What is happening in our world? Who is doing what? what is going on now? These are questions that will be answered. Enjoy.
Westworld Season 2 Episode 5 Recap
Okay, they’re not fucking around this time. After surprising us with The Raj and a brief teaser of Shogun World in previous episodes, we’re really in it now, my fellow humans. This is Shogun World, and it’s as violent as it is beautiful. But before we get to the swordplay and tea houses, let’s take a quick look at the aggravating tease at the top of Episode Five.
Our dude, Hal Strand, the head of operations, is talking to some random tech guy. Apparently all the hosts they’ve recovered from that mysterious dead body lake have had their backups destroyed. But that’s not the weird part. It’s what they say about Bernard, who’s standing, unmoving, staring at the bodies piled up in the lab. “That’s quite a story you gave him,” Strand says, “and one hell of an ending.”
It certainly sounds like they know Bernard is a host, which would fit with some of the theories that Delos is intentionally running him through the same loop to get some sort of information out of him. Unfortunately, that’s all we get, because the rest of the episode focuses on Team Maeve in Shogun World and Team Dolores in Westworld.
After more than a year of speculation, we finally get to see inside Shogun World, and the wait was worth it. This park looks absolutely stunning. Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy have put a ton of work in creating this experience. As actor Hiroyuki Sanada told me, they put the utmost care into building authentic Japanese villages and culture. But where it does deviate from tradition, it does so with a purpose: As Sanada told me, some changes to costumes or props are to position Shogun World as a park built by western people creating a Japanese adventure. More importantly, though, they needed to change some things to ensure that it more accurately mirrors Westworld.
The first person we see in Shogun World is Sanada’s Musashi, named after the IRL 17th century Ronin. He captures Maeve and Co. and brings them to a small Japanese village, where we see first hand how lazy the Westworld writing is. They carry out a heist at the tea house that perfectly mirrors the Westworld heist set to the Rolling Stones’ “Paint It Black”—complete with a Japanese version of the song. Our handsome outlaw Hector is the Westworld equivalent of Musashi, there’s a Shogun Maeve, etc., etc. This provides a new perspective in an attempt to understand the individuality of these hosts. If they can just copy and paste entire personalities into fundamentally different bodies, then how can sentient hosts like Maeve consider themselves equivalent to humans? Are those personalities simply used as a base to build a unique individual?
That’s a question that we only get to scratch the surface of in this episode, because Team Maeve quickly gets caught up in a malfunctioning storyline involving the Shogun of Shogun World kidnapping a geisha named Sakura. Because she’s sympathetic to her Shogun World counterpart, Maeve helps Rinko Kikuchi’s Akane (the head of the Mariposa Geisha House) retrieve her adopted daughter.
Now, the same thing happening in Westworld is happening in Shogun World. The hosts are off their loops, going about things in the park on their own. Maeve joins Musashi and Akane in attempting to get the kidnapped Sakura back. Along the way we learn a few key things: 1) this world has ninjas, which is cool as hell; 2) Maeve has the ability to somehow control hosts’ thoughts with her mind; 3) Shogun World makes good on its promise to be hyper violent, with gore taken right out of a Tarantino movie. They end up captured by the Shogun’s army outside of town, where Sakura is murdered and Akane avenges the death by killing all of the Shogun. Before the army can kill Team Maeve, she uses her new abilities to make the soldiers kill themselves.
While these mirroring storylines show the hosts’ brains and backgrounds are not unique. Maeve and Akane’s empathy for others show their ability to break from these pre-designated attributes. Though they might have been built in the same image, they’re capable of creating their own identities.
This idea is also explored in Dolores and Teddy’s storyline, where they’re preparing to go get Abernathy back. There’s not much progress in terms of narrative over at Team Dolores, but we do get into the complex—and rather depressing—relationship between the couple. Here’s a modern day love story: A woman is programmed to love a man, she eventually achieves sentience and still feels like she loves the man, but he man (typical dude) is slow to achieve sentience and might not be acting on actual feelings but his programming. Ah, a sci-fi romance tragedy.
Anyway, Dolores and Teddy fuck in a tangle of perfect robot bodies. And everything seems beautiful and perfect. Teddy tells her, “They built us to perform for them and each other. That’s over. I saw you tonight, Dolores, when you saw me.” Which makes you think, Finally this dude has woken up. But unfortunately Dolores plays hard to get and tells him that she’s “seen he’s not going to make it.” And she has him held down and his attributes changed to make him not the lawman with the heart of gold, but rather a brutal heartless killer.
“Where we’re going there’s no place for a man like you,” Dolores tells Teddy. And, honestly, she’s not wrong, Teddy was too good for our shitty human world. We’d tear him apart. If he’s going to survive in the human world, he needs to be an asshole like one of us.