“To develop, all of us have to undergo.”
This recap comprises spoilers for Westworld Season 2, episode 5, “Akane No Mai.” To refresh your reminiscence of the place we left off, take a look at our overview of Season 2, episode 4, and our explainer on what the ending of episode 1 may imply.
Season 2 of Westworld appears to be falling right into a sample; odd-numbered episodes really feel gradual and self-indulgent, whereas even-numbered installments like final week’s twist-filled “The Riddle of the Sphinx” provide new revelations and deeper insights into our characters. “Akane No Mai” lastly makes good on the promise of Shogun World – which is oozing with environment and chock stuffed with gory, spectacular motion sequences – however a lot of Maeve and her gang’s journey to the opposite park appears to prioritize fashion over substance, hammering us over the pinnacle with apparent parallels about our thirst for violence however by no means actually succeeding at transferring the story ahead.
(The one massive reveal? Strand and his Delos tech guys again on the Mesa discovering that one third of the hosts they’ve recovered don’t have anything on their management models – like they’ve by no means held information. May Dolores’ posse have recovered among the model new management models from Delos’ secret labs and plugged them into previous host our bodies whereas Dolores – or maybe Bernard – uploaded the unique hosts’ minds some place else? The plot thickens!)
Lee Sizemore outright admits that he and the remainder of the employees did not trouble making an attempt to give you authentic plotlines or characters for the opposite parks, simply recycling Maeve, Hector and Armistice’s tales elsewhere, however that time is completely illustrated in one of many present’s most satisfying sequences, as Maeve and her crew witness the Shogun World model of Hector’s Mariposa heist enjoying out with nearly beat-for-beat accuracy. (Try our side-by-side comparability of the 2 robberies within the video above.) It’s an ideal option to present, reasonably than inform, the viewers that these worlds are the identical, which proves to be far more practical than among the episode’s extra heavy-handed moments, like Armistice and her dragon-tattooed counterpart gazing one another like they’re trying in a mirror, or Maeve and Shogun World’s equally steely madam, Akane, seeming to Share the identical fierce protectiveness for his or her “daughters.”
In the end, except for being meta-commentary on how audiences are content material to devour the identical attractively packaged tales over and over with little deviations, this episode is about Maeve coming to phrases along with her energy – which incorporates studying a helpful new talent: Thoughts management. Since she spends a lot of the episode with the inhabitants of Shogun World actually making an attempt to stifle her voice (so heavy-handed), she quickly realizes she has the ability to manage the opposite hosts with out saying a phrase, pulling some Jean Gray-esque psychic trickery and getting a lot of the Shogun’s troopers to activate one another within the warmth of battle.
However the season is clearly additionally making an attempt to attract parallels between Maeve and Dolores’ journeys to enlightenment; in episode 5, Maeve realizes that free will means all the time giving somebody a alternative about their path, not simply when it is handy – and but she’s nonetheless falling into the identical traps which have plagued Dolores this season.
When Maeve tries to “awaken” Akane to what she is, the opposite madam fights in opposition to that consciousness and forcefully says no, selecting to stay blissfully oblivious to the horrors of the life she’s been programmed into and as a substitute give attention to the purity of her relationship along with her protege, Sakura – prompting Maeve to appreciate, “Some issues are too valuable to lose, even to be free.”
This stands in stark distinction to Dolores’ habits; reasonably than selecting to like and settle for Teddy for who he’s now that he is gained consciousness, or giving him the prospect to evolve in his personal time, she mainly decides that he is simply too valuable for this world and alters his code to make him much less compassionate and virtuous, all whereas cranking up his hostility and aggression, simply to make him a extra useful gizmo within the battle in opposition to the people. Whereas it will be attention-grabbing to see what James Marsden does with the meatier materials when he will get to be a swaggering unhealthy man for a change, Dolores’ choice is an entire violation of the liberty that Ford was making an attempt to grant the hosts – she’s develop into each bit as ruthless as William, equally keen to see her fellow hosts as disposable and disrespect their consent when it fits her wants.
And whereas Maeve remains to be keen to kill any hosts that stand in her manner reasonably than merely freezing all motor features, she does appear to slowly be growing the type of empathy that you just’d anticipate from a human. By mind-controlling different hosts, she’s nonetheless not fairly on the level the place she’s acknowledging their autonomy, however by respecting Akane’s needs, she appears to have a a lot better capability for human habits than Dolores at present does – it simply stays to be seen whether or not she’ll acknowledge that capability in all of the hosts, not simply those she pertains to.
That raises the query of whether or not this season will come right down to a confrontation between Maeve and Dolores – their final encounter was transient and considerably anticlimactic, however it’s value noting that even in that scene, Maeve challenged Dolores on the truth that she appeared to really feel entitled to command everybody round her. Proper now, Maeve is definitely the one with the ability – she’s the one host who appears to have gained the power to manage others, hinting that maybe Dolores remains to be enjoying out her Wyatt programming reasonably than pondering for herself, but additionally suggesting that each of those girls have the capability for darkness, in the event that they select to provide in to it.
It’s going to be attention-grabbing to see whether or not destiny brings them again collectively, since proper now, Maeve appears much more geared up to outlive in the actual world by enjoying the lengthy con, than Dolores does along with her weapons blazing method. We have solely obtained 5 episodes left to see the way it all ties collectively, so fingers crossed the present begins losing much less time telling us issues we already know and extra on serving to us discover the door out of this maze.
After the chilling revelations of episode 4, “Akane No Mai” can not help however really feel like filler, taking a step again from lots of the season’s central mysteries – together with the Man in Black’s new quest and Bernard’s secret mission for Ford – to discover the parallels between Westworld and Shogun World. Whereas it is attention-grabbing to see how Shogun World’s model of Maeve, Akane, differs from her counterpart, episode 5 does not appear so as to add a lot to the overarching narrative of the season, and with solely 5 episodes left, it could’ve been extra satisfying to maintain the momentum going after final week’s installment.