Season 2, Episode 8: “Kiksuya”
Directed by Uta Briesewitz
Written by Carly Wray & Dan Dietz
* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “Les Écorchés” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “Vanishing Point” – click here
The Man in Black (Ed Harris) is crawling to the riverside, compelling himself not to die— “not yet,” anyway. He passes out. Just as the Indigenous warrior Akecheta (Zahn McClarnon) of the Ghost Nation arrives. He says he remembers old Bill. They’ve got history. So, Akecheta takes him back to where his tribe has other hostages. Also being kept there is Maeve’s (Thandie Newton) daughter.
Speaking of Maeve, she’s in the clutches of Strand (Gustaf Skarsgård) and his people. Lee (Simon Quarterman) is trying to help her, though. He takes her to be checked out by one of the technicians. She’s definitely not in good shape. The tech tries to do what he can for her at Lee’s frantic request.
We start to get a look at the history of Akecheta’s life within the tribe. Things went on as normal, living and surviving. Until one day Akecheta and his people heard a massacre occurring in the nearby town. He walked into the streets, finding people shot to death all over. Including Bernard (Jeffrey Wright), Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood)— all the familiar faces. In the saloon he found the image of the Maze on the bar.
The others in his tribe began seeing the brand of the Maze turn up everywhere. Akecheta became obsessed by the image. And then, over and over, he kept losing the love of his life, Kohana (Julia Jones). He was reprogrammed by Delos Incorporated, “reborn” into a more aggressive and dehumanised version of himself. This is the birth of the Ghost Nation, whose only purpose appeared to have been focused on conquering enemies. Sort of symbolic of the colonised West and how it treats Indigenous peoples, forcing them to fight for survival so long they, sometimes, can do nothing other than fight.
One day, Akecheta stumbled onto Logan Delos (Ben Barnes), who’d been sent into the desert naking, tied, alone by William (Jimmi Simpson). Logan is near insane from exposure and sunstroke. “This is the wrong world,” he says. The Indigenous warrior throws a blanket around the man, though leaves him for one of his own to find eventually. Nevertheless, their meeting left an indelible mark on Akecheta. He began to remember his past lives, more specifically Kohana, his love lost across time.
Akecheta went back to look for Logan, finding him gone. So he rode further than he’d ever been on the range. He came to a vast canyon, where he found a strange structure. He located Delos’s facilities. There, he saw the Door, a passage to “another world.” He resolved to go find Kohana and take her with him there. After a while, Kohana comes to remember Akecheta. Then he shows her the way to the other world, one better suited to them. Only, the Door wasn’t in the same place anymore. They had to find it again.
Problem is, Kohana was taken away by technicians from outside, believing she’d wandered from her narrative. Once more leaving Akecheta by himself. He tried going back to their tribe, only to find a “ghost in her place.” He sought her ought over many miles, many brutal lives. It was on his worst day when he met Maeve’s daughter, she gave him water, and treated him without fear.
Akecheta figured out he had to go back to viciousness, so long as it meant finding his Kohana someday. He had to explore “the other side of death.” This caused a stir when techs found out he’d been out there a decade without dying. While being set down for an update, Akecheta got up to look around. A beautiful rendition of “Heart-Shaped Box” by Nirvana plays, as he explores the Delos Westworld facility. He soon came to the warehouse downstairs, filled with host bodies. There, he discovered Kohana amongst them. Except she was a lifeless piece of machinery covered in flesh, not moving, not breathing, not speaking. He then saw how many others were experiencing the same thing as himself, seeing the other bodies warehoused alongside her. And so he went back upstairs, back to that other world. He was determined to cut their tribe off from that place, so that they wouldn’t be bothered anymore.
Lee finds the tech has pretty much just torn Maeve up, taking out the code inside her rather than saving her wholly. Awful. She’s left as a shredded pile of meat, essentially, half in and out of consciousness. What will become of her now?
We also find that Akecheta was only ever trying to warn Maeve’s daughter. However, intentions are easily misread and misinterpreted in this world, particularly across cultural lines and language barriers. He never wanted to hurt Maeve, or the girl. He wanted to help with their liberation. Unfortunately, old Bill had his eye on them, too.
Akecheta tells us about one night when he came upon someone working away in the dark on some Indigenous warriors and a bear and a whole set: Dr. Ford (Anthony Hopkins). Quite the surreal moment for the warrior. Ford asks Akecheta about what he’s doing. They talk of the Door, multiple worlds, and so on. The doc is fascinated, and he’s also willing to share a bit more information. He tells Akecheta to keep watching for the “Deathbringer” to come again, this time for himself. Down the road, he found the massacre in town, seeing Ford dead, and this set him on the next leg of his journey.
At the camp with the hostages, the Ghost Nation are visited by old Bill’s daughter, Emily (Katja Herbers). She’s there to collect him. Although it isn’t entirely the rescue the Man in Black would hope for— she’s not what you’d call dad’s girl, really. Akecheta lets her take her father, as she promises a worse fate at her hands than at the tribe’s, which is mighty intriguing.
Oh, and Maeve’s powers are being discovered from inside the Westworld facility. She’s able to reach back into the system, from outside, not just inside. She’s helping to control the fate of her daughter right from that table. Wow.
One of my favourites this season, hands down! Zahn McClarnon gives one of the year’s best performances on television. Just, spectacular. I’m so glad we got to see Akecheta in more detail, as well as the Ghost Nation themselves. So many links and pieces coming together. We’re seeing the true power of Maeve, which I absolutely dig, the most!
“Vanishing Point” is next time.