Features and Columns · TV

Westworld: “Akane No Mai” Offers Up a Thrilling and Bloody Introduction to Shogun World

“This place was never home.”
Westworld Maeve
By  · Published on May 21st, 2018

Last week saw old William stunned as his daughter rode up to greet him, but their reunion is put on the backburner this time around as we return to two other main characters. Maeve and company are introduced to the honorable wonders and bloody demises of a nearby park called Shogun World, and Dolores moves one tragic step closer to escaping Westworld. (Poor Teddy.)

Let’s take a look at season two, episode five of Westworld: “Akane No Mai”

The Giving Lake

The episode opens with a brief return to the show’s most current timeline as the Delos security team dredges the lake to recover host bodies. We’re reminded once again that poor Teddy (James Marsden) is among them as his lifeless body lays atop a pile of similarly deceased robot corpses. They’re harvesting the control units (their brains!) but are confused by what they’re finding — a full third of the hosts’ have empty brains. The Delos rep is clearly pissed, but the big question here is where their data went.

At this point it seems clear that Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood) is the one responsible. It seems doubtful that she simply wiped the hosts’ control centers, and instead it’s a safe bet that she’s uploaded the data somewhere else. I’m still standing by my ridiculous theory that the Bernard (Jeffrey Wright) found on the shore in this season’s premiere episode isn’t actually Bernard. Or at least, it’s not only Bernard. He’s the bot most likely to escape the park as no one suspects he’s not human, so could all of the missing data — the minds of numerous hosts — be hiding inside his own? And could Dolores be hitching a ride too?

Westworld Akane

Welcome to Shogun World! Please keep your hands and heads inside the vehicle at all times…

Per Lee (Simon Quarterman) Shogun World is for guests who find Westworld too tame, but having watched every episode of Westworld I have to suspect this is actually Lee’s latent racism shining through. I kid the guy, but as brutal as Japan’s Edo period was, the carnage has been matched by the atrocities in the main park. That said, there are a couple terrific kills this week including a painfully bloody half-decapitation at the hands of the episode’s newcomer MVP.

As Maeve (Thandie Newton), Hector (Rodrigo Santoro), Armistice (Ingrid Bolsø Berdal), and a few others arrive in Shogun World at the wrong end of a samurai sword they notice something is amiss. “This all feels a little too familiar,” says Armistice as it becomes clear that Lee’s been cutting corners on his narratives. There’s a “doppelbot” for each of them enduring the same storylines of violence and heartbreak. Hanaryo (Tao Okamoto) is an ass-kicking woman with a dragon tattoo on her face, Musashi (Hiroyuki Sanada) is a rogue warrior — a ronin to Hector’s desperado — and Akane (Rinko Kikuchi) is Shogun World’s Maeve.

There’s a lot of emotion unfolding in this stretch, and the addition of Kikuchi does wonders to make it hit as hard as possible after having just met the character of Akane. Like Maeve, she has a “daughter” whose well-being drives her actions, and the combination of the parks’ ongoing malfunctions and Maeve’s influence sees Akane spin wildly off script. “This is insane,” says Lee as storylines he wrote go off the rails, but it’s still far from the most surprising turn. Maeve’s found a “new voice” — an unspoken one that sees her controlling other hosts with her thoughts alone — and she’s prepared to use it.

We haven’t really seen much of it directly, but Maeve and Dolores exist at opposing ends of the host rebellion. The former wants to rescue her daughter while the latter wants to burn it all down. Their methods ultimately align to some degree as more bodies hit the dirt, but their differing goals may eventually see them come head to head. If that happens Maeve’s new talent suggests she might have the upper hand.

Westworld Dolores

Teddy gets fucked.

Poor Teddy. We know he ends up dead in the lake, and the smart money has been on Dolores putting him there. The moment of reckoning appears to have come this week as the pair return to Sweetwater intent on getting the locomotive up and running. Dolores straight up tells him that sometimes sacrifice is necessary to save the herd — “To grow we all need to suffer.” — and the writing is clearly on the wall. She gives him a night of bliss and promise, but then the other shoe drops. She says he has to burn and has a tech make “extreme” changes to his control unit. “I can’t guarantee that he’ll hold together,” says the tech, and then it cuts to black.

It’s clear she’s not simply killing poor Teddy, so the question becomes what is she doing to him? He ends up in the lake, but what happens to him before then? Sticking with my earlier theory — what if she’s essentially saving him? He doesn’t have the cold will she thinks is necessary for the fight ahead, so is this related to whatever it is that sucks out the hosts’ data? Or is she simply rushing his suffering in the hope that it pushes him fully into consciousness?

Either way, it’s sad as Teddy was one of Westworld‘s last innocents. His intentions, while sourced in programming, we’re based in honor and love. Ultimately, though, and is too often the case in the real world… life beats that out of people as a requirement for survival.

But, and, what…?

Keep up with our Westworld coverage.

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Rob Hunter has been writing for Film School Rejects since before you were born, which is weird seeing as he's so damn young. He's our Chief Film Critic and Associate Editor and lists 'Broadcast News' as his favorite film of all time. Feel free to say hi if you see him on Twitter @FakeRobHunter.