What can one say after watching what could arguably be the best episode of ‘Westworld’ Season 2? Well, beyond just “wow,” I cannot think of more than hoping that the show has a few more tricks up its sleeves for the final two episodes because ‘Kiksuya’ set a pretty high bar. True, some could say this was the show hitting the brakes after the crazy amount of momentum that has been building the past few weeks, but it also delved into the true heart of the show, gave us more backstory and history on some of the more intriguing and mysterious characters, and did an excellent job of setting the stage for the end-game for the season. That’s a lot to pack into one episode, and ‘Kiksuya’ did it exceptionally well, quite an accomplishment considering that much of the episode is subtitled due to Ake and his people primarily speaking the Lakota language.
Story-wise, ‘Kiksuya’ is all about the leader of the Ghost Nation, whose nickname is Ake, as we first see him “rescue” the Man in Black from the edge of a river where we was dying from gunshot wounds (how the hell he managed to drag himself to that location we don’t know). Ake and the MIB return to the Ghost Nation camp, where we see Maeve’s daughter is being held, but she seems far more frightened of the MIB than Ake – a telling moment. After telling the MIB that they are going to heal him because he does not deserve the release of death, Ake goes to comfort Maeve’s daughter, explaining that the MIB cannot hurt her now and then proceeds to tell her the story of his origins, and how he first “awoke” and gained consciousness.
Decades ago Ake and his love, Kohana, were among the first natives to Westworld and they lived a quiet and peaceful life in their village until the fateful day Ake found the remains of Dolores’s first killing spree when she killed everyone in the town including Arnold and herself. He finds the MAZE symbol within the ruins and that seems to activate him. He begins carving it into everything around him. QA takes him in and reprograms him, turning him into the leader of the Ghost Nation with a new, more violent directive, but eventually, Ake remembers who he is. He has a series of adventures as he gains his own consciousness, including finding naked Logan in the desert and giving him a blanket (though not saving him), and learning from Logan the concept of the world not being “right,” and there being a door out. Eventually, he finds the valley that everyone seems to be driving at this season and sees a literal door. He knows he wants to go through it in order to escape the park, however, he cannot leave without Kohana so he goes to find her. Once found, he “abducts” her before helping her remember their love and making her wake up as well and agree to come with him through the door. Sadly, they cannot find it and QA captures Kohana, and Ake spends years scouring the park for her, checking every area he could for where they may have placed her to no avail.
While searching for his love, Ake met much prejudice and was attacked many times, but always carried on for fear that if he “died” he would lose his memories of Kohana as well. After one such attack, he is comforted and brought water by Maeve’s daughter, a kindness which he tries to thank her for by protecting her from then on. We get a number of flashes to Maeve’s backstory and realize her daughter spoke well of “The Ghost” and even received a stone with the MAZE carved into it. Eventually, Ake decides to “die” and let himself be taken to HQ so he can find Kohana there (after speaking to a woman from his old village who lost a son the same way). He makes his way into HQ, and while under, we learn he was one of the Alpha hosts and had not been upgraded for 10 years, though the head tech strangely does not retire him but rather just orders his upgrade so he can be sent back into the park.
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