I’ve Been Locked Inside Your Heart-Shaped Box for Weeks: Westworld, ‘Kiksuya’

***Spoiler Warning:  Spoilers for Westworld through Season 2, Episode 8 follow. Spoilers***  Last Week

If it felt like with “Les Écorchés“, last week Westworld hit its pinnacle, Zahn McClarnon is here to spark the revolution, to demand reevaluation. In the beautiful awakening of Ghost Nation leader, Akecheta — who in turn awakens those in his path — we were treated to one of the best television episodes in recent memory … and beyond.

Kiksuya means “I remember” in Lakota, and as we’re once again transported through time (and space?) via Akecheta’s flashbacked tale to Maeve’s daughter, the Sioux language is used to maximum effect. Beautifully directed by Uta Briesewitz, and with sweeping camera work by Darran Tiernan, McClarnon’s warrior takes us on a heart-wrenching journey not soon forgotten. William (in Black) remembers Akecheta as well as Maeve remembers them both; clarification on that horrific, oft-repeated scene of Millay defending her child takes on new meaning as we learn one perceived threat only sought to protect her from the other. Akecheta later mind-promises to continue to keep her as one of his own tribe until Maeve can find them (or die well).

Speaking of dying, the MiB seems peculiarly close to his, despite the purported Host inability for murderous mahem. Aroused by the triggering image of a maze (is that you Arnold? Ford? BernArFord?), Akecheta hastens William’s recovery just so he can lengthen his misery (“Death is a passage from this brutal world. You don’t deserve the exit.”), but a devious daughter has an even worse fate for her father in mind.

Neglectfully naive Wool willfully pulled over his downcast eyes, Sizemore hands over Maeve to technician, Roland (Aaron Fili) who, upon hearing the Mariposa madam “… can control Hosts with her fucking mind”, butchers Millay, seemingly beyond repair (though we know better). As Charlotte soon discovers, Maeve is connected and directing other Hosts via the mesh network (Ford); a team of expert Host healers can be expected to arrive at any moment.

“Take my heart when you go”; “Take mine in its place’; our own alternately swell and break as Akecheta awakens to the reality of his circumstance. Never having died or been updated, discovering his predicament and hearing about “The Door” from a now delusional Logan (last seen sent riding into the sunset by an old friend) , the warrior more than once finds his (wiped) wife, Kohana (Julia Jones), but to no avail –she’s lost among the cold storage figures, forever frozen in the wrong world.

Deep Thoughts:

Ford seemed genuinely surprised at Akecheta’s “flower growing in the darkness” revelations, and not just — he also appeared to be welcoming of the discovery. So, was this truly a natural evolution, unplanned by Ford? Whether Arnold’s maze truly spurred something is still questionable in my own mind; is it part of Ford’s narrative? An anomaly? Simply a curious aside? I  know most believe the Host awakenings are real, but something in Ford’s manner leaves me uncertain. He could simply find Akecheta working slightly out of bounds, so to speak, and have arranged the meeting to explore a little deeper. As we’ve seen in the past, his questions don’t necessarily indicate the Host in question is truly awake.

Many people already knew the glory of Zahn McClarnon’s (Fargo, Longmire, Into the West) sublime acting but no matter; his performance this hour was a revelation, basically a one-man show. And, I can’t think of anyone else who could have carried the episode, could have affected the way he did. If Akecheta doesn’t win awards for “Kiksuya”, no one should ever win awards for anything.

The actor spoke Lakotan, though he’s not fluent in the language, McClarnon did grow up hearing it around him, so it was familiar.

The scene of him walking through the labs, down the escalator to cold storage to Heart-Shaped Box was one of the series’ best, moving beyond compare, and Akecheta’s choke-sob broke me as hard as Maeve’s “Les Écorchés” scream.

Playing off McClarnon isn’t easy, but Julia Jones met her challenge, and the chemistry between the actors was palpable, especially during that moment when Akecheta put Kohana’s hand on his chest, and she realized who he was.

Was that … Engels (the guy Angela exploded), among the cold storage bodies? My everyone-is-a-Host theories are fed every week.

Martin Sensmeier as Wanahton was also impressive, especially during the scene where he offers himself up to Akecheta, so he will be awakened.

Come on, Westworld! Maeve’s daughter, well-played by little Jasmyn Rae, deserves a name!

Sizemore is an idiot, an absolutly foolish jerk — what else did he think they were going to do with Maeve when he told Roland what she could do? That said, when he took her hand and apologized, it was a nice moment.

Is Emily/Grace’s plan for her father truly “worse”? Next week’s preview indicates we’ll get more of William’s (and his family’s) backstory, with Sela Ward in as the older version of his wife, Juliet. I’m so curious about her purported suicide, especially after we only saw a hand trailing from a bathtub. I can’t help wondering whether a) William killed her, because she was the only person who could see his “stain”, or b) if William is actually the person in the tub — and it’s when his transformation to Host began.

Mi cante ki yu ha ya ye (Take my heart when you go) interestingly calls back to “Akane No Mai“; Akane literally took Sakura’s heart.

McClarnon’s Fargo bunny scene was echoed this hour, furthering the Westworld/Nolan connection to Noah Hawley.

Songs This Hour:

Ramin Djawadi, Heart-Shaped Box (covering Nirvana)

Great Lines:

William in Black to himself:  “Don’t you do it. Don’t you fucking do it. You’re not dying here. Not yet.”

Akecheta to Maeve’s daughter:  “You can remember all the things you’ve seen, can’t you? All the lives we’ve lived. So can I.

… They destroyed the man I  was, but then I was reborn. And this time I came out breathing fire.”

Logan to Akecheta:  “This is an illusion, this is all broken. There’s gotta be a way out of here. Where’s the door? … This is the wrong world.”

Akecheta:  “I knew he had gone mad from the sun. But his words cracked something open in me. I returned to my men and our daily tasks. I never realized that I had been here before. But, then I saw her.. Those eyes. I remembered them. But to her, I was only a stranger.

With each passing day, my sense great stronger. I had lived this life before. The past was calling me.

… Perhaps this was not my true life. This world was not my true home. But, she was.”

Akecheta to Kohana’s question (“What’s on the other side?”):  “Somewhere our memories will be safe.”

Akecheta to Maeve’s daughter:  “But on my darkest day, you helped me. You gave me the strength to keep going. You saw me for how I really was.”

Akecheta:  “I was no longer the only one who noticed.”

Sizemore to Maeve:  “I don’t know if you can hear me. I never meant for any of this to happen. You don’t deserve this. You deserve your daughter. To mother her, teach her to love, to be joyful and proud. I’m sorry.”

Akecheta to Wanahton’s question, “What does it mean?”):  “It means that you can see.”

Akecheta to Maeve’s daughter:  “I wanted to help you, too. I wanted to warn you. But in this world, it’s easy to misunderstand intentions.

Someone else was watching you, too.”

Akecheta:  “As the years passed our numbers grew. We were waking up. And then one night I met the man who put us to sleep in the first place.”

Ford to Akecheta:  “I could tell you not to be afraid, but I didn’t build you to be fearful, did I? I’ve been watching you. It appears you’ve been watching me as well.

This was a misbegotten symbol. An idea that was meant to die, but you found it didn’t’ you? Analysis. Where did you first see this?”

Akecheta:  “When the death of you killed the creator. My primary drive was to keep the honor of my tribe. I created my own drive.”

Ford:  “You’ve been a flower growing in the darkness. Perhaps the least I can do is offer some light. When the Deathbringer comes for me, you will know to gather your people and take them to a new world. Keep watching, Akecheta, for a while longer.

Emily/Grace to Akecheta:  “My way will be much worse.”

Roland to Charlotte:  “Nobody in this entire park has been able to regain admin access, except her. She was out there re-commanding.”

Charlotte:  “She wasn’t just doing it out there, she’s doing it right now. Who the fuck is she talking to?”

Akecheta to Maeve (via the mesh network):  “We will guard your daughter as our own. If you stay alive, find us. Or die well.”

Maeve (via the network):  “Take my heart when you go.”

Cindy Davis

Cindy Davis has been writing about the entertainment industry for ​over ten years, and is the ​Editor-in-Chief at Oohlo, where she muses over television, movies, and pop culture. Previous Senior News Editor at Pajiba, and published at BUST.

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