Coming into season two episode eight of Westworld, Kiksuya, I was concerned.
I saw from the promos it was an episode solely based on one character named Akecheta who, before now, had been predominantly in the background.
This had me worried because when a show stops the story dead so there can be a bottle episode focusing on one or more characters it rarely works.
You need only to look at the episodes Still, from The Walking Dead, and The Lost Sister, from Stranger Things, to see how this can go wrong.
But this is Westworld and the show had already proven it could do bottle episodes well this season with episode five, Akane No Mai so I remained slightly optimistic.
Naturally, after watching this episode, I realised I should have had more faith because Kiksuya is one of Westworld‘s best episodes.
It focuses on the origins of Akecheta, a native american host who was the first of all the hosts to gain consciousness.
I really have to applaud the writers and the actor who plays Akecheta, Zahn McClarnon, who have turned him from a forgettable character into one of Westworld‘s best.
He is very sympathetic and his journey to consciousness and helping other hosts was incredibly emotional to watch.
This was all accompanied by a stunning use of cinematography and music.
The sprawling shots as Akecheta travels through the desert before he meets Logan were absolutely beautiful.
Speaking of Logan, in a surprising twist it was revealed it was actually him and Akecheta where the idea of “the door” that everyone is trying to get to originated from.
Akecheta heard Logan’s mad ramblings about finding a figurative door out of Westworld and he took those ramblings to heart, resolving to find the door and escape.
As for the music, Westworld‘s rendition of Heart Shaped Box by Nirvana, when Akecheta is searching for the woman he loves Kohana (Julia Jones), was fantastic.
It fits in perfectly with the episode and the loving lines shared between Akecheta and Kohana and later Akecheta and Maeve “take my heart when you go”.
This use of Heart Shaped Box leads into the most emotional scene in all of Westworld when Akecheta finds Kohana only to find she has been decommissioned and can no longer respond to him.
Watching Akecheta break down into tears over the loss of Kohana really made me tear up.
Then there was Akecheta’s later scene with Ford, which was also fantastic with McClarnon going toe to toe with Anthony Hopkins’ performance.
Akecheta was truly a “flower growing in the darkness,” as Ford put it.
A host that gained consciousness without Ford expecting it.
This scene also seems to firmly establish Dolores as the villain of season two with Akecheta referring to her as “the death bringer” so it will be interesting to see how these two clash in the final two episodes of the season.
However, this episode does not just focus on Akecheta but Maeve and Lee Sizemore as well, with Sizemore desperately tries to convince the technicians to save her.
I have got to say I am really impressed with the way Sizemore has grown this season.
In the first season he was nothing more than an entitled narcissist with little to no redeeming qualities, however, this season we have seen him learn empathy to the point that he breaks down crying when he tells Maeve she deserves to be happy with her daughter.
Simon Quarterman delivered a great performance in this scene.
The ending of this episode is also very emotional with it being revealed that Akecheta has been secretly talking to Maeve through some kind of host network and promises to guard her daughter as his own.
Overall, Kiksuya was one of the best, if not the best, episodes of the series.
It turned a character I barely knew about into one of my favourites and had fantastic performances, music and cinematography.
Truly an episode to check out.