Recap: ‘Westworld’ season two, episode 5 – ‘Akane No Mai’

Iñigo De Paula
Recap: ‘Westworld’ season two, episode 5 – ‘Akane No Mai’
East finally meets west in 'Westworld'

MANILA, Philippines – Raj World was our first proper glimpse of a park other than Westworld. It looked majestic, but seemed a bit sedate compared to the rowdiness that Westworld offered. But in “Akane No Mai,” we finally enter Shogun World, and it’s every bit as awesome and visceral as we would have hoped for. “…an experience expressly designed for the guests who find Westworld too tame,” comments Lee Sizemore as he, Maeve, and the rest of the crew are taken prisoner by Musashi, the ronin first seen two episodes ago.

“We based this park on Japan’s Edo period for the true aficionado of artful gore.”

Re-Paint it Black

As the group is led deeper into Shogun World, we hear a familiar song: a shamisen cover of “Paint it Black” by the Rolling Stones. The song was first covered last season as a prelude to the heist in Sweetwater.

The song’s reuse sets up one of the biggest reveals of the episode: Sizemore has been plagiarizing his own Westworld ideas for Shogun World. A number of Shogun World’s characters and narratives are direct “easternized” versions of those of Westworld.  

Musashi takes them to the Shogun World version of Mariposa (which here is a Geisha house) where the local version of the Sweetwater raid takes place. Armistice meets her counterpart, a badass archer with a dragon tattoo instead of a snake. We also learn that Musashi is Hector’s Shogun World counterpart.  Inside the Mariposa we meet Akane, the establishment’s okasan and Maeve’s parallel. Maeve finally gets the chance to use her Jedi powers to compel Ronin and his posse to drop their arms.

With everyone settled, Maeve and Sizemore take stock of the situation. Sizemore notes that seeing one’s own counterpart could cause bouts of paranoia and cognitive glitches. Hector, being the alpha male wannabe that he is, is hostile towards Musashi. Armistice, on the other hand, is mesmerized by her counterpart.

Akane reverts to her narrative. Akane has taken a young geisha named Sakura under her wing, but their bond is threatened when the shogun’s emissary arrives and attempts to take Sakura to his master. Akane kills the emissary, igniting the conflict between Akane’s group and the shogun.

Maeve taps into the Matrix

That evening, a group of ninjas attempt to assassinate Maeve’s and Akane’s groups. Maeve is gagged, but discovers that she no longer actually needs to give her commands verbally. By tapping directly into a ninja’s neural network, she makes him release her… and drive his head into a dagger.  The ninjas retreat, but not before taking Sakura and calling Maeve a “witch.”

Maeve’s new abilities open up a whole new realm of possibility for the show. How will Dolores, who still relies on her kidnapped Westworld technician to reprogram Hosts, react to Maeve’s godlike powers?

The shogun then sends a battalion to the geisha house. Hector, Musashi, and Armistice distract the soldiers while Maeve, Akane, Sizemore, along with Felix and Sylvester, leave to rescue Sakura.

Maeve and company finally reach the shogun’s encampment. They learn that the warlord himself is leaking cortical fluid and glitching. The shogun agrees to free Sakura on one condition: Akane has to dance for him that evening.  

While preparing for the performance, Maeve tries to use her power to awaken Akane, but the geisha refuses. Her life with Sakura is her story. What good is a life where she cannot love the one thing she cares for? Akane’s decision is a great contrast to the journeys of Maeve and Dolores, who see woke-ness as a way of asserting their personhood. For Akane, waking up means losing all sense of self.

Before Akane’s performance, the shogun kills Sakura. That is just cold. During Akane’s dance, she lulls the shogun into complacency… then slices his head in half. Maeve then command’s the shogun’s men to use their swords on each other. Sizemore was right; this is artfully gory stuff.

Teddy: sacrificial calf?

Maeve’s story is the main focus of the episode, but we still get a good amount of Dolores and Teddy. I’ve been wondering about Teddy’s fate since it was revealed back in the first episode that he eventually dies.

Dolores tells Teddy a story about her father’s cows being afflicted Bluetongue, and the best way to address the spread of disease. Teddy, being the kind-hearted simpleton that he is, recommends quarantining the cows. Dolores looks at him kindly and tells him that flies were spreading the disease. Her father burned half the herd, which was the only way to contain a disease with wings.

Later that evening, Dolores has her men subdue Teddy and reprogram him… for what? We know that Dolores and Teddy’s life together may be coming to an end. But what does Dolores have in mind for her poor cowboy? The answers can’t come soon enough! –

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