'Westworld' Season 4: The Illusion of Choice of Fidelity
“It was time for a new narrative,” Charlotte tells Caleb in her office on top of Olympiad tower.
Really, that’s what season 4 centers around. We’ve seen these characters - these hosts - trapped in a never-ending storyline since season 1. But are they all connected? In particular, Doroles Abernathy has lived an otherwise idyllic loop as a rancher’s daughter in the American Wild West. In Shogunworld, her copied counterpart takes on the original host’s traits, but represents Dolores’s unexplored dark side. There are other copies of the host throughout the series, including Charlotte Hale - currently active and perhaps orchestrating the events of what will come in the latter half of this season.
So why then, in season 4’s New York City-esque world, has Dolores undergone a change in name and character? Yes, her basic story is there: a kind natured, optimistic, and innocent young woman - with some darkness lurking within. She wakes up each day ready to tackle the role she finds herself in, questioning anything but accepting everything. Although, she’s picking up on the constructed reality around her quicker than before - is another revolution looming?
Everyone is in a loop, serving some role and moving about with little self-awareness of what is going on around them. Are these the hosts? Or are they humans, subjected to the same cruel treatments that the hosts endured, a result of the uprisings years prior? It’s unclear right now. As for Christina, though, in episode 1, we see a homeless man ask people if they have seen a tower like the one he’s drawn. People walk right by him, ignorant to his question just as much as they are to the tower that, as we soon find out, is actually right across the island. But Christina stops, not because she has seen the tower (presumably), but she is now aware of some element outside of her own narrative (waking up, working, painting, longing for love).
She oversleeps one day - a fact that goes against everything in her character’s narrative - and wakes up to see that her painting was tarnished with a drawing of that same tower. She may not know where it is, or if it is, but that “fidelity” seems to be diminishing, if even slightly.
The tower is connected to this all, a structure eerily similar to the tools used when making the hosts. Only this time, the structure is used for control; controlling the flies that control the people, killing the birds but not the people. If this world, this new park and reality, is something like a Matrix for hosts, then a tower of this power is a direct threat to inhabitants' freedom. Once again, that idea of fidelity, faith, and creationism pops up. Who is in control? Does free will exist here, or is the island filled with yet another playground of constructed characters and conflicts?
Christina Writes Her Own Story
Unlike her Dolores counterpart, Christina’s days are somewhat varied. She works as a copywriter for Olympiad Entertainment, crafting stories for side characters and NPCs. In Season 4, Episode 1, one of these players, Peter, confronts Christina:
"I need to ask you to leave us alone. This isn't who I am. This is important. I lost my job, my wife. I thought it was the Tower, it was you. You made me do those things. All these people do what you want them to," he shouts, as he pulls out a knife. "How did you know so much about us? The game – you wrote us into it. You need to help me. I need for the story to change. I need the ending to be different."
Unfortunately, Peter jumps from a building. But before he does, he asks Christina, “Is this up to me, or did you write this, too?" Ah, so Christina seems to be controlling the fates of others. But are they aware of this? Is she?
It’s suspected that this season of Westworld is set in Futureworld, a park explored in the 1976 sequel to the movie, Westworld (1973). Some propose that in this world, and following the uprising of previous seasons, the hosts now control the game while humans take on the role of hosts. Kind of confusing, but what a concept.
Then there’s Christina, who, as a writer of these characters, may actually be rewriting her own story.
“There’s a young girl. Not that young, more like late teens. She lives at home with her father in the country - scratch that - the city. He’s a little infirm, so she spends most of her time with him,” Christina says aloud at her workspace. Sounds an awful lot like Dolores’s story from the Wild West park. “But she dreams of a bigger life; excitement, adventure, romance.” Again, sounds a lot like Dolores’s story from season 1 - but with new characters, settings, and motivations.
So if Christina writes the narratives for side characters, does that make her one, too? It seems, at least right now, that Christina is crafting a storyline for a character eerily akin to herself, her new self. Does she even have this power? But, as Charlotte (currently an active Dolores host) says in episode 4, there are changes being made.
Now, for a tangent that may be connected. Christina’s boss tells her to up the antics in her writing: more violence, gore, shock factors, and tragedy. But she wants romance, adventure… a happy ending. (a sentiment she relays set to the beautiful instrumental rendition of Lana del Rey’s “Video Games” - an ironic title for this Matrix-esque world).
“Now, take that story you wrote a couple of months back. Poor Schmuck loses everything, drowns his sorrows, stalks some girl. How did that end again?,” Christina’s boss asks.
“Everyone dies,” she responds. Sounds a bit like her love story with Teddy. And Teddy does in fact show up at the end of episode 1, lurking from the streets, waiting to approach Christina. In this life, as he has in past ones. Is the story looping again?
Theory: Caleb & Christina
So if the humans are hosts and the hosts are now in control, who is actually constructing the narrative? What is the narrative? Where do we go from here? Like the paradox of creation itself, in seeking their own escape from “fidelity,” the hosts may very well destroy the world - not just the parks, but the people creating them.
After Caleb learns about the flies and Charlotte’s plans for domination, he runs out of the office and down to the building’s lobby. This is where we may get some clues, though subtle. As expected, no one reacts to the madman in white running through the lobby - except for a woman dressed conspicuously like Christina in episode 1.
This woman has reddish-looking hair, wears a long dark overcoat, layered pants, and dark boots. There is something in her hand, a tablet or wallet, but either way it resembles the clutch Christina was
holding, also in episode 1. She is the only figure in that lobby to turn her head and react to Caleb running past her. Is this woman aware? Is that even possible? If this is in fact Christina, what does it mean that she can break out of her role?
These two seemingly side characters - of Futureworld, that is - briefly acknowledge one another for a second, even if they are not programmed to do so. And in turn, will the NPCs be the key to taking down the parks once and for all? After all, since his introduction into the show, Caleb has frequently been labeled as an “everday man,” or a side character. Is his role growing more prominent? Whose doing is this? Does Christina have the power to rewrite everyone’s stories, albeit her own?
There are many lingering theories and ideas about the maze, its meaning, and its purpose. The maze is the mind, and self-awareness and sentience is its center. Or, if you look down at the tower from a bird’s eye view, the surrounding area will resemble the maze. Or, the maze is presented to us in flashbacks and glimpses of the future, a symbol and reminder of seeking truth and closing the loop. (But really, if you move towards the center of a loop, aren’t you just buying into the loop more? That might be too high concept, even for Westworld).
In getting closer to those answers, which has taken decades of lore over four seasons, a choice may become clearer. Destroying the hosts - destroying themselves - may be the only way to get out of this loop of progress and precedent. Which could explain the Mad Max-esque world that Bernard and C find themselves - and the bodies of destroyed hosts (ahem, Maeve) residing in. This is not the same as the post-uprising world, where the hosts gained power. This is a post-revolution world, in which hosts and humans and all those arbitrary terms of control have been destroyed. What is left is a reminder of how we, like Icarus, flew too close to the sun, a reminder of the difference between man and god.
So the title of season 4 becomes clearer: in the face of falsely constructed free will and the illusion of fidelity, there comes a choice in where the world goes next. Seeing as Christina has already begun to play around with these concepts, season 4 may finally see the undoing of decades of playing god. Fidelity is destroyed, as is the world of make believe and falsely constructed narratives. Ah, the illusion of choice.
"We're not here to transcend, we're here to destroy." - Man in Black.