Westworld: ‘Akane no Mal’ Episode Review

This week’s episode of Westworld ‘Akaine no Mai’ took us to a new park and adventure with the Shogun World. The Shogun World was something that was hinted at by the end of the first season and while we knew we would eventually go there I didn’t expect it to be this soon. There were high expectations going into the Shogun World from fans and did it live up to the hype? For the most part I really enjoyed what we saw from the Shogun World in this episode. It was a breath of fresh air that was needed for the series and a nice change of scenery for once. However this episode wasn’t all about the Shogun World, you also has some very interesting developments between Dolores and Teddy which are huge for Dolores’ character arc and the park as a whole. With that being said lets get into the events of this week’s episode.

Salvaging hosts

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With all the talk of Shogun World we actually start this episode outside the park. At the o beginning of the episode we are up to speed on the timeline picking up straight after the events that left the hosts dead in the valley. Delos are gathering up the hosts from the river and are pretty much salvaging them for any data and their bodies because if we think about it they don’t have any hosts sitting in reserve. We also see Delos employees cleaning up in their headquarters where the map of Westworld is located. It will be interesting to see if they’ll be able to get it all back up and running. One last thing I wanted to point out amongst the bodies that are being cleaned up we clearly see Teddy who we presume is dead. I don’t want to go into Teddy’s role in this episode just yet, I’ll come back that because it goes hand in hand with what Dolores has been doing in this episode.

Shogun World

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The majority of this episode takes place in Shogun World and I didn’t complain one bit. What I found interesting was how Shogun World wasn’t created for people to just experience this different culture. As Sizemore states they created this world for the people who felt that the original park too tame and it was a place that was built full of artificial gore. Just to provide some context the Shogun world is based on period between the 16th to 18th century Japan which is known as ‘Edo’.

This period can be best described as “During the reign of the Tokugawa Shoguns, Japan’s emperor reigned in secluded majesty at the imperial capital in Kyoto; however, the true centre of power, government, the economy and social life was Edo, where the Shogun lived and ruled the country”.

The Shogun World at first sight looks beautiful, alive and just aesthetically pleasing to the eye. However while looking closely at the environment I started to notice the clear similarities to Sweetwater. While the architecture maybe totally different to the buildings we saw in Sweetwater the layout of the town is really just a copy of how that town was laid out. This is important because a lot of what we see in the Shogun World is really just a copy of what we saw from the original Westworld park from the narratives down to the characters. This is where we run into Maeve’s group and we soon find out that they have doppelgangers who are playing out the same narrative of storming the town and stealing a safe. Akane clearly resembles Maeve as her narrative is based around her daughter Sakura who gets kidnapped. The rest of the episode is spent with the two groups working together trying to get her back from the Shogun and his army. Akane’s daughter gets kidnapped because the hosts are all going off script. The revolution that started in the first park has spread across multiple parks as we saw with the Raj world earlier this season.

Maeve’s new powers/journey

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During Maeve’s time in the Shogun World we actually find out that she has powers. At the start of the episode when she tries to control the hosts verbally it didn’t work just like with the Ghost Nation but when she does it through her mind she gets what she wants. Due to her new found powers Maeve is labelled the ‘witch’ throughout this episode. When Sakura is captured we see that Shogun has carved a cherry blossom tree into her back. I had to do some research on this because I knew this had to mean something, it’s Westworld, everything has a deeper meaning. The cherry blossom tree is common in Japanese culture and it represents ‘the fragility and the beauty of life’, ‘It’s a a reminder that life is almost overwhelmingly beautiful but that it is also tragically short’. We saw this with the death of Sakura by the end of the episode. Before going on to Dolores’ role in this episode there were just a couple more thing I wanted to touch on with Shogun World. The first being how Shogun just like Bernard in the first episode was leaking cortical fluid from his ear. Has he been tampered with? Or has someone else’s mind been put into his body? I guess we’ll find out soon especially with Bernard. The last thing I wanted to touch on is when Sizemore finds this device in the woods. He acted like he knew it was already there and wanted to keep it a secret from everyone else. The voice coming from the device was heavily distorted but one would have to guess it was the people back at the Delos headquarters on the other end. What the hell is Sizemore up to? I have a feeling he’s leading the group down a dangerous path.

Dolores and Teddy

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Dolores’ path to the great weapon has taken her back home to Sweetwater where it all started to look for her father. However once she gets there the town has been destroyed with only a few hosts left alive. What happened to these hosts isn’t told to but it’s a reminder that the hosts are going off script and have killed each other. But not all the hosts have gone off script as we see with Clementine’s replacement who is still on her loop as he says her staple line “Not much of a rind on you”. How are some hosts still on a loop? That part is still confusing to me. In this episode we see just how determined Dolores is trying to complete this revolution through her conversations with Teddy. She talks about how her father tried to deal with his cattle that was struck with bluetounge and Teddy stated how he would have sheltered the infected cattle. It was at this point I believe Dolores knew she couldn’t trust Teddy. He was someone that could go on to betray her and work with the humans. He could eventually be the disease that could influence the rest of the hosts who are carrying out this revolution. Teddy throughout this episode was trying to convince Dolores to take a different route and just walk away from it all as he claimed there was a spot for them in the world to live together. It did look like Dolores was going follow Teddy on his proposal, we even saw them have sex which we haven’t seen before between two hosts. But I believe she knew what she was going to do with him after their conversation about the cattle. What what exactly is done to Teddy by the end of this episode? At the beginning of the episode with the current timeline we saw Teddy’s body at the Delos facility. Dolores with the help of the tech looks to be reprogramming Teddy to get him fully on her side. I can only think that with the tablet she is raising his loyalty and possibly his aggression to the max. In future episodes we will definitely start to see a much darker version of Teddy. Ironically this means Dolores is turning into her oppressors because this is what they done to her, the constant reprogramming for what is a brutal process. It does make it hard to root for Dolores here when she is forcing people to side with her. Dolores told him “To grow we all need to suffer first” which leads me to think Teddy’s still part of her major plan. We just have to wait and see how Teddy eventually meets his demise.

Overall I thought this was a really strong episode, after last week’s episode this season is really kicking into high gear. The Shogun World was really refreshing to see and was a much needed change to what we have been accustomed to. I really enjoyed everything about the Shogun World and especially how the episode ended on that cliff hangar. I have to mention before I end this that scene where Akane gets revenge on Shogun for killing her daughter was breathtaking. Dolores’ storyline continues to keep my interest after this episode because while she’s the leader of this revolution I do think more people around her will start to question her and it will be interesting to see if she treats them in the same way she did with Teddy.

What did you think of this week’s episode?

Be sure to comeback here next week for my review of the next episode!

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