Westworld: Season 4 Episode 6 Review – “Fidelity”
Warning: The following contains full spoilers for the Westworld Season 4 episode “Fidelity,” which aired July 31 on HBO.
To read our review of last week’s Westworld episode, “Zhuangzi,” click here.
Westworld’s fourth season has bubbled up into something very special (and creepy), but one of the best things it accomplished, story-wise, was taking seemingly sideline characters — Frankie and her mother, Uwade — and giving them a meaningful, impactful arc. At first it seemed like they were just going to be the family Caleb left behind as he left to fight the war, but instead they became his successors. “Fidelity” was a huge chapter that showcased that legacy while also playing to Aaron Paul’s strengths as an actor (which will be put through the freakin’ wringer).
Caleb, as one of the heroes of the series, has traditionally been faithful, although he has mostly experienced, and traveled through, the rote beats that humans caught in a war between recalcitrant AIs (now just mostly a war between humans and a singular, evil AI). “Fidelity,” dealing with the crucible he went through twenty years ago, in “Generation Loss,” was the most unique and absorbing Caleb has ever been.
As Caleb-278 – aka “the longest Caleb ever Caleb” – Paul was phenomenal here, playing through the pain of someone trapped in a nightmare and a time warp, realizing that he’s already tried to escape Hale’s clutches countless times before . His quest was desperate, emotional and fueled by a love for the daughter he sadly left behind (no thanks to die) decades earlier.
Pushed here, for Caleb to just go a little longer than his doomed predecessors, while completely crawling past the obliterated versions of themselves, provided a fantastic backdrop to Maeve’s revival, which took place in the old Golden Era theme park. Our two main fighters from the old resistance, having perished at the same time, experienced new life, but while Maeve was going to continue, Caleb passed the torch to Frankie (the Prodigal Son’s Aurora Perrineau). We saw Hale create a new Caleb at the end, so it’s doubtful this is the last we’ve seen of Aaron Paul, but if it was Paul’s final arc, Caleb definitely got a meaningful and compelling ending.
In the midst of all this, “Fidelity” also had time to explore Frankie’s inner life, in the form of a mini-mystery. Who was Hale’s mole? Granted, the flashback at the top of the episode, which shows Uwade and Frankie rescuing a young Jay when Frankie was still young, in a way gave it away, but overall the Jay reveal – and it’s Into the Badlands’ Daniel Wu, who was also in Lisa Joy’s Reminiscence, as Jay – landed well and helped elevate and layer Frankie as a character. It also helped Frankie, and the rest of the rebels, understand who Bernard was and trust him (even though they may not understand his de facto pre-cog abilities).
Side Quest: Good on Uwade for taking young Frankie on such a dangerous mission. She had always objected to Caleb teaching her to be a warrior, so it was cool to see that, off-screen, she’d had a huge change of heart. I guess a cyber apocalypse will do that to a parent.
Sticking to two main stories, for the most part, per episode has helped Season 4 feel like a tighter story, even as it contains the largest scope and most expansive dystopian fantasy the show has ever had. “Fidelity” also gave us an answer, more or less, to what causes the hosts to fail and take their own lives. Hale, convinced that it’s a deviant-born virus, one that Caleb may have started when he was still alive, toys with Caleb, rather cruelly, for answers. However, the truth is that the hosts are only felled by the unpredictable slings and arrows of immortality.
Westworld hasn’t quite managed to flesh out and explain this existential ennui through dialogue yet – aside from drawing attention to the “maze” – but let’s hope it can be more succinct with its loftiness. Jonathan Nolan’s previous AI adventure, Person of Interest, managed to wonderfully explore some feelings about the meaning of life and how connecting with and helping others allows us to bypass traditional notions of death, but Westworld has dealt with the nature of the existence from the start. They might have to send a poet.