Spoilers below for the Westworld installment "Akane No Mai," so be sure to watch before reading on.
Oh, the tangled and horrific webs that Westworld weaves on a weekly basis. The drama branched out in intriguing (and dark) directions with the first proper introduction to Shogun World, as well as with Dolores' current quest for A.I. dominance. Things got amazingly gory for characters new and old, even without Man in Black doing the gore-making, and everything seen in the episode will almost definitely have a major impact on Delos' parks and everyone attached to them. We didn't get the grand reveal for where that human consciousness orb is going, but we did learn some things. Now to break it all down.
Akane's Sad And Empowering Introduction
Shogun World's arrival has been as hotly anticipated as Westworld's series premiere, and it paid off in spades, with Rinko Kikuchi's Madam Akane potentially being set up as the next major fan-favorite host. Shogun World's Edo Period adventures were created for park guests who craved some of the most intense experiences possible, but as it went within Westworld, the hosts here aren't following the pre-written narratives. (Lots of things were happening as they went within Westworld, down to the hosts' actions and color choices.) Most importantly, it leads to Maeve's introduction to Akane, which instantly and transparently hinted at an unknown and powerful connection.
Unfortunately, that connection is heavily tied to the murder of loved ones. Akane's quasi-daughter Sakura was kidnapped by the Shogun for her dancing skills, and Akane went against the script to keep Sakura safe, which inevitably leads to the young girl getting stabbed in the stomach by the Shogun, who soon faces Akane's terrifying wrath. (She brutally sawed his head off with her bladed hair ornaments, to the stripped-down Westworld-ian version of Wu-Tang Clan's "C.R.E.A.M.") What should have been a complete massacre was averted by Maeve, and I am certain her innate connection to her doppel-bot Akane will be as important as I hope in the rest of Season 2 and beyond. (And I'm also hoping for more Maeve-esque hosts in other parks.) Humanity's fate doesn't look good in any case, considering Shogun World's introduction revealed that members of the human rescue team, otherwise known as the cavalry, were murdered and on public display. Yikes.
Maeve's New Power
As one of Westworld's most rounded and intriguing characters, Maeve is most deserving of becoming the most powerful host within Westworld and the other parks. Having already faced multiple instances where her voice-operated commands don't successfully work against other hosts, Maeve unlocked a new achievement that allowed her to "telepathically" control other hosts, which absolutely comes in handy when being attacked by an army of skilled warriors and ninjas whose leader was just 85% beheaded. It's presumably part of the mesh network that the hosts are able to tap into, but Maeve is at this point the only host who's been able to exploit this feature.
By next week's episode, we may no longer spend so much time inside the endlessly explorable Shogun World, as Lee Sizemore clued Maeve in on the whereabouts of some nearby escape tunnels. But what happens once Maeve, Hector and the others make it back to the only slightly more stable labs beneath the parks? Will they be followed by other hosts? Is Maeve's evolution really part of Ford's games, or is there something else happening with her? Since her trials and tribulations haven't crossed paths with Dolores and Man in Black very often, Maeve feels like she's part of a different route to enlightenment, meaning there may be others responsible for crafting her tale.
Dolores Gave Teddy An Upgrade
Since earlier in the season, Westworld viewers have known that James Marsden's good ol' boy Teddy was part of the flood valley host massacre, though it wasn't clear what would bring his death about. Some may have guessed that Teddy's empathy for others would create a deadly tension with Dolores, which could still prove true. Tonight showed us that Dolores' capacity for love and legitimate emotion played into sealing his fate, though, and her response to his repeated pleas to turn away from destructive violence was to have the lab tech Phil unlock Teddy's full mental capacity, to blow his damned mind into losing his humanistic integrity. At least I think that's what happened. He's got zero empathy now, among other traits, but his decisiveness, cruelty and aggression are at maximum highs.
After their passionate night of robo-bonking, Dolores realized that her feelings for Teddy were about as real as anything she would ever "know." And once news of her father's current whereabouts in the Mesa came about, Dolores knew that in order to keep Teddy hooked along with the hosts' domination of mankind, she would need to break him of his compassionate shell. That's all the romantic way of looking at it, in any case. Now we just have to wait and see how that gigantic update affected him, and how it will lead to his death.
What About All That Lost Host Data?
Before bringing viewers into Shogun World, a pretty important scene was quietly tossed out there. Around a third of the hosts' IP is apparently confirmed to be lost now, and there was possibly a big explosion somewhere in the parks that took out another batch of the hosts. A security tech offhandedly reveals that the fires were put out in the area surrounding a "crater," but all of the hosts' data and backup data was destroyed, which puts a big dent in the whole "gather all of the hosts' data" plan that is fueling parts of Delos Inc.'s operations. The crater definitely ties to the big weapon that Man in Black and Dolores were traveling to, whose construction was previously shown. (And to Dolores' ominous anecdote about the cattle illness.) But is the crater itself the weapon, or is it what remains of what was there before?
Another mysterious reveal here involved all the water-logged hosts that Bernard admitted to having killed. After their brain orbs were removed and studied, it was discovered that many of them had been completely wiped clean of all signs of use, as if it was the first time they were being used. So what does this mean? Did Dolores and/or Bernard and/or Man in Black or whoever go through and replace the hosts' orbs with empty ones, in order to horde all the data themselves, perhaps as a bargaining chip? Is that what Karl Strand was halfway talking about when casually possibly alluding to this being part of where Bernard's story is eventually going? Or maybe they were all somehow erased by an external source, say like hosts who have the ability to mentally control others.