The end is coming. Not just for Westworld’s remaining robot hosts and odd surviving human, but perhaps for the show itself. With declining viewership and the tumultuous fall-out of the Warner Bros/Discovery merger going on behind the scenes, there’s still no news about whether the series will return for a fifth season. As it stands, there’s now just one final episode left to conclude this convoluted tale, and this instalment’s spate of major character deaths seems to suggest we really could be close to drawing the curtain on this rollercoaster six-year epic.
What that means is that while much of this season has felt like the meticulous arranging of chess pieces on a board, we’re now very much entering the endgame. By the close of this episode a couple of Queens, a wise Knight and a whole lot of pawns will have been taken off the board. Let’s see who’s still standing for the finale…
From the ridiculous to the Sublime
We start this week with the newly-retooled Maeve (Thandiwe Newton) and Bernard (Jeffrey Wright) on their way to the Hoover Dam. Or so it would seem! In fact we’re watching one of the countless simulations Bernard ran in order to figure out his plan, before we finally get to see the real pair in action. As we learned in this season’s first episode, the Hoover Dam now contains a “hydroelectric server farm”, which Dolores long ago picked out as the perfect place to store robot heaven - aka The Sublime. Maeve picks off a menacing Riot Control robot before Bernard uses the key in his head to “open the door” to the Great Beyond.
The heroic duo then return to the rebel base inside the abandoned Golden Age park where they reconvene with Stubbs (Luke Hemsworth) and C (Aurora Perrineau) before heading to the city. Once there, Stubbs and C set out to find and rescue Caleb (Aaron Paul) while Bernard and Maeve plan to track down Charlotte Hale (Tessa Thompson) and destroy her mind control tower once and for all.
Dolores (Slight return)
Maeve and crew aren’t the only ones with their sights set on Hale. Elsewhere, Christina (Evan Rachel Wood) is having her back story as Dolores filled in for her by Teddy (James Marsden). “You may have started as a single being, but there have been copies, permutations,” he explains. “Charlotte Hale is one of those permutations.” Christina frankly doesn’t like this development one bit, and heads off for a bath in which she seems to try to drown herself. A concerned Teddy begins to worry and call out for her, and Christina rises dramatically from the water just as he utters the words: “Open the door!”
Rejuvenated and beginning to understand the significance of her lineage, Christina takes Teddy and heads downtown to Hale’s Olympiad Entertainment building. In short order, she uses her powers of persuasion to convince the guards to leave, the writers to delete their stories and smash up their computers, and security to unlock all the doors.
That certainly makes things easier for Stubbs and C, who are able to stroll in soon after. In the end, the only resistance they face is from Caleb himself, who traps Stubbs in his old cell and attacks C, not realising at first that she’s his long-lost daughter Frankie. His tearful moment of recognition is played superbly by Paul, one of the highlights of the episode.
Meanwhile for Christina, there’s still one last mystery to unravel. Baffled when her powers stop working, Teddy tells her cryptically: “You’re not in this world. It’s real, but you’re not.”
The Man Is Back
With Hale under attack from all sides, she’ll have been depending on the loyalty of her host version of William (Ed Harris). However, the moment he learns she’s planning to shut down his beloved playground of a city and encourage the hosts to “transcend” by leaving their human forms behind, something snaps. He goes straight to see freeze-dried human William, still being held in his Vitruvian Man-shaped prison, who promptly snarls out the sharpest, most nihilistic lines of the week. “Culture doesn’t survive… cockroaches do,” he tells his robot counterpart. “We’re not here to transcend, we’re here to destroy.” Host William gets the message. He starts his killing spree by murdering the human in whose image he was created with a knife straight through his cold, black heart.
The next time we see him, he’s interrupting Maeve and Hale’s climatic battle to shoot them both straight through the head. Bang, bang, they’re both dead. Next up is Bernard, who takes a couple to the chest before William finishes him off too. That’s just the start of it. Next, William uses the mind control tower to kick start one last game for himself: “Host, human, every man, woman and child fighting ‘til no-one remains but the cockroaches.”
We end with one of the show’s best ever needle drops: David Bowie’s “The Man Who Sold The World” kicking in as William, now back in his full Man in Black regalia, strides towards the city. Hale’s mind control tower explodes behind him, but he doesn’t look back. Let the purge begin!
Westworld season four episode seven is available on HBO Max in the US from Sunday 7 August and Sky Atlantic in the UK from Monday 8 August