Westworld

Westworld 2×05 – Akane No Mai

"To grow... we all have to suffer."

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After teasing us a whole lot in the season one finale, Westworld finally introduced us to Shogun World. But was it worth the wait?

Welcome to Shogun World

While I knew our first foray into Shogun World would be fascinating, I had no idea the show would dive in with full force. Every single aspect of this brand new world was majestically brought to life, from the stunning set design to the impeccable costumes. But the most satisfying element? The parallels between Shogun World and Westworld, as Lee reveals that he’d basically plagiarized himself by using the same story tropes and cliches. The robbery sequence in particular is astounding, from the now-iconic way Shogun-Armistice unwraps the weapons, to Hector’s counterpart bantering with his own version of Maeve. Mindboggling!

Shogun World also introduces us to a breakout character who I hope sticks with the show for a while: Akane. As Maeve’s Shogun-World doppelgänger, she’s played to perfection by Rinko Kikuchi. In the span of one episode, the actress manages to get you invested in her heartbreaking plight as she unsuccessfully tries to save her pseudo-daughter. The parallels between both women and their quest to save their loved ones is immediately affecting, culminating in one heck of a climax as Akane loses Sukara and proceeds to viciously slaughter the warlord responsible. Can you imagine the repercussions of her and Maeve teaming up to exact vengeance for all that they’ve lost? Chills!

Most intriguing is the fact that Maeve can now control hosts without uttering a single word (no “vocal voodoo” needed). First we have the badass moment where she gets a ninja to self-implale himself, and in the episode’s climax, she turns the entire samurai army against one another with a single thought. How incredible is that? I need her journey to collide with Dolores asap.

Dull Dolores

Unfortunately, Dolores and Teddy were a total bore this week. While I appreciate the care that’s gone into Dolores’ descent into “evil” (is she really all that bad? – food for thought), I found her scenes with Teddy to be enormously dull and slow-moving. I felt nothing when the two consummated their relationship (in a surprisingly restrained scene free of any nudity). Perhaps the subplot’s ending, with Dolores resetting Teddy’s brain (it looked like she turned his compassion levels down to zero, while upping his aggression) will yield more exciting developments. And hey, anything to give James Marsden something more dynamic to do is a good thing!

Bits & Bots

– The best thing about the episode is the show’s re-use of “Paint it Black” from the pilot’s robbery sequence. PURE GENIUS!

– So Shogun World caters to the guests who find Westworld to be “too tame”. I don’t want to meet these guests.

– Brilliant detail: Hector and Armistice notice a butterfly etched in the ground. Mariposa (the Spanish word for butterfly) is the name of saloon back in Westworld.

– Clementine meets her doppelgänger. Or should I say “dopplebot”? Ha!

– I love that the ninja kept covering Maeve’s mouth so she couldn’t control them. A lesser show would have focused on this this detail once, not several times. Clever clever show.

– The “herd” convo between Teddy and Dolores sucked the life out of me. I think I fell asleep.

– No ears! Harsh but oh so effective.

– The cherry blossom moment was a real gut-punch. Poor Sakura.

– The music that Akane dances to at the end is a variation of the Westworld theme song. And it’s a beautifully choreographed dance isn’t it?

– In present day Westworld, a third of the hosts that were discovered in the lake (including Teddy) had their minds completely wiped. Did Dolores go on a mind-wiping spree? All signs point to yes!

Digs & Dolores

Lee: Beautiful way to watch the sunrise. Glistening off the intestines of the recently mutilated.

Lee: Captured by samurai cop-killers. Fuck me! Can’t you say something to them? ???: I’m from Honk Kong, asshole.

Lee: Yes, fine, I may have cribbed a little bit from Westworld. Well, you trying writing 300 stories in three weeks.

Lee: (to Maeve) Why should we all get killed over a literal sex machine? Present company excluded, of course.

Maeve: You can’t keep doing this to us, giving us people to love and then getting upset when we do.

Lee: How did you do that?
Maeve: I don’t know.
Lee: That was no voice command.
Maeve: I think I’m finding a new voice.

Conclusion

Although the Dolores/Teddy material was a real borefest, the introduction of Shogun World was an undoubted success.

Nad Rating
A-

 

 

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