'Westworld' Season 2, Episode 5: Shogun World, DoppelBots, and Maeve's Special Powers
Last night’s installment of “Robots Gone Wild” was surprisingly linear, for the most part. Sure, it opened with Bernard looking at a pile of drowned hosts (including Teddy) back in the lab, while The Other, Other Skarsgård mused about how all these “disparate threads” came together “to create this nightmare.” Like, join the club, buddy. That’s literally what we all do every goddamn time we finish watching an episode. That’s the user experience of Westworld in a nutshell.
So yeah, we get a glimpse into the present as the Delos crew tries to make sense of the wreckage, including the fact that 1/3 of the hosts they’ve found have nothing in their control units. Not wiped, but virginal — as though they’d never held any data at all. On top of that, the “cradle” that held all the host backup data was destroyed, so Delos has lost a significant amount of intellectual property. And they still need to get their hands on Papa Abernathy.
The episode also returns to Dolores and a not-dead-yet Teddy, who affirm their affection for each other even while Dolores processes the fact that Teddy’s niceness is an infection vector or something. She tells a whole long, disturbing story about this one time that flies started making her herd sick, and when Teddy is all like “I’d handle it by giving the cows shelter,” she’s like “WRONG YOU MUST BURN THEM TO DUST.” And then she has Teddy forcibly reprogrammed, probably to be meaner or something. But they get a sex scene, so you know: Marsden-butt for the win.
But look, none of this really matters because OMG SHOGUN WORLD YOU GUYS. The majority of the episode deals with the aftermath of Maeve, Hector, Lee, and those lab tech dudes stumbling into the neighboring park and getting threatened by motherfucking samurais. But not just any samurais: the main one is played by Hiroyuki Sanada, who you probably recognize because he pops up in almost everything — but as far as I’m concerned, he’ll always be the captain who died first in Sunshine. I fucking love that movie. BUT ANYWAY.
The Shogun World plot basically cements two truths. First: Maeve is Neo now. She doesn’t need to use her words to control other hosts anymore — she can do just by thinking at them. She can make them fight each other, or even kill themselves. It’s like she’s manipulating the Matrix. Or like if Professor Xavier was a telepath of code. I mean, I think. It’s still sorta hard to tell what’s going on but the point is, Maeve is a badass and she’s definitely broken free of her programming in ways not even Dolores could comprehend. Also, when Westworld hands the narrative over to Thandie Newton, the show becomes absolutely electric. Typically her appearances are like an exciting reprieve peppered throughout a given episode, but last night, when the episode was dominated by Maeve, it actually felt like a let down anytime the story shifted back to any of the other plot threads. Even Marden-butt felt like a distraction (a pleasant one, but still).
And the second truth? Lee is a piss-poor writer. I mean, we kinda always knew he was overrated and hackneyed, but the discovery that Lee recycled entire characters and plots written for West World and then dropped them into Shogun World drove that point home (and also was a nice nod to the back and forth influence between Westerns and Samurai films). It turns out that Shogun World is a place designed for guests who find West World a bit too tame, but that just means the danger is even greater there. Sanada’s character, Musashi, is a ronin who rolls up with his crew to… rob the safe at a geisha house. Yup, he’s Hector’s DoppelBot! There is an Armistice Doppelbot with a dragon tattoo on her face. And the head geisha in charge is a woman named Akane (Rinko Kikuchi, from Babel and Pacific Rim), who is basically Japanese Maeve. Hector, of course, immediately hates and distrusts his alternate version (bandits, amirite?), but Maeve recognizes what’s happening and feels a unique bond with Akane. So when Akane herself breaks free from her storyline and angers the Shogun to protect Sakura (think Clementine), Maeve decides to help her any way she can.
And as I mentioned, when Maeve sets her mind to it… she can kinda do anything. Now I can’t wait to see what two Maeve’s are capable of.
Line of the night: “Beautiful way to watch the sun rise. Glistening off the intestines of the recently mutilated.” Lee may plagiarize himself, but the man does have a way with words.