Westworld is back! Season four premiere sees surprise return of killed-off characters in some of the sci-fi epic’s most gruesomely violent scenes yet
- Westworld season four, episode one titled “The Auguries” premiered on Sunday
- It saw the return of actors Evan Rachel Wood and a surprise cameo from James Marsden
- Both Wood and Marsden had previously been killed off but appear to be playing new characters
- The new season kicks off seven years from when season three’s finale was set
If you’ve been a casual viewer of Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy’s dizzying sci-fi epic Westworld, or perhaps given up after a lackluster season three, then now is a good time to plug yourself back in.
While the first episode of season four is somewhat of a slow-burner, it’s also a strong return to form for the hit HBO show, and uncharacteristically easy to follow.
Taking place seven years after season three’s finale, the coherent narrative of this first episode is a calming experience compared to some of the more painfully head-scratching moments of seasons past.
WARNING: SPOILERS BELOW…
The Man In Black is back! Ed Harris returns as William in the first scene of season four and is as violent as ever
First scene: William arrives to the Hoover Dam where he attempts to retrieve data that is stolen from him
It helps that the story focuses primarily on familiar faces, particularly William (Ed Harris), Maeve (Thandiwe Newton), and Caleb (Aaron Paul.)
Even Dolores (who, spoiler alert, was killed off last season) is back. Well, almost.
The episode begins with Harris’ William trying to buy some land in the Hoover Dam, that contains some sort of data he’s desperate to get his hands on, claiming it was stolen from him eight years ago.
When the bargaining doesn’t go his way, the Man In Black promises violence – and there’s a killer line when he’s told he can’t buy the land as William responds: ‘This is America, everything’s for sale.’
Business deal gone bad: William offers a businessman a deal to retrieve his data
Nice try: However, the man isn’t interested in William’s offer
Big mistake: William makes threats to get what he wants but leaves empty handed
What follows is an eerie scene where the businessman – who turns down William’s offer – comes home to find a swarm of flies in his wardrobe that somehow infiltrate his mind.
The following day, the man then promptly executes his team and calmly hands over what William wants.
Seemingly possessed by the flies, or whatever they are, he then walks away and kills himself.
It’s a shocking first ten minutes that proves Westworld has lost none of its bloodthirsty edge.
Terrifying: When the businessman returns home, a swarm of flies emerge and appear to infect him, possessing his mind
Look who’s back: Evan Rachel Wood appears in the episode, as a new character called Christina
Dreamy: Christina works as a writer for a video game company who wants to pen stories about love and romance
Christina’s storyline is welcome, if not a bit out of place, in the often gloomy and high-stakes atmosphere of Westworld
However, the episode then takes a saccharine turn, as we see Evan Rachel Wood, who now plays Christina, still looking like our beloved anti-heroine, but with all the AI venom taken out.
Christina’s storyline is welcome, if not a bit out of place for now, in the often gloomy and high-stakes atmosphere of Westworld.
A nerdy loner type, Christina works as a writer for a video game company who wants to pen stories about love and romance, but is told that war, violence and sex sell better.
It’s a conventional subplot, perhaps purposefully so, that has stellar support from Oscar-winner Ariana DeBose, who plays Christina’s much more sociable roommate.
Surely, Nolan and Joy have placed this storyline for a reason, and it will be exciting to see how it evolves and fits into the puzzle.
As the episode pushes forward, Maeve is stuck in the past, as we see her trying to access her old memories while taking shelter in a snow-covered cabin
Lookout: Maeve is currently being hunted by William’s men
Flashbacks: We seen Maeve looking back at her past
Family: Scenes from previous seasons were shown in the episode of Maeve with her daughter
While there is still mystery surrounding exactly who Christina is, she does make a poignant remark that’s significant of the series as a whole when she asks: ‘What if I’m not the one that’s broken, what if it’s the world that needs fixing?’
Tellingly, one could imagine Dolores saying exactly the same thing.
As the episode pushes forward, Maeve is stuck in the past, as we see her trying to access her old memories while taking shelter in a snow-covered cabin.
She’s being hunted by William’s men and has no interest in being found – as she destroys the entire power system on the mountain where she’s hiding.
Time jump: We then discover that Caleb is now a family man with a wife and a seven-year-old daughter
Gone: His former AI colleagues have been crushed and left for scrap metal
In the family: Caleb’s wife wife worries that his battle rattle from last season could be influencing his daughter, who we see plays with a toy gun
Get your coat: The episode wraps up with Maeve and Caleb reuniting, ready to at least try and take on William and his men
We then discover that Caleb is now a family man with a wife and a seven-year-old daughter, and his former AI colleagues have been crushed and left for scrap metal.
However, his wife worries that his battle rattle from last season could be influencing his daughter, who we see keeps a toy gun under her pillow and spends her spare time shooting at tin cans in the yard.
More bloody violence is served when the baddies do turn up at Maeve’s cabin door, though she is as prepared as ever.
It contains arguably one of the most gruesome moments in the show’s history, when a severed head ends up in the sink, but it’s a necessary evil for Maeve who uses the bad guy’s memory from his brain to gain power over her opponents.
Mysterious: Christina makes a poignant remark that’s significant of the series as a whole when she asks: ‘What if I’m not the one that’s broken, what if it’s the world that needs fixing?’
Christina’s storyline starts to feel like an episode of Black Mirror when she goes on a bad date with a man called Peter.
He suggests that the storylines Christina is writing for video games end up coming true, which possibly suggests this whole story arc could end up being some kind of simulation, as it veers into a dark romantic fantasy.
The episode wraps up with Maeve and Caleb reuniting, ready to at least try and take on William and his men, and Christina focusing on a more positive storyline for one of her video games.
The real surprise comes when Christina is joined by none other than Teddy (James Marsden) who has saved her from the disastrous date with Peter.
However, Marsden – whose Teddy Flood killed himself at the end of season 2 – appears to be playing a mystery new character just like Wood.
With his cameo appearance unexplained, it provides a promising set up for another season of mind-bending sci-fi.
Watch Westworld on Sundays at 9pm on HBO Max in the US and on Sky Atlantic in the UK.