Dolores makes a choice for Teddy. Maeve and co. meet their Shogun counterparts. The path forward for both women seems to start by being taken by any means necessary.
On Westworld Season 2 Episode 5, “Akane No Mai,” Shogun World is introduced, at long last! Maeve learns that she has found a new voice (a familiar thread of dialogue there). Dolores decides what she’s going to do with Teddy and subsequently their fate together. Lee showcases all that a rushed writer can produce, and the future remains a little foggy.
Bernard, Is That You?
Westworld is mostly carnage. The episode opens with a very confused (maybe too confused?) looking Bernard, who watches the chaos unfold around him with almost detached curiosity, if one could even call it that. Dredging the lake means skimming out the bodies, which finally means getting answers as to what has happened to the hosts. Despite their little uprising, Delos seems to still exist in the hopes of repurposing the hosts. It’s revealed that Abernathy apparently still hasn’t been found, which means two things for the future timeline: 1) that he escapes Charlotte Hale’s capture somehow, and 2) that he isn’t among the hosts in the lake. Not to mention, the Delos men have been robbed, their IP missing from their hosts, and Bernard seems like he isn’t all there.
Meanwhile, Maeve and co. have arrived in Shogun World. Maeve tries her mind tricks on their captors but to no avail; turns out, her powers don’t work the way she thought they might. As Sylvester plays the Asian racism game with Lutz, Lee drops a few atom bombs: all the hosts have the ability to understand multiple languages, all within their code, and that, because the Shogun World hosts weren’t able to do it, the same issue that has overwhelmed Westworld has found its way to the more intense park. Never has there been a more suitable character-narrator than the foul-mouthed British writer. It also means that Maeve’s “vocal voodoo”, as the Lee so aptly puts it, didn’t work initially.
And now a town scene, with a recognizable tune. There seems to be some obvious parallels, and Armistice hits the nail perhaps too on the head, declaring it familiar. They even realize that there’s a mariposa outside, just like Maeve’s saloon back home. It seems we have found ourselves the Shogun World version of the company the audience has gotten so used to, complete with a tattooed face sharpshooter and a geisha version of Maeve. The Shogun World version of Hector, Musashi, even has the same banter with Akane, the geisha Maeve, which is interrupted because of the arc Maeve knows they’re on; the safe is empty, and they have something far more real to pursue. It seems like the company has grown bigger.
Back at the Ranch
Speaking of company, Dolores and Teddy come back to Sweetwater, if only for their means of transportation, the train. Seemingly the only way in and out of the park, it has become Dolores’s primary concern. Recovering her father, Peter Abernathy, has become her only concern, surpassing visiting the valley beyond. New Clementine is shadowed by Zombie Clementine, who mouths the lines, the moments still reminiscent in her head, which begs the question: is it empty? It seems to have pieces in it still, but they are misaligned or mismatched, the puzzle incomplete. Not only did she know where to take Bernard for him to find Elsie, she seems to have the memories of her home, of Sweetwater and the last lines she had.
Speaking of straying too far from home, Maeve and co. have realized that being too close to their Shogun counterparts might be altering them. A hilarious mimicking between Armistice and Hanaryo showcases the cognitive malfunctions that might be happening, as well as the suspicion that is rising up in Hector. Despite Maeve being close to her counterpart, she seems unaffected, just as she’s the only one that can tap into Japanese. Maeve’s cognitive abilities already impressive, it seems highly unusual that she remains completely unaltered. Do her powers extend beyond the adjustments made?
But it seems Maeve and Akane might be more alike than either one thought, when she makes a choice to protect a girl she found and raised as her own. She makes the choice, decidedly against the writing as Lee declares, to kill in order to protect Sakura; the instinctive mothering of her seems like the exact same arc that Maeve is on. But, in another development outside of their story arcs (thanks, Lee, for the continuous heads-up), ninjas attack. And simultaneously, Maeve is hearing voices, and is also somehow able to control them; she no longer needs to speak, like a Jedi mind trick. Lee’s even surprised, which means this isn’t even in the coding, because he wasn’t all that shocked when she began to speak Japanese (though I will say, I was when he did). Hector and Lee both seem a little more afraid of Maeve than before. The mishaps are mounting in Shogun World, the storylines moving at a rate and in directions that are clearly wildly unpredictable to Lee. As Musashi gives them time, and us a fight against the samurai, Akane and Maeve escape.
As a means of their own escape, Teddy offers what he’s never been able to for Dolores: a now rather than a someday. He offers her a chance to walk away, or perhaps to hide away, to tuck themselves into a corner of Westworld and disappear. Rather than give him an answer, Dolores seem to offer another one of her creepy farm stories, seemingly slipping back into her western mentality, far away from Wyatt, despite it seeming threatening enough of a story to be a Wyatt message. The herd almost died, because of the flies, the same thing that Dolores kills in episode one of the first season, the first thing she’s ever shown to kill, now seeming more of a promise than anything else. Her sickness has clearly spread. She poses the question to Teddy: how would he stop the sickness from being spread? Effectively, Dolores is asking if he is capable to do what has to be done, and Teddy proves that he isn’t. Dolores doesn’t want to do the kind thing; she wants the herd to live. And sometimes, that means not everybody gets to make it to the valley beyond. It seems Dolores has a choice to make.
Speaking of choices, Maeve isn’t done making hers, railing against her own code and Lee for writing her that way. Lee’s confusion at Maeve’s new abilities circles back to Dolores’s idea, that she’s found a new voice. Akane and Maeve bond over the fact that they are, in fact, connected, again working opposite the way Lee has written them; they aren’t built to love anybody else but they both have. But Lee makes a significant discovery: the so-called cavalry, killed by the hosts, left a radio behind. And, coming in as the comic relief yet again, Sylvester sums up their current plan pretty well: “We’re gonna die”.
As it turns out, the Shogun isn’t awake as they thought, like Maeve and the hosts (though arguably only Maeve at this point), but rather broken. That weird goo (called cortical fluid) oozes out of his head, and we all know what almost happened to Bernard. Despite not knowing how long the goo will take to truly alter a host, it seems like his fate is predestined, even if he does survive this encounter with Maeve and Akane. Maeve’s simple line of “He’s broken” seems a little on the nose too, the easy understandings allowing the mystery of the reason why he’s broken down to remain the focus. The issue isn’t that he’s breaking down, but why? Is the sickness truly in the flies? Or perhaps it’s in whoever programmed the flies.
Much like Maeve and Akane, who always seem to have a plan, it seems that Dolores does too. Dolores knows she’ll be a disappointment if she follows through with what Teddy wants to do; running away is too far gone for her now. There is no place for her to hide or run. Teddy promises that they’ll go together, with their eyes open, but, just like their choice to have sex, it seems different. It seems like a goodbye, and it seems like Dolores knows what she’s doing. In her own way, Maeve knows what Akane’s doing, reciting the lines they have shared. They talk about a voice, one that Maeve seems to be finding, talking about a new world, and that is indeed what they are searching for, not to mention to be whoever they want. The entire monologue now seems to have taken on new meaning, illustrating that there is more to the lines that Lee wrote than maybe even he knew. Akane fights the freedom Maeve offers, unsure of what it means and frightened that her world might be a lie. She’s on the beginning of their written path, and Maeve seems to recognize that perhaps freedom isn’t always worth it.
On the flip side of the coin, Dolores doesn’t seem to think so, choosing to change Teddy in order to pursue her goal, despite her admitting that her feelings for Teddy are real. But then again, is anything she says real anymore? Teddy and Dolores have a weird post-coital conversation and then Dolores uses it against him. She has a clear understanding of him, and she knows what she has to do: she has to burn Teddy, philosophically speaking. Despite not being sure who he’ll be now, it seems pretty foolhardy of Dolores to think he won’t remember this. Then again, we know he ends up as a body they have to dredge out of the water. So, whether by someone’s hand or his own mind, we know he doesn’t last. Dolores declares, “To grow, we all have to suffer”. I guess, even in this moment and in her own way, she means her too. Either way, say goodbye to Teddy.
After seeing Sakura killed in front of her, Akane becomes a free woman, whether she wanted to be or not. She’s been pushed to the limit, and she pushes back; she and Maeve remain mirrored, despite Maeve’s Shogun being the MiB. Akane’s performance for the Shogun ends the way she wants it: with his death. It seems, still like Maeve, she’s writing her own story. And if Akane and Maeve are following storylines, that means that Maeve will be the one to stop the MiB, not Dolores, however likely that seemed.
But rather than die, despite them saying their respectful and sweet goodbyes to one another, Maeve uses this new hidden talent and turns everyone on one another. They may not have ears but they all have brains (albeit not fully functioning ones at this point). Akane and Maeve walk in different directions, but seemingly with the same intent: to get to their daughters. And it seems Maeve’s got that new voice. What will stop her?
What did you think of Westworld Season 2 Episode 5? Will Maeve be able to use this voice to find her daughter? Whose voice is it, exactly? Is Bernard really Bernard in the future scenes? And who is Teddy now? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.
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