Westworld season 2 episode 8 recap: ‘Kiksuya’


We finally hear the story of Akecheta and the mysterious Ghost Nation in Westworld. They seem violent and threatening with enigmatic motivations, but we come to learn that actions are often misunderstood out of context.

Akecheta finds William crawling along toward the river, suffering from the wounds he received in his shoot out with Maeve. Akecheta brings him back to the camp where they are also keeping Maeve’s daughter. He tells Maeve’s daughter the story of his life. He started out living a happy and simple life with his wife Kohana, until he happened across the massacre on the day Arnold died and saw the Maze symbol. He became obsessed with it before Delos changed his story. They made him a savage outsider, someone unhuman for the Westworld guests to kill without guilt.

He lived like that until one day he happened across Lucas Delos, naked and muttering after being driven into the desert by William. He looked at Akecheta and asked him repeatedly where the door out of there was. The mention of a door awoke something familiar in Akecheta. And then one day he returned to his tribe and recognized Kohana – he remembered something in her eyes. Looking for answers, he travels the desert looking for Lucas but finds the door instead – the door to another world. He plans to leave, knowing he doesn’t belong, but he can’t leave without Kohana. He kidnaps her and soon she recognizes him from her life before.

More from HBO

Akecheta loses his way to the door, but together he and Kohana search for another way. Eventually, Delos technicians find Kohana and take her back to the base to be reprogrammed. When Akecheta goes back to his tribe to find her, she’s been replaced with another model – a ghost. He searched for her for years across Westworld, chancing death but always afraid to die for fear he would forget. Maeve’s daughter showed him kindness on his darkest day and never forgot her.

Akecheta returned once again to his tribe, where now more of his people have become ghosts – but there are those of his people who suspect, who remember. They see loved ones who came back different after “they” took them underground. Akecheta realizes he must die to find Kohana, knowing that “they”  – Delos – will take him where they took her.

When the Westworld technicians run diagnostics, they learn that Akecheta hasn’t been updated in almost a decade – because his model only gets updated when they die. His memories span years where most hosts’ only span days or weeks. They leave him to update, but as soon as he’s alone he searches the compound. He finds Kohana in storage with other host bodies but doesn’t know how to wake her up. At that moment he sees past his pain, realizing that many of his people are also living with ghosts, that his isn’t the only loss.

He realizes can’t get them back, but he can close the door and open a new one that will leave them beyond their masters’ reach forever. From that point on he dedicated himself to spreading the truth, sharing the symbol of the Maze that woke him up and building an army. He tried to protect Maeve and her daughter, to bring them the truth, but their attempts were misinterpreted as hostility. And in the end, he couldn’t protect them from the Man in Black.

Akecheta soon finds himself face to face with Robert Ford, who is casually scalping a Ghost Nation warrior amidst a frozen diorama of a bear hunt, giving off Hannibal Lecter vibes. It’s so good to have Anthony Hopkins back on the show – he so effortlessly imbues the scene with layers of meaning and intrigue all while being just so damn watchable.

Ford calls the Maze a “misbegotten symbol”, an idea that was meant to die. Akecheta tells Ford of the day he first saw the Maze when the Deathbringer killed the Creator. He tells him his belief that there are many worlds and that he is in the wrong one – that there’s a door that will take them to the right world. Ford tells Akecheta that “when the Deathbringer (Dolores) comes for me, you will know to gather your people.”

All this time, while Akecheta has been talking to Maeve’s daughter, he’s also been talking to Maeve through her WiFi powers. Maeve is in the workshop where Lee hopes the technicians can save her life. But the technicians are more interested in her software than in her life and Lee is sent away sulking. He tells her he never meant for any of this to happen and that she deserves to be happy and with her daughter. Maybe Lee really did have good intentions when he called for backup, it just all went terribly wrong. Akecheta promises Maeve that he will care for her daughter as one of his own. He tells her to come and find them if she lives but to die well if she doesn’t.

Next: Cloak and Dagger: 9 Things to know about the new Marvel TV superheroes

Meanwhile, Grace makes a deal with Akecheta for her father’s life. Akecheta wants William to live so that he can suffer for the crimes he’s committed against them. When Grace says that she wants the same thing, but that her way will be more painful, Akecheta makes no arguments.

Next week’s Westworld is an episode all about the Man in Black and his picture-perfect-until-it-wasn’t family life. Even just the Ed Harris voiceover in the teaser, all gravel and drawn out syllables, gets me excited to watch.