Westworld Season 2 Episode 5: Akane No Maeve

Autonomy and consent are in conversation in this episode, where Maeve meets her match and Dolores demands Teddy make some firmware updates

Disaster recovery teams are still deployed across the parks and control centers, in an attempt to regain control of the hosts. An engineer reveals an alarming discovery — the hosts “brains” are virginal, which is to say they appear as though no data were ever imprinted on them. Naked host bodies are dragged across the floor like corpses as a stark conclusion is reached: the park has lost 1/3 of their IP in a single sweep.

Maeve (Thandie Newton) and her cohorts are captured by the samurai they encountered in the conclusion of last week’s episode. They don’t speak the language — and the one individual of Asian descent among them smacks down a member of their group’s racist assumption that he can communicate with their captors, replying, “I’m from Hong Kong, asshole.”

This All Feels a Little Too Familiar

Maeve’s renegades are marched through a village that bears an eerily similarity to their own. Much like their own park, the intricate activities of a small town morning unfold around them, before a group of ill repute unleash an attack. Maeve and Hector’s (Rodrigo Santoro) Asian counterparts repeat the exact same dialogue from the Saloon hold up plot line — except in a small village in Japan, and of course in Japanese. Recognizing their familiarity, Maeve strikes up a solidarity between the two groups. They watch Lee (Simon Quarterman) narrate a quest unfolding, but it does not resolve as he predicts. Instead, Maeve’s doppleganger achieves agency by killing a man who threatens her protege. Shogun world’s parallels with Westworld continue to reveal themselves.

Maeve and the dopplegangers team up to find a safe access point out of the park, but en route they run into a renegade Shogun gang who have cut their own ears to prevent hearing commands that would control them. Fortunately Maeve’s power has grown. She can now issue commands merely by thinking them — no verbal cues needed. “I think I’m finding a new voice,” she murmurs. She can also, it seems, “wake up” hosts through non-verbal communication. However, when Maeve attempts to give her Japanese counterpart Akane  (Rinko Kikuchi)this knowledge, Akane refuses. Akane would rather continue to live in the loop of this story, rather than lose her adopted daughter within the story.

Meanwhile Back at the Ranch

Back in Westworld, a player piano’s scroll reveals a bloody stain, the evidence of a massacre at Sweetwater. The few living hosts who remain eerily run through their lonely plots, repeating lines of one-sided dialogue without the guidance of guests or other host players. Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood) moves through the town on the hunt for her father, Peter Abernathy (Louis Herthum).

She posits a scenario to Teddy (James Marsden). If the weakest among a herd of cows is dying by an airborne disease, how do you stop it from spreading? Teddy suggests sheltering the weak animals away from the carriers. Dolores reveals the solution to be burning the sick to keep away the carriers. Clearly a metaphor for their own divergent leadership styles, Dolores’ query may forebear her own ultimate plan. Are the dead hosts piling up around the park the result of a culling of the weak, to protect her herd? Later, an intimate moment between Dolores and Teddy reveals that the AI’s have sexual desires that exist beyond simply pleasing the guests. But while Maeve respected the wishes of her friend, Dolores made the choice to awaken Teddy without his consent, and despite the warnings from developers that he might not fully recover from such a rude awakening.

Limitless

The episode concludes with Maeve’s promise to use her newfound voice — a threat that she clearly intends to make good on now that she has AI “mind control” powers. The power of the AI mind, especially when modified to the extent that Maeve’s has been, is untested especially in an uncontrolled environment. But are the “minds” of these AI’s truly uncontrolled? The determination with which Dolores’ father seeks the train is matched by Dolores’ own fervor to find her father. These foundational wants and needs are deeply human, and yet also manufactured by the Delos company in its hosts. While the optimist in this reviewer wants to believe it is evidence of the host’s own burgeoning autonomy, it could also be evidence that all these human tendencies within the hosts is simply the result of code. Perhaps in this season, like young William (Jimmi Simpson) before us, we as an audience are being fooled into believing that a robot is real. Could our perceived “consciousness” and the subsequent uprising of these robots merely be yet another game played by Ford?

Westworld continues Sundays at 9 p.m. ET on HBO. Missed last week’s recap? Catch up here.

Photo and video credit courtesy of HBO.


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