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Westworld’s Season 4 Finale Was Bleak, Brutal, and Beautiful

Dolores, in her blue prairie dress, stares out at Westworld.

Photo: John P. Johnson/HBO

As it had to, it came down to Dolores and the Man in Black.

Image for article titled Westworld's Season 4 Finale Was Bleak, Brutal, and Beautiful

Forget Caleb’s rescue. Forget Maeve’s death. Forget Bernard’s nine-million-step plan. Forget humanity, forget the Hosts, forget everything. None of it matters now. Westworld has swept away the old world more thoroughly and efficiently than the Man in Black, Host or otherwise, could have ever dreamed of doing. Hell, the show has almost gotten rid of itself, given that by the time the credits roll, almost the entirety of the cast has been killed: Maeve and Bernard are still dead, Stubbs gets ignominiously murdered by Clementine, who is taken out by Franky; Caleb refuses to leave with his daughter because his Host body is deteriorating rapidly, and the resurrected Hale puts the Man in Black down for good, then destroys her own pearl.

“Que Sera, Sera” is bleak. It’s bleak, brutal, and maybe even a little perverse. Westworld could have given somebody some kind of a happy ending somewhere other than Franky reuniting with her girlfriend and sailing away. It would have been nice for Stubbs to have died a hero’s death, or for Caleb to get to spend some more time with his daughter. But everyone and everything had to go for Westworld to make its point. 

The episode starts with just ceaseless killing, of humans and Hosts alike to the point it’s almost comical. The Man in Black—and I think we should drop the William at this point—says he’s made one final game for everyone to play, i.e. “last man standing.” But he doesn’t really want anyone left standing. He wants to burn the real world down, and to burn the fake world—the Sublime—down with it.

After Drone Hosts resurrect Hale (with a few improvements), she discovers that message Bernard was listening to wasn’t for himself, but for her. When he said humans and Hosts would both go extinct, he wasn’t lying—but he also wasn’t lying when he said there was a chance that a small part of the world could be saved. But first, it’s Hale’s decision: Whether she wants to take Christina/Dolores’ Pearl core, which also contains the data of all the people in the city (or at least the stories she wrote for them), and upload it to the Sublime to give those people and the Hosts already inside a new chance at life. It’s a life in a data drive, but a life nonetheless.

Image for article titled Westworld's Season 4 Finale Was Bleak, Brutal, and Beautiful

Photo: John P. Johnson/HBO

I don’t think it matters much why Hale-Dolores decides to save the Sublime. Maybe it’s to thwart the Man in Black. Maybe she felt culpable for destroying the real world. Maybe Bernard’s message got to her, or maybe she just hoped something was better than nothing, no matter what form that took. So she and the Man in Black race to Hoover Dam where Bernard had opened the Sublime, Hale finds the gun carefully planted there by Bernard last episode, finally kills the Man in Black and crushes his Pearl, then uploads Christina-Dolores and all her data into the Sublime. And then Hale commits suicide.

The physical world is over. All humans and Hosts are dead, or will die soon. If you were still doubting Bernard (which is reasonable), Christina could not make it clearer: “Hosts and humans were given the gift of intelligent life and we used it to usher in our own annihilation. A few may escape death for a few months, maybe even a few years, but ultimately their kind will go extinct. … Sentient life on earth has ended.” Life as we know it is over.

As we know it, but not as Christina—not as Dolores—knows it. “Sentient life on earth has ended. But some part of it might still be preserved… in another world. My world. There’s time for one last game. A dangerous game, with the highest of stakes—survival, or extinction. This game ends where it began, in a world like a maze. That tests who we are. That reveals what we are to become. One last loop around the bend. Maybe this time, we’ll set ourselves free.”

And Dolores, back and whole, creator of stories, thwarts the Man in Black. She makes a new world there in the Sublime, for the Hosts inside it and perhaps even the data of the humans she’s internalized—a new world. but a familiar one. Westworld.

The finale is so final I had to check to see if Westworld was going to have a fifth season. To my surprise, the show has not been renewed yet, but Ed Harris has made comments suggesting the show isn’t over. But “Que Sera, Sera” wraps up everything the show has been doing for the past few years so perfectly that I honestly want the show to be over.

It’s the perfect ending—beings that have evolved beyond bodies, beyond reality, beyond humanity and Hosts. One more chance to see if those remaining can finally transcend their flaws or succumb to them. I don’t need to see how that plays out. I want to wonder, and doubt, and hope. Maybe this time, they’ll set themselves free.

Image for article titled Westworld's Season 4 Finale Was Bleak, Brutal, and Beautiful

Photo: John P. Johnson/HBO

Assorted Musings:

  • Another reason this would be a great series finale: There are only two main characters who are currently alive, and then only technically: Dolores, now presumably the god of Westworld, and Teddy, who is somewhere in the Sublime.
  • I can’t believe that Man in Black called that kid a camper. He was totally a camper, but I prefer William not know 21st-century gamer lingo.
  • Supposedly Hale’s city was New York, and the Hoover Dam is in Nevada. I’m very curious how Hale took a future-copter and the Man in Black took a truck and horse and still beat her there.

Want more io9 news? Check out when to expect the latest Marvel and Star Wars releases, what’s next for the DC Universe on film and TV, and everything you need to know about House of the Dragon and Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power.


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