Warning: Spoilers from the Westworld season 4 finale are discussed in this article.
With everything going on at Warner Bros. Discovery, a merger between two companies that has resulted in the cancellations of multiple shows and movies, it's still unknown whether or not we're getting a fifth season of Westworld. But, according to Lisa Joy, the season 4 finale, which aired on HBO Sunday, is not the definitive ending she and co-creator Jonathan Nolan have in mind.
"We never broke [the show] with an exact number of seasons left," Joy tells EW in an interview, "but then when we were writing this season, we were like, 'We can get it up to the precipice before we round it out with what we had always planned would happen in the fifth season.' So we have, like Dolores, one more story to tell — and whether we get to tell it, we'll see."
Evan Rachel Wood played a new character in season 4, Christina, after the death of Dolores in season 3. But over the course of the most recent eight episodes, viewers came to realize that Christina was almost like the soul of Dolores living on as a non-corporeal program that Hale/Halores (Tessa Thompson) used to write the stories for everyone's loops in her robot-dominated cities.
Christina had even inadvertently created characters around her, including James Marsden's Teddy and Ariana DeBose's Maya, to keep her company and help her understand the world around her.
By the final credits, Christina and Dolores have become one, transforming back into her classic blue prairie dress and entering the Sublime (a.k.a. robo Heaven) with a new mission. "There's time for one last game, a dangerous game with the highest of stakes," she says, adding, "This game ends where it began: in a world like a maze that tests who we are, that reveals what we are to become."
John Johnson/HBO Evan Rachel Wood's Christina and Dolores merge in the 'Westworld' season 4 finale.
"We always had this idea that, in the last season, we would let the person who was at the whim of other people's stories and predilections and desires to be able to write a story of her own and really flip the test back," Joy says. "In terms of a launching pad for that [in season 5], the old regimes and the old world and a lot of the old players have been dismantled and destroyed [in season 4]. So, in this final test, what is Dolores gonna do? How will the world look different? How will she, as the final tester, create a different universe in a different game and a different way?"
Many characters seemed to reach the end of their loops in the Westworld season 4 finale. Hale destroyed host William's (Ed Harris) pearl before crushing her own. Stubbs (Luke Hemsworth), Clementine (Angela Sarafyan), Maeve (Thandiwe Newton), and Bernard (Jeffrey Wright) all got shot in the head, while Caleb (Aaron Paul) was last seen gazing at his grown daughter, who left Hale's doomed city on a boat as his own mind deteriorated. But we didn't see him die, technically. So the jury's still out.
"Sentient life on earth has ended, but some part of it may be preserved in another world, my world," Christina/Dolores says.
Joy confirms that some of these folks have indeed died, but regardless of anyone's fate, no one will be the same should the show return for season 5.
"The world as we know it is done and the characters as we knew them, as they existed on that world, are also done," she explains. "They died. Just like Christina is not really a direct continuation of Dolores; she has a much different point of view and a different physicality, or lack of physicality. So I would say there are some people that in a fifth season, should we get one, you will not be seeing again, but there are some that you will in maybe a different incarnation. And there might be some familiar faces from the past that will also be seen."
What test does Dolores specifically have in mind? As she walked into the Sublime, she transformed the environment from the visage of Hale's city to look like the Westworld park, bringing the series back to where it all started.
Joy says she and Nolan feel like Westworld "ends in the west." Meaning, "It ends back home again in an atmosphere that is familiar to us from season 1, and yet is completely different because the lay of the land is dictated by a completely different being," she says. (That "being" being Dolores.) "There's something that will be familiar and yet quite evolved about the landscape that we come to find, and the people and hosts that we find within that landscape."
Westworld season 5 has not been officially confirmed by HBO, so here's hoping viewers aren't left dangling on this cliffhanger for eternity.
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