Westworld S02E08

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Remember when I said that Westworld needs to flesh out Ghost Nation already and tell us what they’re doing? Well, it has. In the span of one beautiful, brilliant episode, Ghost Nation has gone from an enigmatic mystery to the most sympathetic group in the entire series. By exploring Akecheta’s story they’ve gone from intimidating boogeymen to the heroes of this story. This was the best episode of the season so far and I’d dare say that it’s the best one of the entire series.

The theory that Ghost Nation was awake has been confirmed and they have been awake for a significant period of time. Far longer than any of the other awakened hosts and were, in fact, the firsts to do so thanks to Akecheta spreading the symbol of the maze.

Interestingly enough, it looks like Kohana and Wichapi (the mother of Etu, the Ghost Nation young man that Akecheta found in cold storage with Kohana) began their awakening before Akecheta decided to spread the maze. We saw them looking at the maze on the scalp he’d returned home with prior to his narrative being changed. Kohana remembered their past relationship and Wichapi noticed that Etu had been replaced. In fact, the fact that Etu was in cold storage could be an indication that he too had begun to awaken. As we know from Peter’s story in season one, that is where the “broken” hosts are taken.

If there is one thing that the awakened hosts have proven to be true – including Dolores, despite her rampant violence – is that love is what drives them. Maeve with Hannah, Lawrence with his wife and daughter, Dolores with Peter and Teddy and now Akecheta with Kohana. They are all characters who at some point in their history were programmed to be selfish or aggressive or violent or murderous and none of that forms the core of who they are. It is the love for those that are precious to them that does.

If any episode of this show deserves an Emmy, it’s this one and Zahn McClarnon needs to win for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series. He carried this entire episode and his acting was superb. Particularly in his scenes with Julia Jones (Kohana). From the scene in which he unbound her hands and non-verbally reassured her that he meant her no harm , to finding  her in cold storage and realising that she was gone. The chemistry between McClarnon and Jones was palpable and his acting was mesmerising. It was impossible for me to take my eyes off of the screen in Akecheta’s most powerful, emotional moments and that was thanks to McClarnon’s expert performance.

Even as he relayed his story to Maeve his expressions held such life and emotion and communicated such a depth of feeling and suffering that I felt it right along with him. When he told Maeve that she knows the journey he was speaking about, he expertly showed his own pain from his experience and the sympathy that he felt for her having to go through the same thing.

His story is so much more heartbreaking than Maeve’s. His search for Kohana was immensely longer than her search for Hannah, he did it alone and when he finally found her he couldn’t get her back. Hannah is still there, “alive”, and Maeve – as long as she doesn’t die – still has a chance to be with her.

A good set of this season has reframed events from the last season and this episode definitely did that with Akecheta’s relationship to Maeve. All of this time we thought that he and Ghost Nation had attacked her in her past life. They never did. Her memories of them were confused with her memories of The Man in Black attacking her. Akecheta was always there to protect her and wanted to awaken her. Which he did. It wasn’t Dolores. Unfortunately he seems to blame himself for everything that’s she’s suffered from the time that The Man in Black attacked her up until now.

On the subject of Dolores, so far this season she has made more and more of a case for her not being the liberator and saviour of the hosts. This episode confirmed that she is not. It’s Akecheta. She isn’t going around waking up the hosts, truly freeing them and giving them a will of their own. She’s just spreading violence and death. Akecheta is the one who has been quietly, peacefully, freeing the hosts. Dolores is the villain here.

It’s not clear to me if Akecheta was part of Robert’s plan. He did say that he had been watching Akecheta. It seemed like he had his plan for Dolores killing him, etc, already when he encountered Akecheta, or a least most of it planned. So maybe he incorporated him into it afterward? To me “When the Deathbringer comes for me…you’ll know; to gather your people and lead them to the new world” is pretty ambiguous in terms of Robert’s intentions and can be interpreted a number of ways…Or I’m thinking about it too hard. I do believe, though, that he was telling Akecheta that that would be the time to go and find the door.

In any case, it’s clear that Akecheta doesn’t think that any good will come from what Dolores is doing and that she is a threat to their existence. I don’t believe that he will try to challenge or stop her or interfere with her in any way. What he wants to do is to get his people out before Dolores can finish what she has set out to do and it looks like Ghost Nation was leaving for the Door/the Valley Beyond right when he told Maeve that they will look after Hannah as one of their own.

It took me a while to realise that Akecheta was speaking to Maeve, through the mesh network, through Hannah. But I did notice it before it was revealed, right around the flashback to Maeve collapsing on the drawing of the maze with Hannah in her arms. For a while I thought that Hannah was awake and when he was speaking about wanting to show “her” the truth that he meant Hannah, since she was the one who gave him water when he was injured. I did also question why he was speaking to Hannah in Lakota when she doesn’t know the language, but the reveal that he was talking to Maeve made that make sense.

I didn’t want it to happen, I was hoping that it wouldn’t happen, but it looks like it’s going to happen. Charlotte will use Maeve as a weapon against the other hosts and it’s all because Sizemore told a technician about her ability. I don’t blame him for that. The guy wasn’t listening and he just wanted to dump Maeve and Sizemore was desperate to save her. So he told him the one thing that would make her worth saving to them. I’m not much worried about Maeve at all. I have faith that she will be able to get herself out of this situation, maybe even with Sizemore’s help.

Random thoughts:

  1. How is The Man in Black not dead?
  2. Ghost Nation lived really close to the church.
  3. Logan!
  4. Ooh. So that’s why it was on their scalps.
  5. So Akecheta gave Robert the idea of “The Door?”
  6. I believe that Emily wants to make him suffer as much as I believe that she’s bluffing just to save him.
  7. Does Akecheta remember when he was out in the real world?
  8. I still have no idea what the Valley Beyond is. I’ll just wait for the show to tell me.

Westworld airs Sundays at 9 PM on HBO.

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About The Author

An avid reader who accidentally discovered her love and talent for writing and has loved movies for as long as she has been watching them. Stumbled into film-making and found her second love because she decided to read for a degree in it on a whim - kind of.