Westworld season 4, episode 1 recap: Evan Rachel Wood gets a reboot

The fourth season of ‘Westworld’ sees the introduction of some familiar-looking new characters far away from the amusement park itself

Westworld- Teaser Trailer (HBO)

The third season of Westworld ended with something of a rarity for a show about robots: an android death that felt final. After the theme park’s mechanical hosts got loose in the real world, they learned that, much like them, humans were being controlled by a nefarious AI supercomputer known as Rehoboam. That led Maeve (Thandiwe Newton) and Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood) to help human Caleb (Aaron Paul) shut down Rehoboam, freeing humanity. That freedom, however, came at the cost of Dolores’s life, and the show’s writers made it clear that they weren’t messing around: she really is dead. “We saw Dolores perish,” writer and executive producer Denise Thé confirmed to The Hollywood Reporter. “We saw all of her memories painfully erased. I think it’s really important to honour her death.”

So long Dolores, hello Christina

Just because Dolores finally met her long-promised violent end doesn’t mean we’ve seen the last of Evan Rachel Wood. In the first episode of season four we’re introduced to her new character Christina, waking up in a New York apartment that may be futuristic but is still cramped enough to require her to sleep on a high-tech Murphy bed. Christina is a writer for video games company Olympiad Entertainment who specialises in writing saccharine back stories for non-playable background characters. While her remarkable physical resemblance to Dolores surely can’t be a coincidence, it remains unexplained for now. Christina has more pressing things to worry about, namely a boss who’s unhappy she doesn’t write more thrilling narratives and an unsettling stalker who just won’t stop blowing up her phone.

Christina’s flatmate Maya (recent Oscar winner Ariana DeBose) decides that what she really needs to take her mind off things is a date with a professional gambler, which turns out to be a bust. Returning home alone, Christina is confronted by her stalker, Peter (Aaron Stanford), who keeps babbling about “the tower” and his theory that Christina has somehow been writing about and controlling his life. “I need for the story to change,” he tells her. “I need the ending to be different.” Things aren’t looking good for Christina, until she’s rescued by a mysterious hero who disappears just as quickly as he emerged from the shadows. The next day, Peter calls Christina before killing himself by taking a nose dive off the roof of a building. Later, the final shot of the episode reveals the identity of Christina’s mysterious protector: a new character played by James Marsden, who we haven’t seen since his kind-hearted cowboy Teddy killed himself at the end of season two. Who is he and how does he fit in to all this? The orchestral version of Lana Del Rey’s breakthrough hit that provides a swooning soundtrack to his appearance suggests that it will, naturally enough, have something to do with “Video Games”.

Dammed if they do, damned if they don’t

The episode’s pre-credits sequence features (the android host version of) William/The Man in Black (Ed Harris) negotiating with a Spanish-speaking cartel to buy the supercomputer they’ve managed to build inside the Hoover Dam. It seems he believes the computer will allow him to access “The Door”, which leads to android afterlife the Valley Beyond/Sublime. When they refuse his offer, William tells them he’ll just take it. Returning home, one cartel member (Arturo Del Puerto) finds an infestation of flies in his home and the next day, looking possessed, he kills his boss, hands over control of the supercomputer to William, and promptly kills himself. Those were no ordinary flies, and it seems unlikely we’ve seen the last of them.

Maeve and Caleb reunite

Seven years have passed since Maeve and Caleb shut down Rehoboam. Caleb has spent the time trying to be a good father to daughter Frankie (Celeste Clark), which for him means teaching her to shoot a gun. As her mother tells him: “She’s seven, Caleb. Thanks to you, her hobbies are sugar and violence.” Maeve, meanwhile, has spent the time keeping to herself in a cabin off the grid. That is until goons show up intent on killing her. She quickly despatches them before heading to LA to make similarly short work of the baddie who’s after Caleb and Frankie. Maeve tells Caleb that William is “back at it” – and that means they are too. They’re off to beat William to the Senator he wants to meet, and the chase is on.

‘Westworld’ season four episode one is available on HBO Max in the US from Sunday 26 June and Sky Atlantic in the UK from Monday 27 June

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