Longtime Westworld fans could be forgiven for wondering where deep-thinking host Bernard (Jeffrey Wright) has been all season. In the last episode of season three we saw him in a motel room using a headset to pay a visit to 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 gets picked up this week from right where we left him, but his long-awaited return means there’s no time for any further sightings of Evan Rachel Wood’s new Manhattanite character Christina or the villainous Charlotte Hale (Tessa Thompson), who retreats so far back into the shadows that she vanishes from view completely. As we approach the midpoint of this eight-episode season, Westworld feels rather like an idling machine – ticking along nicely but not yet pushed into overdrive.
Back from Beyond
What does heaven look like for super-intelligent host Bernard? A lot like Earth, it turns out. When his eyes first blink open, he appears to be at home, but in the dreamlike sequence that follows he passes through the blood-soaked ruins of Westworld and an equally post-apocalyptic cityscape before arriving at a broadcast tower inhabited by a suit-wearing Akecheta (Zahn McClarnon). Akecheta, of course, was once the leader of the Ghost Nation tribe within Westworld and is generally considered the first host to achieve consciousness – so his role as a guide within the robot afterlife makes sense. Bernard, however, isn’t interested in putting his feet up and enjoying his time in the Sublime – he wants to get back to Earth to save humanity. Akecheta explains that, in that case, he might want to run a few simulations first. “In your world, time is a straight line,” he explains. “One year there is a millennium here. We use that time to build worlds, models of possibilities, simulations of all the paths your world could take. I suggest you explore them, but you better be quick. Past 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 pondering all possible eventualities for seven millennium. Surely that’s enough time to come up with a plan that doesn’t end with everyone dead? Especially given that trusty old Stubbs (Luke Hemsworth) is still standing by to help. Hopefully he found something decent on TV to pass the time while Bernard was otherwise engaged.
The Golden Age, it’ll really pass you by
Last episode teased Maeve (Thandiwe Newton) and Caleb’s (Aaron Paul) arrival in brand new amusement park The Golden Age, but they don’t spend long loitering around there. Maeve quickly notes that the park offers the “same old story” as the original Westworld, with speakeasy the Butterfly Club in place of her old saloon. There’s even a Temperance-era version of Maeve herself (Cherise Boothe).
After leading a shoot-out and then hopping in the back of a truck laden with dead bodies, Maeve and Caleb find their way to an underground maintenance level. All is not what it seems, however: when a group of park visitors burst in and start shooting, it becomes apparent that in a ghoulishly meta twist the new park features the infamous “Westworld massacre” as just another shoot ‘em up storyline they can take part in.
What Maeve and Caleb are really looking for is one floor below, where creepy all-white droids are infecting flies with the same black goo they saw when they met the Senator’s wife in the stables last episode. It doesn’t take them long to piece together what’s happening: Charlotte Hale is using swarms of flies to turn ordinary humans into mind-controlled hosts. Caleb thinks she’s already captured his daughter Frankie (Celeste Clark), and the obviousness of the trap doesn’t stop him rushing right in. It’s just a host, and worse still: a host that shoots flies from its face. Caleb is last seen with a fly crawling ominously into his ear canal, suggesting he’s about to learn first-hand what it’s like to give control of your brain over to somebody else.
Out in the desert, Bernard and Stubbs stop for a bite to eat at a roadside diner. It’s a chance for Bernard to show off just how accurately his years of patient predictions have granted him the gift of prophecy – by informing Stubbs ahead of time that the place is all out of their signature Pastrami Melt. Bernard then swiftly kills a couple of burly-looking dudes in the parking lot, keeping one of their android heads in order to prove they were hosts.
When a curly-haired stranger (Aurora Perrineau) shows up to pick up the two dead guys, Bernard uses his scalped trophy to convince her to take them out into “the Condemned Lands” to meet the “movement” she’s part of, a group of dirt bike-riding revolutionaries. Bernard promises he can help them by “giving them the thing you’ve been looking for in this desert… there’s a weapon buried in these sands. I know where it is.” Good job he told Stubbs to bring a shovel – that Bernard really does think of everything.
‘Westworld’ season four episode three is available on HBO Max in the US from Sunday 10 July and Sky Atlantic in the UK from Monday 11 July