SPOILERS for Westworld Season 4, Episode 7 ‘Metanoia’
With this penultimate episode, Lisa Joy and Jonathan Nolan have reminded us that no matter how sure we are about something, we really have no idea what surprises they have lurking right around the corner. Westworld is no stranger to big finishes, and this penultimate episode makes absolutely no exceptions by delivering a collection of shocks that I didn’t see coming. Even the one thing we knew was heading our way since episode three came at a surprise – which is a huge testament to the writers. As I write this review, I’m still trying to piece everything together, make sense of things and come to terms with the losses (despite the fact that they might just be temporary). Not only does this episode pack some huge moments, it also aptly sets up a finale that is sure to be something magnificent. Let’s try unpack everything that happened in the most cohesive way possible.
Isn’t this all a little… sublime?
The episode opens with Bernard (Jeffrey Wright) and Maeve (Thandiwe Newton) arriving at the Hoover Dam facility – a location we haven’t seen since the first episode of the season. Those with a keen eye who have been watching since the beginning will notice instantly that the aspect ratio is different – indicating this is taking place in a digital world. As speculated back in episode one, it’s revealed that the servers in the dam hold the Sublime. This is where the original Dolores sent the host paradise way back in the finale of season two. Despite Hale keeping it under a watchful eye, she hasn’t been able to access it since Bernard is the only person with the key. Without further ado, he opens the door. This is where it’s revealed through Maeve’s realisation that this is all a simulation within the Sublime – a flashback to Bernard’s adventures through all future timelines. After a conversation in which this “hastily” created version of Maeve expresses her desire to enter the Sublime instead of saving hosts and humanity, the flashback ends.
We cut to the real world, the current timeline, where we see these ‘foreshadowed’ events playing out for real. It’s fun to note the little things, like how this time when going through the tunnel to the servers, Bernard turns some dial – presumedly something that is essential for reaching the intended end goal. Now Bernard opens the door to the Sublime in the real world and talks about how they must go to Hale’s Tower to get the humans out of their loops. Maeve then makes Bernard promise to send her into the Sublime once the war is over – a similar decision to what Bernard’s copy of her made, this time considering the value of human life.
Back in Temperance, our crew of resistance fighters begin making plans for the end game. They fly into Hale’s city and start saying their goodbyes. Bernard and Maeve are heading to take down Hale’s Tower, while Frankie (Aurora Perrineau) and Stubbs (Luke Hemsworth) are going to rescue Caleb from his prison. This is a damn emotional moment, with besties-for-life Bernard and Stubbs saying what is a final farewell. We already knew Bernard doesn’t make it out of this season alive, but now Bernard reveals that Stubbs also doesn’t make it out alive. After one final instruction to “go left at the fork”, the two part ways. I think this is the perfect time to recognise what Luke Hemsworth has bought to this series, and especially this season. His dry humour and quick comedic beats have been one of the highlights of the season, providing nice moments of levity amongst all of the serious content going on around him.
Out with the old, in with the “new”
When we catch back up with Hale (Tessa Thompson), it seems she really did just build one last regular human Caleb (Aaron Paul). It seems she’s created him again and got him there to lure in Frankie. This is where she reveals to Caleb that she’s shutting down all her playground cities and placing the humans in cold storage – something that evidently doesn’t sit well with Host William (Ed Harris), who was just questioning the nature of his reality in last week’s episode. Cut to Hale making the official announcement that this is the final day for the hosts to explore the human cities. She says it’s time for them to leave behind their human bodies and evolve into the species they were meant to become. She’s basically forcing them all to transcend – a concept we’re all too familiar with.
Host William then pays another visit to human William, who is still locked-away and kept alive, to discuss his moral dilemma. This conversation paves the way for Host William’s complete turn, or his ‘metanoia’ if you will. Human William identifies “culture” and “civilisation” as the problems plaguing the world, entirely regardless of whether it’s run by humans or hosts – “We’re not here to transcend. We’re here to destroy“. Human William mentions that Host William has a piece of him inside, gradually infecting his mind and turning him into the man he once was and always has been. It seems that Host William’s ideology is now aligned with the human William – that this world must be destroyed, with only the cockroaches surviving. Since they are more or less one-and-the-same, only one of them is needed for what must be done – so Host William stabs and kills human William, this time for real. It’s sad to see the real William die (again), but it’s the perfect time to mention once again how mesmerising Ed Harris is. The man can read a 30-page monologue and I’d be completely locked in the entire time. He is the show’s MVP, and this sequence is one of the reasons why.
A spiritual awakening
Waking up once again, Christina (Evan Rachel Wood) finds Teddy (James Marsden) waiting for her in a totally non-creepy way. He begins explaining more about the world and exactly who she is – such as the fact that Charlotte Hale is just a permutation of Dolores and that they’re both reflections of the people who made them. In a moment of self-reflection, she submerges herself in the bath to see if she can die. I’ll say right here that Ramin DJawadi’s score in this scene is phenomenal. Unsurprisingly, Christina appears to die and then re-open her eyes moments later – emerging with the realisation that she’s most certainly different. Teddy continues his explanations, talking a little about Dolores and how she eventually spiralled.
Chaos on Mount Olympiad
Both Christina and Teddy, and Frankie and Stubbs, make their way into Olympiad Entertainment at the same time. First, Christina gets in there and controls the employees to have the entire building evacuated. She gets the writers to stick around and destroy all of their work. Making her way through the facility, Christina and Teddy happen upon Caleb #249 in his cell. Despite not knowing who he is, she gets security to unlock every door in the building so that Caleb could escape.
Elsewhere, Frankie and Stubbs are able to effortlessly get into the building thanks to Christina’s earlier efforts of setting off the fire alarm. They happen upon human William, now dead after being stabbed earlier in the episode, and Stubbs is quite pleased to see the outcome. Following that, they find Caleb and we get the touching father-daughter reunion we’ve been waiting to see. It’s great to see both Aaron Paul and Aurora Perrineau acting alongside each-other for the first time. It’s a short scene, but the emotional weight of the situation is there (especially coming off of last week’s episode).
The biggest takeaway from this sequence is a moment that sent me into a spiral of questions on the verge of a WTF twist reveal. At one point we see Christina and Teddy walk down a hallway and then off-screen, then literally two seconds later, Frankie and Stubbs walk out of that same hallway – only the groups somehow didn’t see each other. At first glance, that would indicate we’re looking at two sequences of events happening at different times… but that can’t be the case. The events leading up to that scene, as well as what follows, all confirm this is happening at the same time. So that begs the question – how did they not see each other? Well, there’s a crazy revelation at the end of the episode that could (partially) explain that.
Let the bloodbath begin
Pivoting over to Bernard and Maeve’s mission, they arrive at the Tower and walk their way in (with help from Bernard’s future-proof intuition). While they’re making their way through the hallway, Bernard reveals some secrets he’d been keeping from Maeve. It turns out no matter what they do, they can’t save the world. He says that everyone here will die, but they can save one tiny part of it. It’s unclear whether that tiny part involves humans, hosts or the Sublime, but I’m sure the finale will reveal some of that. He asks Maeve whether she’ll still fight with him despite knowing that – and she agrees.
In the top of the Tower, Hale is watching as another of her hosts makes the decision to transcend. It appears when they transcend and place their pearl in the giant figure behind them, it walks off. Presumedly taking the pearl to the digital realm Hale has created? Or maybe that figure is what they become? It’s all a little murky at this point. Either way, Hale decides now’s the time to transcend herself. Right as she’s about to do it, Maeve walks in and we get one of the host-on-host confrontations we’ve been waiting for. Hale mentions that she’s let the Sublime run for all these years with the intention of allowing all those within join her in transcendence. After some brilliant back-and-forth banter, they get to fighting.
It’s a damn awesome fight sequence when they’re out in the water. The visuals are stunning, choreography is intense, and you never know who is going to come out on top. Amongst the chaos, Maeve says that there’s no saving this world, but there’s hope for the next one. Their party is interrupted when Host William arrives and shoots Maeve in the head, once again killing her. Upon telling Hale that they’re going to play the game his way, he kills Hale too. This was a huge Game of Thrones-level scene of deaths that could be quite major. Yes, Maeve and Hale were shot dead, but it’s not like they can’t simply be reactivated. As long as their pearls are intact, which they certainly would be, we could see them repaired. But who knows, maybe the shots really killed them. Nevertheless, if this is the last we see of this iteration of Hale, I have loved every minute of what we got. Tessa Thompson played this unhinged and deranged villain better than most could have – lending her talents to a number of brutally intense scenes and elevating the season.
In the top of the tower, we get one final confrontation. Bernard is up there recording a mysterious message for someone. It’s unclear who he’s leaving it for, but my guess is it’s for Christina – purely on the assumption that she’s one of a few characters still alive by the end of the episode… that’s if she’s ever actually been ‘alive’. He says: “There’s time only for one more game. If you choose to give her that choice. You can’t miss. Reach with your left hand.“. I have no idea what it means, but I guess we’ll see it play a part in the finale… maybe.
Host William walks in and begins reminiscing about their past… or at least the pasts of the men they’re based on. Host William then shoots Bernard down and we see a brief flashback of Bernard talking to Akecheta (Zahn McClarnon) in the Sublime back in episode three. Something a little crazy happens here – when we snap back out of Bernard’s little flashback, it’s night-time outside then it was bright as day beforehand. Based on Host William’s monologue, no time has passed, so it doesn’t make any sense to me why it would suddenly be night. I definitely think there’s a reason for it – Nolan and Joy don’t make mistakes. Anyway, William initiates “one last game“, one where every host, human, man, woman and child will fight until no one remains, but the cockroaches. Cutting back to the flashback, we see the moment in which Bernard mentions he dies in every scenario. Then Host William increases his kill count by shooting Bernard in the head. There’s one final shot of Bernard walking through a door in the Sublime before it glitches out and cuts to black.
The man who sold the world – David Bowie
Back in Hale’s city, we see Caleb, Stubbs and Frankie moving through a train station when Host William’s final game kicks into gear and everyone starts fighting. Amongst all the commotion, Frankie gets shot (probably in the leg), and the crew make their way to the land above.
Elsewhere, Christina and Teddy are trying to get to safety as an entire civilisation implodes on itself. It’s a sequence similar-ish to the riots at the end of season three. However, this is where it begins to get weird. Christina tries to influence everyone to stop fighting, but Teddy tells her that her storytelling powers don’t work anymore – they’re being overridden by the tones. Not only are her powers being overridden, apparently none of them can even see her. Ummm what?!?! When she asks Teddy why none of them can see her, he drops some huge bombs – “You’re not in this world. It’s real, but you’re not“. More on this in a minute.
The final scene is accompanied by the brilliant use of David Bowie’s The Man Who Sold the World. We see Host William dressed in his classic season one all-black getup, walking towards his burning city and away from the Tower, which explodes. That final shot is absolutely breathtaking. The Man in Black has won… for now.
Talk about going big for a penultimate episode. We just saw the “deaths” of three major characters, and may have found out that another two major characters haven’t necessarily been “real” this whole time. Westworld has outdone themselves once again by crafting and executing a story that is as unpredictable and expertly crafted as the likes of season one. No one knows how to execute the reveal of a season-altering twist better than Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy. We are on the brink of the finale and I don’t have a clue as to what’s going to happen. It’s so intense and climactic that it almost feels like it’s building towards a series finale. We know it’s not, but it damn well feels that way with how ‘conclusive’ things appear in this episode.
Firstly, let’s get into those deaths. All of Maeve, Hale and Bernard are shot and killed with a bullet to the head by Host William. Also, let’s not forget human William, who also dies at the hand of Host William, making four major casualties. Now, human William is 100% dead this time, that we can safely say, but the rest we can’t say for sure as we’ve seen them all come back in the past. Now, they are all technically dead for the time being – they’ve been decommissioned with a shot to the head and would need to be repaired by someone in order to be bought to life. But we have no idea if someone will fix any of them up. We knew from early on that Bernard would die, so that moment could have been Bernard’s last. If that’s the case, it’s damn sad to lose someone who has been integral to the narrative from the very beginning. The same goes for Maeve, who is certainly no stranger to dying.
Although, if they did ALL die for good in that moment, we’d have almost no main characters left. So I feel like some of them (if not all) will make some sort of appearance in the final episode, even if it’s just showing them make it into the Sublime… like Maeve for instance.
The other big question is what the hell is going on with Christina? At the beginning of the season we had no idea. Then as big reveals were dropped through the middle episodes, we learnt that she’s a host living in a city of humans and unknowingly writing the loops that all infected humans operate on. Now, Teddy has dropped a bombshell that Christina just isn’t real. Upon first hearing that, my only reaction was “WTF”… much like yours I’m guessing. Now, after plenty of thought and trying to piece things together, what I assume is going on is that Christina is not a physical host. Rather I think she’s a digital copy, probably housed in a server, who is roaming this world and living in it as if she’s physically there. To try explain better – she’s in the gird, like inside the system that’s running everything and is able to control the world as if she’s really there, which would explain why no-one could see her. The big conflicting argument here is that we’ve seen her have interactions with Maya, Teddy, Emmett, Peter and that one random date – indicating that she can be seen. My only counter explanation to that is that maybe all of those individuals were digital versions too, built to keep up the illusion that Christina is real.
Take all of this as a grain of salt, because my guess is as good as yours at this point. All I know is, I’m all the more keen for this finale. I don’t have the slightest clue as to what will happen. I don’t know if anyone is going to be resurrected, whether we’ll get more answers about Christina or if we’ll see who Bernard’s message is for. With so much room for insane twists, I trust Nolan and Joy have something enormous cooked up.