‘Westworld’ Season 4 Is Actually Kind Of Great?

I’m not sure I’ve seen a show go from one of the most must-see offerings of the year to relative obscurity so quickly, but that’s what the last few seasons of Westworld have felt like, with nothing matching the intensity of season 1 as we attempted to guess who was a host (practically everyone) and what was going on with the disparate timelines.

But season 2 wasn’t as good, and season 3 was kind of a jumbled mess with the “game” leaving the park and expanding into the real world. But here in season 4, Westworld has slimmed down to a somewhat more straightforward narrative and cast of characters, and in its first two episodes is actually kind of, shockingly…great?

This season has a host-ified version of Ed Harris’ Man in Black, working with Dolores in Tessa Thompson’s body to execute some kind of grand plan that seems like it will involved enslaving the human race, as they’ve shown they can break the brains of humans now, like humans were doing with hosts all this time. Attempting to unravel this and stop them is Caleb and Maeve, who are several steps behind.

Meanwhile, “clean” Dolores is working in some sort of megacity as a narrative designer watching her creations come to life in the real world. It’s not clear what’s going on here, if she’s in a new park, or in some sort of simulated world. There also is a new park, revealed at the end of last episode, which seems to be based around ‘20s era Chicagoland gangsters.

It’s all just a lot better and more coherent than the past two years. This week’s episode contained probably one of my favorite scenes we’ve ever had in the show, where William, attempting to negotiate with the Vice President of the United States, proceeds to hit three hole in one drives in a row on the golf course, a brilliant way of revealing he’s a host, but it’s too late for the VP as Clementine butchers his security, and presumably he’s now replaced with a host.

It’s become a show that I look forward to every week again, right up there with The Boys and For All Mankind. I mean, perhaps it’s still not back to being as good as either of those, but there’s a lot to like here in season 4, even if it means you have to get through season 3 to have the proper context for it. I’m not sure what the ultimate endgame here is, and if this is meant to be the final season (it probably should be, if not), but it’s definitely taken feedback to heart and has gotten back to a good place early on here.

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