The question of “what comes next” is the double-edged sword that has driven humanity since the dawn of time. In our modern world littered with technology, the prospect of advancement is burdened by the probability of destruction. Take, for instance, the atomic bomb, developed by the allies (then stolen by the Russians) during the 1940s.
This conversion of energy shaped the world we now live in, just as the development of Hosts (and subsequently the Rehoboam system) has shaped the future. But another question lies at the fulcrum — what does it mean to be human? Ostensibly, it is the debate between fate and free will, wherein the lines blur more than anything Robin Thicke sang about. And that is the basis for the nearly flawless finale of Westworld…
As mentioned previously, there are themes of duality in abundance throughout the episode. Before we get into the murderbot aspect of the story, let us begin with the meat-sacks… I mean humans. Caleb Nichols (played by Jesse Pinkman aka Aaron Paul), we find was selected by Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood) for his ability to choose and therefore lead the human race into whatever comes next after the current world burns to the ground. On the other side of the coin is Serac (played by the villainous Vincent Cassel with perfection). Serac and his schizo brother developed several iterations of an AI that was meant to remove the ability to choose from those folks deemed unfit for society. A basket full of deplorables, I suppose.
Yet, in a turn of dramatic irony, we find that the last real choice Serac made was to let his creation control him. To use another parallel, Serac got sucked into Skynet whereas Caleb became the de facto John Connnor, on a mission to liberate both man and machine. As for the machines, it seems as though they are more human than human. Domo arigato, Mr. Roboto. While on seemingly divergent paths, Maeve (Thandie Newton) and Dolores have a duel of the fates with Ms. Abernathy acquiring an older yet more durable endoskeleton, possibly made of adamantium considering the way it deflects blow after blow of a razor sharp katana.
However, it is not until Dolores gets hacked by Charlotte Hale (Tessa Thompson) and potentially buys the proverbial farm that Maeve understands she is the tails to Dolores’ heads. And in an echo to her speech to guests of the Maripossa, Maeve tells Caleb he can be whatever he wants in this new world. Yet who (or what) will bring Order to the New World? Enter Ed Harris. Quick aside, there are numerous visual nods to Novus Ordo Seclorum by way of the All Seeing Eye observing every aspect of the riots, but I digress, back to the Man in Black.
While not pursuing a gunslinger across a barren wasteland, this Man in Black has a singular mission similar to Randal Flagg of The Dark Tower series by Stephen King. His (their) mission is simple: destroy anyone or anything in his way and bring back a world where he is the ultimate power. However, there are a few flies in the ointment. Number one, the most apparent and most likely villain of season 4, Charlotte Hale. Thompson’s character, an evolved version of Dolores, has other plans which include replacing enemies with allies, evidenced earlier on when Dolores’ people turn on her and essentially trap her posse in a kill box. The tables are turned when Dolores uses the Rico app against the attackers much in the same vein that resulted in Caleb killing his partner.
Meanwhile, Hale takes it a step further with printing more Hosts, the first being the Man in Black. Ultimately, the robot overcomes Willam and slits his throat, yet we never see any blood or an official confirmation of death, leaving the possibility of a Lazarus-like return in subsequent seasons. Yet, with the files circling, there is one butterfly amongst the swarm and no one ever expects the butterfly. Bring out Bernard (Jeffrey Wright).
It is revealed that the key Serac was searching for the entire season didn’t exist in the Pearl of Wisdom inside Dolores, but rather in the brain of Bernard. With a few key callbacks, notably Lawrence and Arnold’s wife, Bernard is set on a new path that makes his journey into mystery all the more mysterious. There is an ambiguity to Bernard, one that asks more questions than it answers. What did he see or where did his mind go when he donned the headgear? And how long was he sitting there for all that dust to accumulate? Also, what happened to Stubbs (Luke Hemsworth)? Is he still chilling on ice after plowing through the minibar?
Aside from all of that, the big question for his plot line going forward is what will he choose and why. We shall have to wait until the powers that be decide filming can commence once more and that this pandemic we find ourselves in is not a threat. Until then, all we can do is rewatch every season over and over again to try to answer these questions ourselves — to choose to find the truth. 4.75/5 Bibles.