Editor’s Note: The following contains Westworld Season 4 spoilers.From Delos to Incite, the universe of Westworld is full of shady companies that deal in the business of the human mind. So, you know, it’s not that different from our own world. However, while real companies like Facebook may dabble in emotional manipulation or sell your data to political agents, in the HBO series, things are a little more sophisticated. Delos had plans to copy entire human minds into AI, and Incite’s Rehoboam promised a world of eternal stability through the manipulation of human lives. Throw Olympiad Entertainment into the mix, and you’re looking at a world in which it’s not just people’s data and livelihoods that are in the hands of corporations, but their very flesh and will.
Olympiad Entertainment made its debut in the first episode of Westworld Season 4. Following a time jump from Season 3’s fight against the Rehoboam creator Engerraund Serac (Vincent Cassel) that cost the original Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood) her life, we’re introduced to a Dolores lookalike named Christina. In a world free from the control of Serac’s god-like AI, Christina works as a writer for gaming studio Olympiad Entertainment, creating narratives for various NPCs. But Christina’s world isn’t as free as she believes it to be. Hobos on the street warn passers-by about a tower that controls their every move, and at least one man is certain that Christina herself is responsible for the tragedies in his life. What initially looks like simple paranoia soon gains new layers when Christina begins to investigate what happens to her characters when she’s done writing them. After the events of Episodes 5 and 6, it has become clear that there is a lot more to Christina and Olympiad Entertainment than meets the eye. But what exactly is going on?
To understand the workings of Olympiad, we must first take a look at another entertainment company from the Westworld universe: Delos Destinations. The Delos subsidiary responsible for Westworld and other host-filled theme parks was secretly collecting data straight from its customers’ brains through the hats provided upon their arrival at their chosen destination. Delos’ excuse was that it was using all that info to better understand its clientele, but the real goal was to create copies of selected guests’ minds and transfer them to synthetic bodies, making the company’s richest customers virtually immortal. This technique was first put to work in Season 2, to disastrous results: James Delos (Peter Mullan) had his own consciousness transferred to a host body only to face an eternity of being burned to death due to the prototype’s lack of mental stability.
But technology tends to improve over time, provided that it keeps on being put to use. When the Charlotte Hale (Tessa Thompson) version of Dolores takes over Delos by the end of Season 3, the mind transfer technique is already perfected. So much so, in fact, that Season 4 Halores has a host version of the Man in Black (Ed Harris) as her right-hand man, reclaiming his position as Delos’ CEO. Their plan is to replace key political figures with hosts so that Delos will be granted permission to open a new, prohibition age-themed park, something that the company is struggling with after the Season 2’s bloodbath. Or, at least, this is the part of the iceberg that is visible above water.
As is usually the case with Westworld, things are a lot more complicated than they seem, and involve multiple timelines. Halores’ real plan is to take over the world. At first, Season 4 looked like it was going to be all about stopping her, but it turns out that she has already won. In Episodes 2 through 4, we see Maeve (Thandiwe Newton) and Caleb (Aaron Paul) traveling into the Golden Age park to find out what is truly behind this new Delos enterprise. They fail to make their way out, but succeed at uncovering Hale’s true intentions: the park doubles as a facade and a trial-run for her mind-control plan, that involves lab-altered flies that infect human hosts and secrete a black goop in their brain. The goop makes the human hosts susceptible to the commands emitted by a machine behind the parks’ walls, very similar to the tower the hobo near Christina’s workplace had in his drawings. In the end of Episode 4, the show reveals that a larger version of the tower already exists outside the park and controls the actions of each and every human being around the world, with a few notable exceptions.
There are those, such as C (Aurora Perrineau) and Jay (Daniel Wu), that have managed to escape Hale’s control. They are dubbed outliers and hunted down mercilessly by the hosts, who use the human world as their private playground, much like the humans once did to them.
And then there’s Christina. But, judging from Episode 5, she’s not a human, but a rare host unaware of her own nature. In “Zhuangzi”, Christina goes out on a life-changing second date with Dolores’ Westworld romantic interest, Teddy (James Marsden). He reveals to her that the man that the stalker that accused her of ruining his life wasn’t crazy at all, but 100% correct. Turns out that the characters Christina writes for the games developed by Olympiad aren’t regular arrow-to-the-knee NPCs, but living, breathing people. Olympiad Entertainment is no gaming company, but the place where the commands transmitted by Hale’s tower originate from, at least in part. While Hale herself and other hosts can control human behavior through speech, Christina’s stories function similarly to the loops that once kept the hosts going through their day-to-day business in the parks. Part of Christina’s awakening process involves her realizing that she can alter people’s fates just by thinking about it. She can, for instance, make two lonely women in the park become acquainted with one another, and then force them to fall out and go back to solitude. She can also control her boss’ decisions and level of satisfaction with her work, which suggests that Olympiad has no other actual, employees: the company is just a Hale-created illusion to keep Christina oblivious to the nature of her existence, as well as humanity.
Having gone through all this trouble to keep Christina unaware of who and what she is, it’s only natural for Hale to be less than thrilled by her sudden change in behavior after her date with Teddy. Alas, humanity’s new host overlord has more pressing matters to tend to right now. Hosts have started killing themselves, the number of outliers just keeps on rising, and, perhaps most importantly, she is bored. Partly to gain intel on the outliers and on what she believes to be a human-originated suicide epidemic, partly to entertain herself, she has created a torture chamber for Caleb’s consciousness. Using the mind transplant technology invented by Delos, she has created multiple copies of her former foe that she keeps trapped inside the Olympiad building.These synthetic Calebs are allowed to escape their holding cells only to die horribly or be subsequently captured and questioned by Hale in fidelity tests.
But, by the end of Episode 6, Hale seems to have grown weary of torturing Caleb. Her tests just weren’t yielding the desired results, and so she ordered his chambers to be incinerated, alongside all of his multiple bodies. But even with Caleb out of the way, Hale still has a lot on her plate and the anxiety is quite literally eating through her skin. Will she find the time to deal with Christina? Or is Olympiad Entertainment ripe for a power shift?
Westworld airs on Sundays on HBO. Episodes are available to stream on HBO Max.