hale’s world” and everything will happen more or less at the same time.
The episode’s opening sequence also filled in some of those gaps with a flashback to the “lighthouse” incident that Maeve and Caleb alluded to in previous episodes – the end of the war against Rehoboam. We knew Caleb nearly died and Maeve abandoned him soon after. But in this scene, as Caleb bleeds, Maeve hacks an electronic into his mouth (!) and shows him his farm tale as a Vulcan mind meld. This confused me at first. How does she do that? Was he host this together time? Wasn’t her life with Frankie real and more of an invention of Maeve? It hurt my brain like I was infected with fly porridge. Then I googled and remembered that in season three we learn that Incite (the company behind Rehoboam) put implants in human mouths to monitor and control them. Let this be a lesson that all is not on Westworld is intended to confuse the viewer.
Later, as Maeve and Caleb drive Hale to the demolition site, we see more of what happened after the lighthouse via flashback. She took him to the hospital, where he met his future wife, Uwade, and Maeve left them to let Caleb lead a normal life, which he did until Maeve got curious and used the super powers of his brain on the Internet to find him. This led Hale and William to them. Think about that the next time you go to Facebook to stalk someone. Cleaning up social media saves lives! Maeve and host William face off for a third time, and Caleb successfully resists the fly telling him to shoot Maeve. Then Maeve gets shot and sacrifices herself by setting off the explosives on the spot.
Then, to put it bluntly, Caleb passes out and wakes up in New York two decades later as a host. Only he does not yet realize where or what he is. Hale’s loyalty interviews aren’t like all the other girls’ loyalty interviews. She is dazed. She turns in her chair. She makes Caleb relive his own death before revealing that 23 years have passed, she is now in charge of humanity, and he is the 278th version of her host. While she initially wanted to keep Caleb alive and study him, her replacement hosts on Caleb’s team had other plans and shot him dead upon his arrival. Now it’s a different kind of experience. Caleb runs out of the very Olympiad Entertainment building where Christina works and into Manhattan, like Steve Rogers at the end of Captain America: The First Avenger. We also see, very clearly for the first time, the tower that has haunted Christina and controlled infected humans for a generation.
Finally, we have to talk about Maya. Christina and her roommate’s morning routine, as we’ve learned over the past few episodes, is disrupted in this episode. Both women overslept. Christina stayed up late to paint the tower and Maya dreamed that her family was being attacked by flies. Knowing what we know now, it’s almost certainly a memory. Maya must be one of the kids Hale boasted he could control. It is sadly poetic this flight, once a symbol of liberation on Westworldare now used to oppress and subjugate.
Christina asks if her painting looks like her. Maya pauses while we all point home to the screen like Leo and resumes her mission to get Christina to go on the blind date she arranged. “Christina,” she said, “Seriously. I need a night’s rest. Come with me.” Put aside all the time jumping, mind control and science fiction, this is the seemingly innocuous thing that made me lean forward the most in the whole episode. What does it mean?! What does she need for a night’s rest? Is Maya’s heart, for lack of a better term, to find love for Christina? What happens to her when she doesn’t? I also noticed that when she waits for Christina at the bar, she poses a bit like Maeve would at the Mariposa in Stillwater. Maeve and Maya are also similar names. Maeve and Dolores never had that kind of relationship in Westworld, but it’s something to consider.
The real star of the bar scene, however, is James Marsden. Even though his appearance in season four is all suave and insubstantial until we find out more about what’s going on, it’s so satisfying to see him back in scenes with Evan Rachel Wood. Almost satisfying enough to distract from the grim world around them. It is not named, but all the “Teddy” movements are there. He picks up something Christina dropped and says her signature, “I’m just trying to be chivalrous.” He talks about his past as a bounty hunter with a heart of gold. The two can’t help but feel like they’ve known each other forever. But the last time we saw Westworld, Teddy is as dead as a host can be. Her pearl was uploaded to the valley beyond. This is, if anything, just a copy.
We still don’t know who Christina is, for that matter, or if she controls Hale’s world and why she resembles Dolores Abernathy in both story arc and genetic makeup. Westworld Co-creator Lisa Joy told Deadline that Christina is human and not a reboot of Dolores, but I just don’t think that’s possible. There are too many similarities and too many coincidences. Even if Hale had grown her in a test tube, she would have done it long before Caleb and Maeve infiltrated Temperance. Also, Joy said this in the Deadline interview, and it couldn’t be more sarcastic, IMHO:
“I wanted a really good actor to play this girl, Christina, and I hope people won’t notice because I changed her hair color, but we just cast Evan again. I think the hair color will fool them, they probably won’t recognize it.
Hopefully, now that we know other Westworld characters are in Christina’s orbit and her blissful ignorance continues to shatter, we can put that to the test and start getting some answers. This episode provided a lot of answers, after all. Where does that leave everyone? Hale locked up Caleb. Presumably the host William, who was little more than a lackey in this episode, is with her. It’s also possible that the human William is also with them. I shudder to think what it would be like if OG William and nu Caleb got together. Meanwhile, Bernard is across the country with Frankie and his rebel army – and Maeve, the weapon that will hopefully save us all.
• The term “generation loss” means a drop in quality each time something has been copied. Many things have been copied Westworld. The stories were copied from park to park. Hale is a copy of a copy of a copy of Dolores in a copy of Charlotte. Caleb is now on his 278th copy. But in the case of Westworldthis also refers to the time that Caleb has lost since his death – 23 years is approximately a generation, and Hale says it took a generation to take over the human world. Clever, that!
• Maeve seems convinced that she can maneuver Temperance because she knows Westworld stories like the back of her hand. But Caleb is right to be worried. It’s not the hosts that pose a threat; these are the guests infected with the fly. Additionally, Hale started out as a version of Dolores Abernathy and therefore too played the Westworld game. I’m as confident as Bernard is that Maeve can help win the war, but she made some arrogant miscalculations, and I’m not surprised she lost that particular battle.
• Hale saying “Welcome to the super-spreader event of the century” got me out of the episode, but Westworld compensated by James Marsden’s “you want to flirt with me, I’m ok with that”. Sometimes nerdy makes you cringe, and sometimes you just have to accept it.
• The Lighthouse attack gave me a lot Principle vibrates in its aesthetics. I half expected Robert Pattinson to come out and make sure this was all a time claw move.
• At the demo site, Caleb sends his team his location—which, if I’ve calculated my latitude and longitude correctly, is in the Simi Valley outside of Santa Clarita. It’s a long way from Las Vegas. Were they really driving for hours? !