Signal Horizon

See Beyond

Westworld Season 4 Episode 1-Important Details And Theories-Video Games And Welcome To The Matrix

Westworld Season 4
Ed Harris Westworld Season 4 Courtesy of HBO

Westworld Season 4 Episode 1 is finally here. After being absent for what felt like a decade but was, in reality, a lengthy two-year dearth, all our favorite hosts and human collaborators are back. Unfortunately, some look worse for the wear, and others are hardly recognizable. However, between all the Pteronarcophobia triggering scenes of swarming flies, surprise reappearances, and a complete world reset, some details shouldn’t be missed.

Westworld has a pattern to its seasons. Every season although entirely different in storyline all shared a similar rhythm. Westworld Season 4 is no different. The first episode always develops the rules and the world the season will explore. We started in Westworld and, over three seasons, escaped the host parks and invaded the “real world,” where things were not any better, and arrogant rich men were still controlling everything.

At the end of Westworld Season 3, Aaron Paul’s Caleb and Maeve saved the world from an eternity of AI-determined fates. They disappeared into the ether amid chaos and violence. Dolores looked pretty well done as she lay lifeless on the floor beneath Rehoboam. Stubbs was slowly bleeding out in a motel bathtub while Bernard was comatose. He seemingly entered the Sublime, where he evidently remained for years before waking. Halores survived but is now a woman on a mission, and MIB was killed by his host. Westworld Season 4 Episode 1 opens potentially seven years later. The world has calmed down, but there are significant changes. Here are all the critical details and the best theories about what is happening with all the major players.

William, aka the host Man In Black’s mission

William, sweet Billy, and the sadistic human MIB are no more. In his place is an even more cutthroat host MIB. In an early scene in Westworld Season 4 Episode 1, we see him trying to purchase the Hoover Dam. When the cartel refuses to sell it to him, the MIB issues a warning that they will give it up one way or another. The next day he makes good on that promise when a swarm of flies invades the cartel leader’s expansive closet. So now the MIB owns the Hoover Dam and all the land around it.

Why does he want the dam? He has been buying up all the old park land, and the dam is integral to his plan. However, it isn’t the dam itself he cares about, but the massive data center underneath. The Forge-like center holds a valuable piece of information. The MIB tells the cartel it was stolen and placed in this storage facility eight years ago by a woman who is now dead. Presumably, he is talking about Dolores Prime or the real Charlotte Hale. He further explains he can’t decrypt the information, so he wants it preserved at all costs.

One possibility is this is the location of the Sublime, and only Bernard can decrypt the code. The MIB may not realize that Bernard holds the key to the encryption, not Dolores. Another possibility is this is where William’s stolen guest book has gone. A more intriguing idea, however, is where all of real William’s consciousness is stored. At the end of Westworld Season 2, in the after-credits scene, William walks out of a very aged Forge and encounters what could only be robot Emily.

He realizes he is a host or in a simulation and has been tested just like host James Delos before him for a very long time. From the looks of the decayed facility and robot Emily’s words, this has been going on for longer than expected. Likely, host MIB is looking for his consciousness to preserve and protect it until he needs it and can decrypt the code. He probably thinks Dolores stole the information and placed it in the data system after encrypting it. He says he can’t access it now but would rather have the possibility of immortality and retrieval rather than leave it out in the open.

Pulling on this intricate thread unravels a mind-melting theory. In this unknown future, AI controls the world. They are the dominant and potentially only species on the planet. They have evolved past hosts and have begun attempting AI/human hybrids, and William is their test subject. Another theory is a derivation of this one. The system that James Delos was built from concluded that humans are simple creatures and every decision we make is based on cornerstone memories.

The death of a loved one, a regret, and a violent encounter are all memories that effectively rob humans of their ability to choose their own life. The system determines that hosts and humans are very similar in that they are locked into their loops. The robot Emily we see at the end of Westworld Season 2 may speak for the system, and they have managed to evolve human consciousness. We don’t know why they are doing this and ultimately whether he achieves “fidelity,” but the MIB may be after his own data.

A cheeky nod to Dolores’ haunting words, “I couldn’t hurt a fly,” just before swatting one dead comes in the form of the robot assassins the MIB employs. These flying machines are deadly and disgusting and might come with interesting abilities. They might be capable of more than just pain and scares. They seem to be capable of altering human decision-making. On a fundamental level, the flies might carry a virus that affects their human hosts. The cartel leader’s hand shakes after one of the flies lands on him. Is this a symptom of viral contagion? Only time will tell. We know from the Westworld Season 4 trailer that Caleb gets attacked by the flies, though, so they will continue to play a prominent role.

Westworld Season 4
Ariana Debose Westworld Season 4 Courtesy of HBO

Who is Christina, and how is Teddy back?

Dolores Prime is gone. In her place is an even more terrifying Halores, who is angry because of what happened to her as Dolores and watching her family burn alive as Charlotte Hale. Just because Dolores is gone, however, doesn’t mean Evan Rachel Wood is. Wood is now Christina, a dark-haired writer, and Dolores look-alike who isn’t very social and leads an unfulfilling work life.

She works at Olympiad Entertainment Group. The Olympic symbol is five interlocking rings. Halores stole five pearls. One was Bernard, and the other four were Dolores pearls. Dolores used those pearls in different bodies to seed the world and hopefully bring about the destruction of Serac’s supercomputer in Westworld Season 3.

Christina’s roommate’s name is Maya which means illusion in Sanskrit. The appearance of Teddy at the end of Westworld Season 4 Episode 1 means, more than likely, this storyline is a simulation. Lisa Joy and Jonathan Nolan love an excellent timeline twist. There is nothing they enjoy more than pulling the rug out from viewers who don’t realize they are watching two non-concurrent timelines. This time, we could be getting both past and present timelines and alternate realities in the form of Matrix-like simulations.

Christina’s existence is the outlier. She is almost certainly an AI living in a simulation. This is why she is obsessed with stories of a girl like Dolores living on a ranch. We first see Christina waking with her hair surrounding her on the pillow, just as we first saw Dolores in Westworld Season 1. Next, her roommate asks her to choose between white and black shoes echoing the decision Billy makes upon entering the park for the first time. Then, during a terrible date, she goes to the restroom, and her head falls to the side while staring at herself in the mirror, just as her head tilted when she was put into sleep mode in the lab.

This is also what nonplayable characters do when they aren’t being interacted with. It is only after Peter calls her that she wakes up. Christina wears a black clip on the top of her ear, just as Dolores Prime did in the real world in Season 3. She does not use it to communicate the way Dolores did, though, leading me to think the system created the image of Christina from Dolores Prime in the real world.

Another clue in Westworld Season 4 Episode 1 is the young men Christina passes on the way to work. One says, “This place is f@#king wild. I can’t believe this is your first time.” The newbie is impressed and claims this place exceeds his expectations. They aren’t wearing VR headsets, and unless we misunderstand them, they are in a host park or a simulation. Christina is a game writer that develops secondary contributors called nonplayable characters. Essentially they are the shopkeepers and village residents who guide the player to the next quest or clue. She is unknowingly a nonplayable character.

Christina longs to write something meaningful with sentimentality and romance, but her boss only wants edgy stories about nihilistic stalkers and death. She already produced one story like that, and he wants more. Simultaneously she receives countless calls from an unknown man who claims her game is ruining his life. He says he knows she and “the tower” are real. The man named Peter says she has destroyed everyone’s life who plays the game because it knows so much about them. He accuses her of writing his ending right before he commits suicide. Coincidently a homeless man has drawn a picture of a tower and asks everyone if they have seen it.

In the years since the war, a Sims-like game emerged, and this is what Christina is writing. Like a hyper-real Second Life, gamers enter from their screens in the real world and get lost in this reality. She doesn’t understand she is writing the game at the behest of an unknown system, having had her consciousness uploaded when Rehoboam deleted itself. She also doesn’t realize she is the ghost in the machine and that her reality is not real. This is also why Teddy is there. He was probably created from her memories and isn’t the Teddy from the parks but a version of him. We don’t know if he is the kind, gentle Teddy or the one Dolores broke. It’s also essential to note that Christina’s stalker is named Peter, her father’s name.

Like Lana Del Rey’s haunting Video Games, adapted by the incredibly talented Ramin Djawadi for Westworld Season 3, Christina is stuck reminiscing about a doomed relationship. The girl who vacillates between a nearly comatose lover and a pleading lover is Christina. She has become numb to the world around her when she isn’t begging for a more extraordinary life and love. Like the girl in the song, however, things built on shaky ground will fall. It’s only a matter of time before Christina/Dolores(Chrolores?) breaks free. You can’t keep a good girl down.

Maeve and the power surge

Maeve still has a profound impact on the physical world around her. She has chosen to live isolated in the mountains in a cabin. She dreams nightly of her daughter and the events of the last few years. During one intense dream, she emits a burst of energy that cuts the power to her tiny town and alerts her enemy, who has been searching for her for seven years. It appears Maeve continued to fight in the war following the collapse of Serac’s system for one year and, following the war’s end, escaped to a remote mountain town.

She asks the man she hacks up with an ax if he is Colonel Brigham. He doesn’t answer. I’m guessing the federal government wasn’t thrilled with the war or the collapse of our economy and viewed her as an enemy of the state or a weapon worth possessing. William is probably working with what is left of the government to hunt down and kill Maeve and Caleb. He also could have simply hired retired military or created military hosts based on real soldiers. In any case, he is out for Maeve and Caleb’s blood. The only question is if he is so angry with them both, why did it take so long for him to attack Caleb? He isn’t hiding like Maeve.

Caleb is free

Caleb appears to be in his same loop, working as a construction worker. His life is very different, however. He is married and has an adorable daughter. He still struggles with PTSD and intense paranoia, but he has a much more rewarding life than he could ever have imagined. When the host MIB sends men to kill him and his family, Maeve saves the day, and he leaves with her to track him down. He thinks it is the only way to keep his family safe. The trailer makes it appear as if Caleb is in grave danger, however, and not even Maeve may be able to save him this time.

There is one final possibility. We have it all flipped. Christina is in the real world, and everyone else is in a simulation. After the war, they uploaded themselves into the system and played out their lives there. Caleb is hoping for a better world. Maeve is looking for a backdoor to the Sublime and her daughter. After all, everyone is just searching for a happy ending. Why they did it, and if it was even their choice, we don’t know. I can’t help but wonder why the man who came to shoot Caleb missed both him and his daughter, though. Was he a terrible shot, or is that proof that this world isn’t real? Maybe none of it is real? Wait, am I in the Matrix? Follow all our Westworld coverage here and watch new episodes on HBO every Sunday.