The following contains spoilers for Westworld S4E8 “Que Será, Será” (directed by Richard J. Lewis and written by Alison Schapker & Jonathan Nolan)
“It’s you, it’s you, it’s all for you
Everything I do
I tell you all the time
Heaven is a place on earth with you”
– Lana Del Rey (“Video Games”)
I’m unsure how I feel about Westworld S4E8, “Que Será, Será.” It’s a fast-paced end to a whirlwind of a season, that’s for sure. It manages to payoff several narratives from Season 4, as well as set up what will most likely be the final season, whenever the heck that’ll be. I know I’ve written about how this season felt like the end, but given the events of Episode 8, I understand how there could be another 8 episodes worth of Westworld’s narrative left to tell.
Even though a big part of me hopes that isn’t the case. Given Christina-Dolores’ closing narration, there are two possibilities: this really is the last season or next season is the last one. Look, I still trust the showrunners to deliver a well-made season of television, but I’m left scratching my head as to why Westworld ended up back where it started. Except, of course, it isn’t really back where it started.
Before I dig into that, let me go character by character:
The host version of William takes centerstage in Episode 8’s cold open. It’s quite a thrilling opening sequence, and although I do appreciate video game references, such as when William kills a sniper host while referring to him as a “camper,” I’m not sure stuff like that fits with what the show presented this season.
Is Charlotte’s new world a video game? It has been referred to as a game, like how hosts hunt down outliers, but I do find it odd that in the last episode of Season 4 we get a new way of looking at things. Why do the showrunners want us to look at the world of the show like a video game all of a sudden?
This might have to do with setting up how the narrative ultimately ends, but I’ll get to that later.
For now, William is having a blast killing everyone (human or host) who crosses his path. And what exactly is his path? Well, the Man in Black doesn’t believe that destroying the world is enough. He heads to the massive servers that house the Sublime, with the intent of destroying that as well. It’s messed up and dark, and I was into it. If William was back to being Westworld’s antagonist, well, it makes sense that he’d take Charlotte’s monstrous deeds up a notch.
Speaking of Charlotte, a few drone hosts resurrect her, and she discovers William’s plan. After watching a message Bernard left for her before his untimely demise, she has a revelation. We, unfortunately, don’t get to see much of her change. As I mentioned earlier, things move quickly in “Que Será, Será.” One moment, she’s the Devil, and the next, she’s the caring God.
In that context, Charlotte’s actions the rest of the episode felt, well, odd. I didn’t buy that farewell scene between her and Clementine. These two never had a strong bond, at least not one that affected me to the point where this scene meant something more than just the plot. And, although I do understand Charlotte letting Clem go, it felt like such a drastic change in character for Charlotte.
To be fair, three things happened to her: 1) she died and was resurrected; 2) she discovered that William put in motion events that would kill not just all humans but hosts as well; 3) Bernard’s message put things into perspective for her. Charlotte was a monster. I believed that. At the same time, we found out in Episode 7 that she ensured the safety of the Sublime. I completely buy that her story would end with her trying to stop William from destroying that place.
After all, she created this version of William. Yes, he’s based on the human with the same face, but host-William comes from Charlotte’s code. He is literally her child, and she has a responsibility as his parent. After a pretty tame cat-and-mouse chase between the two at the Hoover Dam, where the Sublime is housed, Charlotte uses a gun we saw Bernard plant in a previous episode, and William is no more.
The Sublime is saved, and after one last act, Charlotte goes off and kills herself. She understands that all life in the world will end because of her actions. She hopes some form of life will continue on in the Sublime, but killing herself is the only way she can pay for what she has done.
We’ll get to that “last act” in a moment.
Caleb, Frankie, and Stubbs
Well, Stubbs dies saving these two, even while Caleb is in the stages of dying himself. As we know from Season 2, Delos experimented with trying to implant a human consciousness in a host body, but ultimately, the body and mind never gelled. William terminated the program because he came to realize that humans were not meant to live forever. As such, Caleb’s death is incredibly likely, although, since we failed to see him die, and there is most likely one more season on the way, there’s a possibility he could make it.
He doesn’t believe that, though, so once he gets Frankie to safety, he tells her this. It’s quite a touching scene, to be honest. I found myself tearing up a bit. This goodbye was most certainly earned and easily the emotional highpoint of Season 4. Watching Frankie, who wanted to return to her father for so long, ride away on that boat as her father became smaller in the distance was powerful stuff.
I wish “Que Será, Será” had more moments like this one. Again, things move too quickly. The runtime with credits is about 59 minutes. To put that into perspective, the running times for the three previous finales were: 90 minutes for Season 1 and Season 2 and 76 minutes for Season 3. I bring this up because it would’ve been nice to have spent more time with Charlotte’s character growth, Stubbs’s death (which happens in the blink of an eye), and Caleb and Frankie bonding.
I can’t demand a piece of storytelling do as I want. That’s not how it works, nor should it be. As a viewer, though, I can criticize something, especially if I love it. This brings us to the one narrative that deserved far more time than it received.
Christina-Dolores (and Teddy)
As it turns out, Christina really is Dolores. (And if we needed any more confirmation of this, Charlotte calls her Dolores at one point.) Not only that, but Dolores has been in a simulation of the real world the entire time. In fact, it appears that Dolores essentially kept the tower running, and allowed Charlotte to rule the world.
Dolores is the Storyteller, meaning she created identities for all the humans under Charlotte’s control. Essentially, Charlotte imprisoned Dolores to do her bidding, while removing any memory she had of ever being Dolores. That was until Teddy showed up.
But Teddy isn’t Teddy. Not really, and not at all. Teddy, like Dolores’ roommate Maya, was created by Dolores’ subconscious to wake her up. It would be like if Neo subconsciously created both Morpheus and Trinity in order to wake himself up from the Matrix. This is all well and good, but Dolores has no way to escape from her prison.
Thankfully, Bernard’s foresight prevails. Sort of. I’ll get to that in a moment. Going back to Charlotte’s last act before going off to stop William, she removes Dolores from the tower and takes her to Hoover Dam. After killing William, she puts Dolores into the Sublime, along with her power to change things as she sees fit, giving her the powers of the One, just in case anyone really wanted Westworld to become even more like The Matrix films.
In the meantime, Dolores spends time with Maya and Teddy, and even her old self, sporting those golden locks and that iconic blue dress. She wants to figure out who she really is and what she needs to do. And, yes, this all moves very quickly.
Once she finds herself in the Sublime, she makes a choice. Let me go back a little. Apparently, Bernard saw one future where some form of life could survive. This meant the Sublime, which meant convincing Charlotte to get involved, which was apparently pretty easy to do once William was unleashed.
This isn’t enough, though, since, according to Dolores’ narration at the episode’s end, all human life will die, even the outliers, and the only thing left will be the Sublime. But first, for some reason, the Sublime must prove itself by playing one last game. Dolores recreates Westworld one last time, and thus, the final season is set up. I’m assuming.
A Few Things
So, William turns the world into a video game where all life will kill itself, and by the end of “Que Será, Será,” the only world left is a simulation not unlike a video game with no player. Unless Dolores is the player, or every host will be. Maybe there will not be a player. I have no idea.
That’s thrilling, I suppose; going into the supposed last season of Westworld with no real idea of what’s to come. That said, I wasn’t thrilled when the end credits rolled. I was kind of confused.
Not the kind of confusion that comes with following the plot. No, this was confusion involving the showrunners’ decision to keep the narrative going. I mean, look, I love this show, and I will absolutely keep watching new episodes. However, I don’t see why the hosts in the Sublime need to play “one last game.”
As Dolores says:
“Maybe this time, we’ll set ourselves free.”
But aren’t the hosts in the Sublime already free? I guess not, and I guess we’ll see.
For the most part, Season 4 of Westworld was incredible to me. From the jaw-dropping reveal in Episode 4 to the introduction of Frankie, to Charlotte being unhinged, to seeing Maeve kick ass, to seeing Bernard become the Oracle, to Christina being the One, to all the philosophical notions about free will and God. It was quite the ride.
I also fully believe the story told this season was what the showrunners’ intended. After all, the music at the end of Episode 1 was none other than Lana Del Rey’s “Video Games.” That’s some damn good writing, even if I don’t love how everything played out.
Ultimately, I’m just unsure how I feel about it all. Season 4 took the series’ narrative to new places, which was appreciated, but the fast pace didn’t adequately serve the material well enough for me. Allowing moments to breathe would’ve been much more appreciated, and would’ve allowed an episode like “Que Será, Será” to be more definitive.
As things come to a close, I’m unsure as to where the show goes now. If this were it, I think I’d be fine with how the story ended, but because this wasn’t presented as the final season, I’m left up in the air in a way that doesn’t excite me as much as it should. I don’t understand why the hosts in the Sublime need to play one more game, and I’m not sold on why it has to be Westworld again.
I like going back to where it all started because I like circular storytelling. Maybe I just need to relax, but as the song goes:
“Que será será / Whatever will be will be
The future’s not ours to see / Que será será
What will be will be / Que será será”