There hasn’t been much to enjoy about Westworld this season, with its confusing, overloaded episodes that bombard viewers with multiple timelines and several plotlines all at once. Every word is somehow significant, or not — it may solve the entire puzzle, or it may be a miscue, or you could be making things up just to keep it interesting. You can’t really watch Westworld passively, but at the same time, there’s an uncertain payoff if you choose to pay close attention. It may just be a waste of time.
I have the intent, however vain it may be, to re-watch the first seven episodes of Season 2 just to give Westworld a second chance. It’s obviously an expensive production, so someone must really believe in it. Whomever at HBO approved the budget deserves at least a second look before those of us faithful (but cynical) viewers write off the endeavor completely.
That intent grew a little less remote tonight after seeing Westworld‘s latest installment, “Kiksuya.” Instead of going deep with analysis — tough to do with Westworld because, like I say, it may be wasted mental energy — I’m just going to list off why this episode worked.
You may not agree, but as they say, “That’s Entertainment.”
It had a story.
When I first learned that episode 8 was going to focus on the Ghost Nation, I was like, “noooo!” Not another plotline. Not more character introductions. Not more people to keep straight. No, no, no!
But it worked. Because it wasn’t so much a character introduction as opening up that world that had been going on in the background of Westworld since the beginning. Who are those people on horses, except aboriginal stereotypes? Perhaps deeper, more enlightened — and human — than viewers might previously have assumed.
It was easy to follow.
Even a casual viewer, which I was not this evening, could figure out how Akecheta fit into this whole thing and what he was trying to do. There was no mish-mash of seemingly disconnected characters, each with uncertain agendas. It made sense.
Importantly, you could see how the hosts are perhaps much more independent than we’d previously assumed. It had been a decade since Akecheta’s last update, and he was apparently continuing to learn, his memories of past lives becoming deeper, that entire time.
We learned some things.
Ford seemed amazed when he discovered Akecheta was drawn in by the maze. Maybe Ford isn’t controlling things after all. He may be a guiding force, but at least in that moment he seemed pretty much content to let the hosts do whatever they wanted.
It looked pretty.