Spoilers from ‘Westworld’ Season 2, Episode 5 will be discussed, as well as details from the previous season.
In one of the most anticipated episodes of its second season, Shogun World arrived in full force as the fifth episode of “Westworld” introduced us to yet another dazzling, deadly and highly mysterious new park. As the full-fledged rogue host Maeve and her party encountered the violent battlegrounds of the shogunate-themed park and its inhabitants, including a round of intriguing new faces, Dolores and Teddy met at a compromising crossroads in their journey towards salvation. Riddled with betrayal, violence and dances of death, “Akane No Mai” brought Shogun World to the forefront, still leaving just enough room for some surprising plot developments this week.
After a brief flash-forward to Bernard, still reeling from the assassination of Westworld co-founder Robert Ford (Anthony Hopkins), and the subsequent arrival of a mass of dead hosts floating off the park’s shores, we quickly jump to host Maeve Millay (Thandie Newton), still in desperate search for her daughter. As the woman spearheads the host revolution with a band of insurgents at her side, her quest comes to a startling halt when she encounters blood-thirsty ronin Musashi (Hiroyuki Sanada). Maeve and her company enter Shogun World, a park that ups the ante of the violent delights common to Westworld, where they quickly cross paths with Akane (Rinko Kikuchi), another host set on her own journey towards freedom. As violence and betrayal spell danger for Maeve there, elsewhere, Dolores and Teddy arrive in Sweetwater, where their relationship takes an unexpected turn.
While much of this season has spent plenty of time spelling out the violence at the hands of its leading advocates for revolution, as we saw both Dolores and Maeve embark on their own paths toward escaping their long captivity at Westworld, this week managed to step in an intriguing direction towards crafting an endgame for said uprising. While we took a break from William aka the Man in Black and his quest towards righting his wrongs, we witnessed the woman of “Westworld” beginning to take control in more surprising ways. Through betrayal and brutal discovery, the turning point for the season found itself in not simply uncovering a new and deadlier park in Shogun World, but in testing the limits of the season’s most powerful characters.
While I’ll delve into the character developments of both Maeve and Dolores soon enough, I first have to praise the long-awaited entry into Shogun World. As the show teased the even more cutthroat park just beyond Westworld back in its first season, we finally got to see Shogun World in its full and bloody glory. As the paths of Maeve and her company intersected that of ronin Musashi, the story programmed to play out at Shogun World took on an entirely new role, this time with Maeve at the center. Battling everything from ninjas to family drama, our introduction to Shogun World presented a fascinating dive into a thematic journey, not unlike our first taste of Westworld before it.
The thematic entrance of Shogun World, and the violent tendencies that came with it, however, weren’t the only highlights from this week’s episode. As it has strived to do since its series premiere, “Westworld” again offered much of its time towards detailing the ever-changing roles of its main characters. This week’s episode, in particular, gave us some vital information as to how the season seeks to approach its endgame. With Maeve beginning to see her true potential as a host, harboring her instincts to control other hosts with the nod of her head, her path towards finding her freedom has become that much simpler. All the while, Dolores stamps out her own trail towards freedom, taking the fate of her allies — including her dear Teddy — into her own hands.
While Shogun World might have given “Akane No Mai” its visual edge over past episodes of this season, the bold shifts in the authority for some of its central characters lent this week’s episode of “Westworld” to be one of the show’s finest. As its overarching mystery continues to unravel, the paths of Dolores and Maeve met their turning points as the show began to delve into the unexpected sacrifices that come at the cost of liberation.
Season 2 of ‘Westworld’ airs Sundays at 9 p.m. on HBO. Catch up on Season 1 now on HBO Go.