“Kiksuya” means “remember” in Lakota. If you took the time to learn Lakota so you could watch Dances With Wolves without subtitles, your efforts are paying off, because most of this episode is spoken in Lakota. Also, don’t forget that SPOILERS are to follow. If you haven’t yet seen Sunday night’s episode, check it out before reading further. Or don’t. You’ve got free will, right? Who am I to make assumptions about your prime directive? Maybe you’d enjoy reading this first and then watching the show.
Can’t remember what happened last week? Here’s a refresher.
“Take my heart when you go.”
Zahn McClarnon (who also shined as Hanzee in Fargo’s magnificent second season) makes the most of the spotlight shined on him in this episode. His performance as Akecheta is right up there with the best performances of the first two seasons of Westworld. Despite what could be handicaps to expression (a stoic voice and having your face painted for half your scenes), he demonstrates love, bewilderment, betrayal, anger, and resolve easily and beautifully.
Throughout the hour, we learn the history of Akecheta, one of the first hosts (he was the one with Angela when they were pitching Logan on the idea of Westworld), and how he gained consciousness after happening upon the maze toy in the church.
Akecheta starts to remember his previous loops and his love, Kohana (Julia Jones). Like Maeve’s Daughter, Kohana fails to recognize someone that loves them. Wandering off from his set loop, Akecheta finds Logan, now naked, sun-scarred, and delusional after being stranded by William. Logan’s ramblings inspire Akecheta to journey even further out, where he eventually finds the Cradle and realizes there are worlds beyond his own.
He wants to take Kohana with him, but she still doesn’t remember him and reacts as though she is being kidnapped. It isn’t until he speaks the words they spoke to each other in a previous loop that she realizes who he is. Things are going well until Kohana is retrieved by a couple of Delos techs, tearing the lovers apart. When he returns to his village to find her, Kohana has been replaced by another host.
“Nothing as it seems.”
We find out that Maeve’s “memories” of the Ghost Nation warrior and the Man in Black menacing her and her daughter were misunderstood. Shown in snatches throughout the first two seasons, it appeared that both the warrior and The Man in Black were there to kill them, just in different loops. While this was true of the Man in Black, the warrior was actually Akecheta, who was there trying to protect them.
After failing to find his love in all his searching in Westworld, he decides to look on the other side of life, and allows himself to be killed so he can continue his search in the Cradle. In a haunting and tender scene, he finds her in cold storage, inert.
“Take mine in its place.”
Eventually Akecheta comes upon his creator, Robert Ford, who questions him about the maze and then tells him that when the Deathbringer (Dolores) comes, he will gather his people and bring them to a new world.
We end with two of the show’s mainstays in peril. Maeve is in the Cradle, cut open and at the mercy of Charlotte and Roland. While it would be painful for the audience if this is her end, things don’t look good, with only the bungling Lee to stand up for her.
The other major player whose outlook is dim is The Man in Black. The last we see of him, he’s tied to a horse and being led off by Grace. You remember Grace, right? The daughter that last episode he seemingly reunited with, only to abandon her once again? From what we’ve seen of her, she’s just as ruthless and determined as her old man, which bodes very poorly for him.
Although both episodes from this season that focus on one character (this episode and “The Riddle of the Sphinx”) are perfect for showcasing the talents of a single actor, I think Westworld has such a great ensemble cast that it works better when they show each storyline in an episode.
I was glad to hear composer Ramin Djawadi Westworld-ize another modern song (Nirvana’s “Heart-Shaped Box”) in the episode. Such songs were used so brilliantly in season one, but it feels like they’ve gone away from using them in season two.