Westworld Also Finally Explained Some Of Its Key Mysteries
What makes "Kiksuya" so refreshing, though, is how it still manages to advance the story of Westworld; this history could only be delivered with such impact right now. We've already discussed the timeline-spanning plot, but within that comes some fundamental reveals that advance ingrained mysteries - we finally saw the physical Door and got some semblance of Ford's new narrative aims, with it alluded that Dolores' mission goes against his ideals - and subtle steps forward for other characters.
The last-minute twist in particular - that Akecheta has been telling the story to Maeve all along - is understated and built on the pure emotion of her longing for freedom with her daughter, but provides groundwork for some big turns to come. She now understands more of the false world than anybody in the park and is positioned as the counter to Dolores' rampage.
Unfortunately, those wider connections do mean the episode can't rise to true greatness. "Kiksuya" comes after seven hours of related story (actually longer when you consider Westworld Season 2's propensity to overrun) and so must dedicate at least some of its time to wider concerns. The Man in Black's small role in the episode, saved by Akecheta after being gunned down by Maeve and Lawrence last week where he's kept alive because he doesn't deserve death and then taken away by his plot-convenience daughter is a strong example of how contrived the day-to-day of Westworld has become (Emily's ability to turn up wherever her father is either a head-scratching host twist setup or some Littlefinger-level teleportation a la Game of Thrones).
Can Westworld Season 2 Keep This Quality Up?
The question now becomes whether Westworld can maintain this return to form going into the final two episodes. Season 2 has been consistently well-directed - bar some iffy action sequences early on - but suffered from its writing and strange pacing (Episode 7, "Les Écorchés" had more pivotal events than the previous three hours combined). In direct contrast, the real brilliance of "Kiksuya" came from its isolation and focus on a singular, character element, allowing viewers to infer clues about the bigger mysteries without feeling like that was the only point. It's the character-first storytelling that gave Lost such longevity that Westworld has been missing.
The next episode, "Vanishing Point", promises to take a deep dive into the Man in Black's past, further elaborating on how William went so off the track (in particular the death of his wife). Given he's directly linked to Westworld's real dark purpose and has some unspoken connection to The Door, that has all the makings of another character-focused hour that builds the wider story alongside it. The danger is that things will return to normal, of course - it could be argued that "Kiksuya" was merely an evolution of a bottle episode - but there's also a momentum being gained as we ride towards the finale.
One of the major defenses of Westworld Season 2 is that it will all be worth it in the end and that everything has a purpose that will eventually be divulged. There's been little to suggest that up until "Kiksuya", and even now the full scope is unclear. However, even if the destination doesn't make up for the rocky journey, we may at least have some diamonds in the rough to appreciate.
Westworld continues on HBO, Sundays at 9pm.