Westworld S4E3: “Annees Folles” — Bernard Returns

Bernard sitting in a booth in a diner in Westworld
Photograph by John Johnson/HBO

The following contains spoilers for Westworld S4E3 “Annees Folles” (directed by Hanelle M. Culpepper and written by Kevin Lau & Suzanne Wrubel)

Bernard is back and he’s now Doctor Strange at the end of Avengers: Infinity War. Season 4 Episode 3 of Westworld opens with a sequence that could’ve been an episode unto itself (and I would’ve watched the heck out of it). In “Annees Folles,” we watch Bernard’s trip into the Sublime (the afterlife for hosts), and it is quite a trip.

Bernard finds himself woken up by the voice of his “son” Charlie. “Dad, open your eyes,” Charlie whispers. And in classic Lost fashion, we open with a close-up of Bernard’s eye opening. He’s in his home, holding his son’s maze toy, which played such an important role in Season 1.

Then Charlie appears, so Bernard follows him through a door at the end of a hallway, which leads him into the vast green plain. A tree catches on fire and then he’s outside the saloon from Westworld. He goes inside and finds no one, only for things to change into the aftermath of the massacre of some sort of slaughter, with dead hosts lying everywhere.

Things change again, and he’s in the modern world, and although there are fewer dead bodies to be seen, there’s destruction everywhere, like the result of the riot from the end of Season 3. Then he finds the maze toy again, which is lying right outside the tower. Yes, the tower the madman spoke of in Dolores’ narrative last week and of which she saw drawings in a room at a mental health facility. Just what the heck is this darn tower, and how is Bernard, who is still in the Sublime, able to not only see it but walk inside?

These opening minutes would good enough, but then Bernard finds none other than Akecheta, sporting a rather dapper tux and pouring himself a drink. “It’s good to see you again,” he tells Bernard, speaking perfect English. Is this really one of the elders of Ghost Nation? It would appear so. Apparently, the Sublime is “limitless,” allowing for each host to inhabit a world of their own. What Bernard, and we, have seen so far is of Bernard’s creation.

He tells Akecheta that he’s there to find a solution to help save mankind, which he knows to be irrational. Akecheta tells him that he loves them, and Bernard doesn’t argue. So, Akecheta tells him of a way to use the Sublime to figure out all possible futures. Doing so will help establish the best outcome for hosts and mankind.

Once he has expended all possibilities, he wakes up back in the real world, picking up where we last left him at the end of Season 3. This opening sequence lasts only seven minutes, and it’s a pretty trippy experience.

Too bad we don’t get more of that in “Annees Folles.” That said, the episode’s pace more than makes up for that. While Episode 1 and Episode 2 of Season 4 moved the story along at a solid pace, they still felt like Westworld episodes. The deliberate pacing and focus on the characters were elements that were at the forefront of those episodes. With Episode 3, it feels like the creators took what could’ve been two (or even three!) episodes and put it all into one hour of entertaining television.

Stubbs and Bernard walking into a diner in Westworld
Photograph by John Johnson/HBO

And it is entertaining. Bernard, once he’s figured out the best of all possible timelines, goes forth on a mysterious adventure with Ashley Stubbs, who survived last season’s wounds. A lot of time has passed, as we know, but Stubbs is ready to help Bernard, even as the latter doesn’t explain much to him.

At the beginning of this article, I likened Bernard to Doctor Strange, but I’d also like to compare him to Desmond from the last season of Lost. I’ve had an ongoing theory these past few weeks in which I believe Dolores’ narrative is similar in some fashion to the flash-sideways of Lost’s Season 6. In that season, Desmond is given a glimpse of some form of the afterlife, and the guy becomes pretty Zen. In the flash-sideways themselves, Desmond takes on the role of essentially putting the band back together, because he knows more than just about everyone else.

With this episode, I feel like Bernard is going to do just that. He’s going to get everyone together in order to fight Charlotte, and as he puts it to Stubbs, “[S]ave the world.” Most of their journey in Episode 3, though, involves Bernard testing out whether he really can see every possibility and therefore choose the best version of the future.

It all leads to finding a woman and hitching a ride with her. There are some real Rebel Alliance vibes going on with her, from the way she speaks to the way she doesn’t trust Bernard and Stubbs. If there’s a group of humans or hosts (or both!) who have gathered over the past seven years to fight Charlotte, well, I’m excited to see where the creators take us next week and beyond. I’m a sucker for underground revolutions, and when she takes them back to her people, I love the wariness they have. It speaks volumes about what these individuals have probably gone through for a long time. I hope we get some background for them and judging by the majority of Westworld’s pace this season, it’ll most likely be soon.

Meanwhile, Maeve and Caleb continue to delve deeper into the new Delos park, eventually ending up behind the scenes. It’s thrilling stuff, like the gangster shoot-out in the streets, which of course is meant to evoke the infamous shootout at the Saloon in Season 1. Still, as much as I do love spending time in these Delos park environments, it does slow things down a bit. I kept wanting these two to get past all of this and continue their journey to stop Charlotte.

Heck, Dolores doesn’t even show up in this week’s episode, which would’ve driven me crazy had there been no Bernard, and since I had quite a bit to say about his narrative, I suppose all is forgiven on that front. And, yes, the time spent on Maeve and Caleb going through the new park was entertaining enough, but I was very pleased to see them make it behind the scenes, mainly because of how creepy the operations center is now. Gone are the programmers and engineers, replaced by those scary drone hosts that were introduced in Season 2.

There is plenty of security, though, and the duo finds themselves in the middle of a staged uprising that mirrors the end of Season 1. Lots of guns and bullets, but Maeve and Caleb don’t have time for those shenanigans. They keep moving inward, eventually finding a massive hive of those flies behind a glass wall. We know that those flies are nanobots, but they don’t. They have no idea what’s going on, and before they can do anything, William shows up dressed as the Man in Black again. Now, is there a reason he dresses like this? He was sporting this outfit when he killed Clementine in Episode 2. Can William only kill when he’s the Man in Black? If so, what does that mean?

While that’s going on, Caleb has found who he believes is his daughter, so she must’ve been taken by Charlotte’s people, right? Nope. She’s a host version, and before he can do anything, her head opens up (very Cronenberg-esque) and tons of nanobot flies overtake Caleb. What does this mean for next week? Will Caleb be secretly working for Charlotte now?

I find it very interesting that the two main narratives this week focused on the idea of free will, which to most people is fairly straightforward. One has the ability to choose, or one doesn’t. It can be a lot more nuanced than that. After all, I’d suggest that Bernard’s ability to see all possible futures has given him a lot more free will than either Maeve or Caleb. One could also argue that Caleb has more free will than Maeve because he’s human and she will always not be.

Stubbs sitting in a booth in a diner in Westworld
Photograph by John Johnson/HBO

Free will can also denote power. The more choices one has, the more that person can do. Right now, it’s clear that Bernard has the power, even if Charlotte believes she’s the one with the most. Of course, Doctor Strange didn’t snap his fingers at the end of Avengers: Endgame. He gave that power to someone else. Desmond might’ve been able to gather as many of his friends into that church at the end of Lost, but others had a bigger hand in saving the world.

Dolores is ultimately the sun of Westworld. Everything seems to revolve around her journey in some way. Whatever is going on with her, Bernard has something to do with it. I’m positive about that. “Annees Folles” was the French version of the American roaring ’20s. The title could be referring to the new Delos park featured in this episode, but it could also refer to Charlotte’s time.

I get the feeling Charlotte believes she’s already won, and I will admit she’s close. Everything ends, though, and so too will her reign. I cannot wait for next week.

Written by Michael Suarez

I write and occasionally teach English classes. When I'm not doing either, I'm watching something awesome, reading something awesome, listening to something awesome, eating something awesome, or resting. Actually, not everything I do is awesome, but I'm okay with that. My loves include Lost, cinema from the '90s and aughts, U2, David Bowie, most of Star Wars, and - you know what? I love a lot of things. More things than I hate.

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  1. Akecheta was one of the first hosts. He shows up in modern form in the scene where they are trying to fund the park where Dolores plays the piano. I swear sometimes you haven’t watched all the episodes. To me, Akecheta dressed up isn’t new at all.

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