Saturday, August 13, 2022

Bernard is back in Westworld while Maeve and Caleb get into trouble

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Long time western world Fans could be forgiven for wondering where deep-thinking host Bernard (Jeffrey Wright) has been all season. In the final episode of Season 3, we saw him in a motel room wearing a headset to visit the Valley Beyond aka The Sublime aka Robot Heaven. Then, in a post-credits scene, we saw him wake up covered in dust apparently many years later. Bernard’s story picks up exactly where we left him this week, but his long-awaited return means there’s no time for more sightings of Evan Rachel Wood’s new Manhattan character, Christina, or the villainous Charlotte Hale (Tessa Thompson), who is… so far retreats back into the shadows that it completely disappears from view. As we near the midpoint of this eight-episode season, western world feels more like an idle machine – ticks well, but not yet at full speed.

Back from the afterlife

What’s heaven like for super-smart host Bernard? It turns out that it is very similar to Earth. When his eyes first open, he seems at home, but in the dreamlike sequence that follows, he traverses the blood-soaked ruins of Westworld and an equally post-apocalyptic cityscape before reaching a transmission tower inhabited by a suit-wearing Akecheta (Tooth McClarnon). Akecheta, of course, was once the leader of the Ghost Nation tribe in Westworld, and is widely credited as the first host to gain consciousness – so his role as leader in the robotic afterlife makes sense. However, Bernard is not interested in putting his feet up and enjoying his time in the Sublime – he wants to return to Earth to save humanity. Akecheta explains that if that’s the case, he might want to run a few simulations first. “In your world, time is a straight line,” he explains. “A year is a millennium here. We use this time to build worlds, models of possibilities, simulations of all the paths your world might take. I suggest you explore them, but better be quick. At a certain point in your world, all paths end in destruction.”

If we assume that when Bernard wakes up, the same seven years have passed as in Maeve and Caleb’s timeline, then that means our heroic host has been weighing all possible eventualities for seven millennia. Surely that’s enough time to come up with a plan that doesn’t end in everyone’s deaths? Especially since trusty old Stubbs (Luke Hemsworth) is still on hand to help. Hopefully he could find something decent on TV to while away the time while Bernard was otherwise occupied.

The Golden Age, it really will pass you by

In the last episode, Maeve (Thandiwe Newton) and Caleb (Aaron Paul)’s arrival at the brand new amusement park The Golden Age was teased, but they don’t spend long hanging around there. Maeve quickly notes that the park features the “same old story” as the original Westworld, with Speakeasy, the Butterfly Club, in place of their old saloon. There’s even a Temperance-era version of Maeve herself (Cherise Boothe).

After leading a gunfight and then jumping into the back of a truck loaded with corpses, Maeve and Caleb find their way to an underground maintenance level. It’s not all it seems, though: when a group of park-goers burst in and start shooting, it’s revealed that in a chilling meta twist, the new park is going to take the infamous “Westworld Massacre” as yet another shoot ’em up storyline shows you can participate.

What Maeve and Caleb are really looking for is downstairs, where creepy all-white droids infect flies with the same black goo they saw when they met the senator’s wife in the stables last episode. It doesn’t take you long to figure out what’s happening: Charlotte Hale uses swarms of flies to turn ordinary people into mind-controlled hosts. Caleb thinks she’s already caught his daughter, Frankie (Celeste Clark), and the obviousness of the trap doesn’t stop him from rushing straight into it. It’s just a host, and worse: a host that shoots flies out of its face. Caleb was last seen with a fly threateningly crawling into his ear canal, suggesting he’ll experience firsthand what it’s like to hand control of your brain over to someone else.

Revolutionary Street

Out in the desert, Bernard and Stubbs stop at a roadside diner for a bite to eat. It’s a chance for Bernard to show just how accurate his years of patient predictions have bestowed on him the gift of prophecy – by informing Stubbs ahead of time that the location is out of their signature Pastrami Melt. Bernard then quickly kills some burly guys in the parking lot and keeps one of their android heads to prove they were hosts.

When a curly-haired stranger (Aurora Perrineau) shows up to collect the two dead bodies, Bernard uses his scalped trophy to convince them to take them to “the damned lands” to meet the “movement” that takes them belonged to a group of dirt bike-riding revolutionaries. Bernard promises he can help them by “giving them what you’ve been looking for in this desert… there’s a gun buried in that sand.” I know where it is.” Well done, he told Stubbs to bring a shovel — that Bernard really thinks of everything.

The third episode of Season 4 of Westworld premieres Sunday, July 10 on HBO Max in the US and Monday, July 11 on Sky Atlantic in the UK

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