And now the end is here. western world is heading towards the final curtain of its fourth season – and perhaps the show – with gunfights galore and enough bloodshed to feed even Ed Harris’ nihilistic Man in Black. Unfortunately for fan-favorite Maeve (Thandiwie Newton), there’s no last-minute resurrection, and Bernard (Jeffrey Wright) only appears via posthumous video message, but otherwise the gang are here for an often emotional farewell. Let the final chapter begin…
Williams’ urge to purge
In last week’s episode, William returned to his full Man in Black regalia and launched one final battle royale: the purge to end all purges (not to mention life on Earth itself). We begin with various people and hosts murdering each other in the chaos before a young sniper meets his end at the hands of the Man in Black, who grabs his victim’s gun and truck himself. “You know the rules,” he growls. “Winner takes all.”
However, not all of William’s victims seem to want to stay dead. Back in her mind control tower, murdered Charlotte Hale (Tessa Thompson) is rescued by her all-white drone hosts. After they solder the ugly bullet hole in her head, she instructs them to rebuild it stronger and faster – but save face so William knows who’s after him. After all this time, Hale may have gotten used to her face. While overtaking her Terminator, she also receives a cryptic video message from the late Bernard. “This isn’t the world you wanted, Charlotte, but it’s the world you created,” he tells her. “The question is: What’s next?”
As Christina (Evan Rachel Wood) and Teddy (James Marsden) wander the city’s corpse-strewn streets, she finally understands the true nature of her existence: “I’m just a program running behind the scenes.” That moment of revelation leads her to realize that she left clues to try and wake herself up. She drew the maze in front of her apartment herself, and her best friend Maya (Ariana DeBose) is also her creation: “I spoke to myself in the voices of others.”
Christina’s epiphany comes just in time for Hale to disconnect her brain bead from the mainframe of the city she rules. Next, Hale visits the body of William – still hanging in his Vitruvian Man cell – where she meets Clementine (Angela Sarafyan). She’s here to spell out last week’s twist. “You brought William back because you thought you could keep him as your pet,” she tells Hale. “You were wrong.” Hale enlists her help in tracking down William, but Clementine has a different vision of freedom: she wants to live off the grid, which means she must find the runaways.
To begin the hunt for William, Hale sends a bunch of thugs to attack him while he’s driving his truck while listening to Johnny Cash sing about the “Ring of Fire.” He doesn’t give much trouble to the hapless couple, aside from shooting up his vehicle, which yields a delicious line from Harris: “Damn, you boys have no appreciation for a beautiful machine!” He takes a dead idiot’s VR Removes his glasses so he can join Hale on a high-tech Zoom call. She lays out the rest of the missions: William has managed to burn the world down. Next up is Robot Heaven, aka Sublime. Hale intends to stop him. “So you’re in my game,” William grins. “I am delighted!”
Father and child reunion
Elsewhere, Caleb (Aaron Paul), his daughter C (Aurora Perrineau) and the ever-reliable Stubbs (Luke Hemsworth) are still trying to escape William’s purge. C is limping badly after being shot in the leg, but Stubbs is more concerned for Caleb, whose mind literally rejects his robotic body. Stubbs has seen it all before. “In the old Delos experiments,” he says, “they never took.”
Soon they hole up in an abandoned supermarket. Apparently the place is out of painkillers, but by a stroke of luck there’s still a decent looking bottle of whiskey left for Caleb and C to share a tearful father-daughter drink.
Meanwhile, Stubbs is off to deal competently with an intruder, but proves no match for Clementine, who emerges from the shadows to kill the two. She has a threatening altercation with C, but she’s not there to kill her. She’s come to demand a ride to the Outliers, or at least find somewhere to live off the map. Caleb’s attempt to save his daughter only ends up with Clementine kicking his butt in the supermarket aisles, but it’s C who has the last word with her last bullet.
Caleb manages to get C to their escape boat, but that’s all he can do. He’s done with life as a robot. “Frankie, your father died a long time ago,” Caleb points out on version 279. “Whatever I am, I’ve died before. That is not that bad.”
The beautiful and the damned
William and Hale arrive almost simultaneously where this season began: at Hoover Dam. Fittingly, William sits on a horse, while Hale opts for something more akin to a sleek Uber helicopter. They face things with a tense gunfight, which is only settled when Hale grabs the gun Bernard hid in a tunnel in the last episode and blows the man in black’s skull wide open.
This leaves Hale free to complete Bernard’s mission: take Christina/Dolores’ Brain Bead to the Great Afterlife. A screen shows Dolores’ true title: “The Storyteller”. After the upload is complete, Hale strips down to her robotic parts and sits by the water before her incredibly metallic final moments: she takes out her own brain bead and crushes it into fine dust with her fist.
All that remains is that Dolores, then in her season one glory, understands her nature as a storyteller tasked with keeping alive a spark of this doomed civilization. “The world is a graveyard full of stories. Hosts and humans were given the gift of intelligent life, and we used it to initiate our own annihilation,” she says. “Sentient life on earth has ended. But part of it could be preserved in another world. My world.”
Befitting a show that so often deals with the closed loops that make up our lives, western world ends exactly where it began. “This game ends where it began. In a world like a maze. That tests who we are. It reveals what is to become of us,” Dolores says in voiceover as a familiar train takes her back through the dusty plains for a final visit western world. “Maybe this time,” she says. “We will free ourselves.”
The eighth episode of Season 4 of Westworld is available Sunday, August 14 on HBO Max in the US and Monday, August 15 on Sky Atlantic in the UK
https://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/tv/reviews/westworld-review-recap-season-4-episode-8-b2145244.html Westworld Season 4 Episode 8 Summary: Fierce pleasures find a satisfyingly violent ending in a fitting finale