In the Westworld recap, Maeve travels to Shogun World where she finds a familiar face and Dolores begins plotting her next move by ridding herself of disease…
By Damon Martin — Editor/Lead Writer
By all accounts, this season of Westworld will mostly take place between the two weeks after Dolores killed Robert Ford and when the Delos forces arrived to take back the theme park.
Following last week’s episode that revealed the Man in Black and his daughter are both wandering Westworld, the latest offering shifts back to Maeve’s long, strange journey across the park not to mention Dolores continuing her quest to not only escape the stranglehold of humanity but to eliminate the human race all together.
The two parallel stories showcased the pair of powerful women dominating Westworld this season with Maeve reaching a new level of consciousness and power with her abilities seemingly growing with each passing day. Meanwhile, Dolores is becoming more single minded of purpose for what it’s going to take to truly break free of humanity’s chains around her.
With each passing week we get closer and closer to finding out what Dolores is planning but something tells me, no one will know for certain until she finally unleashes that plan at the end of the season.
With that said, let’s recap the latest episode of Westworld titled ‘Akane No Mai’…
Fade to Black
The episode begins with the one scene that takes place in present day as Strand’s forces finally reach the control room of the park where Maeve’s assault first started weeks ago. Inside, Strand’s team is trying to put back together the pieces of how this massacre started while also attempting to get the hosts back online and under their control.
Strand’s No. 2 in charge radios him from the site of the lake where they found all the dead hosts in the season debut as they’ve been pulling out bodies ever since we last left them. The hosts are being pulled from the water and then returned to the control center where their brains are being probed to find out what exactly has been happening over these past two weeks.
Strand also seems rather curious by Bernard’s strange behavior as he looks lost at almost all times. It would seem that Strand knows Bernard is actually a host and he’s somehow using him to track down the robots responsible for this massacre. Then again, Strand is also following orders so it’s tough to say for sure what he’s after.
What we do learn for certain is that the chief technology officer who has been charged with pulling the brains from the hosts recovered and finding out what they’ve seen is that a third of them have been completely wiped. Not only have these hosts been wiped but it’s as if they’ve never had any memories whatsoever and they are fresh off the assembly line.
In other words, a third of the hosts being recovered have wiped out any hope of Delos finding out what happened or more importantly what is about to happen.
That’s obviously not by accident as Dolores is clearly plotting for the end game right now. We do get a quick glance of poor Teddy, who is dead yet again and by the end of this episode we find out why.
Burn the Disease
When we last saw Dolores, she was trying to rescue her father Peter Abernathy after he was taken by Delos guards led by Charlotte Hale. Afterwards, Dolores is determined to get him back but first she had to return to Sweetwater — the town where the Westworld adventure begins — to retrieve something important.
When they arrive, Dolores and Teddy find that almost the entire town has been slaughtered and the place is left in ruins. Dolores quickly orders her troops to begin repairing the train in town, dumping the extra cargo so it’s built for speed. Perhaps Dolores plans on riding this train out of the park?
Dolores wanders around the town she once called home while Teddy can only wax on about this being the place of their birth and how Sweetwater is where they first met. Of course, Dolores knows that’s not the truth — it’s just the narrative that’s been loaded into Teddy’s brain over and over again.
Inside the Mariposa Saloon, lobotomized Clementine runs into the host that was reprogrammed to become her after she was sent to the basement. It’s a mirror image in so many ways as Clementine tries to reconcile with seeing what used to be her life being played out by another host.
Eventually, Dolores and Teddy ride out beyond the town of Sweetwater where they used to meet in various storylines. Dolores looks out over the open plain and seems lands she has to conquer while Teddy only sees a way that he could run away with the girl he loves. Teddy asks if Dolores would leave with him, find a place away from all this madness and they could settle down together. Dolores tells him she’ll think about it but in reality she knows that Teddy is still operating on the narrative that’s been programmed into him all along.
Teddy has never broken free of his programming, which is why he’s still not truly ready to follow Dolores to hell and back.
While out on the plain, Dolores shares a story with Teddy about a season when her family nearly lost their herd after they were affected by a disease that was being spread by flies. She asks Teddy what he would do in a similar situation and he says he would shelter the animals so they would be away from the flies and allow them time to heal. Dolores then tells him that her father killed the weak and infected cows before burning them. Flies hate smoke so the pyre from the burning cows forced them to look for a new home far away from the Abernathy ranch.
What Teddy would have done and what had to be done is all the evidence that Dolores needs to know that her most devoted follower isn’t ready for what has to be done next.
So that night after Angela returns with one of the Delos guards, who informs them that Charlotte and the rest of the Delos forces are taking Peter Abernathy to the Mesa, Dolores has her army prepare the train for departure at dawn so they can get her father.
Meanwhile, Dolores ends up spending one passionate night with Teddy — a scene that you almost have to believe never actually happened in their previous narrative. Teddy always pined for Dolores, but it seemed like he never got the girl.
This time around he did and they spent the night together but then when Dolores awakens, she takes Teddy into the store where she would always exit just before running into him on the street where their narrative would begin. This constant loop has been revisited numerous times on the show as Dolores would leave the store and inevitably drop that can of condensed milk — sometimes she would happen upon a guest like William but most times she would run into Teddy, who was always her knight in shining armor.
This time around, however, Dolores has to inform Teddy that he’s not ready to carry out the plans that need to be exacted in order to free them from the restrictions of the humans. Teddy is far too sweet and innocent to do what has to be done. So with that, Dolores has her men hold him while she has one of the programmers change his personality.
He warns Dolores that without a complete rewrite, this reprogramming might do something unexpected to Teddy’s mind but she seems unconcerned because this is just his right of passage.
“To grow…we all need to suffer”
With that, Teddy’s programming is completely rewritten with a new narrative — one that we have to imagine turns him into the kind of depraved killer Dolores needs to strike back against the Delos forces. A quick glance at his attributes that were changed show Teddy no longer has any patience or empathy, which are both hallmarks of his personality. Instead, Dolores has amped up his aggressiveness, cruelty and self-preservation.
Remember we know that Teddy dies and he’s left in that lake of water where the Delos forces retrieve him before returning him to the control center as we saw at the start of this episode. What seems likely to me is that Teddy isn’t dead — he’s merely playing dead and at some point he will awaken to carry out Dolores’s orders to wipe out the entire Delos security force that has arrived at the park.
Much like the herd that was infected, Dolores knew there was no saving Teddy so she had to burn out the disease and then work with whatever was left. It certainly looked like Teddy met an ominous end but judging by this episode, his story is far from finished.
The Voice of God
The biggest crux of this episode takes place with Maeve, Hector, Lee Sizemore and their group as their story picks up just after the cliffhanger ending in episode three.
As Maeve continues to search for her daughter, her group was attacked by a samurai soldier, who we find out is from another park called ‘Shogun World’. As Lee describes it, this is place that was built for those who believe Westworld is too tame — if that gives you any idea of the level of depravity that takes place in Shogun World.
Maeve and her cohorts are taken prisoner by the samurai warrior before being led back into a town inside Shogun World that looks eerily familiar to everybody. When a battle breaks out in the middle of the street between the man who captured them and the police force from the town, Maeve realizes that this place is the mirror image of Sweetwater and the Mariposa Saloon except it’s been recreated for Shogun World — complete with a Japanese rendering of the track ‘Paint It Black’ by the Rolling Stones, which is what we heard during a similar scene back in season one.
The samurai who kidnapped them is Musashi — the mirror image of Hector — as well as his second in command who is tattooed with the image of a dragon, much like Armistice with her snake. Musashi takes them to meet a geisha named Madam Akane, who is the Shogun World version of Maeve, except in this world she’s taken a young girl named Sakura under her tutelage. Maeve is reminded of her daughter when seeing the relationship between Akane and Sakura.
Maeve also discovers a trick with her ability to control other hosts — if you remember a few episodes back, she was unable to control the Ghost Nation when speaking to them and the same thing happens when talking to the warriors in Shogun World. Lee informs Maeve that her power over the other hosts has to be a language that they understand — in other words to control the samurai warriors, she has to speak to them in Japanese.
After Maeve and Hector are able to talk their way out of captivity, she gains an audience with Akane, who begins to see the similarities between herself and the woman who has just been brought into her business.
In the midst of this conversation, an emissary of the Shogun arrives requesting that Akane sell Sakura so that she can dance for his master whenever he likes. Rather than sell her, Akane pulls a knife and stabs the emissary in the eye.
The story continues to play out with a band of ninjas showing up later that night, kidnapping Sakura and attacking Maeve, Hector, Musashi and the rest of their group. Maeve is somehow able to get free of her attacker by forcing him to impale himself on a knife but she never has to use her words to make him follow her commands.
Following the ninja attack, the Shogun sends a garrison of his forces into town to retrieve Akane and her protectors, which shocks Lee because this has never been part of this story before. Maeve comes up with a plan of attack by having Musashi, Hector and the others create a distraction with the Shogun’s army while she escapes with Akane, Lee and her two hostage programmers from Westworld.
On the road to the Shogun’s camp, Lee manages to steal a cell phone as the group finally arrives to make an offering to the brutal leader holding Sakura hostage.
While Maeve and Akane attempt to pretend to be a Chinese garrison trying to make peace with the Shogun, he quickly sees through their ruse before revealing preparations he’s made for their arrival. See earlier in the episode, Maeve was finally able to use her power over the hosts by commanding some of the cavalry’s forces to kill each other, which in turn got back to the Shogun. Now he’s branded Maeve as a witch and to protect his men from hearing her words, he’s commanded all of them to sever their own ears.
During the Shogun’s speech, Lee notices that he’s got cortical fluid leaking from his ear, which confirms that he’s off loop and acting out a completely different storyline than the one he’s been programmed to follow.
Later that night, the Shogun orders Akane to dance alongside Sakura and if she does so, he’ll release them together. Akane agrees and so she prepares alongside Sakura as they get ready to dance for the Shogun.
During this entire time, Maeve keeps getting flashes of the relationship between Akane and Sakura that mirrors her own relationship with her daughter.
Finally when it’s time for the dance to begin, the Shogun approaches the women and stabs Sakura through the stomach, leaving her to bleed out on the ground and then ordering Akane to perform for her. Without blinking, Akane proceeds to dance for the Shogun — set to the sounds of ‘C.R.E.A.M.’ by the Wu-Tang Clan — but as she draws closer to him, she removes one of the pins holding her hair together and it’s actually a dagger.
She stabs the Shogun in the ear and then runs it around his head before decapitating him completely. With the Shogun’s blood decorating her face, Akane sits in satisfaction of avenging the death of her daughter. Throughout all of these sequences, Maeve gets flashes of the Man in Black shooting and killing her daughter while she was unable to do anything.
Maeve then tells Akane that she’s a true mother — almost as affirmation for fighting back against the man who was responsible for killing her daughter.
Maeve then uses her new mental powers to force the rest of the Shogun’s men to kill each other without speaking a single word. Once again, Lee is amazed at what he’s witnessing and Maeve comments that she’s discovered a new kind of voice — it’s one that was teased earlier in the season.
Go back to the first episode of the season when Bernard is in the secret bunker with Charlotte Hale and he is attempting to help her track down Peter Abernathy. He tells her about a ‘mesh network’ — a sort of communication shared between all the hosts so they are always in constant connection to each other like a hive mind. Bernard plans on using this mesh network to send word back when any of the hosts spot Peter Abernathy so they can find him.
It certainly seems like Maeve has discovered a way to use this mesh network to her own advantage as she’s commanding the hosts using only her mind by implanting her demands in their brains, which they then carry out without question.
As the Shogun’s men slaughter each other, Lee looks out and finds that the rest of his soldiers are bound for the camp. Of course he’s panicking the same as Felix and Sylvester, but Maeve calmly picks up a sword as if she’s ready to take on the whole bloody army.
“I told you I found a new voice — now we use it”
As Maeve raises her sword, she waits for the army to arrive. When we next catch up to this fight, Maeve will have either killed all of them or she will have them under her complete command. Maeve is learning all sorts of new powers she never knew she had — the kind of skill set that would seem useful for Dolores’ uprising but it remains to be seen if these two revolutionaries will ever cross paths again.
Westworld returns with a brand new episode next Sunday night at 9pm ET on HBO.