Warning: This interview contains spoilers from HBO’s Westworld episode 401 “The Auguries”.
It’s a whole new Westworld, and, man, does it seem peaceful since Maeve and Caleb took out the predictive-AI, big-think computer Rehoboam last season. Dolores even helped, sacrificing her life.
So, let’s bring everyone up to speed in regards to what happened tonight:
—Ed Harris’ Man in Black a.k.a William is walking around like he’s got a mind of his own and lots of power. But, remember, Charlotte Hale (Tessa Thompson) killed what seemed like a human version of him in the season 3 finale, and sent a host of the guy out into the world. MIB wants to buy a water dam off a drug cartel. He makes them an offer they can’t refuse, but yet they do initially refuse: Sell it today, “or you give it to me for nothing tomorrow” booms MIB to Arturo Del Puerto’s cartel point guy. “What I want is already in there. It was stolen from me from one of my facilities eight years ago, and I know you were paid handsomely to store it,” MIB tells him, “I can’t encrypt it. I don’t want it moved or disturbed, so I’ll take the whole shebang.”
Later on, Del Puerto’s character, who refused to sell the dam, is swarmed by flies in his room and knocked out. Next day, he awakes and tells his boss (Alex Fernandez) and his cronies about MIB’s offer. They laugh. Del Puerto’s character takes out a knife and kills them. He then meets MIB on the bridge of the dam, and agrees to sell the structure to him. “Is my work done?” he asks. “Yes, you can rest now,” answers MIB before the guy slashes his own throat.
—There’s Dolores… but it’s not Dolores. Rather, Christina, played by Evan Rachel Wood. She’s a lovelorn, hard-working single girl in the city, who works at a posh cubicle job where she writes 3D game stories for people. She lives with a roommate, played by Oscar winner Ariana DeBose, who keeps encouraging Christina to get out and date. However, the stories that Christina is writing seem to be impacting the greater outside public, and not in a good way. She wants to write more romance YA storylines, i.e. a teen girl living with her father in the country (sounds a lot like Dolores’ western story; “Scratch that,” Christina says). However, her boss doesn’t want her saccharine tales, rather more sex, violence and tragedy. Meanwhile, Christina is receiving disturbing phone calls from a guy who claims her storylines have forced him to lose his job and his wife. He blames the tower, which conceivably is the building she works in. We later learn this guy’s name is Peter. He goes to assault Christina after a date, cutting her with a knife before he’s subdued by a mysterious guy in the streets. By the end of the episode, we learn it’s James Marsden who protected Christina. In earlier seasons, Marsden played cowboy Teddy Flood, a host who always had the hots for Dolores back at the Delos Westworld theme park. The next day, after encountering Christina, Peter phones her and says, “Is this up to me, or did you write this too?” before jumping off a building to his death in front of her.
—Maeve (Thandiwe Newton) has been living in the woods, hiding in a cabin after winning the revolution at the end of season 3. But she learns hosts are coming to get her. She takes them out, cutting one of their heads off. She plugs into it and learns that MIB/William has been behind this. It’s time for her to return to the world.
—Caleb (Aaron Paul). Despite assisting Maeve in winning the war, he’s back to working in construction, but not alongside a robot like last season, but a real human guy. The robots, we learn, are all scrap metal now. “Has your life changed since they destroyed those machines?” Caleb’s co-worker asks him. Caleb has a daughter, but he’s teaching her how to shoot a pistol (akin to a BB gun). “Thanks to you, her hobbies are sugar and violence,” Caleb’s spouse says about their daughter. Later on, an assailant approaches Caleb’s daughter in the night. However, the intruder is immediately gutted by Maeve’s samurai sword. “I know who sent those men after us: William. He’s back at it,” Maeve tells Caleb. She also knows that MIB has been meeting up with a California senator and she wants to track him down. Caleb is totally up for it, and tells his loved one, who is losing her patience with his shenanigans, “I’m the one who has brought this upon us, and I’m the one who has to end it.”
Here’s our conversation with Westworld co-creator, EP and scribe Lisa Joy to explain it all:
DEADLINE: How many years after the revolution is it? Is it immediately after?
Lisa Joy: It’s over seven years since we last saw our characters. There’s no more fighting. It’s all over. We skipped the big fight and now we’re seeing the aftermath of the struggle.
DEADLINE: The set-up for season 4 looks like it’s hosts versus hosts. You’ve got Charlotte and you know she’s not human, and then you’ve got William who isn’t; he’s running the roost. Maeve is hiding in a cabin, and she’s getting assaulted by security guys who are hosts and she can hack into their brains. So, it looks like there’s this divide among the hosts.
Lisa Joy: Right. It kind of looks like it. It looks like after Dolores died over seven years ago that she kind of bought freedom for the humans from this massive AI, and they’ve kind of taken a mistrust to general AI. You can see it with Caleb where he refused to work with a robot, and now he’s working with a human, but that doesn’t mean that AI is gone. The hosts that remain have clearly been up to different things. In the case of Maeve, she’s been having her Eat, Pray, Love moment alone in Alaska, but maybe some of our hosts have teamed up for more nefarious shenanigans. I think the question that will emerge this season is after a period of unrest, once you’ve kind of earned this détente, this peace, can it stay, or are humans and their kind of inheritors in the form of these hosts somehow predestined to always fall in these loops of fractiousness and fighting and division?
DEADLINE: So, with Rehoboam gone, and AI not being gone, there’s talk of this tower. Is this the company that Evan Rachel Wood’s character works for?
Lisa Joy: I have no idea.
DEADLINE: Okay, but the tower seems like it’s this new AI because characters keep saying ‘the tower’s making me do these things.’
Lisa Joy: It just sounds like the raving of lunatics to me.
DEADLINE: Season 3 felt like a reboot in some form. Is season 4 also?
Lisa Joy: I mean, I think that we’ve always seen this story unfolding in these unique chapters, and almost in some ways different genres every season. Like, there’s everything from the character trajectories to the worlds that we’re exploring to the times that we’re exploring. We’ve sought to continue to evolve. So, I’m not sure if reboot is the proper word for it, but you know, we’re dealing with AI and an examination of the sort of long scope of history, because of course AI don’t have the same life span as humans. So, it makes sense to me to not have to do things totally linearly in terms of a direct pickup or anything like that. And to me, war is brutish and terrible and devastating for all parties. Every war is a result of massive failure on everybody’s part. Besides death and devastation, the thing that really interests me isn’t war itself because it’s so basic and it’s so sad, but the aftermath of war: How humans live with the scars of war, how civilizations kind of pick themselves up or reroute, how culture changes. Every so often people face these kind of generational changing forces. I think we’ve just gone through one ourselves and the question is, well, what is the next step in human evolution?
DEADLINE: Is this the last season, or does your team see two more seasons, or is it a wait-and-see type of thing?
Lisa Joy: No. You never want to tempt the TV gods, but (Westworld co-creator) Jonah (Nolan) and I have always had an ending in mind that we hope to reach. We have not quite reached it yet.
DEADLINE: And then Dolores. She was knocked out from Rehoboam…
Lisa Joy: Yeah. She’s dead.
DEADLINE: It’s Westworld — people can be rebooted. There’s always a backup. Do we know how she got from the end of season 3 to now, or we’ll learn that?
Lisa Joy: I mean, she didn’t. Dolores is absolutely dead. Her sacrifice was meaningful in that it helped get the world to this place, but it was a sacrifice in that there is no more Dolores. I’m not sure I would call it a version, but you know, there’s this new character, Christina. We’re just along for the ride with her as she experiences the city, dating, being a writer. It’s really nice to be able to not speak wholly in metaphor, to be able to do something contemporary and human, to write roommates, banter and bad dates. I haven’t been able to do that yet. It’s always been a period piece in Westworld. I wanted a really great actor to play this girl, Christina, and I’m hoping people don’t notice because I changed her hair color, but we just cast Evan again. I’m thinking the hair color is going to fool them. They probably won’t recognize her.
DEADLINE: William feels so alive. We think he’s dead, but it feels like he’s not dead. From his maneuvers it doesn’t feel like he’s some programmed bot.
Lisa Joy: Unfortunately, he’s what you’ve been watching — the thing that William least wanted to be, which is a host. And not only that, but he’s a host on a chain. He’s Hale’s… you know.