REVIEW: Westworld – “Kiksuya”

westworld-review

The following is a spoiler-filled review of the eighth episode of Westworld: Season Two – Developed by Jonathan Nolan & Lisa Joy

In the eighth episode of the second season of Westworld (“Kiksuya”), Akecheta (played by Zahn McClarnon) — the leader of the Ghost Nation — tells us his story as the fates of William (played by Ed Harris) and Maeve (played by Thandie Newton) are still up in the air.

Before I get any further, I have to apologize for not being able to get this review out to you on the day that the episode was released. I’ve had a busy week, so this review had to wait for a little while. That did, however, allow for me to watch the episode more than once before reviewing it. So, without further ado, let’s talk about the episode.

So, the eighth episode of the season is titled ‘Kiksuya,’ and it is just a fairly simple translation, as far as I understand. ‘Kiksuya’ is apparently the Lakotan word for ‘remember.’ As you see, this episode doesn’t have a fancy title to make you read into this, that, or the other mythological legend or the like. It simply refers to the act of remembering your past, which is fitting for an episode about a character — who has mostly been seen in the background — telling another host what he remembers.

While there isn’t much to the title — no hidden clue, or the like — this episode, as a whole, is not lacking in any department. ‘Kiksuya’ is likely the most touching episode of the show (it, actually, brought tears to my eyes), and, arguably, the best episode in the entire series, thus far — if you ask me, that is.

What I think this season has been particularly good at is the way that it has pushed the narrative forward while still showing off multiple foreign corners of the Westworld facilities — i.e. the different parks, or ‘worlds’. The episodes in Shogun World were extraordinary, with some great guest performances, and our brief glimpse at The Raj was also very enlightening. But ‘Kiksuya’ managed to show off a new corner of Westworld without showing a new park.

The series put the spotlight on one of its oldest hosts, which is something I’m not sure casual viewers of the show immediately realized. What I think none of us realized is that he has basically managed to stay alive ever since he was first put in place. That is remarkable.

Akecheta’s journey to find the love of his life has been likened to various Native American legends, but, more specifically, to the Greek mythological story of Orpheus and Eurydice. This is interesting insofar as this isn’t the first time Greek mythology has come up on this show — most notably in ‘The Riddle of the Sphinx.’

The development of William and Maeve’s storylines do not immediately interest me in this episode, as William ends up exactly where I expected him to — back with his daughter. As for Maeve? Well, I don’t believe that she will die on the host ‘operating table,’ even though this episode’s conclusion would’ve been a beautiful way for her story to end.

Akecheta’s journey gave us the most emotional and effective story in all of Westworld. The episode also managed to flesh out the Ghost Nation storyline by putting a spotlight on one of these Native character-hosts.

I also thought it was a smart decision to deal with the notion that the Ghost Nation can be seen as an insensitive stereotype of Native Americans. Akecheta is basically ripped from his peaceful existence, and given a new spin — a new backstory — as a savage and silent killer. The show is acknowledging this ‘issue’ in an interesting and very entertaining way.

Akecheta is one of the most ‘humane’ hosts that we have seen so far, and this episode gave McClarnon an unparalleled opportunity to reestablish his character and recenter him prior to the two final episodes of the season. And McClarnon did exactly what was asked of him in this triumph of an episode.

A+

For my reviews of the previous episodes in the series, click here.

– Jeffrey Rex Bertelsen

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