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Humanity faces an uncertain future in Season 4 of HBO’s ‘Westworld’

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Humanity’s struggle to survive against the robot hosts continues as the futuristic HBO sci-fi thriller “Westworld” returns for a dark fourth season.

Premiering June 26, the new season picks up in the wake of the events of Season 3, which took the AI uprising out of the theme parks and into the real world and saw the evil AI Rehoboam plotting to destroy humanity.

Android Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood) had appeared to overpower the supercomputer but in the process she had her own artificial intelligence deleted. So as the eight-episode season opens, the fate of humanity hangs in the balance but the apocalypse, if the season’s trailer is any indication, is not yet upon the planet.

In addition to Wood, cast returnees include Ed Harris, Thandiwe Newton, Jeffrey Wright, Aaron Paul, Tessa Thompson, Luke Hemsworth and Angela Sarafyan. And Ariana DeBose (“West Side Story”) appears in a recurring role as an undisclosed human character.

Thandiwe Newton stars in Season 4 of "Westworld," premiering Sunday on HBO.Thandiwe Newton stars in Season 4 of “Westworld,” premiering Sunday on HBO.

Few other details were available about the new season, other than the one-line HBO description, “A dark odyssey about the fate of sentient life on Earth.” But Lisa Joy, the series’ showrunner, co-creator and executive producer (with husband Jonathan Nolan), was willing to offer some illumination.

“This season, humans have their freedom,” she said, “but the hosts still exist, albeit a little more under cover. So the question is: Will they once again vie for control? Will they compete to control the world or is there some other way in which they can cohabitate? So I think the thing that we’re going to see play out is with both species being free, will they recapitulate into violence and conflict? Or will they forge a new path?”

The addition to the cast of DeBose might seem at odds with the overall dark tone of “Westworld,” given her track record of upbeat roles in the 2021 big-screen musical “West Side Story” (for which she won a best actress Academy Award) and the Apple TV+ movie musical spoof “Schmigadoon!”

But Joy says that type of persona was exactly what the production team was looking for.

“The great thing about an actor like Ariana,” she said, “is that she can do absolutely anything. And in this season, we wanted somebody who could exemplify all of the loveliness of what a human can be. You know, somebody relatable, contemporary; somebody who really reminds us of ourselves and of the world that we live in and the best of what that world could be.

“And Ariana, with her delightfulness and deep humanity and kindness and her sort of joyfulness as an actor,” she added, “there’s no one I think who exemplifies the best of the human spirit more than Ariana.”

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