TV Reviews

Westworld Season 2 Episode 5: Akane No Mai Review

If you would like to read my review of the last episode, click here.

Synopsis: (Welcome to Shogun World) (HBO)

Writer: Dan Dietz

Director: Craig Zobel

Rating: TV-MA

Running Time: 58mins

Airs: Sundays at 9pm on HBO Canada (Canada)/HBO (United States)

Welcome to Shogun World. Finally.

This season’s fifth episode, “Akane No Mai,” took us deep into the heart of Shogun World as Maeve, Hector & Co. all continue towards finding Maeve’s daughter. Maeve’s group quickly realizes that Shogun World, while vastly different in tone and setting, possesses almost identical characters to that of themselves. Thanks to Sizemore’s laziness, the park has Japanese equivalents of Hector, Armistice, and Maeve, Musashi (Hiroyuki Sanada), Hanaryo (Tao Okamoto), and Akane (Rinko Kikuchi) respectively. The park has also suffered a similar outbreak of host consciousness, however, given its violent nature the hosts have chosen to react quite differently than that of the other parks.

Maeve’s group becomes entangled in a narrative entitled, “Army of Blood” that brings them face to face with a Shogun and their army of hundreds who after realizing the extent of Maeve’s abilities of host influence, have removed and burned off their ears to avoid being influenced by her. Even Akane rebukes Maeve’s attempt at a higher level of consciousness which was odd and speaks to a larger issue with the hosts of this park as they almost seem content to live in their current condition, almost out of duty, and seek little else outside of their current narratives.

While Samurai, ninjas, and sword fighting are great, let’s not forget the two major portions of this storyline we were shown. First, Maeve has found a new voice within her that allows for her to communicate and command any hosts. This felt suspicious because was this something that Ford/Arnold wanted from the host’s evolution? Truthfully, this would be more congruent with what guests are actually like by having dominion over hosts so in a twisted way this makes some sense. However, it is unlikely that either one of the Creators wanted them to have this level of control. We can assume nothing. Second, on the way to the Shogun, Maeve’s group walks through the display of the Calvary’s corpses, clearly meant as a warning for all who venture out that far but in reality speaks to a bigger problem. No one is coming to rescue them. What’s also interesting is that given the current timelines that season two is operating under this means that Maeve is currently wandering other parks after Karl Strand’s team has infiltrated them. While I allow this confusion to settle into my mind for yet another week, I’m also left wondering how Maeve managed to avoid running into them entirely.

Meanwhile, in Sweetwater, Dolores, Teddy and the gang make quick work of the train meant to bring guests to and from The Mesa into Westworld. Dolores is still motivated by her search for her father, Peter Abernathy, for some unbeknownst reason other than she has a connection with him and uses that as a driving force to murder guests. As you can guess, this isn’t necessarily the most exciting storyline, however, the image of her along with a bunch of hosts speeding towards The Mesa with guns at the ready is kinda cool. Sadly though, her character does little to progress, choosing instead to conduct a faux conversation, more of an interrogation, with Teddy about where his loyalty lies and how he would proceed with their journey from here. It’s painfully apparent that he’s not on the same level as Dolores by answering her questions with a tone of mercy and understanding which is not up to her standards. His insubordination is dealt with by having breakup coitus and then completely overwriting his memory in hopes of building a better Teddy, one closer to her nature. We know that his current host form doesn’t make it as we see his body stacked atop several other hosts that were lost in the valley flood. R.I.P. Teddy. This is surely a red herring.

Lastly, the show also had several scenes involving the present day timeline featuring Karl Strand. As he and his crew, along with a seemingly-lost Bernard, are combing through The Mesa facility in the aftermath of their discovery of the flooded valley only to find that Delos has lost 1/3 of their entire IP and are taking steps to salvage what they can. This wasn’t even the most interesting piece of information to come from his interaction with the employee. That came several lines later when Strand expressed the need to hurry the hosts back into production giving the impression that they fully intend for the park to reopen as soon as possible. Then again, this is not the first time a massacre has happened so Delos seems quite prepared for this exact scenario.

Ultimately, Akane No Mai delivered on all fronts for fans of Westworld that have been waiting ever since last season for a glimpse of what lies beyond the borders of Westworld. Sure, The Raj was nice and semi-interesting, but as most would admit, what we truly wanted to see was the darkest park that Delos had to offer and Shogun World did not disappoint. It managed to depict a much more interesting world aside from Westworld and showed the true nature of what a park in brief chaos could really look like. While Akane No Mai did little in pushing the overall narrative, especially after a very dense and theory-laden episode last week, it was nice to just spend some time in an unfamiliar location and see the park fulfill its originally intended purpose: to entertain.

PENDING THOUGHTS:

  • Sizemore is an incredibly lazy writer
  • Strikes me as odd that Sizemore hasn’t brought up the other parks in conversation with Maeve & Co. 
  • Who is Maeve’s new voice? Is it on purpose? 
  • Thought it telling that Hector/Armistice couldn’t access their language programs
  • Sylvester is a racist. Still amazed he’s survived this long. Hoping his impending death is good.
  • “Dopplebots” needs to now be added to the English dictionary. 
  • Sizemore grabbed a radio off a corpse. Who is still alive?
  • Am I the only one that wants to see Charlotte Hale die really badly? I dunno, there’s just something about her smugness as a Delos employee that just needs to go!
  • Teddy’s corpse is a red herring. His overwrite works (for now) and he jumps bodies like the rest of Dolores & Gang
  • NINJAS!!!!! 
  • Host coitus is weird. Let’s all admit that.
  • I’ll never look at cherry blossoms the same way again. Thanks Sakura
  • Seeing their Dopplebot did more to Maeve than the others b/c it’s setting the stage for realizing the futility of searching for her daughter.
  • Musashi is waaaay better at being Hector than Hector
  • Maeve had the best line of the episode telling Sizemore that they had created us to love and are surprised when they actually do. Great writing.
  • Am I the only one that feels weird every time someone says the words, “Cortical Fluid?” It’s gross.
  • Seriously, Charlotte Hale has got to go. 
  • I would easily go to Shogun World over the other parks. {UPDATE: I would die.}
  • Very excited after this season is over to watch a fan’s supercut of all of these timelines in chronological order because even after 5eps I am certain I have missed stuff
  • Next week on……looks like we are not done with Shogun World. Wonder if that’s true of The Raj? 

Score: 9/10

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