Anyone else been stuck in a time loop since March 2020? No, not because of the pandemic, but because that was the last time a new season of Westworld graced our TV screens. I can't tell if I've been questioning my reality since then because of quarantine and all the COVID-19-related trauma we've all been subject to over the last two years, or because of this confusing show that just keeps getting more confusing.
Well, it's time for eight more weeks of head-scratching, and I'll be right there with you to (try to???) make sense of it all. Let's dive into the season 4 premiere, shall we?
"The Auguries" starts out with William (Ed Harris) angling to buy up some land that no one is quite sure why he'd want to buy. He and a businessman start throwing around words like "fungible," and my eyes immediately glaze over. Soon William explains what he's after: Eight years ago, a certain someone stole something of his that he wants back. But he doesn't want it disturbed, so he's ready to buy the whole damn plot. When the businessman tells him it's not for sale, he delivers this hell of a one-liner: "This is America, everything's for sale."
Courtesy of HBO Ed Harris is back as William (or is it robo-William?) in the 'Westworld' season 4 premiere
The guy refuses, despite William's threats, and returns home to find a horde of buzzing flies in his walk-in closet. I think I've seen this film before, and I don't think he's gonna like the ending. He wakes up in a daze, walks to the office, and stabs his colleagues to death — seemingly not of his own volition. He then meets William and hands over the world's thinnest iPad, which presumably includes what William was after. He asks if his work is done, William says yes, he can rest now, and the guy walks away as he slits his own throat. WOWZA. That was only the first 10 minutes.
After the credits roll, we see Evan Rachel Wood waking up in bed — eerily similar to when we first met her back in season 1 as sweet ol' Dolores. But she's not Dolores; she's Christina, who Wood recently described to EW as "a loner nerdy kind of writer that's just trying to make it in the big city." After she gets ready for the day, her roommate (Ariana DeBose) asks for help deciding which shoes to wear to some event they have later — white or black? When Christina says either pair would look great, her roomie insists: "Pick a side, Chrissy." She fleetingly points to the white pair. (That seems like foreshadowing, or a callback, or both.)
John P. Johnson/HBO Maya (Ariana DeBose) asks Christina (Evan Rachel Wood) to choose a side in the 'Westworld' season 4 premiere
We find out that Christina — who apparently doesn't do anything but work and sit around at home — works for a video game company called Olympiad Entertainment, where she writes storylines for background characters. But she's in trouble because all her story pitches are too sweet. Where's the sex and violence, her boss asks. Perhaps she went through too much of that in another life. She's also getting spam calls from an unknown male voice begging her to stop playing her "game" with him. It's ruining his life. It's unclear if Christina knows what he's talking about.
Cut to Maeve (Thandiwe Newton) meditating (?) in a snow-covered cabin in the woods. She's having flashbacks — her daughter, Caleb (Aaron Paul) bleeding out, general destruction — and ends up not only busting her radio, but blowing the whole mountain town's power. For f---'s sake, indeed.
Speaking of Caleb, there he is, at the top of a building, workin' away. We learn that all the robots who shared his construction job have been reduced to scrap metal. His co-worker is skeptical that the riots resulted in any actual change, and as he perches high atop the building, it seems maybe Caleb is starting to agree. (My legs turn to jelly just watching him sit that high up.) We also learn he has a wife and a 7-year-old daughter whose No. 1 hobby is shooting cans in the yard. Caleb seems to be dealing with some PTSD — whether it's from his military days or the events of season 3 is unclear. As he's tucking his daughter in for the night, he hears a noise outside and immediately runs for his gun… which disturbs his wife, who worries that he's rubbing off on their daughter, Frankie, who she caught keeping a toy gun under her pillow.
Turns out Maeve's little power outage caused a commotion, and a band of bad guys show up at her door. But she's badass as ever, and gruesomely kills them all — though I have to say I was not prepared to watch a severed head get tossed in the sink. It's pretty gross, but she hooks herself up to the leader's memory after cutting his head open. Who does she see in there? William. He must've sent the thugs?
John Johnson/HBO The roomies head to a restaurant, where Christina (Evan Rachel Wood) will go on a not-so-great blind date
Later, Christina meets that unknown caller. His name is Peter, and he intercepts her in front of her apartment as she's walking home from a blind date. Peter insists that Christina his ruining several peoples' lives, his included. "Why are you doing this to us?" he asks, before pulling a knife on her. He misses her throat but slices her forearm before a mysterious man pulls him off her and disappears into the night. Christina wakes up the next morning — in that familiar loop — to another call from Peter. He seems to believe that the stories she writes for her video games are coming true in real life — because he is a character in one of those games. He asks her to remember how she wrote his ending… and just as she realizes what's happening, looks up to see him jump off a building. "Is this up to me, or did you write this too?" were his last words.
It turns out Caleb was right to reach for his gun earlier. Frankie wanders outside to retrieve Bear Bear, her stuffie she accidentally dropped out the window, and meets a very creepy man who asks to talk to her dad. As Caleb walks out to take out the trash, he realizes what's going on and dives to protect Frankie just as the man shoots. But before the intruder can harm them, a sword is shoved right through him, courtesy of Maeve. "Hello, darling," she greets Caleb. She explains that William sent those men after them. Caleb tearily tells his wife he has to leave to keep them safe. So we at least know how Caleb and Maeve are starting off the season — they're heading to California to intercept William's men as they hunt their next victim.
John Johnson/HBO Evan Rachel Wood's Christina just wants to write a story with a happy ending
We end with Christina on her balcony thinking out a new pitch, one with a happy ending. But no one wants to hear that kind of story, she reminds herself, as an orchestral Lana Del Rey song plays. As she steps back inside, the camera pans to the dark sidewalk, where a shadowy figure steps into the light. A shadowy figure that looks just like that mystery man who saved her from Peter's knife. I think we can all guess who this is… Yep, it's Teddy! Or at least, James Marsden. Who knows who he's playing in this new season 4 game.