It’s the damndest thing: after spending two full seasons trying to get out of the park, the most enticing thing about HBO’s new enigmatic teaser trailer for Westworld Season 4 is the suggestion the robots might be going home. Have you ever seen anything so full of splendor?
It’s hard to say otherwise while watching the new Westworld trailer. There we again see the bright blue skies and wide open prairies that marked the first two seasons of the show. And it’s by far the best thing the sizzle reel. You see it hinted at as Bernard (Jeffrey Wright) stares at a burning tree under a blazing sun, and again in its more insidious form when an apparently still enslaved host offers an unseen visitor their choice of white or black hats.
Now, admittedly, there is some wiggle room as to whether what we’re seeing are scenes set in the future for these characters’ adventures or just flashbacks of their past. The Bernard sequence, for instance, certainly looks like it could be one of those visions the poor put-upon host is prone to have. And as we all know, Old Man William (Ed Harris) was never happier than when he was sadistically torturing hosts around the homestead.
However, one brief tease of William in his Man in Black getup, shooting a Delos park staff member as he kneels by one of their handy-dandy futuristic vehicles, is telling. After all, in Westworld Season 3, the William we’d followed throughout different points of his life was slaughtered by a doppelgänger robot (remember?). This host was working for Tessa Thompson’s new character, who looks like Charlotte Hale but was really a host with Dolores’ mind—yeah, we agree that was muddled and anticlimactic too.
Yet perhaps for that reason, Westworld Season 4 is strongly teasing a return to the old ways after the fairly disappointing third season. When Westworld began, it was an intentionally open-ended question on what kind of future would exist where the rich would rather play make-believe in the Old West than presumably sail their yachts or indulge in their technological wonders. We got glimpses of it in Westworld Season 2 as the hosts, led by a fiery Evan Rachel Wood, fought for robo-revolution and a freedom from humanity’s pernicious control.
But honestly, after getting a good look at what this world really looks like outside of the park in season 3? Yeah, I think most of us got why humans liked going to Westworld. We found the park far preferable, too, to a glum vision of the future where everything is controlled by an algorithm that might as well have been called Facebook: Final Form Achieved. And one wonders if that reaction got into the feedback loop for showrunners Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy as well. Sure, the future is teased within the Westworld Season 4 trailer to greater degrees than ever before, complete with a hint of our first look at the New York City of tomorrow. But could that too just be a Delos Park since it seems odd everyone’s doing the waltz in the Village on a sunny afternoon?
Maybe the new season will reveal that everything we’ve been watching is a park within a larger park? It’d make about as much sense as last season…
Westworld Season 4 begins on Sunday, June 26 at 9pm on HBO.