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Westworld: Episode 4 Review

If nothing matters, then why are we doing this?

Episode three spent a great deal of time simply building the characters and world but had one good scene that explored some interesting ideas about consciousness. Episode Four has a lot more action and much less depth. It does; however, feed us some nihilistic nonsense along the way, and I couldn’t help but wonder why.

In the first scene, we return to a glass room where Bernard is once again talking to Dolores. She expresses concern about her world, and this seems to be the first time Bernard has heard her communicating thoughts that are somewhat independent of her programming. So, he gives her a wooden toy he calls The Maze and tells her that if she can find the center of this maze, she can be free. Dolores says she wants to be free, and the scene ends.

All is Chaos. How’s That for a Worldview?

 Meanwhile, the Man in Black, who rescued an outlaw named Lawrence in the previous episode, is riding through the wilderness with his captured convict. They come across a girl with a snake tattoo, and the Man in Black believes she is the key to finding the next clue he needs to solve the mystery of The Maze. She tells him she must rescue her boyfriend, Hector, from prison, and if the Man in Black is willing to do this, she will tell him the story behind her tattoo. The Man in Black agrees. Once he’s rescued Hector, the girl tells him that her family was murdered by a man named Wyatt. The same Wyatt who jumped poor Teddy in the previous episode. The Man in Black starts looking for Wyatt and finds a beaten and battered Teddy along the way.

Now, as Hector is introduced into the narrative, he explains to the Man in Black his worldview, which is basically some trite nonsense about how nothing matters and the world is chaos, and what’s fascinating about this is that the Man in Black agrees. But this makes no sense. For one thing, it’s abundantly clear that the Man in Black is obsessed with The Maze and has some cause he’s fighting for. He’s willing to do horrible things—well, they would be horrible if it weren’t for the fact that he’s dealing with a park full of robots—but all his actions are driven by a purpose. Furthermore, it’s also made clear in this episode that he’s a philanthropist. He has a foundation tha saves the child of another tourist’s life. Granted, he does get grumpy with the tourist for bringing this up while he’s “on vacation,” but the point remains. Why would the writers choose to give this driven character a nihilistic worldview? If nothing matters, why does he want to find The Maze? What’s the point?

It’s also ironic to hear a robot prattling on about chaos when he’s been made by a human mind, which is a source of order. Wouldn’t the Man in Black start to see the problem with this? I mean, here you have a robot basically appealing to chance for his existence when the machine has been created and operates inside a perfectly contained loop. Shouldn’t this prompt the Man in Black to reconsider his nihilistic assumptions? If the writers wanted to give the Man in Black a villainous attitude, wouldn’t it make more sense for him to be angry at all sources of authority, or maybe, even bitter toward a tyrannical god? The answer is obviously yes. The Man in Black is a bored businessman letting out his inner demons in a perverted park as an act of rebellion. His character is defiant, not broken or jaded. Nihilistic characters are not usually active participants in a story. They’re either opportunists or spend most of the story doing nothing because nothing matters. Even the cinematic abomination known as The Last Jedi got that right.

Why the Nihilism, Writers?

But the writers have decided to shoehorn nihilism as a theme into this episode, which makes no sense because our protagonists spend their time taking active steps to advance the plot while screaming about the futility of it all.

And that bring us to Maeve, who is still glitching. However, she’s starting to believe these flashbacks and nightmares of hers are real. While looking at herself in the mirror, she notices a small drop of blood on her undershirt which causes her to have a flashback of a man in a kind of hazmat suit. She draws this man, but when she pulls up a floorboard to hide her drawing, she finds multiple drawings of this figure she’d made in the past. Her quest becomes to find out who the man in the suit is. Eventually, she comes across a group of robotic Native Americans who’ve made a carving of this figure, and although, she can’t get them to tell her about the carving, she learns that Hector, the outlaw who the Man in Black had rescued earlier in the episode, has ties to these Native Americans, so he would know what the carving is. Maeve decides to help Hector with a combination to a safe in exchange for information about the man in the suit. When the outlaw rides into town, she takes him to the room where the safe is located and tells him a number each time he gives her a bit of information.

Turns out, the men in the hazmat suits are considered gods of a sort, and seeing them is thought to be a blessing. Having received her answer, Maeve takes Hector’s knife and cuts open her stomach, pulling out the bullet which has been bothering her this entire time. Of course, while all this has been going on, the Sheriff and his men are hunting for the outlaw, and as soon as Maeve cuts out the bullet, they’re standing on the other side of the door ready to fire if Hector doesn’t come out. He almost does what they say, but Maeve stops him. She tells Hector none of this matters before kissing him, then the Sheriff’s posse shoots the two of them through the door.

Again, the writers choose to go with a nihilistic theme, despite Maeve realizing she’s not insane. If she knows there’s answers out there, and she’s found some of them, why would she assume that nothing matters? Basically, the writers were trying to be preachy without actually paying attention to what was going on in the script.

Episode four is not great. It had no interesting concepts to explore, unlike episode three. But unfortunately, it’s not something you can skip either if you’re going to watch the series. Westworld is not episodic, so you have to wade through the tedious filler so you can find the two or three bits of relevant information you need in order to understand what’s going on. So, let that be a warning to you, should you decide to watch this series for yourself. We’ll cover episode five in the next review.

Gary Varner

Gary Varner is the Assistant to the Managing and Associate Directors at the Center for Science & Culture in Seattle, Washington. He is a Science Fiction and Fantasy enthusiast with a bachelor’s degree in Theater Arts, and he spends his time working with his fellows at Discovery Institute and raising his daughter who he suspects will one day be president of the United States. For more reviews as well as serial novels, go to www.garypaulvarner.com to read more.

Westworld: Episode 4 Review