SPOILERS for Westworld Season 4, Episode 3 ‘Années Folles‘.
The somewhat straightforward approach to this Westworld season is slowly becoming a little more complex as more narrative arcs and characters are reintroduced within this episode. Années Folles brings with it some loose answers regarding Charlotte Hale’s fly project, while also shedding light on Bernard’s purpose within this season. Much like in season three, the full scope of Bernard’s journey isn’t fully realised, but we get an indication within this episode that he may be the most important individual on the planet. This episode also gives us a peek into the new park known as Temperance (or The Golden Age, if you will), a jazz-soaked recreation of the roaring 20’s and obvious Westworld re-skin. But more importantly, let’s get into the breakdown!
Meet Westworld’s Doctor Strange
The episode opens in an altered aspect ratio – an instant indication that we aren’t in our reality, rather, we’re in the Sublime. Bernard (Jeffrey Wright) wakes to his son Charlie stealing the classic maze game from way back in season one. He then walks through a collection of memories from back in Westworld, including the aftermath of Dolores’ Sweetwater massacre, all accompanied by the presence of a white horse. Suddenly he happens upon The Tower – the location being heavily referenced in Christina’s narrative arc.
Inside the tower is a room eerily reminiscent of Twin Peaks‘ infamous red room, and Akecheta (Zahn McClarnon), who made it to the Sublime in the finale of season two. We learn that the world of The Sublime is unique for every host in there – built subconsciously by whoever’s perspective we’re looking from. For some unknown reason, Bernard’s version of the Sublime is in The Tower. A really interesting conversation unfolds, informing us that all the possible paths the future could take end in destruction beyond a certain point. Akecheta instructs Bernard that he must intervene if there’s to be any hope of survival. Bernard goes full Doctor Strange and visualises all the possible paths for the world, including the one in which he succeeds in saving everyone, but in every scenario he dies.
I’ll briefly cover what Bernard’s future visions show, because there’s not a tonne to unpack. We see the motel he woke up in, some silhouettes in the desert, the facility inside the Hoover Dam, a random tunnel, shots inside and outside The Tower, the main street of Temperance all abandoned, a diner, and a beetle in the desert. It’s clear that all of these shots are important in some way, since we seen a couple of them within this episode, but it’s unclear how important they’ll be.
Bernard and Stubbs, back in action!
Bernard wakes up in the motel we last saw him in the finale (and post-credits scene) of season three, covered in dust with Ashley Stubbs (Luke Hemsworth) still waiting by his side after seven years. I love seeing this duo back in action as they’re one of my favourite character pairings. When Stubbs utters a joke about a souvenir, Bernard mentions he’s “eliminated half of the possibilities”, indicating Bernard knows everything that needs to occur in the future in order to ensure the survival of the human race – including the importance of a simple shovel. His time in the Sublime really gave him the ultimate superpower – he can see the entire future (to a certain point) and is tasked with saving the world.
Arriving at the diner seen in Bernard’s vision, he explains to Stubbs that he needs to trigger an exact series of events to succeed. He follows two randoms out of the diner, brutally kills them while Blondie’s Call Me brilliantly plays over the back, and dumps them in his boot (not before beheading one of them).
Bernard and Stubbs wait outside the diner where a car rolls up and a mysterious woman steps out. Known only as “C”, the mystery woman is played by Aurora Perrineau and invites them into the car once shown an image of the maze. It seems she’s part of some underground organisation, one that’s not particularly fond of hosts. Bernard reveals that the two men he killed (the ones she was going to meet) were actually hosts most likely sent by Host William and Hale. They convince her to take the to the Condemned Lands, a location in which her organisation has been looking for something.
After passing a laser checkpoint, they arrive at a random desert location where they meet the rest of this secret organisation, including their leader (played by Daniel Wu). It seems there’s a weapon buried in the sands of the desert that they’ve been looking for – and Bernard knows where it is… because of course he does.
Welcome to Temperance
Maeve (Thandiwe Newton) and Caleb (Aaron Paul) begin their exploration of this new park we believe is simply called Temperance… with no ‘world’ suffix. It quickly becomes apparent that this is just another one of Delos’ re-skins of Westworld. All of Westworld’s characters, story arcs and locations have been copied and repurposed for the 1920’s setting – including new versions of Dolores, Maeve, Teddy and more. Upon entering the Butterfly Club, they’re greeted by a pretty neat jazzy rendition of Billie Eilish’s Bad Guy.
In what is one of my favourite sequences of the season so far, we get to see the famous Sweetwater heist narrative play out with some 1920s flair. It’s all very much the same, with Armistice and Hector shooting up the bar, but I absolutely loved it. It’s all cut short when Maeve guns everyone down and waits for the Delos cleanup crew to do their thing. By hopping into a Delos technician’s car and playing dead, they arrive in the sub-level, only something seems off. Suddenly a gunfight ensues and it’s revealed Hale and Host William made a game out of Dolores’ massacre as a bit of an ‘Easter egg’ I guess. After getting out largely unscathed, they reach the real Delos underground where we get some nice tidbits of info about Charlotte’s little project.
Maeve and Caleb explore and witness the faceless drone hosts analysing microscopic parasites, placing a black goo in jars, and feeding that goo to regular flies. So, these aren’t bionic host flies Hale is using, they’re real flies infected with a parasite that causes them to target humans. Then, once they’re infected with the parasite, they’re controlled by a mysterious sound.
Good Girls gone bad
Throughout the episode we catch up with Caleb’s family, Frankie (Celeste Clark) and Uwade (Nozipho Mclean), as they pack their stuff to go into hiding with Carver (Manny Montana). As Carver begins acting shady, Frankie starts getting a bit suspicious… sensing bad vibes. When Frankie finds Carver’s body in the trash, it’s clear that Host William has replaced the real Carver with a host, leading to a short hide and seek sesh in which Carver finds Frankie before it cuts to black.
NOT THE FLIES! – Nicolas Cage
Delving deeper, Maeve begins hearing a mysterious low-pitched noise that Caleb can’t hear. They happen upon a strange machine that’s emanating those sounds – similar in vein to Rehoboam in season three. I have a theory on these sounds I’ll get to at the end of this recap. Looking at the nearby screens, they uncover the ominous-sounding Project Chrysalis – Hale’s little project where she’s infecting humans with parasites that make them obedient to the otherwise unheard tones of this machine. As part of the testing, the machine gets an array of hosts to pick up a gun and kill themselves, including none other than our government official friend from episode two, Navarro (Josh Randall).
Things take a huge turn when Maeve notices one of the people in the next round of testing is Caleb’s daughter, Frankie. Things get tense as Caleb is locked out of Frankie’s room and Maeve is locked out of the computer systems. Maeve manages to get Caleb into the room just in time to save Frankie from killing herself – that’s when Maeve realises it was all a trap – but it’s too late. Turns out Uwade managed to kill the host version of Carver, and her and Frankie escaped – meaning this is a host version of Frankie used to lure Caleb. The host tells Caleb that all Hale needed was him – clearly she has some big plans in store for him. In the meantime, Maeve is confronted by Host William (Ed Harris) whom she fights and seemingly defeats. Only she didn’t defeat him and he gets the upper hand on her.
The final moment sees the host’s mouth open up in an immensely creepy scene, followed by the release of flies that infect Caleb as he screams out in pain.
Another episode in the bank and an even better one once again. I loved all of the content we got showing off Temperance, allowing us to relive some iconic Westworld moments with a fresh new skin. It’s unclear whether we’ll see much more of this park in action, but I’m sure it’ll play a major role in the story going forward. I’m loving the journey Bernard is on. He’s basically an all-knowing god who holds the fate of humanity in his hands – ironic considering he’s a host. This is another episode where we are seeing the themes of seasons one and two blended incredibly well with the settings and concepts of season three. This season is really is the best of both worlds when you consider the huge contrast between season three and those prior – and I can’t get enough.
There’s two big takeaways from this episode – one being my big theory as of now about the mysterious machine Maeve and Caleb find. We see that only Maeve and the infected humans can hear that sound, while everyone else can’t. Seem familiar? In episode two, Christina crosses paths with the homeless man talking about a “song with no sound” coming from The Tower that can only be heard by him and the birds. What if Christina’s narrative is taking place even further into the future where that small machine has been built into a much larger version – The Tower, from which the same sound emanates. On top of this, what if Olympiad Entertainment is infecting people with the fly parasite, aka Peter Myers, and controlling them to follow along with the narratives their writers (like Christina) write. This doesn’t explain everything, but it’s something to ponder.
Secondly, the location of Hale’s fly experiments – in the basement levels of Temperance – could mean she’s planning on using the park to infect more humans. If that is the case, history may end up repeating itself with yet another massacre taking place within a Delos park… it would be very on brand.