[WARNING: The following contains MAJOR spoilers for Westworld Season 4, Episode 4, “Generation Loss.”]
How much enjoyment you get out of Westworld’s fourth midseason finale is dependent on how bonded you are to at least one long-term character on the “robots vs. humans” show remaining human.
“Host Caleb” theories had been swirling for weeks, and while “Annees Folles” proved them wrong, “Generation Loss” proves them right, in a way. Caleb (Aaron Paul) is, indeed, a host. Most of the theories regarding how he wound up that way, however, were wrong. Here’s how it happens.
Timeline #1: Maeve, Caleb, The Host in Black and Hale-ores
Poor Caleb. As Maeve (Thandiwe Newton) said, those flies did like him. While he struggles in the human-testing room, Maeve fights against the host version of The Man in Black (Ed Harris), eventually dispatching him and shutting off Hale-ores’ (Tessa Thompson) machine. Here, Hale-ores also reveals her plan: The park is a front to get every human attendee infected by those flies, and then, when they go out into the world, they’ll spread the disease to everyone else.
Maeve and Caleb head back into the park, hoping to find a way out of there and a means to cure the infected Caleb. (Hale-ores refused to tell them the antidote, so they drag her along, too.) They opt to steal a laundry vehicle being used to bootleg moonshine, but the machine starts working again, and they’re attacked. Caleb, partly under the parasite’s control, almost shoots Maeve. Before he can pull the trigger, a random guest stabs him in the side.
They get away in the moonshine car, and as they drive, a dying Caleb asks Maeve if she’s going to leave him like she did at the lighthouse. As for what happened there, Caleb got shot after blowing up the final Rehoboam. Maeve saved his life, but when he woke up from a coma, she was gone — and even now, her disappearance stings. Turns out, she didn’t actually vanish. “I sat at your bedside for weeks, fearing the worst,” she tells him, as flashbacks show her sitting on his bed and holding his hand. “I was forced to confront something I’d never confronted before: mortality. The finality of death in your kind.”
She says she “had a vision” of what life could look like for him, and that it was extraordinary. Maeve goes on to tell Caleb that humans and hosts are “locked in a perpetual struggle,” and she wanted him to have something real to fight for. For seven years, she stayed away. But one day she got curious, and she reached out through the grid to find him. That’s how she shorted out the whole town in the first episode… and, as Caleb realizes, how Hale-ores found them.
They get to a Delos construction site where they’re meant to meet Caleb’s men. They start to haul Hale-ores into a bunker when bullets fly. The Host in Black is there! Maeve gives Caleb a gun and tells him to take Hale-ores into the bunker, and she goes to deal with her longtime enemy. Caleb’s suffering badly from both his stab wound and the parasite, though, and he appears to be listening when Hale-ores tells him to take the gun and shoot Maeve. Instead, he aims across the sands and kills the Host in Black. Maeve looks back at him and smiles.
And then another gunshot rings out, and Maeve starts to bleed. Caleb’s shots didn’t kill Host-William, and he gets up and shoots Maeve again, then pulls her to him and stabs her. Dying, Maeve hacks into the explosives at the site and, as Caleb furiously attempts to override them, she locks Host-William in an iron grip. “See you in the next life, darling,” she tells Caleb, and then the explosives detonate and she appears to die. But what is death to a host, except an inconvenience — a buzzing fly to swat?
Westworld gives viewers about ten minutes to think Maeve is gone. Caleb screams and blacks out, and when he comes to, Hale-ores taunts him. She says she can rebuild William, but Maeve is a goner: “truly special,” she muses. She asks Caleb if he remembers what happens after this, and slowly, he starts to put the pieces together. Maeve died, and his men came. But they weren’t his men. They were Hale-ores’s, and they killed him.
Having remembered his own death, Caleb freaks out. He pulls the bandage off his wound to reveal he was never hurt (there are several bandages on the floor in this scene, a nice touch), and, panicking, he says, “I’m me.” Hale-ores gives a chilling smile. “You’re certainly a version of you,” she says. “The 274th, I believe.” She won the war against humanity by infecting children with the fly parasite, and now, 23 years later, she controls the human race.
With that, Caleb “comes to” in the real world, where he’s in a glass enclosure with Hale-ores. He runs away, out into the street, where he hears a loud noise coming from a tower. Everyone on the street except for him freezes, and Hale-ores walks over to him. “Welcome to my world,” she says.
Timeline #2: Christina and Teddy (?)
For those bummed that James Marsden didn’t come back after that impactful first-episode ending, never fear. Teddy — or someone who looks a lot like him — is here! Christina (Evan Rachel Wood) is having a tough time after her trip to the hospital, and Maya (Ariana DeBose) notices she painted the Tower on her canvas. Maya also tells Christina about a dream she had involving flies killing her family at a picnic, which, after Hale-ores’ speech to Caleb, now seems less like a nightmare and more like a repressed memory.
That night, she and Maya go out to dinner again — human “hosts” in loops, anyone? — and her date is Teddy. They hit it off right away, and Christina says she feels like she knows him. They talk, they flirt, and it’s not clear whether they’re Teddy and Dolores or Christina and a mysterious suitor, but they’re happy together. And if you can’t tell, does it matter?
Timeline #3: Bernard, Stubbs and Frankie
Yep, Aurora Perrineau is, indeed, Frankie. Who could’ve guessed?
The episode saves this reveal for its final few minutes, but it should’ve known Westworld’s audience would guess this twist a long, long time ago. Anyway, Bernard (Jeffrey Wright) and Stubbs (Luke Hemsworth) get separated when the teams of resistance fighters go on different missions. Bernard goes with Frankie to the site where he says the weapon should be, noting that for Frankie, it’s “personal.” As Bernard knows, Frankie thinks they’ll find her father’s body out there in the sands.
They do find a body, but it’s not Caleb’s. “That weapon I told you about?” Bernard says, scooping away layers of sand. “It’s still here.” He uncovers Maeve’s body, perfectly preserved, and clearly, she’s going to be essential in the fight against Hale-ores.
- I’m not sure what the point was of having Hale-ores emphasize how gone, un-rebuildable and special Maeve was only for her to show up again minutes later. To that end, why wouldn’t Hale-ores have dug up Maeve and made sure no one could bring her back?
- Although it’s the most she’s been personally impacted by it, Caleb is not the first time Maeve’s had to confront death in humans. What about Lee Sizemore (Simon Quarterman)? Granted, they weren’t as close as Caleb and Maeve, but it’s odd that the writing seemed to forget poor Sizemore died a human death for her in Season 2.
- Did no one tell Caleb that Maeve visited him? I couldn’t tell if he and Uwade (Nozipho Mclean) were together in the flashbacks — she could’ve been his nurse from the way she was operating the machines and tending to him. Whether they were or weren’t an item, would Uwade never have seen Maeve at the hospital or asked Caleb about her?
- I hope Caleb and Maeve reunite at some point because there’s potential for a fantastic scene there. He thinks she’s dead, and she’ll learn from Frankie that he’s presumed dead. How would he react to seeing her again? How would she react to him being a host? For that matter, how would Caleb react to seeing a grown-up Frankie?!
- Turning Caleb into a host is likely going to be controversial since much of his character was based around being a relatable, everyday human. It also feels inevitable, in a way. Given the time jump, turning him into a host was the show’s only option to keep Aaron Paul around without him needing to wear aging prosthetics in every episode, or the character having to grapple with the long-term effects of the fly parasite.
- Regarding the title: “generation loss” refers to how data loses its quality when it is copied. Is it perhaps a reference to Caleb being the 247th version of himself?
- Now it seems like everyone’s in the same timeline. Bernard and Frankie are going to revive Maeve, while Caleb’s being fidelity-tested by Hale-ores. Christina works in the building where that’s happening, probably scripting stories that keep humans in line. The major mystery now is whether she and Teddy are human, which I have my doubts about. Teddy’s “job” matched too closely with his park backstory.
- Rating: 3.5/5. “Generation Loss” was intense, with a variety of surprising twists. A few plot holes took me out of the storytelling, and Maeve’s speech was a bit overwritten. Overall, I’m still enjoying the show far more than in Season 3 and am excited to see what’s next.
Westworld, Sundays, 9/8c, HBO