Westworld season 4 review: Dystopian drama is true blockbuster TV
Thandiwe Newton and Aaron Paul are a double act this season.
It has been two years since the divisive third season of Westworld, but now the epic sci-fi drama returns with more cryptic puzzles to solve and even more enigmatic characters to discover.
When we last left off, Westworld had become a cyber-thriller in a cityscape akin to the likes of Blade Runner, but left us on a semi-apocalyptic note as society appeared to collapse following the revelation that the human race was being directed by an all-powerful computer named Rehoboam.
The original android host Dolores Abernathy is now dead but, in the new episodes, the ever-magnetic star Evan Rachel Wood returns as a new character named Christina.
A timid, creative and troubled figure, Christina is an enigmatic character in a futuristic New York who worries about work and is encouraged into romance by her warm flatmate (played by Oscar-winner Ariana DeBose) - but the importance of Wood's new character is an intriguing mystery for now as we explore her life.
There are touches of The Matrix and its recent sequel, The Matrix Resurrections, in how it handles the mystery of Christina here, leading us to question the nature of her reality.
There is an element of a psychological thriller and, while somewhat disconnected from the rest of the action, it is an intriguing thread to explore and thankfully we still have Wood along for the ride.
However, what of the sharp-tongued Maeve Millay (Thandiwe Newton) and the human "outlier" Caleb Nichols (Aaron Paul), who we last left surveying a fiery Los Angeles?
Well, we pick up with both of these individuals seven years on and both are dealing with greatly different circumstances and in a much-changed world. However, a dangerous new threat emerges to draw them back together.
Thankfully, Breaking Bad alum Paul remains as likeable as ever, while Newton continues to be the scene-stealer she always has been and now that her confused arc from the third season has been ditched, she has a more believable journey to go on with Caleb by her side.
Of course, Westworld would not be Westworld without some sinister antagonists with some rather disconcerting plans, and this time it once again comes in the form of Ed Harris's Man in Black - but now a host copy of the original William - and the vengeful host Charlotte Hale (herself a copy of Dolores), played to icy perfection by Tessa Thompson.
Last but not least, Jeffrey Wright also returns as the pacifist host Bernard Lowe who we last saw plugged into the virtual paradise known as The Sublime. Whatever he finds there we cannot say, but rest assured it will only pose more questions and, thankfully, a much more defined purpose for Bernard going ahead - with Luke Hemsworth's sarcastic Ashley Stubbs by his side.
Westworld has made a habit of reinventing itself each season. The first (The Maze) was the journey to sentience for our hosts with the backdrop of western antics, followed by the chaotically-structured host revolution of the second season (The Door), then the occasionally haphazard high-tech thriller of the third run (The New World).
Now the fourth run takes some of the best of each season to deliver a cocktail of apocalyptic drama, baffling mystery and a nice dose of body horror.
With these elements, the charismatic ensemble and the ever-gorgeous score from Ramin Djawadi - seriously, some beautiful orchestral and piano covers of Lana Del Rey and Frank Ocean feature here - Westworld season 4 has the elements to deliver one of its best seasons yet.
Let's just hope it sticks the landing.
This review is based on the first four episodes made available to review.
Westworld season 4 premieres on Sky Atlantic and NOW from Monday 27th June 2022. Westworld seasons 1 to 3 are available now on Sky and NOW – you can sign up for Sky TV here. Check out more of our Sci-Fi coverage or visit our TV Guide to see what's on tonight.
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