Westworld can sometimes be hard to keep track of, and this is particularly true of Season 4 which reveals there has been a significant time jump between these new episodes and the last.
The HBO show, which returned on Sunday, June 26, follows a whole host of characters in Season 4, including Thandiwe Newton’s Maeve Millay, Aaron Paul’s Caleb Nichols, Tessa Thompson’s Charlotte Hale and Evan Rachel Wood’s new character Christina.
With Season 3 ending the moment that Caleb, Maeve, and Wood’s previous character Dolores destroying the AI system keeping humanity on a pre-destined path, fans might have expected to see the revolution unfold in full, but co-creator Lisa Joy told Newsweek why that wasn’t something she was interested in.
‘Westworld’ Timeline: When is Season 4 Set and Why Is There a Time Jump?
Season 4 of Westworld is set seven years after the events of Season 3, with the revolution complete and humanity no longer slaves to Rehoboam, which was created by Engerraund Serac (Vincent Cassel).
Rehoboam was an artificial intelligence system that predicted the future of humanity and controlled every individual’s life, determining the exact decisions each person would make and thus proving that free will was a myth—at least until Dolores, Caleb and Maeve helped stop it.
Season 3 of Westworld took place in neo-Los Angeles 2053, so Season 4 is set approximately in the year 2060.
Joy, who co-created the show alongside husband Jonathan Nolan, explained to Newsweek that while some might have focused on the immediate aftermath of an event like this she felt it would have been too “devastating.”
“Well, you know, for a lot of people, the big war season would be really a big focus for it,” Joy reflected when asked about the show’s time jump.
“But, for me, war is the most basic form of tragedy, there is no sense to it. It’s just horrible, do you know what I mean?
“There’s nothing, there’s not much that you can explore beyond how devastating it is and how sad it is that people get to that point, you know, how tragic it is for all the lives lost. And what concerns me is the legacy of war, what do we learn from it? How do we survive it?
“Because throughout history, these cycles of violence continue, and continue, and continue, you know? That desire to fight that tribalism seems somehow hardcoded into human nature.
“And I didn’t want [Westworld] to be like a sports spectacle, like watching who’s gonna kick whose a** right, I wanted to explore the aftermath of, and the very real costs and effects, of war.”
Westworld executive producer Alison Schapker also spoke to Newsweek about the reasoning for the time jump, adding: “Well, I think that Jonathan and Lisa very much have a vision for each season and where they want to be putting the emphasis, and I think that last season, in Season 3, it really built this almost battle against this algorithmic control of Rehoboam.
“And, in some ways, that was never going to be over with just, you know, one Gambit, like the Genie was too far out of the bottle.
“So I think that by doing a time jump, where we find our characters seven years later, we can allow for a little more honesty in terms of it wasn’t just one night of rioting, like there was a protracted struggle around ‘can humans sort of receive their freedom and put machines back in their place?’ so to speak.
“Or, you know, at least [can] they create a kind of a space of freedom around themselves, and so by starting seven years later we can come in and believe that ‘hey, maybe that happened and maybe that’s true.’
“But, one of the things that we get through Caleb as a character is really that sense of like, ‘but is it [over]?’ And that creeping sense of, ‘or maybe not’, or maybe something else is afoot.
“So, I think that that’s definitely where they wanted it to begin, and then the other thing I would just say is I really think thematically we wanted to explore […] if we can’t go back to just a human species, if hosts are going to persist in this new paradigm, what could that relationship be?
“And can hosts ever overcome their origins? like sort of the flaws that are the fact that they’re a reflection of humans, and can humans themselves ever really evolve past what’s in their genetic code? And we’ve certainly seen their impulses around that gambit. So that’s what I think they wanted to do a new chapter around.”
Westworld Season 4 airs Sundays on HBO at 9 p.m. ET, and episodes will be available to stream on HBO Max.