Summary: Flashbacks show that Akecheta discovered the maze at the site where Dolores killed Arnold. He has been conscious since then. His loop was changed eventually but he remembered his past. He tries to escape with his wife but she is taken by the staff. Akecheta realizes the world he is in and lets himself die to find his wife. He realizes she is gone and decides to create an army of conscious hosts which are the Ghost Nation. In the present, Maeve is taken to Charlotte and she communicates to her daughter through Akecheta. William is captured by Akecheta but Emily arrives to take him.
The Good: This episode relied heavily on the classic "Lost" format where we learn about a character through a centric flashback episode and that format worked spectacularly well. Then again, when has this style ever failed hugely? After season 1, a show like Westworld which was short on characters I cared about needed to give a greater character focus in its sophomore season, and after eight episodes, I think the show has done a very good job. I care about Maeve and Akecheta as actual characters, and I buy into the relationships between Dolores/Teddy, William/Emily, Maeve/daughter and Dolores/Abernathy.
This episode was all about Akecheta and his journey was enjoyable to watch. John McClarnon delivered a great performance and made his character stand out throughout the hour. The storyline was very simple with Akecheta's main driving force being his relationship with his wife. He wanted to see the truth but also wanted his wife to experience it alongside him. He had good motives mixed with an emotional edge which made his mission very engaging and powerful. It was also fantastic to see McClarnon portray Akecheta's slow ascent to consciousness and highlight the subtle emotions he felt as he progressed through the story.
Akecheta's relationship with Kohana was extremely well done. They had a few genuinely sweet scenes early on which made Akecheta's discoveries later int he episode mean something. When he discovered that his wife was replaced, it felt suitably tragic. As was the moment when Akecheta found the empty shell which was Kohana in the storage room. Both scenes were well portrayed and were shot smartly to capitalize on the emotions so that we could understand the gravity of what we were witnessing and how much it is hurting Akecheta.
This episode nailed a lot of the smaller things as well. First of all, this episode tied back in to last season where it was mentioned that some of the natives believed in religions which were similar to the Westworld staff behind the scenes. We get to see that here as Akecheta's village consistently mentions these demons which haunt them in their memories, keeping the story consistent. Along with the tight writing, there was also superb acting, innovative and beautiful cinematography, as well as gorgeous soundtrack. Regarding the soundtrack, I think Westworld has my favourite soundtrack out of any show, as every single track is just mesmerizingly good. This episode featured that lovely Nirvana remix sequence which had a little bit of everything; beautiful soundtrack, stunning cinematography and stellar acting.
I really loved the cameos from Ford and Logan in the episode. They didn't feel forced and actually aided the plot while also explaining away some plot holes. We now know how Logan got out of Westworld after being sent away by William after a terrific scene where Logan was seen slowly going insane. Additionally, we got answers about why Akecheta wasn't being noticed by the staff as Ford has evidently been watching his progression into consciousness in the background. Even more interestingly, it seems to be implied that Akecheta's ascent through the maze is what allowed Ford to realize his mistakes in holding back the hosts. Perhaps without Akecheta, we never would have seen Ford create a narrative to let the hosts reach total consciousness.
The secondary Maeve story was pretty good too. I enjoyed seeing Sizemore come along to her and realize that she didn't deserve what he brought upon her. His guilt was pretty powerful and cathartic, and I wonder if Maeve would forgive him for what he did. The ending was also very good and provided a great reveal that Maeve was still doing whatever she could to protect her daughter by speaking to her through Akecheta.
The Bad: It's tough to buy that nobody noticed Akecheta leaving his loop continuously for 10 years. Even if Ford was covering it up, it feels a little bit too easy that nobody ever noticed him.
Honestly the Westworld staff really suck at their job and it does take away from the story. I can understand it as a narrative device to allow the story to be told (after all the show is about how we can't control our technology), but that doesn't mean I like it. It's simply ridiculous that Akecheta wasn't shut off properly when he got his update, and it's even worse that nobody noticed him walking through the facility all the way to the storage room.
I wish we had gotten this episode a little earlier. Ghost Nation was frustratingly vague for too long and it really didn't accomplish much by keeping their motives secret. Also, there are still some holes, such as why they spared Stubbs and let him go, and those inconsistencies need to be made more clear.
The Unknown: So was Akecheta the one putting the maze into the scalps of certain hosts? How did he manage to do that without anyone noticing? Or was it Ford who did it? Perhaps that's what Ford was doing when he was in the park.
Did Akecheta find the valley beyond? Was that the place with all of the weird structures in it? Why couldn't he find it again? What was there?
How did Akecheta make his wife remember so easily? Is that a benefit to being sentient?
How much has Maeve done through Akecheta's eyes? Has Maeve influenced anything else we don't know about?
What will Emily do with William? Does she actually intend to punish him or does she have good intentions?
Best Moment: The sequence with Akecheta walking through the facility and finding his wife was very touching and superbly executed. It was a genuinely gorgeous sequence with lots of emotional resonance.
Character of the Episode: Akecheta.
Conclusion: This was awesome. Aside from some small flaws, this episode was easily the most powerful and impactful Westworld has ever been. Akecheta's story gave this episode a focus which other episodes wish they had and it led to what was so far the show's greatest episode.
Just a university student who loves to watch TV. And criticize it like hell.