Westworld ‘Akane No Mai’ Review

“Where we’re about to go, it’s no place for a man like you.”

Westworld meets The Last Samurai this week as we discover more about Shogun World – the place for people who find Westworld too tame. Elsewhere, the ultimate nice guy Teddy finds himself in trouble.

After Maeve and the gang wandered into Shogun World a few episodes ago, we find out what exactly this park is. Built around the Edo period of feudal Japan, Shogun World is full of samurai, ninjas, cherry blossoms – and other staples of Japanese culture you might expect. It’s also an eerie replica of Westworld. There is a really cool scene where the hosts of Shogun World rob this world’s version of the saloon, and it’s almost a shot for shot recreation of the robbery from the very first episode. It’s a very cool moment.

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Sizemore explains that he had to write 300 storylines in one week, which gives an in-universe explanation for the similarities. But it’s more than that. Each character has their Shogun World doppelganger. Most importantly is geisha Akane, this park’s version of Maeve. They quickly build up a friendship and a mutual respect for one another. Akane is similar in that she has that nurturing motherly nature built into her, just like Maeve. But also like Maeve, she’s a badass too.

I think it’s important to take Maeve out of her comfort zone like this. For a lot of the episode she can’t use her host control powers because she’s either gagged or, in a brilliant twist, the malfunctioning Shogun has cut all of his men’s ears off to stop her controlling them. Though don’t for a second think that means Maeve is getting any less OP. By the end of the episode, it looks like she has got the hang of her robot telepathy and is about to take on an army. Dolores doesn’t stand a chance.

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Hopefully, the rest of the season gives our familiar characters even more of a chance to interact with their Japanese doppelgänger. I really want to see more of Hiroyuki Sanada as Musashi (Hector’s charismatic outlaw double). Sanada has always been excellent, so hopefully we return to his plotline soon. Will he join Maeve’s quest? Well, she’s already picking up stragglers at an alarming rate, so only time will tell what fate awaits them. Will the doom that has (seemingly) wiped out our cowboy companions make its way to Shogun World? Or hell, what about The Raj from a few episodes ago? Showrunners Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy are spinning a lot of plates – hopefully they can keep them upright until the finale.

Elsewhere in the episode, we get to see how everyone’s favourite couple is doing in the robot uprising – Teddy and Dolores. They take a walk down memory lane, back to Sweetwater and their rolling plain where Teddy promised “someday…”. They even found time for some artsy android lovemaking – though this doesn’t mean they’re the happy couple we remember. In a shocking (ok not that shocking) twist, Dolores destroys the Teddy we all know and love. She has his core code rewritten because Teddy is far too nice for what’s to come. People online have pointed out that she’s upped his aggression and cruelty, among other things.

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I for one cannot wait to see how James Marsden tackles new Teddy. As much as I like charming, naive, gunslinger Teddy, he is a bit of a wet lettuce. And let’s not forget that Teddy is apparently dead by the end of this season. What happens between now and then is a mystery (despite Reddit’s best detective work) and I look forward to Theodore Flood playing a bigger role than last season. Perhaps Dolores messing around in his head will be her downfall? She certainly has a reckoning coming her way – after turning from everyone’s favourite character to basically the villain of the show.

After a knockout episode last week, Westworld dialled up the lore and world(s) building for ‘Akane No Mai’. It demonstrated again that it is far and away the most interesting show currently on TV. And Shogun World was as awesome as we all hoped since seeing it teased at the end of last season. Bring on the next world I say. Roman World anyone?

Jack Bumby


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