We Finally Know What Those Flies Are Doing in Westworld

Spoilers below.

On top of all the pieces else I’m trying to grasp on Westworld (like, what’s Charlotte’s deal, who is that this cool recent chick within the desert, and can Christina/Dolores and Teddy meet again please??? I’m begging you), there’s also a complete recent threat: flies. In season 4, menacing swarms of the insect are wreaking havoc in mysterious ways, and up to now couple of episodes, we’re finally determining how and why.

It appears the flies are infected with a parasite manufactured within the Delos labs. These modified bugs have a hypnotizing effect, and when persons are infected, they succumb to mind control. As we saw in the primary episode of the season, the businessman swarmed with flies hands a plot of land to William totally free, just as he wished. And in season 4, episode 3, Caleb already starts getting lured in by the flies from behind a glass wall. But eventually he too gets infected when a fly enters his ear.

Charlotte Hale reveals her plan to him on this week’s episode: She’s going to contaminate all of humankind with this parasite so she will be able to control them. “Your will isn’t any longer your individual. It belongs to me,” she tells Caleb. Everyone who involves a Delos park will develop into a carrier and spread the disease after they return to the true world. Their memories get botched as a side effect, too. “Soon…everyone can be under my control,” Hale guarantees. The flies, then, are a tool for her conquest.

But why is she even doing this? Will she just force all humans to kill themselves off just like the people she tested on within the lab? No, she tells Caleb. She has “other plans” for his kind.

“I believe, for Charlotte, she very much is imprinted by the pain she experienced as she became her own iteration of the Dolores pearl after which experienced that horrible lack of the family she had interacted with, and I believe the notion of wanting to be secure and wanting to maintain her host family secure was paramount,” producer Alison Schapker tells ELLE.com.

“And I believe as an AI, consciousness, humans—they were an impediment that she needed to cope with and control and be certain that her species could thrive. So I don’t think it was necessarily about sadism for us, I believe it was more [that] we were an issue that needed to be solved and she or he went about it her own way. But in fact, like all the pieces on Westworld, no plan unfolds without unintended consequences, so it’ll be interesting to see where that goes.”

Hale calls the infection on the park “the superspreader event of the century” and jokes that Caleb is a component of the “first wave.” I couldn’t help but wonder, were the flies inspired by the pandemic? In any case, this season was filmed during COVID.

“I’d not say that it was inspired by the pandemic, but I believe it really spoke to the pandemic,” Schapker says. “Because I believe the problem of human beings imagining themselves as these closed systems, or having boundaries that will not be permeable, or code that can not be hacked, is a byproduct of the best way we undergo the world in our anthropomorphic lens. We expect that it’s all designed for us, and will not be really humble enough to grasp that it’s more complicated than that.

She adds: “And I believe when something like a pandemic hits and suddenly you’re nervous about germs or bacteria or a virus, what’s going to return into your system, you’re like, oh, I’m actually permeable. I’m actually something that a creature could come and hack. And I believe that our storyline with the fly parasite raises similar fears and anxieties, and in addition truths about who we’re as human beings.”

It’s also price noting that this isn’t the primary time we’ve seen flies in Westworld. As early as season 1, Dolores kills a fly, indicating that she was beginning to develop into sentient beyond the boundaries of her programming and will act upon her own will and volition, even committing violent impulsive acts. While it looks like this parasite-carrying fly is different from the type Dolores smushed, it’s an interesting motif to bring back with a view to further explore the show’s recurring themes of free will. On this case, what happens when your will is controlled by another person?

By the top of the episode, it seems Hale does achieve her goal of world domination. Not only are all people under her control, but in addition they seem to get replaced with hosts. Caleb, for instance, is revealed to be the 278th version of himself; the true human Caleb died within the Gilded Age Delos park 23 years ago. But Hale has apparently missed just a few key facts. The parasite works on adults, but children resist it (so Caleb’s daughter Frankie was secure). We will assume the remainder of Frankie’s present-day crew, or “organization,” within the desert were also immune as kids and due to this fact survived.

Still, Hale wields immense power. She will be able to make everyone round her freeze by just lifting a finger. That’s a cool party trick and all, but what’s all of it for? What’s she planning next? Only time will tell.

Erica Gonzales is the Senior Culture Editor at ELLE.com, where she oversees coverage on TV, movies, music, books, and more.

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