“Take my heart when you go.”
Well that was certainly a different episode. It felt very standalone in some respects, and it was a great way to have a smaller episode before what I’m sure will be two big finale episodes. And I’m sure Akecheta has quickly become one of everyone’s favourite characters.
Up until this point, the Ghost Nation have been enemies. Perhaps stereotypically seen as ‘savages’ living on the borderlands, a constant threat to travellers – hosts and guests alike. But with ‘Kiksuya’, the show demonstrates that there is far more to these people than we thought. In fact, it appears as if they’ve been ahead of the game for a while. This episode focuses on the wokest member of the tribe, Akecheta.
After the bloody events of last week, this episode begins with a bloody William/MiB crawling to his death. He’s in pretty bad shape when Akecheta shows up and takes his old enemy back to his camp. There, Akecheta sees Maeve’s daughter and tells her she remembers her. He then launches into his life story – and what a story it is.
Ake lived a happy life with the woman he loved, all part of a peaceful tribe. Until one day he stumbled upon the remains of Dolores’ early rampage, the corpse of Arnold and all the hosts, and the maze. But before he can truly appreciate being awoken, the park techs separate him from the woman he loves and change his storyline to the murderous, exploitative, cannibal Ghost Nation that we’ve seen before.
After settling into his new loop, Ake comes across Logan. He’s all disoriented after William sent him off into the desert and he’s rambling about how “This is the wrong world!”. Logan’s delirious nonsense speaks to Ake and he starts to remember the truth. He returns later to find Logan, but instead finding a massive construction project – the door out of the world.
Things take a dramatically tragic turn at this point. Ake returns to awaken his old wife, whom he is still deeply in love with. It first seems successfull and they escape to a life of peace – until she’s taken by park workers. Ake sets himself on a path to find his love and it’s heart-rending. We discover later on that he travelled the park, being abused by guests and hosts, but managed to live without being killed/reset for ten years. From what we’ve seen of the park, this is some feat. To have ten years of experience without being reset makes Ake the closest thing to a human than we’ve seen before. And to do it all for the woman he loved is a fantastically science fiction idea.
Akecheta soon realises he will have to journey into the park’s deeper depths to find her. And after dying and waking himself up in the lab, he finds his lost love in the cold storage area. The acting here is possibly the best we’ve seen on the show as Ake finds Kohana and realises that she’s lost forever. It hits home pretty hard, as he realises that every host in the park has lost someone they love, even if they don’t remember who and why they’re mourning. Ake continue from here, awakening everyone he can, being silently the most advanced host in the park. And we finally have a decent adversary for Dolores, aka ‘Deathbringer’.
This episode answers a heck of a lot of questions – some you probably forgot about. Why did Kissy the croupier have a maze on his scalp? Why are there maze symbols spread through the the park? As part of Ake spreading the symbol, awaking hosts, preparing them for the new world. And why couldn’t Stubbs use voice commands on the Ghost Nation way back in season 1? Because they’ve been aware longer than anyone. That also explains why Maeve couldn’t use voice commands.
This episode was unbelievable, with truly standout performances. Zahn McClaron is the star, and it’s great to see him in a heroic starring role. He was the best part of Fargo’s brilliant second season and he shows how absolutely watchable he is. In the scene with Anthony Hopkins he more than holds his own. The episode is also mainly in the Lakotan language which is awesome to see on such a big mainstream show. Hopefully when the Emmy’s come around McClaron and this episode aren’t forgotten.
Next week, things are heading to the end game. And honestly, how much time does the Man in Black have left?
Reviewed by Jack