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TV review: 'Westworld' Season 4 creates suspense with faithful themes

1/5
Evan Rachel Wood returns as a new character in "Westworld" Season 4. Photo courtesy of HBO
Evan Rachel Wood returns as a new character in "Westworld" Season 4. Photo courtesy of HBO

LOS ANGELES, June 24 (UPI) -- It is challenging to review Westworld since every scene is a spoiler. Without spoiling the fourth season premiere, airing Sunday at 9 p.m. EDT on HBO, it's safe to say the season answers questions while raising intriguing new ones.

The biggest question is Evan Rachel Wood's character. Dolores (Wood) died in the Season 3 finale, but Wood still appears in Season 4.

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Wood's first scene comes right after the opening titles, so you don't have to wait for her. It's not a spoiler to say that her new character is a vehicle to explore a new corner of the world outside of the Westworld theme park.

Her storyline still involves narratives, which are a major theme of the show. It's exciting to see Wood give an entirely new performance in the same show.

When Season 4 returns to Maeve (Thandiwe Newton) and Caleb (Aaron Paul), it draws them back into action to uncover a new plot. Yes, it still involves robotic hosts and new applications for them.

Many years have passed since the end of Season 3, giving the characters some time to create a life of peace. That also gave Delos time to orchestrate a new sinister plan, and obviously Westworld can't let its characters be peaceful for long.

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Since it has been two years since Westworld Season 3, the Season 4 premiere gives viewers just enough time to re-acclimate to the world of the show. The season premiere gives you just enough sense of where things stand in this future before introducing new dangers and conflicts.

One advantage critics have is the ability to binge multiple episodes. Sympathies go out to those who have to wait an entire week in-between episodes, but rest assured it takes several episodes to lay out the full Westworld Season 4 story.

There is a lot of action in each hour and lots of surprises. The show visits more new places, including some modern landmarks that have evolved far beyond how we know them today.

Some top-billed cast members don't appear until Episode 3. Some are teased in the season premiere, but then you have to wait to see more of them.

New cast member Ariana DeBose is in every episode. In a world of robots, corporate overlords and freedom fighters, her character seems unusually naturalistic, so it's reasonable to suspect there may be more to her.

Westworld left the western theme park after Season 2, but continues to deepen the world in which that theme park could exist. Season 4 presents the most intriguing combination yet of Season 3's science-fiction and the themes of the first two seasons.

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Fred Topel, who attended film school at Ithaca College, is a UPI entertainment writer based in Los Angeles. He has been a professional film critic since 1999, a Rotten Tomatoes critic since 2001 and a member of the Television Critics Association since 2012. Read more of his work in Entertainment.

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