‘Westworld’: Bodies, Bodies, Bodies in Penultimate Episode (RECAP)
‘[WARNING: The following contains MAJOR spoilers for Westworld Season 4 Episode 7, “Metanoia.”]
At this point, it’s looking like Westworld’s Season 4 finale is going to be an Ed Harris bottle episode.
Okay, that’s an exaggeration. But it’s not an exaggeration to say that “Metanoia” isn’t light on major character deaths. It’s unclear how many of these violent ends will stick, or if they’re even real, or when ‘now’ is. (Ah, Westworld.) Moving at breakneck speed, the episode offers further answers about Christina (Evan Rachel Wood), gives Caleb (Aaron Paul) a key character moment and answers the question of what Transcendence is. It also sets up The Host in Black for a huge role in the finale. Here’s how it happens.
The episode opens with one of Bernard’s (Jeffrey Wright) simulated futures, in which he and Maeve (Thandiwe Newton) go to the Hoover Dam—which is actually the Sublime, since that’s where Dolores uploaded it—and get ambushed by a riot control robot. In reality, when they go to the Hoover Dam, Maeve takes down the bot. She makes a deal with Bernard that when the fighting’s done, he’ll upload her to the Sublime so she can be with her daughter again. Bernard agrees, but there’s something in his expression that says he’s not telling Maeve everything.
From there, they reunite with Stubbs (Luke Hemsworth), Frankie (Aurora Perrineau) and Odina (Morningstar Angeline), and they head into the city. They all split up, with Odina securing them a way out, Stubbs and Frankie going for Olympiad and Caleb, and Bernard and Maeve heading to the tower. They all say their goodbyes. Maeve tells Frankie to tell her father she “kept her word,” while Stubbs pieces together from Bernard’s somber farewell that he’s not going to make it.
While all of this is happening, Hale-ores (Tessa Thompson) decides today is the last day for humanity. All humans are to be placed in “cold storage.” That doesn’t sit right with the Host in Black. Christina and Teddy (James Marsden) have a chat about how she took over the world. Christina doesn’t believe she has it in her, and when Teddy calls her Dolores, she’s overwhelmed. She asks him if their “kind” can be hurt or die. He tells her death is more difficult for them, which she discovers firsthand when she goes into the bathroom, runs a tub and tries to drown herself. She survives, and from there, she’s forced to accept she isn’t who she thinks she is.
She and Teddy go to the Olympiad headquarters, where Christina uses her powers to make all the staff exit the building—except for the writers, whom she orders to erase their narratives and destroy the office. From there, she also orders the guards away and kind of runs into Caleb, whom Teddy calls “a ghost from a past life.” (Teddy shouldn’t know anything about Caleb, so that feels like evidence Teddy isn’t actually real, and is, instead, all in Christina’s head.) Christina orders the Olympiad guard to unlock the doors, which sets Caleb free.
Frankie and Stubbs find him, and father and daughter have an emotional reunion… after he almost kills her. In Caleb’s defense, it’s been more than two decades, and he’s been through a lot. They all get out of the building together.
Maeve and Bernard, however, don’t have such smooth sailing. They break into the tower just fine, but before they set their plan into motion, Bernard confesses he hasn’t been entirely honest with Maeve. “We can’t save this world,” he tells her, “But we can save a small part of it.” That doesn’t change her mind about fighting with him. From there, she gets into a brawl with Hale-ores, who very nearly “Transcended” before Maeve stepped into the room. Side note: We discover what “Transcendence” is in this episode, and it’s not getting into the Sublime. Instead, Transcendence is a host uploading itself to an entirely metallic, non-humanoid body.
Hale-ores and Maeve fight, shattering windows and eventually winding up in the pond in front of the tower. They reach something of a stalemate only for Maeve to get shot in the head. Yep, that’s right: Maeve has now died for a second time this season. Hale-ores gets shot in the head, too, thus ending her reign of villainy… maybe?
Here’s where The Host in Black comes in: he killed Maeve and Hale-ores. His decision to do that came from another conversation he had with his human self, during which human-William told him that they were the same, and that their destiny was destruction. Given that, The Host in Black kills his human counterpart as well as Hale-ores and Maeve, then he goes back inside the tower and changes the tones that control everyone in the city. As he explains to Bernard while shooting him, he’s going to have everyone play “one final game” until there’s no one left, thus ending the world. Great! Bernard dies, and it’s not clear whether this is the scenario he envisioned or if everything just got royally messed up.
Across the city, Stubbs, Caleb and Frankie try to make their exit through the subway. That goes bad fast, as William’s new narrative means everyone starts attacking them. They survive, but Frankie gets shot (non-fatally in the leg, but any wound in this scenario is a problem). Christina and Teddy make their way through the chaotic city, with Christina begging everyone to stop fighting. It’s no use. Teddy tells her they can’t listen to or see her because she’s not in this world. “It’s real,” he says, “but you’re not.” And as chaos unfolds, the Host in Black strolls out of the tower in full Man in Black garb, shooting everyone in his path.
- Anybody else not convinced any of this is real? The episode is intercut with Bernard remembering his conversation with Akechata, during which he says he’s “seen a path.” Who’s to say all of this chaos isn’t just another path he saw? Or is this why Bernard was making copies of everyone?
- POTENTIAL SPOILER ALERT: We haven’t seen the last of Hale-ores (or there are multiple Hale-oreses). There’s still the scene from the trailer where she’s dressed in all black at the Hoover Dam, shooting at someone off-screen, and another where she’s running through the tower in all black. She’s either not actually dead, or there’s more than one of her.
- So, what was the deal with Ariana DeBose’s character? Is she something Westworld is circling back to? And speaking of things I hope the show circles back to, what did Caleb have that Hale-ores didn’t?
- Caleb wasn’t glitching here, which makes me wonder if Hale-ores finally gave him a body that isn’t set to break down. That almost makes me more worried for him than if he was glitching—if this Caleb was built to last, she must’ve had an ulterior motive.
- I’m betting we lose either Caleb or Frankie in the finale. Stubbs’ line regarding it “not being about” the first time Frankie sees her dad again, but about “what comes after” seems like the kind of line shows use before they twist the knife. Would be a major twist if it’s Frankie who dies instead of Caleb, but I’d be more confident in a Caleb sacrifice for his daughter. Like Maeve sacrificed herself in Season 2.
- I’m disappointed at Maeve’s second death if it removes her from the last hour of the season. I can extremely grudgingly cope with not getting a Caleb-Maeve reunion, but is it really a Westworld finale if she’s not in it? Unless Bernard’s scene at the start was foreshadowing, and the Maeve who died was a copy.
- Okay, I’m not done being confused about Maeve. Bernard said she was a weapon. How? Other than killing a single riot control bot, she didn’t do much aside from punching Hale-ores. I also thought Maeve would have something to say to Hale-ores about Hector, considering she crushed his pearl.
- Part of me wonders if we’re heading for an “everybody dies” ending, as foreshadowed by Christina’s story. Maeve and Bernard are already gone, Frankie’s been shot, Caleb might or might not be breaking down, Stubbs is apparently going to die, Hale-ores probably isn’t making it out of the finale, and Christina isn’t real.
- Rating: 3.5/5. “Metanoia” moves fast—too fast—and it struggles to balance its many storylines. Character beats drown in the roaring rush of the plot, and The Host in Black’s arc, especially, could’ve used more room to breathe. Season 4 might’ve been better served with ten episodes, or eight episodes with longer runtimes. But if Westworld sticks the landing next week, this episode could seem better in hindsight.
Westworld, Season 4 Finale, Sunday, August 14, 9/8c, HBO