Westworld Season 4 TV Review


Plot: A dark odyssey about the fate of sentient life on earth.

Review: Like clockwork, a new season of Westworld has debuted on HBO every two years. The most recent season, 2020’s The New World, left the park and introduced the robotic uprising to mainstream society. While still lushly filmed and with a beautiful score, Westworld fans felt a bit underwhelmed by this thematic reboot that deviated from the mysteries presented in the first two seasons. With the lowest ratings and critical scores of the series, Westworld has undergone a bit of a course correct with the fourth season. Reconnecting to the over-arching narrative that made this destination viewing, Westworld‘s fourth season presents another partial reboot that connects with the first two seasons while bringing what happened in the third closer to where it should have gone. While still not as good as where this series started, the fourth season is definitely heading back in the right direction.

Season Four picks up seven years from where we left off. The time jump works both to set distance from the third season as well as put our cast of characters into unfamiliar territory. Last season, Maeve (Thandiwe Newton) and Caleb (Aaron Paul) destroyed Rehoboam and killed Serac (Vincent Cassel) while Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood) seemingly dies and is resurrected in the guise of Charlotte Hale (Tessa Thompson). Through all of this, Bernard (Jeffrey Wright) enters the Sublime to learn how to rebuild the world while William (Ed Harris) ventures to restart Westworld itself. A lot of plot threads were left open for this season which brings everyone back where they left off including a new character Christine played by Evan Rachel Wood alongside new cast-members Aurora Perrineau, Daniel Wu, and Ariana DeBose.

The various characters spend the first episodes of the season (four of which were made available for this review) on separate journeys: Christine looks into her connection to her doppelganger, Maeve and Caleb venture to the new 1930s-themed Delos park, Bernard and Ashley follow the path laid out by the Sublime, and William and Dolores/Charlotte continue to make moves towards their master plan. The pairing off of these characters means they spend a lot of these episodes on their own journeys which I imagine will collide in the second half of the season, but the balance given to each of their plots is substantial. By intercutting between their stories, this season of Westworld keeps the momentum moving towards the inevitable endgame that series creators Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy are beginning to set up.


By the fourth episode, it becomes very apparent that Westworld is not going to stretch things out too long. The consistent reveals from episode to episode introduces new additions to the mythology including a rebellious faction fighting against the Hosts as well as our first glimpse of what this whole story means. As usual, the cast are all at the top of their game, especially Thandiwe Newton and Tessa Thompson who get the meatiest roles for their characters to date. Ed Harris continues to play one of the best villains on television and Aaron Paul’s expanded role is much stronger than in season three. Jeffrey Wright’s development of Bernard from bystander to active participant in what is coming next in this story is intriguing and the one character who seems to have changed the most this season aside from Evan Rachel Wood. Wood, who made Dolores a fan favorite, plays this new character totally differently. It gives the actress the chance to mix things up while still delivering an intrinsic part of the story even if we don’t quite know how or why. The recent reveal that James Marsden would be reprising his role as Teddy is acknowledged early in the season but not explained right away.

This season marks the first in the series that does not feature multiple scripts by Jonathan Nolan. Lisa Joy shares credit on just two episodes while returning writers like Matthew Pitts and Denise The join a roster of new talent. The refreshed writer’s room seems to have done the trick as this season feels far more urgent than the last two seasons while also delivering the trademark elements that made the first season a runaway hit. The player piano tunes are back and composer Ramin Djawadi’s haunting music highlights this dystopian mystery which is at once familiar but also very new. This is clearly the Westworld we have come to know but there is new energy this season that really helps drive the story home in a way that hasn’t been there since the first season. To reveal any plot points beyond what I have already shared would be a disservice to this run. I was lucky enough to binge the episodes made available but I am certain with a weekly release, audiences are going to be dissecting this season like the good old days when it first debuted.

The missteps of season three are primarily rectified with the new season of Westworld. While I have only seen the first half of the season, the narrative is more tightly paced and spends less time talking in riddles and more time laying clues that lead to answers for the series’ overall mystery. The meditative and philosophical elements that distinguished the series from other genre offerings are still central to the story, but with a linear plot this season it all becomes easier to follow than before. With so many characters to juggle, Westworld manages to give each distinct storyline a good amount of screen time without making any of it feel like filler. The show has not been the same since leaving the title theme park but for the first time since the series debuted, Westworld again feels like destination viewing.

Westworld‘s fourth season premieres on June 26th on HBO.




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Source: JoBlo.com

About the Author

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Alex Maidy has been a JoBlo.com editor, columnist, and critic since 2012. A Rotten Tomatoes-approved critic and a member of Chicago Indie Critics, Alex has been JoBlo.com's primary TV critic and ran columns including Top Ten and The UnPopular Opinion. When not riling up fans with his hot takes, Alex is an avid reader and aspiring novelist.