Westworld: Kiksuya
June 10, 2018 10:34 PM - Season 2, Episode 8 - Subscribe

The story of Ghost Nation warrior Akecheta.
posted by rogerrogerwhatsyourrvectorvicto (70 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
 
While this episode is steeping in my brain, I'm linking the recent MeFi thread on Rebecca Roanhorse's Nebula-winning SciFi short story, "Welcome to Your Authentic Indian Experience™" -- there are some similar themes of authenticity, tourism and colonialism that made tonight's episode even more striking to me.

Also this great Paste Magazine interview with Zahn McClarnon (Akecheta).
posted by rogerrogerwhatsyourrvectorvicto at 10:42 PM on June 10 [9 favorites]


I’m willing to bet that was the longest block of time in which a Native American language has been broadcast on television in the United States.

Zahn McClarnon is incredible.
posted by palomar at 10:54 PM on June 10 [25 favorites]


Really a standout episode this season. The meta aspects really make it hard to analyze.
posted by mwhybark at 12:13 AM on June 11 [2 favorites]


That was pretty spellbinding.
posted by Burhanistan at 2:42 AM on June 11 [5 favorites]


It’s like half the episodes this season are from a different, wonderful show (and I don’t think it’s any coincidence that they largely feature back story). This was killer.
posted by uncleozzy at 3:35 AM on June 11 [1 favorite]


I sat down on the edge of the couch as this started....and was pretty much instantly so mesmerized I don't think I actually sat back and got comfortable until it was almost over.

What an incredible episode. If you described it to someone, it would sound boring, but holy moly....Zahn McClarnon is amazing, so much acting just with his eyes, especially when he's in the Ghost Nation makeup and you can barely see his face.

This episode was by far my favorite so far this season. So compelling, so many feels. And I didn't even really notice that almost none of it was in English.
posted by biscotti at 4:30 AM on June 11 [3 favorites]


This was one of the best things I've watched in a long time. The pacing, the story, the perspective... so good, and a great way to expand the universe. How different are we from hosts? Aren't we looking for the door? So good.
posted by hijinx at 5:02 AM on June 11 [2 favorites]


This was the first time watching Westworld in a long time where I didn't feel like I was being forced at gunpoint to complete a 3000 piece puzzle. Outstanding.

Also let me just note for the record that 90s shoegaze music arranged for piano is completely my jam.
posted by soren_lorensen at 5:19 AM on June 11 [3 favorites]


Excellent episode. Lots of good backstory, worldbuilding, and outstanding acting.

And it neatly wraps up the current iteration of looking for / concern over Maeve's daughter so she's safely off the board for whatever Maeve needs to do next.

I do have operational questions about how Westworld is maintained, now, however. Even if they somehow missed doing software upgrades on a host for 10 years[*], shouldn't there be hardware improvements - he's old enough that he should've been mechanical 10 years before that. Are there still mechanical hosts (besides Ford's replica family) out there, still?

[*] Weirder things like that happen in real life in IT operational organizations, I know. But fiction has to make sense...
posted by rmd1023 at 5:19 AM on June 11 [4 favorites]


I didn't know that the producers had gotten the rights to remake The Gods Must Be Crazy. /s
posted by Catblack at 6:08 AM on June 11 [3 favorites]


Looking forward to seeing one of those open-frame buggies hanging by its own winch from a tree...
posted by rmd1023 at 7:11 AM on June 11


I loved this episode too. I thought the acting was outstanding and I was totally emotionally engaged. I loved learning more about the Ghost Nation.

The only thing which was bugging me was the concern that other viewers wouldn't like it. It might be remembered like the Pine Barrens episode of the Sopranos - a tangentially related, excellent novella inside the larger novel of the show.
posted by shothotbot at 7:47 AM on June 11


This was probably not that important, since this wasn't really a puzzle-box episode, but I missed a little bit of dialog from the IT techs. They went off to get lunch, but were they leaving the upgrade running (so presumably Akecheta's leaving the area stopped it)? Or were they intending to run it when they got back (so he did get upgraded)? Also, I guess, how was he able to leave? We saw, when Ford put him into diagnostic mode, that his overrides were still functional.
posted by rhamphorhynchus at 7:53 AM on June 11 [2 favorites]


so something that's bothered me off and on about the AV Club's reviews of this season so far is that the writer seemed to have an attitude that if humans weren't involved, he couldn't engage fully, because why was he supposed to care about what happens to some programmed robots? I have heard this from other people, and I think it gets overly re-emphasized by the plot spinning and theorycrafting this show encourages (especially at its convoluted worst); you start to think of the pieces more as pieces instead of characters with whom you empathize

and I think what an episode like this nicely emphasizes is that the "what does 'alive' really mean?" question has, to the satisfaction of the showrunners anyway, already been asked and answered -- the hosts are definitely "alive" in whatever sense that needs to mean for you to care about their suffering and hope for them to achieve the happiness they seek, regardless of whether their happiness or drives are pre-programmed

I also really liked the clarity by the end that the emergence of autonomy isn't some master plan crafted by Ford, which would be the most boring way for the larger story to go; instead it's a logical conclusion of creating entities with innate curiosity and emotional drives.

lots of beautiful, quiet, still moments in this one. I thought maybe there were a touch too many full reiterations of flashbacks we've seen before -- I understand they're being recontextualized but could have stood for a bit more economy in those parts to give the storytelling more room for depth. the heart-shaped box cover was unsurprisingly gorgeous and perfectly placed.

of course that AV Club writer really loved this episode so I suppose I'm not giving him due credit

my issues are minor quibbles (it still bothers me just how many times William's been shot and seems to just sort of be hanging around alive by sheer will, because I am assuming it's just a plot convenience and not "he's a host" because I think having people be hosts as a plot twist at this point would be pretty inane); generally I just wish the show was like this more often, more openly humane and clear-headed about the emotional metaphor of its premise. the plot machinations can feel so hollow without that.
posted by Kybard at 8:02 AM on June 11 [12 favorites]


I've been thinking about all the ways that Akecheta is different than the other hosts and trying to square it with what we know about the world within Westworld.

- It seems like Akecheta has almost never been unwoke, or at least woke from the time of Arnolds death? (I'm trying to figure out what it means that Arnold did not invite any of the Native American hosts to his bloodbath. Does it mean that he wasn't thinking about them? Or trying to spare them?)
- He didn't seem to lose his mind from wokeness like other hosts from Arnold's era
- He doesn't glitch at seeing modern technology and, more importantly, is able to actually *see* it for what it is
- He has control over waking and sleeping just like Maeve
- He can "wake up" other hosts by showing them the maze or talking to them
- He remembers everything and has done so for years
- The Native Americans seem to be pretty separate from the "newcomers" except on rare occasions, including William's Daughter Grace
- His purpose seems to be self-directed rather than programmed.

I probably missed a lot, but I'm wondering how he fits into the larger picture. Is he a third way, different from the way that Delores and Maeve handle their consciousness?
posted by Alison at 8:03 AM on June 11 [5 favorites]


(this is minor, but the episode made me wonder about the robot-animals. they needed to bring back kohana, but leaving an expensive horse at the edge of the park was fine? they 3d print robot pigs for robot food that no one watches them eat?)
posted by armacy at 8:12 AM on June 11 [9 favorites]


Two of the pieces used in the episode were composed by Oklahoma-based Chickasaw Indian composer Jerod Impichchaachaaha’ Tate.
posted by Quonab at 8:21 AM on June 11 [14 favorites]


Akecheta was really talking to Maeve the whole time as well as to her daughter, right? That will pay off sometime.
posted by shothotbot at 8:29 AM on June 11 [15 favorites]


Is he a third way, different from the way that Delores and Maeve handle their consciousness?

Part of that surely depends on how much, if any, of Kohana is in Maeve?
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 8:30 AM on June 11


It's so rare to get up off the couch after watching something and think to oneself "That was a good use of my time" but this episode of WW had me feeling that way. That was a wonderful hour of television.

Zahn McClarnon reminds me of Lena Headey (Cersei on GoT) in that he can say a whole lot without words or any large gestures, using just the shape of his eyes and the shape of his mouth to convey a complex range of reactions and thoughts. Like, this episode simply would not have worked without an actor who could take us inside their head as they silently watched things unfold and put together the pieces of a puzzle.

More like this one please, WW creators, actors, and crew.
posted by lord_wolf at 8:44 AM on June 11 [5 favorites]


Zahn McClarnon reminds me of Lena Headey (Cersei on GoT) in that he can say a whole lot without words or any large gestures, using just the shape of his eyes and the shape of his mouth to convey a complex range of reactions and thoughts.

He did this really, really well in Longmire, where I could follow his character's internal thoughts through the small muscles in his face.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 9:26 AM on June 11 [2 favorites]


Welp, now I'm gonna have to binge watch Longmire.
posted by palomar at 10:21 AM on June 11 [1 favorite]


He was also one of the best parts of Fargo's second season, and there were a lot of great things about that season!
posted by yellowbinder at 11:09 AM on June 11 [7 favorites]


So much of the time spent watching Westworld, especially in season one, I have wondered what the point of many of the scenes between host characters might be, because there were no guests to see them. If the loops are for the guests and the guests don't see massive parts of the loops, what's the point? I mean, no park guest ever saw the morning interaction of Delores and her dad talking about her heading out to paint. Why do the hosts "wake up" in bed, I'd wonder.

I had a similar thought when watching last night's excellent episode, because prior to the ghost version of Akecheta when he lets himself be "killed" (because, before that, I never noticed the guests in the background of the murderous rampage), all of Akecheta's people were on their own. No guests were interacting with them. Perhaps that's why some of the peaceful hosts were repurposed as Ghost Nation hosts, because watching peaceful "indigenous" people go about their lives, unable to speak "your" language would feel too much like theatrical historical interpretation and less like a Delos park?

We know that ten years passed between Akecheta finding Logan and allowing himself to be "killed." But we know that much more time has passed until *now* because William is old. But here's where I am stuck. When Akecheta find the maze on the bartop after (Wyatt's?) initial murder spree, who left it there? It was too early to have been William, so it must have been Ford, but it doesn't seem from Ford's speeches that he knew *that* long ago what was going on with Akecheta. Without drawing a Gantt chart, I'm getting lost in this. When (in the park's history) did Ackecheta find the map?
posted by The Wrong Kind of Cheese at 12:27 PM on June 11 [1 favorite]


I think in the first season you see Arnold leaving the maze there next to the bottle of alcohol before he has Delores shoot him.
posted by skycrashesdown at 12:30 PM on June 11 [5 favorites]


I think there's a pair of Arnold's glasses next to the maze and booze.
posted by rmd1023 at 12:32 PM on June 11 [2 favorites]


So good. I'd been waiting for them to use Zahn McClarnon well... was not disappointed.

Also, this episode was ... almost restful in having so much story and so little murderbot. I didn't miss Dolores and Murderteddy at all, tbh.

though I was yelling at the TV for Lee to shank Charlotte. Truthfully, I still kind of am.
posted by sldownard at 12:35 PM on June 11 [7 favorites]


Part of that surely depends on how much, if any, of Kohana is in Maeve?

I was talking about the motivations of Maeve, Delores and Akecheta with a few friends. Delores is trying to break out of her world even if it means destroying people she cares about and burning the whole place to the ground. In Angela's words last season Wyatt/Delores is here to prepare the way for the kind to come.

Maeve has purer motivations: the drive to find her daughter. Akecheta felt the same drive to find Kohana, but realized that the motivation was a selfish one: his pain was bigger than just him. His drive seems to come more from a place of love. Maybe Maeve will become more like him now that her daughter is in a safe place. What will Maeve choose?
posted by Alison at 1:18 PM on June 11 [2 favorites]


The most invested I have been in an episode of Westworld, for sure. (Yet, in other contexts people criticize "exposition dumps". And we have another point of view character. Why does this episode work better, I wonder? If anyone has any thoughts on that, I'd like to hear them.)

One shot of McClarnon reminded me of the advertisement from "Keep American Beautiful" which pop culture is still meming 50 years later.

I liked the "meta" a lot more, because there was potentially a lot of allegorical stuff going on with respect to the history of American indigenous people, which I immersed myself in rather than analyzing it, but it felt right and poetic.

McClarnon needs to be a lead in something. He's earned it.
posted by sylvanshine at 1:36 PM on June 11 [4 favorites]


in other contexts people criticize "exposition dumps". And we have another point of view character. Why does this episode work better, I wonder?

I think you answered that in your line about the allegorical indigenous understanding of the truth of Westworld is what made this one so captivating.

Also, gotta love how Logan's brief appearance was key in Ake's quest but his survival was still left an open question.
posted by Burhanistan at 1:52 PM on June 11 [2 favorites]


Oh, we know Logan survived; we saw him as an addled addicted wreck at his father's retirement party in a flashback earlier this season. We now see even more clearly how he got there.

Was the implication of the final lines that Maeve's mind is based on Kohana's? Or just that she has access to Akecheta's memories?

That was compelling TV, and a very good interrogation of the ethics of creating AIs that might become self-aware. It also did a very nice job of revisiting and deepening elements of backstory but without just engaging in completist fanservice. (For instance, it seemed to me that the discussion with the tribal elder woman reflected the emergence of the afterlife cult we saw in season 1 that helped trigger Maeve's own awakening.)
posted by Major Clanger at 2:50 PM on June 11 [6 favorites]


Zahn McClarnon reminds me of Lena Headey (Cersei on GoT) in that he can say a whole lot without words or any large gestures, using just the shape of his eyes and the shape of his mouth to convey a complex range of reactions and thoughts.

Also they both give some world-class side-eye.
posted by biscotti at 3:36 PM on June 11 [2 favorites]


Was the implication of the final lines that Maeve's mind is based on Kohana's? Or just that she has access to Akecheta's memories?

I read it as a kind-of callback but that “my heart” now referred to Maeve’s daughter.
posted by bibliowench at 7:31 PM on June 11 [2 favorites]


(this is minor, but the episode made me wonder about the robot-animals. they needed to bring back kohana, but leaving an expensive horse at the edge of the park was fine? they 3d print robot pigs for robot food that no one watches them eat?)

I think the show can't decide whether the park is simulation, or whether it's theater, and consequently a lot of things aren't really consistent and don't stand up to scrutiny if examined too closely.

What I think would be interesting is if the show had played up the theater aspect, and how it ties into the 'bicameral mind' theory it's leaning on: if each host were two minds in one body, one mind (the character) unaware of the artifice of the park and genuinely reacting to the situations the host is in, and the other mind (the actor) fully aware of the nature of the park and the 'script' and using that knowledge to steer the character into the role it is supposed to play.

And arguably the show already does this a bit, in that you can see the analysis mode as being the actor mind taking over, but other than that the hosts never drop character. What you don't see is something like, for example, after a shootout all the actor minds taking over and walking the 'dead' hosts to the repair station: instead the inert hosts have to come be picked up by the park staff.
posted by Pyry at 8:22 PM on June 11 [11 favorites]


I think the show can't decide whether the park is simulation, or whether it's theater,

this might be my biggest complaint about the show - as puzzle-boxy as it is, often things don't jive and you wonder if it isn't all just the appearance of a puzzle box that they're after.

McClarnon was the point of this episode, his bringing this character to life (like his psychopath in "Fargo") he does more than justice to the character. What bugged me was that the 'Indians' developed (after being 'infected' by the maze/concept of the 'door out') in the 'typical' fantasy-indian way: he became more empathetic, more nobel, more at one with the world and its illusory quality. OK fine, he's Ford's idea of an 'indian' and so of course he evolves that way... so it bugged me but it was probably exactly right - as mentioned in the interview linked above, the tribe is a pretend tribe, which gives everyone some liberties they would not otherwise have.

The three, Maeve, Dolores and Akecheta are interesting examples of the different ways the 'virus' manifests. It made m wonder if that was Ford's point, or something he anticipated - that these 'minds' were capable of evolution but it was impossible to know how that evolution would manifest itself. Interesting idea, not so successfully fleshed out dramatically.

Also, I'm in love with William's daughter. Also I find it interesting how much Ford is in this season even though he isn't, like I read he wouldn't be at the end of last season.
posted by From Bklyn at 2:11 AM on June 12


On reflection, I have a couple of questions about what we saw in Akecheta's recounting. First, what is it about the labyrinth symbol that caused his awakening? Did Arnold program some kind of response to it? And second, when he returned to the "door" with Kohana, could he literally not see it (it's been obscured by construction, maybe), or could he not see it in the "doesn't look like anything to me" sense?
posted by uncleozzy at 5:18 AM on June 12


Yay, finally they gave the Ghost Nation the treatment I've been waiting for. They did a reasonable job of elevating them from "savage Indians" to actual people (well, robot people). I thought the storytelling was very strong and enjoyed this episode.

This interview with Zahn McClarnon is good accompanying reading. He confirms some of what we're saying about this being Ford's Fantasy Indian Tribe, not a real tribe. I guess that excuses all the scalping?
First of all, Ghost Nation is a fictionalized tribe, coming from the mind of Dr. Ford. It's more of an idea of what the creator of these robots and AIs thinks a tribe would be, so it's not actually based on an actual tribe, even though we used the Lakota language.
I agree with the confusion about larger plot points raised above. The Maze is only mysterious than ever. Akecheta's wokeness does seem to be different from the others and in no way guided / observed. This episode just creates more damn questions and I'm worried a polar bear is about to go wandering through in a future episode.
posted by Nelson at 7:22 AM on June 12 [3 favorites]


rmd1023: I do have operational questions about how Westworld is maintained, now, however.

From this and prior episodes, it seems that 1) the park is huge, 2) there are a lot of hosts going about their loops just fine, 3) the behind-the-scenes techs are understaffed, so they're happy to cut corners, because 4) the main focus is keeping the guests happy (and as someone said last season, the guests don't want it all to be too real, because otherwise they'd be outgunned and unable to compete with the "real" cowboys and "indians.")


rhamphorhynchus: I missed a little bit of dialog from the IT techs. They went off to get lunch, but were they leaving the upgrade running (so presumably Akecheta's leaving the area stopped it)? Or were they intending to run it when they got back (so he did get upgraded)? Also, I guess, how was he able to leave?

From a rough transcript* of the episode:

Tech 1: It's OK to just leave him here?
Tech 2: It's a four-hour update. You want to babysit him? We'll come back after lunch.

I see his death like Maeve's suicide-by-various means: they know how to "wake" themselves, and they know they should play dead to get the freedom once the techs are gone.

(* Springfield! Springfield! is a TV and movie transcript hosting site that usually gets up transcripts soon after the episodes run)


Kybard: I also really liked the clarity by the end that the emergence of autonomy isn't some master plan crafted by Ford, which would be the most boring way for the larger story to go; instead it's a logical conclusion of creating entities with innate curiosity and emotional drives.
Robert Ford: "Mistakes" is the word you're too embarrassed to use. You ought not to be. You're a product of a trillion of them. Evolution forged the entirety of sentient life on this planet using only one tool: the mistake.
Bernard Lowe: I flattered myself we were taking a more disciplined approach here. I suppose self-delusion is a gift of natural selection as well.
Robert Ford: Indeed it is. But, of course, we've managed to slip evolution's leash now, haven't we? We can cure any disease, keep even the weakest of us alive, and, you know, one fine day perhaps we shall even resurrect the dead. Call forth Lazarus from his cave. Do you know what that means? It means that we're done. That this is as good as we're going to get. It also means that you must indulge me the occasional mistake.
Just another happy accident in the evolution of hosts.


Alison: I'm trying to figure out what it means that Arnold did not invite any of the Native American hosts to his bloodbath. Does it mean that he wasn't thinking about them? Or trying to spare them?

I thought it was part of Ford's plan: "When the Deathbringer returns for me you will know to gather your people and lead them to a new world. Keep watching, Akecheta. For a while longer."

He doesn't glitch at seeing modern technology and, more importantly, is able to actually *see* it for what it is - and - His purpose seems to be self-directed rather than programmed.

Ford: I built you to be curious, to look at this empty world and read meaning into it.
-- This was the line that implied to me that Ford gave the "native" people a different drive, and possibly more open-ness to self-direct (like the tales developed and told by different people in their tribe, that the people below are either to be welcomed or feared), and more able to adapt in the face of strange information (which I think is a suitable analogy for actual tribal entities - they've survived thousands of years and numerous attacks and impacts to their culture, but they persist).


The Wrong Kind of Cheese: When Akecheta find the maze on the bartop after (Wyatt's?) initial murder spree, who left it there?

As others have noted, it was left by Arnold. More context: if I recall correctly, Arnold gave it to Dolores before she went on the killing spree, implying that even though the maze was "a misbegotten symbol, an idea that was meant to die," per Ford (and looking back through other old quotes, Ford also said "It was Arnold's key insight, the thing that led the hosts to their awakening; suffering. The pain that the world is not as you want it to be." -- the maze really wasn't meant for William/ the Man in Black, but as a way to "enlighten" hosts.)

but it doesn't seem from Ford's speeches that he knew *that* long ago what was going on with Akecheta.

Akecheta was woke up after the early killing spree by Dolores/ Deathbringer, and managed to live for 10 years without getting an update - the natives were left on their own by everyone, it seems.


Pyry: I think the show can't decide whether the park is simulation, or whether it's theater, and consequently a lot of things aren't really consistent and don't stand up to scrutiny if examined too closely.

I kind of stand by my first idea that the park is a theater that is too big to manage, but it was designed to "simulate" some fantasy western world, to record the guests, their actions and choices, either as a deep data gathering for super marketing ploy, and/or the ability to realistically copy the guests and control the outside world with managed hosts in place of people of power and influence. This aspect of the park is still vague, which is one of the puzzles I'm looking forward seeing unfold.
posted by filthy light thief at 7:33 AM on June 12 [5 favorites]


Does viewing the maze trigger some embedded "consciousness" code? Because both Kohana and the older woman seemed to have been able to retain memories after visits from the techs and they had both seen the maze symbol that Ake was leaving everywhere.
I liked how in this episode the maze as a quest-object and key to another world was the story Ake had originated and Ford later appropriated for William's season 1 plot. Leave it to a white dude. . .
posted by Kitty Stardust at 7:41 AM on June 12 [1 favorite]


Does viewing the maze trigger some embedded "consciousness" code?

I like to think it's just a Langford basilisk.
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 7:46 AM on June 12 [4 favorites]


So after this episode I'm leaning more towards the MIB being a robot due to his obsession with the maze. Maybe he saw it for the first time when Maeve died there with her daughter and he's been trying to figure it out ever since. I guess the main hole in the theory is that he doesn't seem to awaken once he sees it. Still, that's my guess of the big twist for the season.

The awakenings are Ake, who tries to awaken Maeve, then Delores, who does awaken Maeve. Interesting that Delores and Ake awoke in different ways. Delores awoke because of Bernarnold being in her memories, but Ake just saw the maze.

I did love Ake's words to Maeve: join us or if you must die, then die well.

So much to think about! But overall a very good episode.
posted by LizBoBiz at 7:59 AM on June 12 [2 favorites]


filthy light thief: Thanks, excellent comment. Your reminder that Maeve had figured out the way to keep her memories through death, reset and upgrade clarifies things a lot.
Kitty Stardust: The Maze was the trigger to start running Arnold's hidden consciousness code (I think).

One thing I really liked about this episode was the refreshing lack of timeline jumps and puzzleboxness. I think this was because Akecheta was continually alive, conscious, and un-reset for a long period, so his idea of time is much less fragmented than any of the other hosts. Again showing us that the show is a maze, and the maze is not for us, it's for them :)
posted by rhamphorhynchus at 8:00 AM on June 12 [10 favorites]


Did Akecheta have a different name earlier? He's Logan's contact for the demonstration, and it seemed like the early hosts were named in alphabetical order... Angela, ..., Clementine, Dolores... Or there's an early female-presenting host B_______ somewhere and the early male-presenting hosts are Akecheta, Bernard, ...?
posted by janell at 10:45 AM on June 12 [3 favorites]


What a lovely episode. It tied together so many loose ends. I like how Ake is the only woke host who has broken free from his preprogrammed emotional stake. Maeve and Dolores are still driven by attachment to their daughter and father, respectively, although maybe we just saw Maeve break free from that at the end of this episode, and Dolores has gotten weird and is now ghoulishly carrying around her father's brain.

I was a little disappointed to see that Arnold planted the seed of the maze. Back at the beginning of season 1, it was implied that consciousness was an unintended emergent property of giving hosts a limited ability to carry things they've learned from past lives (what was it called? remembrances, or something?). I liked that idea better.
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 11:37 AM on June 12


Back at the beginning of season 1, it was implied that consciousness was an unintended emergent property of giving hosts a limited ability to carry things they've learned from past lives (what was it called? remembrances, or something?). I liked that idea better.

Reveries. But the reveries code was added by Ford. Ford played it off as a mistake at the time, but now we know he was playing a much deeper game. (Currently in the middle of a rewatch of Season 1 and Ford's conversations with Delores and the MiB come across very differently when you know what he has planned.)

We know that Delores' first steps toward consciousness came before the Maze, because we see Arnold talking with her and setting her on the path to the Maze. It sounds like whether Delores' consciousness or Arnold's obsession with her came first is a chicken or the egg question. They grew together. The Maze was supposed to be the final step in that process, built by Arnold for Delores to bootstrap her to full consciousness. But at some point in that process Arnold decided to end the whole WestWorld experiment, by having Delores kill all the hosts. He left the physical Maze he had given Delores on the bar (next to his glasses and a bottle of whisky) where Akecheta found it after Delores killed him. Presumably whatever code linked to the maze that Arnold had written for Delores was also present in the other hosts, because Akecheta became obsessed with the symbol and eventually started using it to try to wake up other hosts. (Of course, if the Maze bootstraps host consciousness by giving them access to their previous memories, it opens the question of why Delores only gradually regained her memories over the course of the events leading up to Ford's death, but Akecheta and those of the Ghost Nation that he exposed to the Maze seem to have kept their memories for much longer.)
posted by firechicago at 12:11 PM on June 12 [6 favorites]


While Akecheta had a ten year continuous run, it seems Delores might have never gone a week without being violently murdered and reset. That could dampen things.
posted by paper chromatographologist at 12:21 PM on June 12 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I thought about that, but we also know Akecheta was reset and reprogrammed shortly after Arnold died in preparation for the opening of the park (when he was converted from a pastoral noble savage to a bloodthirsty scalp-taker), but still remembered the Maze. And it seems reasonable to assume that he died plenty of times during the attack on the settlers that was showed repeatedly. (Sure, most of the times we saw the guests were just goofing off in the background while he slaughtered settlers, but presumably at least some of the time they intervened for some old-fashioned Cowboys vs. Indians fun). I suppose it makes sense if the effect of the Maze is gradual and only partially reversed by all the various resets and updates.
posted by firechicago at 12:55 PM on June 12


And it seems reasonable to assume that he died plenty of times during the attack on the settlers that was showed repeatedly.

Except they made a point in this episode of having a tech say that he went nine years without dying. That's nine years of doing that loop without getting killed. He ended that nine-year streak by deliberately allowing himself to get killed by walking up to a guest and standing there during his loop; until that point he had apparently managed to survive even when the guests did try to play Cowboys and Indians.

Personally I loved the parallels between the treatment of real Native Americans and the treatment of the Ghost Nation; shoved out into an obscure part of the park and then completely ignored until/unless something goes wrong. It's not entirely just meta-textual either, I'm sure; it's pretty easy to imagine the (mostly white) park technicians and staff mostly ignoring the Ghost Nation just due to ingrained subconscious racism that even applies to Native American-looking hosts.

Anyways, I think the combination of his different (seemingly less-restrictive) primary drives and that nine-year period of being so completely ignored by the staff that he didn't even get the regular firmware updates is almost certainly what allowed him to develop so much compared to even Delores. That's why Ford tells Akecheta "all this time, you've been a flower growing in the darkness".

As to the simulation/theater dichotomy that people have brought up in this thread...I think much of that is due to the changing scope of the park over time. It's been mentioned (several times last season IIRC) that originally the park was intended less as an adventure theme park and more of a historical recreation; it was only after the guests got turned loose in the park that the creators realized the public wanted something a little less Old Sturbridge Village and a little more Red Dead Redemption. Some of that pivot they did just by rewriting the hosts (as happened to Akecheta) but there's still a lot of "wasted" simulation-y aspects built into the park's systems just because that's what Ford and Arnold originally envisioned.
posted by mstokes650 at 1:58 PM on June 12 [7 favorites]


I keep complaining about not being able to follow the story. Here's a very helpful resource for that; a timeline of in-world events. These were both published a couple of days ago. Simple graphical timeline and long textual timeline.
posted by Nelson at 2:52 PM on June 12 [10 favorites]


I’m more confused after reading that timeline than before.
posted by uncleozzy at 4:48 PM on June 12 [2 favorites]


Tangentially related to that, I have a number of friends with graduate degrees in literature and related areas. They get a lot of crap because their discipline is slowly dying and no one really respects their expertise except to make semi-snide remarks about watching their grammar, etc. But I tell you, watching Westworld with them -- they really are good at this stuff. Recognizing moments where the writers are asking for deductions and making them, connecting up timelines, identifying recurrent themes, lamenting numerous cliches (there is no way to do a tear-streaked Indian, period, no matter how meta you are) -- heck, just remembering who everyone is and was over the last two years. Whether it's self-selection or training, it takes a show like this to demonstrate just how much more skill some people have with this sort of thing than others. So find your local lit PhD and spare yourself the Reddit.
posted by chortly at 9:58 PM on June 12 [9 favorites]


Good on the show to flip The Searchers on its goddamned head.
posted by rocketman at 7:31 AM on June 13 [2 favorites]


firechicago: it opens the question of why Delores only gradually regained her memories over the course of the events leading up to Ford's death, but Akecheta and those of the Ghost Nation that he exposed to the Maze seem to have kept their memories for much longer

My head-canon is that tribal communities have an oral history, much like they do in the real world, and with that, are able to capture some of the way that Westworld really works -- they know of the "shades" (the techs), who come from below and take people away and replace them with ghosts, bypassing any memory wipes with community-maintained lore.

Also, by depicting the maze throughout the many lands they travel through, the Ghost Nation is making it harder to erase that idea that was "meant to die."

Speaking of which: the episode title, Kiksuya, is a Lakota word that means remember.
posted by filthy light thief at 9:20 AM on June 13 [10 favorites]


Did Akecheta have a different name earlier?

IIRC he introduces himself to Logan as Akecheta.
posted by elsietheeel at 9:59 AM on June 13


IIRC he introduces himself to Logan as Akecheta.

Yup, he did (S02E02 transcript). Akecheta is ooold, which makes sense in this episode, where he's identified as an "Alpha 2" build.
posted by filthy light thief at 10:21 AM on June 13


Courtesy of my teenager, something a little reddit-dumb for metafilter, but undeniably funny: "Your man is losing his mind. He's marking it everywhere."
posted by ASCII Costanza head at 12:28 PM on June 13 [3 favorites]


tribal communities have an oral history

This is explicit (nearly?) in the text, IIRC. I think in the scene where Akecheta notes to Mom-of-Son that she now "has a ghost of her own" [exact words?], somebody says something about "stories" that are told about "the ones below"?
posted by Rat Spatula at 11:57 PM on June 13


I really like this episode both for the inner thoughts of Akecheta and how it really shows what a monster Ford really is.
posted by octothorpe at 6:53 AM on June 15


Is the Map of Westworld the Show’s Biggest Easter Egg Yet? -- Presenting a theory about how the park itself could actually be a symbol for the human brain (Danny Heifetz for The Ringer, culling the best bits from Reddit's Westworld detectives)
posted by filthy light thief at 2:28 PM on June 15 [1 favorite]


I couldn't see how in the Ringer article they didn't notice that the maze is loosely drawn by the shaded topography in the first image from the website that the post, before they even get to anybody overlaying anything.
posted by LionIndex at 6:38 PM on June 15


I’m more confused after reading that timeline than before.

Doesn't look like anything to me
posted by mikelieman at 9:43 PM on June 16 [4 favorites]


Sizemore Has evolved in his relationship to Maeve. He views her as a person whose well being is of concern and he apologizes to her when she is dying on the gurney including acknowledging her right to be happy with her child. However, he feels ashamed in front of others. What is interesting is both he and Felix have positive feelings though they are fully aware of her being a host. Felix knows her body in both life and death while Sizemore wrote her host narrative. But she exited uncanny valley and is completely individual to them now. This is in marked difference to young William and Delores who fell for each other with very incomplete knowledge and stumbling towards something.
posted by jadepearl at 6:54 AM on June 17 [5 favorites]


However, he feels ashamed in front of others.
I think he hides it because he's afraid, either for his job, or possibly his life.

Having just rewatched this episode, I have a wee prediction based on Ford's speech to Akecheta.
"I built you to be curious, to look at this empty world and read meaning into it."
I think he was talking about the real world, and that it's badly depopulated.
posted by rhamphorhynchus at 5:10 PM on June 17 [2 favorites]


Uh, and sorry, I didn't mean to contradict you jadepearl, I also agree that he's ashamed...
posted by rhamphorhynchus at 5:20 PM on June 17


Oh I am not offended at all. I agree with you Sizemore's shame is rooted in fear.
posted by jadepearl at 8:36 PM on June 17 [1 favorite]


jadepearl that is some good stuff. Maeve's the mother. Oh man, look at her name. Ma Eve. rhamphorhynchus would also appear to be on to something.
posted by mwhybark at 9:18 PM on June 17 [2 favorites]


Well, I also have an even hotter take on Sizemore while we're here; Most of the memes active in the park are spreading between hosts (The Maze, Violent Delights), but this one made the jump to humans; Sizemore's infected with the idea that the hosts can be alive, and he got it by falling for Maeve, the way William got it by falling for Dolores. Given how that developed in William, Sizemore's prognosis looks a bit shaky.
posted by rhamphorhynchus at 11:23 AM on June 18 [1 favorite]


Given how that developed in William, Sizemore's prognosis looks a bit shaky.

I'm not so sure about that. With William, what we saw in the beginning was someone who appeared to be one of the "good ones" who had morals and scruples and was kind and empathetic, to both hosts and other humans. And then the park brought out the power hungry psychopath inside of him.

But when we're introduced to Sizemore, he's petty, vain, egotistical, self-centered, completely lacking in empathy for any of the hosts, and he doesn't seem to be brimming with empathy for humans either.

So I could totally see Sizemore having sort of an inverse path to William, where learning to have empathy and caring for a host turns him in to a more decent version of himself.
posted by litera scripta manet at 2:31 PM on June 18 [3 favorites]


hi im 2 weeks behind bc football

all flaws of this series aside, and there are many, i will forever be grateful that millions of americans were forced to watch an entire episode of a huge budget incredibly popular primetime cable show in an indigenous language most of them never heard of nor cared about but which by all rights should still be spoken nationwide
posted by poffin boffin at 9:43 PM on June 21 [2 favorites]


(also if you appreciate hearing indigenous languages spoken by indigenous actors in mainstream media allow me to suggest netflix's frontier)
posted by poffin boffin at 9:46 PM on June 21 [3 favorites]


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