Westworld – Season 4 Episode 5 “Zhuangzi” Recap & Review


Episode 5 of Westworld Season 4 starts with William boasting about the perfect world the Hosts have crafted for themselves. This world is, of course, indicative of what Charlotte has done with “Hale City”. The balance between those who are in control and those who are not is very prevalent here. And in this case, those who aren’t in control are the poor humans caught in the tendril chokehold of the tower.

William is called away from the table he’s currently terrorizing in a bar to visit a crime-scene. With bodies lining the hallways, he’s brought up to a hotel room where a girl called Hope who is “2 years old and ready to transcend” sits, blood-soaked with a crazed Look in her eyes.

This is a Host, and apparently she’s playing the game. William decides to take her back where she came from. After this, William returns to his table just as before, relinquishing his tight chokehold over these poor humans.

Meanwhile, Christina awakens in her “perfect world” after connecting with Teddy last episode. She heads out and makes her familiar walk to Olympiad, determined to continue her narratives just as before. While sitting at her desk, she decides to start a brand new narrative, just as before. This time she fleshes out her old Dolores story – with her boss listening in.

Outside, Charlotte continues to push her nightmare vision, encouraging people to dance in the streets, forcing a piano player to play until his fingers are bloodied while others go about their day oblivious to what’s happening.

Charlotte is her own God and rasps that she’s bored. It’s apparently been years since this place has been up and running, and they created this place to satisfy their needs and indulge in the same pleasures that humans have been projecting onto them. But it’s not having the desired effect.

William brings Charlotte to the Tower, where it seems the humans are “infecting” the Hosts. That crazed Host from earlier in the episode is the latest in what’s becoming an epidemic. Giving the Hosts are free and able to do what they want has caused some of them to fly off the handle.

The dead girl we saw outside’s story came about as part of a maniacal episode while tracking down Outliers. These are essentially the colloquial name for humans living and hiding in the city – and for whom the signals aren’t working on.

They’re isolated and alone – with Hosts sent out to track down and kill them. There’s no problem with the system but seeing Hosts take their own life is unprecedented. There are 38 dead Hosts in total, all having committed suicide after speaking to Outliers. This is becoming a big problem, and Charlotte sends William out to take care of it.

Meanwhile, Stubbs, J and the other rebels arrive on the outskirts of the city. Now, the reason these guys were in the desert to begin with is because it stops the signals from reaching them. They’re intending to find an Outlier – the same Outlier that William is after. But despite keeping themselves safe all this time, they just wander right into the heart of the city and end up having to fight off all the humans. As Tony Stark would say: ” Not a great plan.”

Still, they somehow manage to save the Outlier in the wake of all this carnage, shooting William on the rooftop and taking off back whence they came on the docks.

Christina meets Teddy on the outskirts of the city, who urges her to look deeper into her own reality. Although she doesn’t see the tower, she does realize that Teddy is the one who saved her from Peter that night.

It now also becomes clear that Christina’s role as a narrative constructor is directly tied with controlling the Humans. As the Hosts now have the power, courtesy of the tower, she’s essentially a God of her own creation. She can craft the narrative in her own vision – meaning Charlotte may actually have a rival here.

Teddy encourages Christina to head home, given they’ve lingered for too long, but not to trust anyone. In doing so, she ends up in a meeting with Charlotte, who’s there to check up on her and see how things are. She brushes off Charlotte’s questioning, deciding against mentioning Teddy but starting to understand what’s happening around her now.

Over at Olympiad, Christina is questioned by her boss who’s worried about her behaviour. As he begins grilling her, Christina speaks up and manages to control her boss. She doesn’t “freeze all motor functions” though, but instead narrates her boss’ actions.

Sending him home, Christina checks out all the different narratives across the city in peace, realizing the world is just a playground for a wider narrative that she’s constructing. Christina finally realizes what’s happening and can now see the Tower too. She meets Teddy that night and realizes, with horror, that she’s the one writing everything – and she’s done all this herself.

As for William, he shows up to see the real William, the one Charlotte has captured, asking who or what he is. Host William is convinced that humanity have a virus that’s infecting them. William smiles and urges the robot to instead question the nature of his own reality.

The Episode Review

Westworld returns this week with a time-jump and almost a reset of sorts after last week’s shocking mid-season finale. I know it’s not a finale but the way the story was constructed felt like the first half of a play coming to a natural crescendo; the rising applause and buzz of expectation drowning out the shocks and narrative implications.

This show may have done irreversible damage to its viewership after season 3 but that’s not to say Westworld doesn’t have its positives. The visuals and music are fantastic, while the role reversal for the Hosts and humans has a real poetic edge to it.

It’s also interesting to see the Hosts start to lose control and go crazy with a lack of direction. That feeds back into the whole idea of purpose and destiny, which are both flirted with beautifully here.

However, the whole idea of Stubbs and the other rebels “sneaking” into this city and then being ambushed by everyone just seems like a foolhardy plan and a rather haphazard way of exuding exposition about the current situation our characters find themselves in.

I’m also not quite sure we needed the full explanation at the end with Teddy to close the episode out either, given Christina’s work as a narrator and the clues along the way have helped to flesh this out. However, these are minor nit-picks in what’s otherwise a decent episode, setting things up for next week’s follow-up.

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You can check out our review for Westworld Season 4 here!


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