This article contains spoilers for Westworld season 4 episode 1.
It’s easy to forget a lot of the events of Westworld season 3. Westworld is a…let’s say “busy” show at even its clearest and most coherent. But the show’s third season, which ended more than two years ago, was particularly dense.
You may not recall, for instance, that Dolores met her untimely end in the final episode of Westworld season 3. Or at least we think she did. It’s hard to kill a host that is able to remotely upload its consciousness to seemingly any hard drive. Still, when the supercomputer Rehoboam deleted all of Dolores’s memories at season’s end it felt distinctly final. After all, if a host is just a collection of data, what happens when you permanently take that data away?
Well, we might see what happens near the beginning of Westworld season 4. HBO has made no attempt to hide the fact that Dolores actress Evan Rachel Wood remains a part of the show this year, with her popping up prominently in every pre-release teaser. If the entity we knew as Dolores is gone, however, then how could Wood’s performance continue on? The answer turns out to be quite simple: she’s playing another character.
The form that once housed the being we knew as Dolores is now playing host (pardon the pun) to another personality altogether. This woman is named Christina and she’s essentially an anonymous little worker bee in the future version of our own world. Christina lives in a reasonably-sized apartment with her roommate (played by recent Oscar-winner Ariana DeBose), goes to her job at Olympiad Entertainment, and then grits her teeth through awkward dates – you know: the usual American female experience.
Like many new plots on Westworld, Dolores’s new identity takes some getting used to. Such was the case for the actress playing her. In speaking to Den of Geek prior to the season 4 premiere, Wood made it clear that she views Christina as an entirely new character and not merely a new aspect of Dolores’s psyche.
“Yes. I absolutely approached Christina differently,” Wood says. “Every season I feel like I pick out a walk for each character’s mannerisms and other little things that people wouldn’t really notice. I strive to create a completely new vibe for the character that can go virtually undetected.”
Not only that, but Wood doesn’t even approach the character as a host, or at least as a host who recognizes they’re operating under host rules.
“For three seasons, I’ve been living by the rules of what it means to be a host. This season was fun for me to approach from a human’s perspective. She is this kind of nerdy, sort of average woman just trying to make it as a writer in a big city. Of course, you know, there’s always many more layers to Westworld. But I was excited to be vulnerable again.”
Wood’s character is indeed quite vulnerable again, as fragile as the “unawakened” Dolores from season 4. If Christina has superhuman strength like Dolores did, she is certainly unaware of it at the moment. And if she were, she likely wouldn’t tolerate her boss chastising her for writing saccharine stories as opposed to the gritty brutality gamers crave.
Thus far we’ve danced around the fact as to whether Christina can be classified as a host or not and that’s by design because it’s far too early to tell. Perhaps Christina is, in fact, another personality within Dolores’s programming that arrived as a sort of failsafe after Rehoboam wiped her dry. Perhaps some unknown entity is making use of Dolores’s old host body by placing a new A.I. inside of it for reasons unknown. Or here’s the biggest head scratcher – maybe Christina is pure, 100% flesh and blood. That certainly makes very little sense within Westworld’s timeline and continuity but even less ambitious sci-fi concepts have had no problem introducing a cloning element.
Whoever or whatever Christina is, she will undoubtedly play a huge part in Westworld season 4’s overarching story. Not only that but hopefully she won’t be alone while doing it. For the first time since season 2, Westworld introduces Dolores’s old boyfriend, Teddy Flood, the gentleman host played by James Marsden.
“I just felt like a missing piece of the puzzle came back,” Wood says of working with Marsden again. “It felt like no time had passed. James and I are up to our old hijinx again and constantly making each other laugh. We always get comments from the sound department whenever we’re in scenes together because we crack so many jokes that they enjoy listening to it.”
We’ll always opt for more Marsden rather than less, but Wood also has some words of warning for anyone automatically assuming this Teddy is the same one we’ve always known.
“We don’t know if this is our sweet Teddy yet. We know that he looks and sounds an awful lot like him, just like Christina looks and sounds an awful like Dolores, but we don’t actually know his story yet. Is he good? Is he bad? All those fun Westworld questions. We’re always asking ourselves.”
New episodes of Westworld season 4 premiere Sundays at 9 p.m. ET on HBO.