The following contains spoilers for Westworld S4E4 “Generation Loss” (directed by Paul Cameron and written by Kevin Lau & Suzanne Wrubel)
S4E4 of Westworld is not playing around. “Generation Loss” could’ve worked as a season finale. That we got this in the middle of an 8-episode season makes me very excited for what else is to come.
Now, where to start? I think I’ll do my best to talk about the three main narratives of Episode 4, even as they overlap with one another.
Bernard, Stubbs, and the Revolution
Last week, Bernard’s ability to see all possible futures led him to an underground revolutionary group. This week, we get some information about them and the world they inhabit.
Bernard gets the woman from last week on his side, even as she butts heads with those in her group about priorities. She wants to trust that Bernard can find a weapon that can help them in their fight, but the others don’t believe they can trust strangers. Standing in front of a loaded gun to prevent their deaths and pointing a gun of her own at the gunman (a colleague) seems to make her point concerning just how much trust she’s put into Bernard and Stubbs.
Of curious note is this “extraction” that the gunman, Jay, seems hellbent on. Thankfully, a third party steps in to calm things down. She suggests that Jay go forward with the extraction and that she will go with Cee to find this so-called weapon. Jay takes Stubbs along, and that’s the last we see of him in Episode 4.
The group, now two parties, go their separate ways, one off to the extraction and the other to find the weapon. Bernard takes Cee and her group to a hole in the ground and, judging by the machinery in the background as they pull up, possibly a former dig site. After taking cover from a drone in the sky, Bernard figures out where they need to dig.
At this point, I need to mention that I’m not consistent with figuring things out ahead of time whenever I watch or read something. In Season 1 of Westworld, I was able to figure out that William’s narrative was actually taking place in the past and not the present pretty early in that season. I was not, however, able to figure out that Bernard was a host and not human.
I say this because when Maeve and Caleb end up at a dig site at the end of their narrative in “Generation Loss,” I was able to connect things pretty quickly. “Oh, man, this is in the past!” I thought to myself. Kudos to me. That said, there’s another reveal that totally blew past me as a possibility until the moment it happens. Cee is none other than Caleb’s grown-up daughter, Frankie.
Not only does Bernard’s narrative not take place during the same time as Maeve and Caleb’s, it takes place quite a bit of time later. I’ll discuss this in more depth later when I get to what happens with Maeve and Caleb in Episode 4. For now, let’s focus on Bernard’s weapon.
Cee’s group uses a large machine to blow the sand away to make the last bit of digging easier. As Bernard digs, it becomes apparent that Cee is probably the only one who believes there’s a weapon buried there, but as she tells him:
“I have my own reasons for digging.”
Bernard knows her reasons, but he engages her nonetheless:
BERNARD: “You’re looking for your father.”
CEE: “My father’s dead.”
BERNARD: “That’s what you’ve told yourself since you were a child. You can never bring yourself to believe it, can you?”
CEE: “You see what happened here. If it’s true, there’ll be a body.
He leaves it there. I mean, it makes sense that she would want to dig where her father died (again, more on that later), but I guess I’m wondering just how she knows what happened. Whether that gets answered or not isn’t all that important to me, though, because we get to see the weapon. Before it was revealed, I found myself blurting out, “It’s Maeve!” even as my heart went out to Cee (or Frankie, as I’ll be calling her from now on). Her father isn’t there, but the weapon sure is.
And Maeve is a weapon. I totally buy that. For the moment, she seems to be the only host capable of stopping Charlotte. I’m excited to see what happens when Maeve is brought online once again, as well as what happens when she and Bernard team up.
Christina Isn’t Dolores, Except Maybe She Is?
Before the start of the season, co-creator Lisa Joy was quick to tell audiences that though Evan Rachel Wood returned for Season 4, she was not going to be playing Dolores :
“Dolores is dead.”
Wood even elaborated with this :
“She’s a normal woman living in a big city just trying to make it as a writer.”
Fair enough. Christina is not a host. Except I haven’t seen anything in the show itself that tells me unequivocally one way or the other. After all, it’s what happens in Westworld that counts, not simply what the creators or actors say. As I mentioned in my article for Episode 2, I believe what I see in the show, as well as what the show tells me.
There has to be a reason why we see Christina wake up in such a similar fashion to the way Dolores used to back in Season 1. I can see the show making that callback once, but it’s been multiple times, including this episode. I feel like that’s got to mean something. Christina looks like Dolores. Dolores was a host. Until I’m told otherwise, she’s Dolores to me, so I’ll refer to her as Christina-Dolores for the time being.
Just like how Teddy is Teddy, not this guy with whom Christina-Dolores goes on a blind date. I find Teddy’s comment, “I feel like I’ve known you lifetimes,” to be evidence that Teddy knows what’s going on and that this is the Sublime. (Heck, that entire dinner scene feels that way.) This supports the theory I’ve had since Episode 1 of this season that this part of the Westworld‘s narrative is similar to what happened in the flash-sideways in Lost‘s finale season.
However, I can’t help but think that maybe Christina-Dolores is the person who is going to be extracted by the other half of Frankie’s revolutionary group. Maybe Teddy is Teddy, but he’s there to help with said extraction. That might mean that Christina-Dolores is Dolores, or maybe Christina-Dolores is an important human that this group needs for some reason.
Now, as for her narrative in “Generation Loss,” yes, she’s in bed again, but she doesn’t wake up the same way she has been. Her bestie Maya wakes her up because she overslept. Something seems off, and it’s here that we learn that Maya has been having “nightmares.” She describes the previous night’s nightmare to Christina-Dolores. In it, Maya was a kid, out on a picnic with her parents. She says there was a fly that kept bothering them, and even as they chased it away, more would come, until:
MAYA: [T]hey were everywhere. They got my dad first. He was screaming and then my mother tried to help. And they surrounded her, too. I watched them scream and flail. And they went absolutely still.
CHRISTINA-DOLORES: What happened next?
MAYA: Then the flies came for me.
This, of course, sounds just like what we’ve seen with those nanobot flies getting into people this season. Now, if Maya is having nightmares related to her and her parents experiencing this same event, is it reasonable to think that this narrative takes place during the same time as Bernard’s and Caleb’s (I promise, I’m getting to his story)? I believe it is. I suppose it’s fair to assume that at this point, every human has been infected (my word) by these nanobots. What does that mean?
Well, we still don’t have a real time and place for Christina-Dolores’ narrative. Given the very end of “Generation Loss,” it’s reasonable to assume it takes place in the show’s new present, which I believe is about 30 years after the events of Season 3 (unless my math is off, and if so, my bad). It’s been 23 years since Caleb’s death, and 7 years since Season 3’s finale. (Talk about a time jump.) We see the tower, the same one the madman spoke of and the same one Christina-Dolores is now drawing.
In the same scene where she describes her nightmare, Maya sees a painting Christina-Dolores worked on the night before. It’s of the city but with the tower right in the center. This exchange happens:
MAYA: Jesus. What’s it supposed to be?
CHRISTINA- DOLORES: I don’t know. Does it look like anything to you?
Maya doesn’t answer and simply changes the subject to Christina-Dolores’ love life. I can’t help but recall Bernard’s “What door?” or “Doesn’t look like anything to me” in Season 1. This could imply that maybe Christina-Dolores and Maya can’t really see the tower, not completely. If either were hosts, they most likely wouldn’t be able to see it. If they are human with nanobots inside them, well, it could make sense that they would be able to see the tower but not comprehend it.
But who knows? Only time will tell, I suppose.
Maeve & Caleb and William & Charlotte
As we know, a copy of Dolores resides inside a host version of Charlotte. Of course, the world doesn’t know this (unless I’ve forgotten something, and if so, my bad again), so it makes sense that “Charlotte” is seen as the one slowly taking over the world. We know the government has been taking an interest in her and William and their shady dealings. If only they knew what we know.
Not that much would be different. Charlotte and William are just too strong to be stopped at this point. Episode 4 opens where we last left Caleb, in pain and trying to fight the nanobots that have entered his body.
For most of “Generation Loss,” we follow him and Maeve as they make their escape, along with a captured Charlotte. There’s a bit of a showdown between Maeve and William, with the two being taken out by an explosion. I imagine William will be fine, though, since Charlotte might have copies of him ready to go. Maeve, on the other hand, well, we know she gets dug up in the future.
We also get some background for Maeve and Caleb, showing a little of what happened after Season 3’s conclusion. It’s fun and action-packed, but the important part is that they went their separate ways, only for Maeve to eventually reach out to see how Caleb was doing, thereby giving away their locations to Charlotte, which explains how they were both found at the start of this season.
Maeve’s humanity is as strong as ever, in my opinion, and yes, it’s still tied in with her connections from Westworld, specifically her daughter. It’s nice to see that she really does care about Caleb, though, and I guess at this point that shouldn’t be a surprise given Dolores’ experience with him. He’s an easy guy to care about. He’s decent and has the courage to do the right thing.
What is a surprise, at least to me, is that ending. I saw some of it coming, but I didn’t see all of it. Plus, I love how many reveals we get within the span of a few minutes. I love that Cee is revealed to be Frankie. I love that Maeve is the weapon. I love that Bernard’s present is a lot later than we first assumed, as well as Caleb’s present! And, oh man, I love that Caleb is now a host, trapped in a world where Charlotte won.
As I stated earlier, this could’ve been a solid season finale. That we have more episodes still is kind of mind-blowing to me. At this point, I believe we’ve seen everything from the original trailers, so it’s all up in the air now.
Will Caleb continue to fight what seems to be a constantly losing battle to keep whatever humanity he has left? Also, I have my own ideas, but exactly how will Maeve be a weapon to defeat Charlotte?
The first thought I had when “Generation Loss” came to an end was this question: Is this the last season? Maybe this season is it, as co-creator Jonathan Nolan implicitly told Variety two years ago . It would be kind of on brand for the show to go out on its own terms without even telling the audience that what they’re watching are the series’ final chapters.
I’ve rambled, I’m sure, but this show has got my mind racing, and I can’t really describe just how excited I am for next week.
One more thing, though. Remember that post-credits scene for Season 2, with William and his daughter Emily? Will we ever get back to that? Is the reason everything looked a mess in that scene because so much time had passed? If so, have we now caught up to that scene? So many questions and I’ll take whatever answers the creators give us.
1. Cordero, Rosy. “‘‘Westworld’: James Marsden Returns For Season 4; Evan Rachel Wood On Playing A New Character — ATX.” Deadline, 4 June 2022, https://variety.com/2020/tv/features/westworld-season-3-hbo-lisa-joy-jonathan-nolan-1203529268/. Accessed 12 July 2022.
2. Vary, Adam V. “‘Westworld’ Showrunners on the Series’ Bold New Direction for Season 3.” Variety, 12 Mar. 2020, https://variety.com/2020/tv/features/westworld-season-3-hbo-lisa-joy-jonathan-nolan-1203529268/. Accessed 19 June 2022.
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It’s kind of like Lynch’s “Twin Peaks” old repeating mantra: “Is it future or is it past?” But, in “Westworld” it is as if we are pulling threads of the story together out of the sand where Bernard is busy blowing with the biggest Vortex fan I have ever seen.
This flip-flopping of host/human/host is confusing at best. Perhaps what the show is trying to impress upon us is that the line between being human and sentient machine is not so defined in the sand as we would be comfortable believing in this world. Either way, human or sentient, does not exclude either from the inevitable existential dilemma at the end of our narratives. If the hosts are supposed to be better than humans, then maybe that is not the point and, perhaps the point that Charlotte is going to be missing.
If death is the ultimate freezing of our motor functions, even with the hopes of attaining The Sublime as a wistful notion of a machine afterlife, this is in the end no better than the humans hope for a life after death where all our myriad realities can come true—regardless if we choose a white hat or a black hat on the train where angelic projections promise to help us with the most intimate of the details of our choices. If the morality of the hosts and the lack of morality of the humans is the point of their contention, will the world be brought to bare over our inability as humans to remain true to our highest ideals or will the hosts soon see that in removing choices of such delicacy from humans, they become as immoral as the entities they profess to be better than?
Will those choices become self-evident to the emerging sentience of the machine-hosts as they evolve from human mimicry to the sublime knowledge of their souls, waiting to be born from a Maeve or ‘good’ Dolores (The ‘good’ Dolores is in the Lodge with Teddy and cannot leave. Write that in your diary) sleeping in the sand? Or will they stare back at humans, a.k.a Charlotte-Skynet, and proclaim with their most mechanical and dirty hands around our throats that “It doesn’t look like anything to me.”