SPOILERS for Westworld Season 4, Episode 8 ‘Que Sera, Sera’
There we have it, another season of Westworld is now in the past – and what a phenomenal season it was. Combining the themes of seasons one and two with the ideas of season three, Lisa Joy and Jonathan Nolan have crafted what may even be the second-best season of Westworld yet (albeit by a narrow margin behind season one). Ambitious doesn’t even begin to describe the true scope of this season. This is one of the most ballsy and epic displays of storytelling in television, completely transforming a beloved series into something truly new and entirely unpredictable. Interestingly, this season leaves the series in a spot that is about as fresh as it is familiar – leaving the door open for a world of creativity (quite literally).
Speaking specifically on this episode, this is certainly the most unique of the season finales we’ve seen thus far. Within the episode, there’s not much of a focus on twisting the storylines we’ve seen this season, rather there’s a huge focus on twisting the narratives we’re yet to see. Westworld has always toyed with the past and future in very interesting ways, with its finales typically encompassing and closing-out the grand idea that each respective season has explored up to that point. Rather than closing-out the grand idea of this season, this finale seems to bring the grand concept this season has been working towards to fruition in the final moments – setting up what could become of a fifth season (should it happen). Phenomenal from start to finish, this episode is a wild ride of philosophy and conflict, culminating in an ending that could result in being the ending.
The Westworld Battle Royale
The episode opens to Host William’s (Ed Harris) new world order in full effect. He’s turned Hale’s cities into battle royale free-for-alls where the only rule is that there’s no rules – it’s last man standing. Amongst all of the death and destruction, we see none other than Rebus (Steven Ogg) for the first time since season two. He’s revelling in the opportunity to kill all the humans that are hunting him in a sequence that’s eerily reminiscent of the season two massacre in which he was the one hunting humans. While it was nice to see him return to the series, it’s only a brief return since he dies at the hands of a human almost immediately. This is immediately followed by images of Host William joining in on the chaos he’s created – killing a camping sniper before heading off to cause more destruction.
At this point, the episode has only just started, but it seems impossible to follow up the season with any more content.
Christina’s inner monologue
Back in Christina’s (Evan Rachel Wood) apartment, she’s coming to terms with the fact that she’s not a physical presence in this world. Turns out she’s just a program running things from behind the scenes who has believed she was just another person in the world. Upon asking Teddy (James Marsden) whether he’s the one who has been trying to reawaken her, it’s brilliantly revealed that in fact she was the one who created Maya, Peter, Emmett and all the other people she’s interacted with in the world. Essentially, she’s felt something was off from the beginning and has been trying to make sense of herself this whole time – so she subconsciously wrote all of these additional digital characters and has been talking to herself (aka Dolores) through their voices. In an attempt to wake herself up, she created these personalities to work through her inner conflicts – which indicates that she also created Teddy. This revelation explains more thoroughly what we kind of thought in the end of last week’s episode – that Christina is exclusively a digital presence in Hale’s world. It also means the death of Dolores in season three wasn’t quite as thorough – with some lingering memories of Teddy still residing in her mind.
A quest for vengeance
We see Hale’s (Tessa Thompson) body being recovered from the water and repaired by her drone hosts. Only this time, she gives herself an upgrade – one you’d think she’d have given herself from the very beginning. She transfers her consciousness into this new body which is reminiscent of the near-indestructible host bodies that were used way back in season one, before the park was opened to the public. Geared up and ready to kill Host William, she makes her way to the top of The Tower where she realises Host William locked her out of the system. One of Hale’s drone hosts hands her the tablet Bernard was holding onto and we see that the message he left was meant for her. More of the message plays this time and we find out that this “one more game” that Bernard refers to isn’t Hale’s… so it’s probably Christina’s. Upon breaking the tablet, Hale smashes the ground beneath the city map to reveal Dolores/Christina’s pearl. She removes the pearl from the system and Christina’s world goes completely offline.
Back in her city, Hale goes back to the Olympiad Entertainment building and discovers the dead body of human William. A cool moment gets even better when Clementine (Angela Sarafyan) shows up, expressing her interest to leave the city and live alone – much like she was doing in the beginning of the season. Hale grants Clementine her wish and lets her leave to go find where the outliers have been hiding out – with the intent of stealing their hiding spot.
Hale then uses a nearby device to find where Host William is, influencing nearby hosts to hunt down and kill him. Cutting over to Host William, he’s ambushed by a couple of hosts, one of which is none other than Craddock (Jonathan Tucker) who we last saw ever so briefly in season three (but not properly since season two). Much like with Rebus’ return in the beginning of the episode, his cameo appearance doesn’t last long as he’s terminated. Taking Craddock’s glasses, Host William is able to communicate with a hologram of Hale. He is going after the Sublime to destroy what’s left of it, while Hale vows to stop him. In a great moment to complete the return of the Man in Black, he decides to commandeer a black horse to finish his journey.
An emotional farewell
Catching back up with Frankie (Aurora Perrineau), Caleb (Aaron Paul) and Stubbs (Luke Hemsworth), they take refuge for a minute in an alleyway where there’s not so much imminent danger. Stubbs takes notice of Caleb’s shaking and realises his body is beginning to reject his mind, knowing his demise is right around the corner. Despite knowing his days are numbered, Caleb vows to continue protecting Frankie. They move on to a nearby supermarket to find the materials to heal Frankie’s wounds. There’s a few nice, heartfelt moments in here of the two of them remembering Uwade and bonding as father and daughter. The momentary peace is broken when a human (or host) enters the building and engages in a fight with Stubbs. Almost immediately, their fight is cut short when Clementine bursts in and kills both the human and Stubbs. I guess Bernard was right about Stubbs dying… rest in peace to one of the MVPs of the season.
Now, Clementine gets her moment to shine after unfortunately being quite absent for the majority of the season. She finds Frankie on the ground and questions her about the location the outliers are fleeing to. Basically, she want to know the off-the-grid location so she can hide out there away from the humans. This whole sequence is brilliant and Angela Sarafyan is amazing in it. She gets into a fight with Caleb that proves once again that Westworld knows how to execute a good hand-to-hand combat scene. Right before she’s able to snap Caleb’s neck, Frankie shoots Clementine in the head – leading us to say goodbye to a legacy character once and for all.
Caleb and Frankie arrive at the docks where Odina (Morningstar Angeline) is waiting for them. This begins a damn emotional scene in which Caleb understands he doesn’t have long left so opts to stay behind in the city. Frankie and Caleb bid an emotional farewell that is damn impactful – completing what has been a fantastic arc within this season. If this is the last time we see either of Aurora or Aaron in this series, I’m satisfied with the brilliance they’ve bought to the series.
Man in Black vs Woman in Black
Riding in on his black horse, Host William arrives at the Hoover Dam facility (in damn quick time might I add, he managed to beat Hale who was literally flying there). William makes his way into the facility and shuts down the turbines that are keeping the Sublime up and running, causing the door to the Sublime to crackle and begin closing up. Hale arrives and confronts Host William about his deranged plans. Host William talks about how a whole life of pretending to be the real William has basically turned him into the man himself – he’s grown to adopt the same outlook on life as the human William. This is where we great a great callback to a quote from the earliest scenes of season one in which Host William poses the question “If you can’t tell the difference, does it matter?“.
A physical and psychological battle ensues between the two, with Host William quickly realising she’s upgraded her body. Hale mentions that apparently the Sublime can be opened from both sides – I’m not sure if that means the hosts within can open it at any time, but that’s how it seems. They retreat outside and back into the tunnel that Bernard and Maeve entered through when they visited the facility in the last episode. I believed Bernard messed with some valve in the tunnel back in episode seven, but it turns out he placed a gun behind the pipe – something I didn’t realise initially. Now we get to see the rest of Bernard’s message to Hale – turns out it’s a much longer message than we thought. Bernard (Jeffrey Wright) tells Hale that there’s no hope for this world, but rather there’s hope for the next world. In his death, he placed all trust in Hale, informing her that if she chooses to give Christina the option of starting a new world, then there’s still hope for her kind. Cutting back to the conflict, Hale is shot by Host William. Right before he can kill her, Hale reaches for the gun that Bernard hid and shoots down Host William – choosing to give Christina that chance to start her world anew.
This moment is awesome as it depicts a drastic turn for Hale’s character, who as recent as last episode was hell-bent on creating her own world where hosts can “transcend” to their ultimate selfs. She has basically put an end to her own plans to give Christina a chance at creating her own world. Anyway Hale cuts open the head of Host William and extracts his pearl, crushing it in her fist. That means both versions of William, human and host, are entirely dead. This could spell the end of Ed Harris in the show, which would be a huge shame. He’s been the best element of the series since the very beginning, so if he doesn’t show up going forward (which I think he might) then this would be him going out with a bang.
Hale returns to the control panel within the facility and reactivates the turbines to full function. Now believing fully in Bernard’s cause, she places The Storyteller/Dolores/Christina’s pearl onto the machine and uploads her consciousness to the Sublime. She then closes the door to the Sublime, ensuring no one will be able to access it from the outside as the only man with the key, Bernard, is dead.
In one final moment, Hale strips down to reveal her new/old robotic body. Staring out into the distance, seemingly at peace with the world she’s helped create, she extracts her own pearl and crushes it – killing herself. A fitting end for this season’s villain. This is almost certainly the last we’ll see of Tessa Thompson in this series, so I want to take the moment to highlight how incredible she has been as both the original Hale and the Dolores/Hale hybrid we’ve seen evolve over the last two seasons. She was absolutely menacing in every instance of this season, playing an unhinged villain in a way that made her fearsome but also vulnerable. Assuming she doesn’t return, the series has just lost a huge main player.
Welcome back, Dolores
With Hale uploading Dolores/Christina’s pearl to the Sublime, the world around Christina comes back online and she realises pretty quickly that she’s in the Sublime along with all the other hosts that made it there. From this moment, it seems like we’re seeing a version of Christina that has awakened some parts of Dolores. In a minute, she even mentions how she can “remember it all” when it comes to her experiences with humans. That could be referring to Dolores’ experiences, Christina’s experiences, or both. That being said, the way she talks to Teddy is indicative that this could be Dolores reborn with some (or all) of her memories.
Christina then comes to the realisation that the Teddy she’s been talking to is just another one of the people she’s created to help with her awakening, understanding that the real Teddy is still out there in the Sublime. Before he disappears, he tells Christina to let the humans go and refrain from bringing the flaws of their kind into the new world as they’ll never change. It doesn’t seem like Christina is entirely on board with taking that advice – rather, she decides to begin “One final test. A game of (her) own making. A dangerous game“.
After a hard cut to black we see what looks to be a newly conscious Dolores wearing her classic blue dress once again – a beautiful sight to see. Through her voiceover, we learn a couple of things about the state of the real world. She mentions that some humans may escape death for a couple of months or years, but their kind will go extinct. She continues with a variation of a classic Akecheta quote: “They’ll only live as long as the last creature who remembers them“, that creature being Dolores. As she continues talking, she reveals that sentient life on Earth has ended, but that some part of it can be preserved in her world. This is the moment where Dolores begins “one last game” with the highest of stakes – survival or extinction. In an awesome moment, she erases the futuristic world around her and rebuilds a digital replica of Westworld from her memory – proving Dolores has unlocked her memories and been reborn into the world. It seems like we can finally put away the identity of Christina and go back to talking about Dolores.
As the piano kicks into gear and the classic Westworld theme plays, we return to Sweetwater to see if the hosts will finally be able to se themselves free.
Wow. Just wow. With that ending, Lisa Joy and Jonathan Nolan have just wiped the slate clean – essentially erasing everything that has been built in the previous seasons and leaving room for a whole world of possibility (quite literally). It seems as though both hosts and humans have gone extinct in the real world, with the only pocket of sentient life existing entirely within the Sublime. On top of this, the only surviving character at this point is Dolores as we’ve seen the deaths of Hale, both Williams, Bernard, Maeve, Stubbs and Clementine, among others. Even Caleb’s host body looked on the verge of dying out, so he wouldn’t have had long left, and Dolores/Christina’s voiceover in the end of the episode didn’t give us much hope for Frankie’s survival.
This ended up being a finale on a scale I’ve never really seen before. Every other season has ended with some idea of where the story will go, however this time it could go in literally any direction. We can speculate as much as we want, but there’s no way of knowing for sure. I’ll save that speculation for a season five predictions post, which may become completely pointless since we don’t know if the series will even get a fifth season. With the crazy shakeups happening right now at Warner Bros. Discovery, it feels like not even Westworld is safe from being axed without warning. Until a fifth season gets officially announced, there’s absolutely no guarantee.
That being said, this episode brings everyone’s respective narrative arc full circle (maybe except for Maeve, who gets shot and left for dead outside The Tower). Packed with emotional goodbyes and a climax that seemed fitting for most characters, this season finale could have just as easily been a series finale. It brings to a close what is a phenomenal season, one that has been universally praised by fans of season one content and fans of season three content alike. Packed with brilliant performances and a rewarding narrative, especially for the hardcore fans, this finale is up there with one of the strongest episodes ever – and it didn’t rely on one spontaneous mind-blowing twist. If this is goodbye forever, this series has just gone out on a high note!