Entertainment

'Westworld' Is Running on Vibes at This Point

HBO's sentient robot series, which has returned for a fourth season, remains confounding as ever.

HBO
HBO
HBO

To prepare to attend the Season 4 premiere of Westworld, hosted at Lincoln Center and featuring a man in a robot costume handing out vodka pomegranate shots in test tubes, I tried to remember what happened in the previous season’s finale. It’s been a long time since May 2020, and words like “Rehoboam” had been stored so deeply in my memory you would think I was a host waking up from a long slumber. (That’s a little Westworld humour for you.)

I recalled that there was a huge AI, programmed by a man named Engerraund Serrac played by Vincent Cassel, which controlled human beings by designating those who were not productive members of society as “outliers.” Evan Rachel Wood’s escaped host Dolores uses one such outlier-Caleb, played by Aaron Paul-to help incite a rebellion eventually joined by Maeve (Thandiwe Newton). There’s also, frankly, a lot of other stuff going on, including Tessa Thompson’s Charlotte Hale, a cloned robot of Dolores that has evolved and is building an army of hosts, one of which is an exact replica of Ed Harris’ William/The Man in Black, who subsequently murders his human counterpart.

This is all to say that, yes, in its fourth season, which jumps ahead eight years, Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy’s Westworld remains confounding, but also able to be appreciated on a simple vibes level. You can try to theorize and figure out what the hell is going on, but isn’t it better just to sit back, relax, and listen to the orchestral cover of Lana Del Rey’s “Video Games,” which rips?

HBO
HBO
HBO

Westworld takes itself very seriously and is also extremely goofy, all of which is still present in the first new episode, which opens with Harris’ Man in Black taking over a data mining facility run by a cartel. Harris’ character goes about doing this by wielding some sort of modified flies, which can make people do his bidding. Sure! Okay! Meanwhile, in New York, Evan Rachel Wood is now “Christina,” who seems to maybe not realize she is a robot-and who’s to say she is anyway? She works at a gaming company called Olympiad Entertainment (which seems pretty nefarious if you ask me) programming non-playable characters. It seems like a low-level gig, except she keeps getting calls from a man who is telling her she’s controlling his life. She also has a fun new roommate played by Oscar winner Ariana DeBose, whose role is probably bigger than “fun new roommate.” Oh, and, James Marsden is back, watching over Christina, formerly his robot lover Dolores. How? No clue.

The third and fourth storylines of this hour involve Caleb, who is now married with a kid, but afraid of being persecuted, and Maeve, who has been living off the grid until she’s attacked by William’s henchman. She comes to get Caleb and they ride off to enact justice or something. Other characters like Jeffrey Wright’s Bernard and Thompson’s Charlotte, have yet to be seen, but will presumably figure into the rest of the season somehow.

As overwhelming as the plotting is, Westworld continues to be a very stylish show, trading in its past seasons’ cowboy aesthetics for stark futuristic design. Newton is a blast as the fully badass Maeve, who this season might have a motivation beyond getting back to her robot daughter, and Wood gives Christina a captivating, haunted blankness.

At this point, you sort of have to admire Westworld‘s resistance to crowd pleasing. We’re so far beyond the lauded robot cowboy show at this point, I’ve swerved back around into begrudgingly respecting the Nolans’ absurdly complicated narrative. There are hints that this season is going to take on concepts of crypto, but I don’t really care. I’m just chilling out to “Video Games” and trying not to think too hard about anything happening on screen.

Get the latest from Thrillist Australia delivered straight to your inbox, subscribe here.

Esther Zuckerman is a senior entertainment writer at Thrillist. Follow her on Twitter @ezwrites.

Entertainment

Why the Shocking Twist in 'Bodies Bodies Bodies' Is So Killer

The A24 horror-comedy has a lot to say about how logged on we are today.

A24
A24
A24

This story contains spoilers about the ending of Bodies, Bodies, Bodies.Even if you’ve tried to game the TikTok algorithm to feed you videos from #fashiontok, #foodtok, or whatever else you might be interested in, when you open the app, you tend to be inundated with a whole lot of discourse. In many ways, it’s incredible how attuned young people are in knowing who they are and how comfortable they are having frank conversations. But in other ways, sometimes it can feel like quick-hit platforms have a tendency to deduce real issues or strip things of their meanings-whether that’s teens self-diagnosing themselves with mental illness, or people labelling musicians as “female or male manipulator artists” without ever listening to their music.

A24’s latest horror comedy Bodies Bodies Bodies (out now in theatres) about a group of 20-somethings partying during a hurricane that turns into a hunt for a killer is like a movie downloaded from the current millennial-Gen-Z cusp moment of the internet we’re in. When the trailer for the movie directed by Halina Reijn and written by Sarah DeLappe, based on a story from “Cat Person” author Kristen Roupenian, dropped earlier this year, it made that very clear. In just over a minute and a half, we hear the cast of cool girl breakouts yelling, “You’re always gaslighting me,” “you fucking trigger me,” “you’re so toxic,” and “you’re silencing me.” Even the movie’s tagline is, “This is not a safe space.”

Bodies Bodies Bodies is very much logged onto millennial/Gen Z social media-isms throughout, from lines hilariously pieced together by the Twitter zeitgeist to scenes featuring TikTok dances. The movie operates on a delectable kind of slasher-movie paranoia, making the audience just as unsure as the slumber party gone wrong with who is killing them off left and right. But given how much of a playful satire it is of contemporary youth culture, it ends up being a twist that feels all but inevitable, and couldn’t be more razor-blade sharp.

A24
A24
A24

Once the torrential downpour stops and the sun comes up, it seems as if Maria Bakalova‘s Bee is about to be our Bodies Bodies Bodies final girl, now that she’s realized how much her relationship with Sophia (Amandla Stenberg) is based on lies. As a test to see how easily Sophie can lie-and therefore deny killing all of her friends from midnight until dawn-Bee asks her if she cheated on her with Myha’la Herrold’s Jordan. It’s a fact that Bee already knows to be true, considering she came across a pair of panties in Sophie’s car that matched a bra she noticed in Jordan’s bag. When Sophie denies it, Bee tries to take her phone (which Jordan admitted would have texts about their recent hook-up on it), and the two start fighting outside in the remnants of the storm. Bee eventually pulls a phone out of the mud, and it looks like the WiFi and cell phone service that was gone all night is finally back. Thinking she’ll pull up the evidence she needs-and confirmation to get the hell out of there-she’s surprised when Sophie says, “That’s not my phone,” and even more surprised to see what’s on it.

It turns out that it belongs to David, Pete Davidson’s coked-out rich kid character whose parents’ house they’re partying at and was the first one to die in the movie. They know it’s David’s phone because it opens to a TikTok, soundtracked by the lockdown classic TikTok song “Bored In The House” by Curtis Roach and Tyga, that shows him waving around his dad’s decorative but very real sword (!) to try to open a champagne bottle (!), idiotically waving it towards himself, only to slice right into his own neck. As it turns out, nobody killed David-not an intruder, not Jordan, not Sophie, not Alice’s (Rachel Sennott) older boyfriend Greg (Lee Pace) she knew nothing about (except for the fact that he was a Libra moon), and not their friend Max (Conner O’Malley) who left early the night before. David accidentally killed himself, and hysteria is what killed everybody else. You could say that it’s almost predictable that it turns out to be a clout-chasing TikTok that led to the movie’s murderous spiral of events. Although, that would undercut what Reijn and DeLappe are trying to say with the darkly funny movie with an especially dark, funny twist. Like TikTok or Twitter, the movie is a constant feed of discourse, buzzwords, and blanket statements that snarkily laugh at and with its ensemble. There are many moments in particular that drive this home-like Alice trying to be sympathetic in talking about mental health, only to make the conversation about her, and David ridiculing his girlfriend Emma (Chase Sui Wonders) for getting all of her thoughts from Twitter after she says he “gaslights” her. On top of that, David picks up the sword and tries to go viral to begin with because his masculinity felt threatened by Greg, who did the trick in the first place.

While it would be downright terrifying if a party with people who are supposedly your best friends turned into a slasher flick, in Bodies Bodies Bodies, the horror isn’t a vengeful or heartless killer. Everybody may become a psychopath of sorts when they feel physically threatened or legitimately toxic name-calling and backstabbing ensues, but Bodies Bodies Bodies and its devilish twist is about the humour and horror in the devoid way we can use social media today more than anything else. Like Sophie and Bee’s terrified realization at the end, it makes you want to log off for awhile… right after you post a 100K-worthy tweet about it.

Get the latest from Thrillist Australia delivered straight to your inbox, subscribe here.

Sadie Bell is the entertainment associate editor at Thrillist. She’s on Twitter and Instagram.

Related

Our Best Stories, Delivered Daily
The best decision you'll make all day.