In a series known for pushing storytelling ambitions, Season 3 of Westworld was arguably the show’s biggest gamble, as it took the Western-themed narrative exploits out of that setting and brought the attractions’ sentient robots, or “hosts,” into the dystopian real world. While this pivot surely provided the series with a number of new storytelling avenues, it also resulted in the heaviest and most complex journey the series has ever seen. After the first four episodes of Season 4, the current arc feels like it’s gaining a bit of a soft reboot, cutting the narrative fat for a more streamlined story, which has the benefit of being an experience. more accessible. However, it also suffers from the feeling that the previous season was ultimately a prologue to the twisted world of Delos and their mortal hosts, which makes us wonder where this ship is heading.

This new season of Westworld picks up seven years after the events of the Season 3 finale, offering society free from Rehoboam, the supercomputer capable of predicting anyone’s future based on the infinite number of data points collected from guests visiting various fantastic parks created by Delos.

While Caleb (Aaron Paul) attempts to move on with his newfound freedom from Rehoboam, Maeve (Thandiwe Newton) aims to stay off the grid to prevent William, aka “the Man in Black” (Ed Harris), from to track her down. Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood) sacrificed herself to defeat Rehoboam last season. This season, a new character named Christina (also played by Wood), finds herself in an entirely new world with no memory of Dolores’ history. And, with Dolores’ system having already been placed in a host version of Charlotte Hale (Tessa Thompson) by Bernard Lowe (Jeffrey Wright), this Charlotte uses Delos to develop an all-new, even deadlier way to deal with humanity.

Since its creation, Westworld was never interested in holding an audience’s hand through its storyline, resulting in an experience for a viewer that mirrors the perplexity of the characters in the show itself. The sci-fi genre has always allowed creatives to approach real-world issues through a heightened lens, so each passing day brings technological advancements that eerily resemble elements of a fictional series, the boundaries between facts and WestworldThe fiction of becomes more and more blurry every moment. While some viewers have criticized the show for its dense and complex mythology, the unboxing of each episode has also been a selling point in the show’s mysteries.

While season 3 of Westworld has taken things out of the parks and into the real world, Season 4 is also finding ways to push forward elements that allow the series to further explore what it really means to be human, not only in a philosophical sense, but also in a tangible. Is your humanity defined by how you treat others? By the organic composition of your body? By the intentionality of your actions? All of these issues are typically addressed Westworld fashion, fleshing out the central conceit of the program that dates back to the first season when it comes to humanity versus artificiality.

For better or for worse, the events of the first chapters of season 4 of Westworld are much simpler and easier to follow. Some audiences will surely revisit Season 3 or potentially just digest recaps ahead of the new season, but having some semblance of events from this season is enough to prepare you for this new set of episodes. Everyone’s goals are clear, and while you might need a refresher on who’s a host and who’s a real human, these episodes are happy to offer reminders of each character’s origins. The simplicity of the story is almost disarming, to the point that you may need to check with other viewers to make sure things are really as obvious as they seem, which is more reflective of the complexities of the previous season. that all flaws in the storyline of season 4.

The more streamlined motivations of these characters result in a slight sacrifice of the characters themselves. With each character’s intentions being clearer than ever, it strips them of some of their nuance, making them feel more like caricatures of their former selves, as opposed to the layered, complex characters we’ve come to love. Charlotte delivers disturbing monologues, Maeve swears revenge, and Caleb is bewildered by the whole situation. The audience is most closely tied to Christina, as bizarre encounters around her begin to hint at something disturbing going on, but she’s utterly oblivious to what it might be. Viewers don’t know why we see a character who looks like Dolores but has no idea of ​​her past experiences and seems totally oblivious to Delos and Westworld.

Season 4 of Westworld is made up of eight episodes, and halfway through the latest outing, the filmmakers seem to have an idea in mind of where they’re headed. Over the course of three seasons, the concept’s popularity and the heady ideas it toyed with made it feel like a runaway locomotive laying the track right in front of it, not knowing where it might end up. The back half of this season could still be completely off the rails, but these early entries feel like the series is entering a new chapter and give audiences a chance to catch their breath. As with every previous season of the series, fans will surely be quick to show their support for the change in approach to storytelling as others lambast these final episodes, even if it already seems like a necessary attempt to streamline the overall experience, not just for fun. fans but also for the potential it brings to the series to continue to push narrative conventions as effectively as possible.

Rating: 3 out of 5

Season 4 of Westworld premieres on HBO and HBO Max on Sunday, June 26.

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