Westworld season 4 (blu-ray series review).

News has already circulating that this fourth season of ‘Westworld’ is the last. When you watch it, then it does become obvious there were no plans to go beyond this season.

Set 7 years after the events of the third season with the androids assimilated into society and basically taken over. This has more in common with what might have happened after the 1976 film ‘Futureworld’ had the androids won. Thinking about it, they might still have done. What are the two journalists chances of getting out of the terminal? I often wonder why they didn’t call the series ‘Delos’ as the name is easily recognised.

Oh, the assimilation was working until a team of assassins tracks down Maeve Millay (actress Thandiwe Newton) and she decides to go back to work again. Things aren’t helped when there’s a new updated android out there, 249 and going down, that she couldn’t over-ride without some effort. It did feel odd that more wasn’t done with this and is ignored for the remaining 7 episodes. There’s a lot of androids replacing existing people, called outliners, and the only way you can tell them apart is they are better than their originals in some things.

Maeve joins up with the human Caleb Nichols (actor Aaron Paul), taking him away from his family, and they return to Delos and find there’s a 1920s game set up called Temperance using the Westworld protocols with its characters. That is less important to them than getting underground and finding out what is going on.

Meanwhile, Bernard Lowe (actor Jeffrey Wright) finds himself resurrected again and together with Ashley Stubbs (actor Luke Hemsworth) they are also seeking their own way back into Delos. Meeting up with some human rebels, they aren’t trusted but allow themselves to be split for two different missions than be killed to prove themselves.

There’s some odd jumps in episodes and how humans have been replaced by androids that they’ve become an endangered species. Being copies, the androids are developing an increasingly high suicide rate. We hear about than see that happening.

It isn’t until the sixth episode I realised just how much they were jumping across different time frames with the same people. Yes, it was done with the earlier seasons but not on this scale and mostly because some of the children had aged into adults so wasn’t altogether that obvious until some of the dots connected and still some more to do. One would have to ask how the children survived over the intervening years in terms of diet and education, both of these is still a common problem with other stories not just with ‘Westworld’. Writers really need to pay attention to such things because people can change based on circumstances, especially concerning why do they want to rush into danger.

So much of the ending is spoiler but I do wonder how much of the real world was actually here and how much was digitised, more so when so much of it vanishes. It would be less of a spoiler to say everyone dies but the final scene will leave you guessing.

Thinking reflectively about the series as a whole and compared to the two original films, the essence of the second film is stronger with the androids desire to replace components in human society and take over. As an SF trope, its quite common. Hell, it even took over in Ridley Scott’s two film return to the ‘Alien’ franchise, superseding the dangerous xenophobe threat with the android threat, although it wasn’t really much of one in ‘Alien: Resurrection’. In some respects, it would make sense if upcoming SF authors and scriptwriters did something different with this trope. After all, androids are still AI robots with maybe a community mind and anyone designing them would ensure there was a trapdoor to turn them off in the event of them becoming dangerous.

There are really a lot of extras here and spread across all three discs. I decided not to watch any of them until seeing the series itself. So, let’s start with the three discs where there are 5 minutes behind the scenes for each episode with cast and production people. I suspect fans of the series are going to have fun looking for some of the film locations.

3 quarter of an hour further looks behind the scenes and a final one with the two set directors comparing Westworld and Temperance in how the later was built on top of the other. Something that comes out of this is identifying the character parts better here than in the series and made me more aware of Hale (actress Tessa Thompson) here than in the story. I think that is the problem when servicing so many threads, not to mention some of the time interval differences and working out which are the more important.

Looking objectively at the series as a whole, remembering that much of this was filmed during much of the covid crisis, it holds together fairly well. There are some logic jumps but I suspect the producers will think the fans will go over it with a fine toothcomb to look at every detail again and again. Beware any déjà vu movements. You might have been replaced.

GF Willmetts

January 2023

(pub: Warner Bros, 2022. 3 blu-ray disks 438 minutes 8 * 55 minute episodes and extras. Price: I pulled my copy for £29.99 (UK). ASIN: 5000302548)

cast: Thandiew Newton, Tessa Thompson, Evan Rachel Wood, Jeffrey Wright, Luke Hemsworth, Aaron Pail and Ed Harris

check out website: www.warnerbros.co.uk

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