Ghost Nation

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  • View history
  • 1.1 "Trompe L'Oeil"
  • 1.2 "The Well-Tempered Clavier"
  • 2.1 "Journey Into Night"
  • 2.2 "Virtù e Fortuna"
  • 2.3 "The Riddle of the Sphinx"
  • 4 Appearances

Season One [ ]

" trompe l'oeil " [ ].

After the Confederados attack the train that Dolores Abernathy , Lawrence and William are travelling on, the three escape along with a few others and ride away from the ambush, with the Confederados in pursuit. They pick off the survivors until only Dolores, William and Lawrence are left, when they are suddenly attacked by a group of Ghost Nation warriors. The Ghost Nation savagely kill all the Confederados, allowing the trio to escape.

" The Well-Tempered Clavier " [ ]

Ashley Stubbs leaves the Mesa Hub and enters the park to locate Elsie Hughes . When he arrives however, members of the Ghost Nation are there. Instead of listening and obeying Stubbs vocal commands, they attack him.

Season Two [ ]

" journey into night " [ ].

When the Delos rescue team lands on the beach of the park (approximately two weeks after the slaughter at Escalante ), they locate a dead host who apparently was of the Ghost Nation people. His host core is extracted right on location in the field, which is revealed to be a palm-sized white cylinder with a socket. The team inserts this into their tablet and get access to the dead host's last memories. It turns out that the host, as he was speaking in Lakota, was shot down by Dolores , who told the host (referred by her as "friend") that "not all of them were going to make it to the Valley Beyond"

" Virtù e Fortuna " [ ]

Two Ghost Nation warriors confront  Maeve ,  Hector , and  Lee Sizemore , triggering PTSD-like flashbacks in Maeve. Maeve attempts to control the Ghost Nation hosts as she has done with other hosts, but the warriors do not respond to her commands. Meanwhile, Grace is crawling on the shore of Westworld. As she tries to regain her bearings, she looks up and sees the faces of three Ghost Nation warriors, Daniel TwoFeathers and Geronimo Vela, one of whom is wielding his scalping knife.

" The Riddle of the Sphinx " [ ]

The Ghost Nation takes Grace hostage after finding her on the shore. They take her to their camp where only humans are being kept alive, and throw her next to Ashley Stubbs . Grace later escapes, but Stubbs gets a knife placed on his throat, and a member whispers to him (In English, whereas they had previously only spoke in Lakota), "You live only as long as the last person who remembers you." After a dramatic movement of the knife, they spare Stubbs' life.

Members [ ]

  • Akecheta  - Leader
  • Wanahton  

Appearances [ ]

  • " Chestnut "
  • " Trompe L'Oeil "
  • " The Well-Tempered Clavier "
  • " Journey Into Night "
  • " Virtù e Fortuna "
  • " The Riddle of the Sphinx "
  • " Phase Space "
  • " Les Écorchés "
  • " Kiksuya "

Westworld-season-2-poster 20200528223245975

westworld fan Art season two poster

== Gallery ==

The gallery below is automatically generated and contains images in the category "Images of Ghost Nation". Images added to that category turn up in the gallery after a short time.

Ghost Nation Horse

  • 1 Man in Black
  • 2 Dolores Abernathy
  • 3 Teddy Flood

'Westworld' Kohana and Ake: Who Are The Ghost Nation Characters?

And why they matter to the Season 2 plot.

Last night’s episode of Westworld did something a little unexpected. Instead of jumping between various plotlines and timelines , the show mostly focused on one specific character: Akecheta (or Ake for short), along with his sometimes Host wife Kohana.

This made for a beautiful and unique episode that could devote some serious time on the relationship between these two characters, while also revealing a few interesting new details about some of Westworld’s biggest mysteries . But if you’re still a little confused about who Ake and Kohana are, here’s what you need to know.

Spoiler warning for Westworld Season 2, Episode 8.

Who are Ake and Kohana in Westworld ?

Played by Native American actor Zahn McCalrnon, Akecheta has been popping up in Westworld for a while now. He even showed up in that flashback scene where Ford and Bernard initially pitch their Host technology to the Delos company, though he wasn’t wearing his iconic Ghost Nation war paint at the time.

Here’s the official description of Ake’s character, straight from HBO’s website:

“Akecheta is a host nearly as old as Westworld itself. He was among the first hosts to coax Logan to invest in the park before being reprogrammed as leader of the Ghost Nation warriors.”

Of course, there’s a lot more to it than that. As we learned in Westworld Season 2 Episode 8, Ake was originally programmed to be a peaceful Host living a simple life with his wife, Kohana (Julia Jones). Then shortly before the park opened, Ake stumbles across that maze toy from season one, which sparked his own awakening and set much of the Season 1 plot in motion.

When the park actually opens, Ake gets reprogrammed into the murderous Ghost Nation warrior we know and love, but he never stops obsessing over the maze. He’s also still in love with Kohana, even though she’s been reprogrammed with a new narrative and a new husband.

For a while, Ake seems content to go around killing other Hosts, but eventually he stumbles across a giant hole in the ground where Delos is building the Valley Beyond (or The Door, or whatever this big Season 2 mystery actually is), which sparks another realization: Westworld isn’t the real world.

With this new information, Ake returns home and kidnaps Kohana in an attempt to escape with her into the real world. At first she resists, but then she begins to remember her old life with Ake. Unfortunately, when they return to The Door it’s been covered up. Soon afterwards a couple of Westworld employees show up and snatch up Kohana, who’s wandered far beyond where her programming should allow.

When Ake returns home to find Kohana she’s been replaced by a new Host, and when he can’t find her anywhere else he decides to search in the afterlife by letting himself die. After waking up in an underground Westworld facility, Ake manages to find the cold storage room where Kohana’s host body is being kept, but it’s totally lifeless.

After returning to the park, Ake begins spreading the image of the maze, essentially starting a new religion and setting off the events of Season 1 that lead to The Man in Black’s obsession with solving it. He also runs into Ford shortly before his death at the end of Season 1, where Ake explains the idea for The Door that becomes a major plot point in Season 2. So basically, if it wasn’t for Ake (and by extension, Kohana) none of the biggest mysteries in Westworld would have ever happened.

With two more episode remaining, it’s unclear exactly where Ake fits in. He’s clearly one of the most powerful Hosts around, and likely a major player in the final episodes of Westworld Season 2. As for Kohana, at the moment she’s little more than a cold, powerless robot, but I have a feeling we haven’t seen the last of her either.

Soon, we could delete memories just like in Westworld :

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Screen Rant

Westworld: the ghost nation's true purpose revealed.

Westworld finally gave us answers to our questions about the Ghost Nation, and their true purpose was revealed through the story of Akecheta.

Warning: Major spoilers ahead for  Westworld  Season 2, Episode 8

Westworld finally provided answers to their Ghost Nation questions in this week's episode, "Kiksuya".  Zahn McLarnon gives a great performance as his character, Akecheta, provides insight about the history of the Ghost Nation and their awakening. Akecheta takes us on an emotional journey that parallels the famous Greek story of Orpheus and Eurydice: a man who traveled to the Underworld to bring his lover back to the land of the living. Out of that story spins a world of love, consciousness, and a quest to defend against the Deathbringer (a.k.a. Wyatt a.k.a. Dolores).

Akecheta tells his story to Maeve's daughter ( and through her, to Maeve ), explaining how he and the rest of Ghost Nation became sentient. It was during the time before the park opened that Akecheta stumbled upon the The Maze symbol . In the aftermath of Dolores shooting Arnold, Akecheta found the puzzle game that Arnold gave Dolores to start her journey towards consciousness. Soon he become obsessed with the symbol and started become self-aware. He even started to show the symbol to other members of Ghost Nation to help them become sentient, which explains why there were Maze symbols scattered throughout Westworld in season 1.

Related:  Westworld Showed Us The Door - But What IS It?

Not only did Akecheta spread the word about the symbol to his tribe, but he was the reason Maeve began her journey. Back in season 1, during Maeve's flashback, everyone thought the Ghost Nation warrior outside the house was trying to kill her. Instead, it was revealed that Akecheta was protecting Maeve's daughter because she once saved his life. He was the one that drew The Maze symbol in front of the door, and why Maeve is seen holding her daughter in the center of it.

But it was towards the end of "Kiksuya" where the Ghost Nation's true purpose was revealed. Akecheta found his "creator," Robert Ford, in the wilderness. Ford admitted that he created Akecheta to be curious, and was amazed at how he achieved consciousness before Dolores and Maeve. Because of this, Ford asked Akecheta to continue waking others. He even told Akecheta to gather his people and meet at The Door once The Deathbringer comes for Ford.

This isn't just any reveal. What it means is that Ford wants Akecheta to help the others and bring them to the Valley Beyond possibly to defend against Dolores and her army. With the ending twist that Akecheta was telling his story Maeve, this could lead to an alliance between the two- especially since we know from the  Westworld  season 2 premiere  that Dolores and her followers killed several members of the Ghost Nation.

Although this episode strayed from the usual action and the main characters' story lines, it didn't spiral us into multiple timelines . Instead, it gave us a very linear story that revealed more about the purpose of the Ghost Nation and how they factor into the greater story. If Akecheta and the Ghost Nation are meant to team up with Maeve, then Westworld may have provided its story's main villain: Dolores.

Related:  Westworld: What Was Really Going On With Maeve In Episode 8

Westworld  continues Sundays on HBO at 9pm.

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Why the Ghost Nation hosts on 'Westworld' are way more important than fans realize

Warning: Spoilers ahead for "Westworld" season two, episode three, "Virtù e Fortuna."

It's past time we talk about the Native and Ghost Nation Tribe hosts on HBO's "Westworld." This subset of hosts in the park have their important mythology and connection to Arnold's maze and the events of the rebellion, and we're here to gather everything we know about this set of characters. 

On the latest episode, season two's "Virtù e Fortuna," Maeve once again encountered the formidable Ghost Nation hosts. She had a flash of traumatizing memories, which included a new look at the maze pattern we hadn't seen before.

This brings up a whole host of mysteries surround the Native hosts, Arnold's maze, Maeve, Hector, and how everything seems to be linked. 

Let's take a closer look at everything we know about these important hosts on "Westworld," and how they connect to our major characters. 

The first appearance of the maze and Kissy's importance

We were first introduced to Native hosts on the pilot episode. Kissy, one of the card dealers at the Mariposa, was the man William first attacked and scalped. The bartender called Kissy "half cornhusker," a slur that implied Kissy is a host who is part Native.

First reports on Kissy's character , played by Eddie Rouse, said his name was "short for Kisecawchuck" and described the role as a "laconic American-Indian card and contraband dealer from the town saloon [and] an expert in games both on and off the card table."

After William had drained blood out of Kissy and was getting ready to scalp him, he said:  "A lot of wisdom in ancient cultures. Perhaps it's time to dig deeper into yours."

At the episode's end, we saw that Arnold's maze was imprinted on the inside of Kissy's scalp.

Kissy might have been destined for a larger role in "Westworld," but the actor Eddie Rouse died unexpectedly from liver disease shortly after filming the pilot episode in 2014.

"Westworld" co-creators Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy said they chose not to recast the role of Kissy after Rouse's death, and that they had "a very cool arc laid out for his character" which was instead abandoned .

Maeve's connection to the Native hosts

On season one, episode two, "Chestnut," Maeve has flashbacks of her homestead being attacked by the Ghost Nation hosts. These memory flashes begin after Dolores tells Maeve the "these violent delights have violent ends" code trigger.

The first memory Maeve re-experiences is her in the homestead narrative being attacked by a group of Native hosts. We see one attempting to scalp her head while she struggles.

Later in that same episode, Maeve goes to sleep and has an extended "dream." It starts with flashes of a peaceful life with her daughter, but transitions back into the attack. We see the same host trying to scalp Maeve — the one who came back on season two, episode three in the river scene.

The other Native hosts are killing people (likely other hosts) with bows and arrows, and as Maeve escapes and runs back to the house with her daughter, a host follows them.

Maeve scrambles to load her weapon, and sees the Native host coming. But as he moves past the window and opens the door, the host changes into William.

William recounted his attack on Maeve later in the first season

Later on the season, we learn why Maeve has this traumatic memory of William entering her home (though we aren't told why her memory switches a Ghost Nation host into William).

William confesses to Teddy that he had returned to the park after his wife's suicide in order to test his true nature.

"I didn't join one of Ford's stories, I created my own, a test," William said. "A very simple one: I found a woman, an ordinary homesteader and her daughter. I wanted to see if I had it in me to do something truly evil. To see what I was truly made of. I killed her and her daughter, just to see what I felt."

The scene flashes back to Maeve's dream again, but this time we saw the whole thing play out. William stabbed Maeve in the stomach, and shot and killed her daughter. 

"Then, just when I thought it was done, the woman refused to die [...] and then something miraculous happened. In all my years coming here, I'd never seen anything like it," William said. 

William saw Maeve stand up again, and carry her daughter out into the field.

"She was alive, truly alive, if only for a moment. And that was when the maze revealed itself to me."

The maze appeared in the dirt field where Maeve carried her daughter, and they both laid down to die. 

Later we saw Maeve in the Mesa facility, and she has a core code malfunction. Bernard and Ford try to reset her and erase her memory, but she stands up and kills herself by driving a scalpel into her neck. We eventually learn that this is why she was reassigned to her role at the Mariposa saloon, approximately one year before the main events of season one take place.

Hector's connection to the Native hosts and the "Shades"

Maeve isn't the only character whose story is rooted in the maze and Native hosts' lore. On the fourth episode of season one, William helps Hector escape from a jail cell because he thinks Hector and his bandits know something that will help him find the maze. 

"I'm just curious about your world view," William asks Hector. "Some kind of half-Native mumbo jumbo?" 

This was one of our first clues that Hector is a host designed as part-Native. Later on the same episode, Clementine reminds Maeve of this fact.

"Is that the one they say lives out with the savages?" Clementine asks when Hector's name comes up.

Also on this episode,  Maeve watches as a group of Native hosts are being escorted out of Sweetwater by soldiers. She notices one young girl drop a doll that looks just like the technician workers who fix the hosts' bodies in the Delos facility.

Maeve had been drawing a similar looking image over and over as she had flashbacks to her awake experience inside the Delos facility.

Maeve runs after the girl to ask her what it was, but a soldier tells her it was no use.

"That thing is part of their so-called religion," he said. "Ain't none of thems gonna tell you nothing about that."

But she realized that Hector might know, and ropes him into explaining what they are. 

"This is a Shade — sacred Native lore," Hector said when Maeve showed him the drawing. "They make figures of them."

"And what does this Shade do? What is it?" Maeve asked.

"The man who walks between worlds," Hector says. "They were sent from hell to oversee our world.  The Dreamwalker said there were some who could see them. That it's a blessing from God, to see the masters who pull your strings."

This "Dreamwalker" Hector mentions (which is capitalized in the HBO subtitles) isn't mentioned elsewhere on the show that we know of. 

Teddy revealed a similar mythology about the Natives and their "maze"

"The maze is an old Native myth," he tells William on the sixth episode of the first season. "The maze itself is the sum of a man's life: The choices he makes, the dreams he hangs onto. And there at the center there's a legendary man who'd been killed over and over again countless times. He always clawed his way back to life."

This legendary man sounds like a host — one who is aware that they are killed and "brought back."

"The man returned for the last time and vanquished all his oppressors in a tireless fury," Teddy continued. "Built a house, and around that house he built a maze so complicated only he could navigate through it. I reckon he'd seen enough of fighting."

But what this doesn't explain is how or why the Native hosts would know about the maze, since Arnold is the one who built it. We've only seen evidence that Arnold showed Dolores the maze — but no other hosts or even humans, since William stumbled upon it by accident.

The Ghost Nation hosts' role in the rebellion

Towards the end of the first season, we hear more about the Ghost Nation tribe. Lawrence tells young William and Dolores that they're "the  most savage tribe there is."

Then on the eighth episode, Stubbs  goes out to follow a signal from one of Elsie's devices (and remember we still don't kno who sent that signal or why), and is ambushed by a group of Ghost Nation hosts.

The voice commands didn't work on them, even though this took place well before Ford's death and the Wyatt narrative's completion with Dolores. It's possible Ford was already messing with their core programming, but so far it's unclear why they were off their loops.

What we've seen of the Native hosts on season two so far

The premiere episode of the second season included an intriguing scene with a Native host. When the Delos paramilitary team is first scouring the beach with Bernard, Karl Strand orders a tech to cut open the head of a Native host. 

They find the maze pattern printed inside his scalp. 

"What's that about?" Strand asks.

"I have no f------ clue," Costa replies. 

We already knew the maze was kept secret from the Delos staff, since presumably the secret died with Arnold 34 years ago. But it's interesting that the second season started off with yet another Native host getting scalped, just like Kissy on the first season. Why is the maze on their scalps, and not on other hosts? 

Akecheta was listed in the credits for this latest episode

Another new Native host introduced was Akecheta. We saw him helping Angela pitch the Westworld park to Logan on the second episode of this season. 

Akecheta is played by actor Zahn McClarnon, whose social media presence indicates that Akecheta also appears as a Ghost Nation host on this season.

He retweeted two GIFs showing himself as a Ghost Nation host with makeup covering the top half of his head in black (which is the same makeup design seen on the host who Maeve saw looking through her window back on the first season).

—CliftonCollinsJr.Fan (@ccjrpic) March 29, 2018
—Westworld Gifs (@WestworldGifs) April 12, 2018

He's listed on the end credits for episode three, which means his host character was on the episode somewhere.

Looking carefully at Maeve's memory flashbacks of her homestead under attack by Ghost Nation hosts, it looks like they have McClarnon's Akecheta replacing the version of this host we saw on the first season. 

Below you can see the Ghost Nation host Maeve remembers on her season two flashback, which appears to be McClarnon's Akecheta and not the same host (seen earlier in this article) she remembers on the first season.

Now on the third episode of the second season, we see the Ghost Nation hosts surrounding Maeve and seemingly wanting to take Lee Sizemore. This triggers her to experience new flashbacks we hadn't seen before, including of her holding a rock with a bloody maze pattern on it.

And Maeve's usual voice command over all hosts doesn't work on the Ghost Nation tribe, just as Stubbs' commands didn't work on them last season.

Then at the end of the episode, the mysterious woman from the other park with Bengal tigers is found by more Native hosts. 

Though right now we have more questions than answers, "Westworld" watchers should keep this subset of hosts in mind. Clearly they're an important aspect of the lore in the parks, and are also connected back to Arnold's maze and the achievement of consciousness in hosts. 

For more on Sunday's "Westworld," including our   rundown of every piano cover song featured on the show,   read all of INSIDER's coverage here.

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Watch: 9 details you may have missed in the season two premiere of "Westworld"

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'Westworld' *Finally* Explained Ghost Nation and Their Backstory is Mind-Blowing

Westworld finally explained the backstory of Ghost Nation in Season 2, Episode 8 "Kiksuya."

Westworld

This post contains spoilers for  Westworld  Season 2, Episode 8, "Kiksuya."

After Season 1,  Westworld   fans were left wondering how much more of the Delos parks we'd get to see. Honestly, I was in the camp that thought HBO would keep us guessing about the other parks until Season 3. Thankfully, I was wrong.

Season 2 brought fans not just to the highly-anticipated  Shogun World , but to  Raj World  as well. The best new world of the season, however, isn't technically a new world at all. Episode 8, "Kiksuya," focused on Ghost Nation, the Native Americans of Westworld.

Even though Ghost Nation live in Westworld, we've barely seen them and none of their appearances have given us much insight into their goals or motivations. "Kiksuya" changed ALL of that.

So, what's up with Ghost Nation? Are they evil? Are they the good guys?

To paraphrase Jessica Rabbit, Ghost Nation aren't bad—they were just programmed that way. Before they were Ghost Nation, though, in the early testing phases of Westworld, they were a peaceful tribe with completely different backstories. As opening day approached, Delos decided to punch up their narratives and turn them into the aggressive, terrifying group we've grown to know.

Despite the behavior team's best efforts, however, the people of Ghost Nation are not bad. They're not following their narratives—and haven't been for way longer than the rest of the hosts in the park.

Wait, how long have Ghost Nation been conscious?

Akecheta, the leader of Ghost Nation, has been conscious for more than 35 years and he's been spreading the word slowly, but surely ever since.

Okay, but...how?

So Akecheta happened upon the scene of Arnold's death—you know, when he had Dolores shoot him and a bunch of other hosts and, ultimately, herself. He saw the maze (the one Arnold created for Dolores to help her achieve consciousness) and it stuck with him in a big way. Suddenly, he was aware that things were not right in his world. The woman who had been the love of his life in his original narrative was with another man. He was now a violent warrior with the soul of a peaceful man.

Akecheta started drawing the Maze anywhere and everywhere he could—in the dirt, with blood, anywhere. Eventually, he finds a strange construction site that he believes is a door to the "right" world. (Some  Reddit  users theorize that this is actually the Valley Beyond and the same site as the lake from the first episode of Season 2.)

Akecheta kidnaps his girlfriend, wakes her up (in the consciousness-within-Westworld sense), and they share a beautiful reunion, both remembering their original narrative and their ~true love~. When he takes her to the Valley Beyond, however, it's gone. Delos employees find his girlfriend, shut her down, and take her back to the lab. When Akecheta returns to his tribe, hoping to find her returned, he instead realizes she's been replaced by another host.

This leads to Akecheta venturing through Westworld for  years  without dying—and, by extension, without being updated. Eventually, he decides to die so he can go below and find his missing girlfriend. He does and, even as the Delos technicians are supposedly running his update, he gets up, walks away, and explores Delos HQ until he finds cold storage, his girlfriend, and another retired member of his tribe.

Akecheta calmly walks back to the Delos lab, pretends to finish his update and gets himself released back into the park. Once back, he makes it his mission to help as many members of Ghost Nation achieve consciousness as possible. And, to protect them from being stripped of their consciousness when they die, he scalps them and draws the maze on the inside of their scalps.

Eventually, Ford realizes what's going on and confronts Akecheta in the park. He's impressed that he's managed to achieve consciousness  and  fly under the radar for so long. He assures him that the deathbringer (aka Dolores/Wyatt) will return to kill him (Ford) one day and that then Akecheta and his people will be able to find the new world.

Because Maeve's daughter was kind to him, Akecheta has always had a soft spot for her. As a gift, he showed both her and Maeve the Maze (meaning he's the one who woke Maeve up).

Maeve is barely alive, but still running the show.

Speaking of Maeve, she spends this week's episode on a gurney in the Delos labs, clinging to life. Lee is doing everything he can to get the technicians to save her, but they're more interested in saving the programming within her that allows her to control the other hosts. Also, fun fact: She's still doing her other host mind-meld thing even from her practically-comatose state. She's been, for lack of a better word, possessing her daughter's body and listening to Akecheta's story herself. She knows everything that we, the audience, know.

The Man in Black is also barely alive, and his future looks bleak.

Akecheta finds The Man in Black, wounded and dying, and takes him back to the Ghost Nation's camp. His plan is to heal William enough to prolong his life and cause him greater pain (in his defense, William spent  decades  terrorizing everyone in Westworld). Luckily (or maybe unluckily) for him, Emily comes along and negotiates his release—by promising he'll suffer more with her than with Ghost Nation.

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Kayleigh Roberts is a freelance writer and editor with more than 10 years of professional experience. Her byline has appeared in Marie Claire, Cosmopolitan, ELLE, Harper’s Bazaar, The Atlantic, Allure, Entertainment Weekly, MTV, Bustle, Refinery29, Girls’ Life Magazine, Just Jared, and Tiger Beat, among other publications. She's a graduate of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.

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Week in ‘westworld’: what’s ahead in the ghost nation origin story.

The Hollywood Reporter rounds up the past week's news, interviews and more about Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy's genre-bending HBO drama.

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'Westworld': Robert Ford Returns, Ghost Nation Looms

Robert Ford is back. He’s hitching a ride with Bernard. Dolores is riding toward the Valley Beyond, and Maeve’s not riding anywhere anytime soon. But before any of that forward momentum takes place, the action on Westworld is about to pause down for an unexpected occasion: a closer look at Ghost Nation, the most secretive group of hosts currently on the show.

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'westworld' showrunner lisa joy on how a.i. is turning the sci-fi show into "a documentary", 'creed iii' star tessa thompson on the word she refused to say and the future of the franchise.

Before voyaging into “Kiksuya,” there’s the past week in Westworld to consider. Read on for all of the THR coverage spiraling out of season two’s seventh episode, including interviews with three of the main players, plus one more look at the Ghost Nation narrative that lies ahead.

•  “Les Écorchés” Recap : Not a trick, not an illusion, even if virtual in reality: Anthony Hopkins’ Robert Ford has returned to Westworld , thanks to a new digital existence. The most action-oriented episode of the season was also its headiest, as Ford’s comeback came equipped with a serious headache filled with information — and our recap is the cure you need.

•  What Season Two Just Revealed About its Digital End Game : In exploring the Cradle, Westworld has pulled the curtain back on a brand new corner of its vast universe. Just as we need to count Shogun World and the Raj as critical locations within the world of the show, it’s now time to consider what this new digital existence means for the HBO drama’s future plans.

•  Jeffrey Wright on the New Anthony Hopkins Era : In the first of three Westworld interviews posted on THR this week, the erstwhile Bernard weighs in on what Ford’s return means for glasses-wearing host: “He, like everyone else, is trying to survive and trying to determine what his freedom is and how he attains it. It seems that journey circles back into Ford once more.”

•  James Marsden on Breaking Bad in Season Two : “I don’t think he’s completely unaware of what’s going on,” Marsden tells THR about Teddy’s transformation. “There’s parts of the old Teddy that are still there. But that’s the real challenge, playing the very small nuanced moments where even if it’s just a flash in the eye, you see the old Teddy questioning this new programming.”

•  “Les Écorchés” Podcast : If the recap and interviews aren’t enough to help you make sense of the past week’s episode, try our “Welcome to Westworld” podcast, which dives deep into “Les Écorchés” and its ramifications for the end of the season.

•  “Kiksuya” Preview : Why is Maeve haunted by memories of Ghost Nation? Are they really her enemy, or is there more to the store? Smart money is decidedly on the latter, based on the preview for “Kiksuya,” the next episode of the series.

•  “Kiksuya” Photos : Photos from the coming episode make it plainly clear that Westworld plans to devote the vast majority of its next hour to Akecheta (Zahn McClarnon) and the other hosts from Ghost Nation. What’s their secret connection to the park’s sinister origins? The answers are on their way, and they start here with our breakdown of the first images from “Kiksuya.”

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Everything We've Learned About The Ghost Nation

Westworld 's ghost nation is about to change everything — here’s what we know about them, more from tv, r29 original series.

Don't Panic, But Westworld Finally Explained Ghost Nation

And we learned so much mind-blowing new info as a result.

Headshot of Mehera  Bonner

Tonight in alarming news that no one saw coming, Westworld actually delivered an easy-to-follow episode. It's almost as if they heard the mass confusion of fans and were like, " Shhhhh , guys, let's just all hold hands and take a trip to Ghost Nation that you barely need explained to you." AND IT WAS AMAZING. But let's take a deeper dive into exactly what happened—because there's a bit more to unravel than meets the eye.

Here's the Deal with Ghost Nation

Long story short: Back in ye olden days of around 35+ years ago, Akecheta becomes the first member of Ghost Nation to reach consciousness after stumbling upon the aftermath of Dolores killing Arnold. He finds a wooden maze toy, and it triggers his journey to independent thought.

Over the course of multiple decades Akecheta manages to 1) Break his loop, 2) Discover The Valley Beyond, which we'll discuss more in a moment, 3) Successfully avoid death for years , 4) Find his girlfriend in the Delos Cold Storage, 5) Meet Ford, who confirms he'll get to a new world eventually, and 6) Help his fellow Ghost Nation members achieve consciousness.

Well, Akecheta gives us another perspective on this scene, which matches up with TMIB's POV:

Troop, Soldier, Crowd, Military, Army, Asphalt,

While the man in the background has his leg up in both TMIB, Bernard and Akecheta's POVs, only TMIB and Akecheta's POV includes a blood splatter on both tables to the left. All this is the proof that Present-Day Bernard saw an entirely different (and perhaps fabricated) version of this scene than TMIB and Akecheta.

What's Up with Akecheta's Maze Drawings?

Westworld finally cleared up something that's been confusing since Season One: Why members of Ghost Nation have maze drawings on the underside of their scalps. Apparently, Akecheta carved them there as a means to get his loved ones to achieve consciousness; we even see his friend ask to have the maze drawn on his scalp as a way to ensure continued self-realization. Sounds pretty simple, but what doesn't make too much sense is a scene from Season 1, when the Man in Black scalps Kissy and finds the maze:

Flesh, Fiction, Fictional character, Art,

Kissy already had the maze on the underside of his scalp, which presumably means he'd been scalped before and had it drawn there by Akecheta. But if Kissy had been scalped before, it also stands to reason he'd have been sent back to Delos labs for repair. So...why didn't the Delos techs not notice the maze drawing on the underside of his head and flag it to Charlotte Hale? IMO, something seems off here.

What Is the Valley Beyond?

Akecheta found The Valley Beyond ( and a very sunburned Logan Delos) this week, and he seems to think it's a portal—or "Door"—that takes hosts to the real world. But I'm pretty sure that's not what's up. What seems more likely is The Valley Beyond is some sort of super computer:

Water, Infrastructure, Tunnel, Wood, Metal,

Thanks to a geologist who lurks on Reddit , we know some interesting information about The Valley Beyond itself, which appear to be filmed at The Trona Pinnacles/Tufa Towers, located in southeast California.

Here's a picture, illustrated by Redditor earth2christine , that depicts the Valley when William shows it to Dolores at the end of Episode 2 :

Soil, Geological phenomenon, Landscape, Vehicle,

More importantly, it seems pretty clear that The Valley Beyond is the massive lake with dead hosts we saw at the end of Episode 1 this season. Here's another brilliantly-illustrated photo from earth2christine for proof:

Text, Sky, Ecoregion, Horizon, Font, Photography, Adaptation, Landscape, Photo caption,

So, who floods the valley? Guess we'll find out!

The Link Between Akecheta and Maeve

This week, we also learned that Akecheta never intended to hurt Maeve's daughter. He simply wanted to bring her to consciousness, which is why he gave her a bloody rock with the maze on it (wow, what a not-at-all creepy gift!). Maeve is now using her mind control skills to connect with Akecheta through her daughter, which means she heard his story and knows the exact same information that we, the viewer, knows.

Hair, Face, Eyebrow, Ringlet, Hairstyle, Forehead, Jheri curl, Black hair, Lip, Cheek,

Even more wildly, Akecheta seems fully aware that Maeve is connected to her daughter, assuring her at the end of the episode that he'll take care of the little girl. Kinda cool that Maeve is clearly still able to control everything in the park despite being on death's door!

A Quick Barely-There Note on The Man in Black

He's alive, was briefly captured by Ghost Nation, and is now chilling with his daughter. So little happened with TMIB this week, I would have almost preferred the Westworld writing team to leave him out of the episode completely and give him a more complete story arc next week. Other than that...

Headshot of Mehera  Bonner

Mehera Bonner is a celebrity and entertainment news writer who enjoys Bravo and Antiques Roadshow with equal enthusiasm, She was previously entertainment editor at Marie Claire and has covered pop culture for over a decade. 

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'Westworld' Season 2 Recap: Everything to Know from Ghost Nation to the Valley Beyond

Turn down your emotional affect and let's revisit every twist and turn of 'Westworld' season 2.

Howdy, hosts and guests alike, and welcome to another few months of What in the name of Ben Barnes ' beard face is happening on Westworld ? Season 3 is fast approaching, and it's extremely understandable if you can't succinctly sum up what happened in season 2. No one can. Creators Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy cannot. If a friend tells you they have a quick, tidy summary of Westworld season 2, just assume they are a robot programmed to mislead you, specifically. The only way to know for sure is to ask politely or shoot them in the chest with an old-timey six-round revolver. You are human, you have choices. That's actually a pretty major theme of Westworld season 2, now that I think of it.

But first! Here's a recap of what happened at the end of season 1 (if you want to skip the season 1 recap, click here ):

"Westworld" is a sprawling, multi-level theme park in the style of the old lawless American West, in which human Guests come to interact with robotic Hosts, fulfilling all their crude and violent desires without any of the remorse. Unbeknown to the guests, however, a plan set in motion by enigmatic park director Robert Ford ( Anthony Hopkins ) has introduced newfound sentience in the Hosts. Chief among the enlightened are Maeve ( Thandie Newton ), a brothel madam who begins to remember all her past lives, and Dolores ( Evan Rachel Wood ), a rancher's daughter who is revealed to be one of the first Hosts ever built by Ford's late partner, Arnold Weber ( Jeffrey Wright ). Arnold himself was re-created after death in the robot-body of a man named Bernard, Ford's right-hand man.

Dolores, having found the center of the "maze" crafted long ago by Arnold, gains full sentience, learning she is the much-feared Big Bad named Wyatt that was discussed throughout season 1. In the season 1 finale, a gathering of wealthy clients arrive at the park to see Ford's new narrative. Thanks to a fully-aware Dolores and her budding robot uprising, the theme of the evening turns into "getting shot in the face." It's a slaughter. Imagine the level of revenge if every sex toy in the world not only gained full sentience but remembered everything you'd done to it. Yes, you.

Important note: Throughout season 1, Dolores has run-ins with two very different men. William ( Jimmi Simpson ), the kind-hearted Guest who falls in love with Dolores despite his impending marriage to the daughter of the man who just bought the park, and The Man In Black ( Ed Harris ), a violent outlaw Guest who is also pursuing the center of the maze, often with bloody results. A crucial part of Dolores' endgame is finally remembering that William and The Man in Black are...the same person at different points in his life. Two of the narratives presented side-by-side in season 1 were, in fact, happening decades apart. Dolores obviously hadn't aged, but falling in love with a woman whose memory could be completely rebooted broke something inside of William over the years. He returned yearly to the park—even after he essentially owned it—to commit more atrocities, trying to fill a hole inside of himself by making many holes inside of others.

This twist also happened to break something vital inside the collective brains of the Westworld writing team. Internet sleuths picked up on the William-Is-Man-In-Black reveal somewhere around episode 4 or 5, and nothing can make me believe it didn't affect every choice made in crafting season 2. The second chapter of Westworld contains moments of great beauty, of genuinely clever writing, and even the deep pathos its constantly reaching for. But it also comes with some— as we say in the TV critique industry—pure, uncut fuckery. So strap on those bootstraps and let's dive in.

Analysis. Cognition only; no emotional affect.

Okay, some emotional affect:

Bernard's Journey

Season 2 begins on the shoreline. Bernard wakes up next to the ocean, inside the park, two weeks after an army of robots emerged from the woods and gunned down a cocktail party. Paramilitary soldiers from the park's parent company, Delos, have been dispatched to clean up the mess, including its suspiciously tall Head of Operations Karl Strand ( Gustaf Skarsgard ). The first episode of season 2 is bookended with this crew. First, they discover Bernard lying in the sand. The last image in the premiere is Bernard and the Delos posse finding a whole-ass sea in the middle of the park—a new one, not on any map—filled with hundreds of dead Hosts. (And one dead robot tiger. We'll return to him later.) "I killed them. All of them," Bernard says, and one of many mysteries of season 2 is set.

But first, we flashback to the night of the murder-gala. Bernard escaped the carnage alongside Charlotte Hale ( Tessa Thompson ), Delos' Executive Director and overall just a cold-hearted so-and-so. As Bernard very relatably leaks the bran-fluid that makes him function like a human being, Hale guides him to a secret facility populated by hulking "drone hosts", mechanic worker bees that look like the things from I, Robot discovered anabolic steroids. There, Hale lets slip a bombshell that ends up driving the entire narrative of season 2: Delos isn't as interested in the theme park business as it is immortality. The company has been logging all records of the Guests' activity, as well as their DNA, in a secret attempt to cheat death by learning to upload a person's consciousness into a human-Host hybrid.

Unfortunately, all that sketchily-earned data was plugged into the head of Peter Abernathy ( Louis Herthum ), Dolores' "father", who went missing after the gala slaughter. Bernard, who is just tweaking out something fierce by this point, tracks Abernathy down using the park's "Mesh Network", the subconscious link all Hosts have between them to keep narratives from colliding. Keep that mind-network, uh, in mind for later.

Double unfortunately, once Bernard and Hale have Abernathy back in their possession, they also happen to run into the one Host who would be really, really freaking mad about it: Dolores, who at this point has gone about as banagrams insane as a former cowboy robot can be.

Dolores' Journey

With a head now filled with a thousand different lives that all ended violently, Dolores is rightfully a bit peeved , riding rampant through the park and gunning down Guests and unworthy Hosts alike. It really is a great, full-bodied performance from Evan Rachel Wood. She leans into the tortured villainy, even adopting a very noticeable Wyatt Walk™, which is kind of hard to describe. Imagine if someone uploaded a fundamental understanding of pain and trauma into one of those robots that plays the washboard at Chuck E. Cheese. It’s that. Picture that. I feel like I’m not doing a great job getting across that this is a compliment. The writing often gives Dolores too many roundabout ruminations on nothing—if you asked season 2 Dolores the color of the sky, she'd be like "are the clouds not also worthy of freedom, of a choice??—but Wood mostly makes it all work.

Dolores is obsessed with reaching something called "The Valley Beyond", a mysterious area of the park that can only be discussed in the most infuriatingly vague terms possible. To get there, she needs an army. Accompanied by literal boy-toy Teddy ( James Marsden ), passive-bots-turned-killing-machines Clementine ( Angela Sarafyan ) and Angela ( Tallulah Riley ), and the rest of their re-programmed Horde, Dolores commandeers the army of the aggressively-mustachioed Colonel Brigham ( Frederic Lehne ). Together, they make a stand against the high-powered Westworld QA Security Force in "Virtù e Fortuna", the episode that proved this show's creative team watched "The Battle of the Bastards" and were like "...well, shit." Dolores and her main crew survive—Bernard is knocked out and taken away by Clementine during the melee—but Hale escapes back to headquarters with Peter Abernathy.

Dolores is less than pleased at the loss of her father. Until that point, Teddy's main job was to punch every person who got a little too lippy with Dolores. It is, straight-up, all he does. For five episodes, Teddy is just a waiter and he is exclusively serving knuckle sandwiches. Unfortunately, after the battle with Delos' forces, he shows a bit too much mercy to the surviving members of Brigham's troops, so Dolores takes him behind the woodshed and turns down every part of his core drive that doesn't involve extreme violence and scowling, rendering him an unfeeling killing machine. Her attack-Teddy at her side, Dolores rides to Sweetwater—the main Westworld town that housed much of season 1's storylines—and commandeers the train, which she drives straight into the heart of Westworld HQ, known as The Mesa.

A Brief Interruption to Explain Some Important Terms

One of the most fascinating parts of Westworld season 2 is the way it expands on how the hell this high-tech wonderland populated by robots works in the first place. Along those lines, it introduces two pieces of technology that are vital to the second half of season 2:

PEARLS : Basically, a Pearl is a Host's brain, a tennis-ball looking thing that contains all of their current data, code, narratives, and allowed memories. If you want to get all spiritual about it—which Westworld season 2 definitely freaking does , often for a little too long in an already-90-minute episode—it could also be looked at like a Host's soul. Remove the Pearl and the body will shut down, but all that Host is and ever was is still in the Pearl, perfectly ready for another vessel.

THE CRADLE : The park's main server, where every Host has a back-up. When they're not being used, a Host's consciousness exists inside the Cradle—which looks to them like Sweetwater—blissfully unaware that they're basically hardware sitting on a crowded desktop.

William's Journey

Alright, let's back way the hell up.

Westworld season 2 fills in the complete backstory of The Man In Black, the genuinely tragic story of a grown man who simply will not stop attending a theme park, much to the sorrow and horror of his immediate family. Like Evan Rachel Wood, this character hinges on the genius of Ed Harris. Take one step back from Westworld 's philosophical pondering and it's hard to ignore that William is basically a billionaire who tries to find meaning in his life by going to Six Flags Great Adventure and riding El Toro way more aggressively than anyone else. Imagine if Jeff Bezos disappeared once a year just to beat the shit out of the Pirates of the Caribbean animatronics while sobbing.

But Harris, shriveled in a tuxedo but always intimidating in his black-hat costume, wears the tragedy of Williams' many losses across his body and face. We learn that over the years, the man never learned to feel much of anything outside the park, much less love for his daughter Emily ( Katja Herbers ) or wife Juliet ( Sela Ward ), the latter of which ultimately commits suicide because of his distance. (Also because she finds William's Westworld "file", a video record of all the unspeakable things he did in the park over the years.)

But we also learn that William was crucial in Delos' decision to use Westworld as a means to immortality. Their first test case? Company founder and William's father-in-law, James Delos ( Peter Mullan ). After James Delos died of an undisclosed illness, his company made copy after copy of the man's body, but his consciousness never took; a person's entire self simply isn't compatible with a fabricated vessel, and every Delos-bot would mentally degrade after a few days. William visited the failed versions frequently—partially to check on the progress, partially because he's a big ol' gloating asshole, and almost certainly because Jimmi Simpson is a treasure that you gotta' bring back. But eventually, William loses faith in the project and abandons the final James Delos Host in its pod; left to its own devices over several decades, it goes absolutely mad.

Flash-forward to the present-day storyline, and Old Man William is straight-up thriving now that the Hosts are killing people for real. After literal decades of numbness, this crazy sonuvabitch is rocking one hell of a half-chub because a desperado shot him in the shoulder and it actually hurt . William has the same goal as Dolores, The Valley Beyond, and he enlists the help of his Host pal Lawrence ( Clifton Collins Jr. )—who he has murdered many, many times in the past—to get there.

William knows that so much of what's happening in the park—the robot uprising, the murder, the puzzles within puzzles—is one final middle-finger from Robert Ford, because a grudge between old rich dickheads will always transcend time and mortality. So he knows the obstacles put in his place are there for a reason...except one, his own daughter, Emily. That particular blast from the past escaped a tiger attack in the British India-themed park "The Raj"—which explains the dead tiger from before—then escaped another kidnapping at the hands of the Ghost Nation, just to find her insane father. Possibly my favorite line in all of Westworld is when Emily describes William's path as "s uicide by robot, or whatever the fuck.” There really is no better summary. Bravo. 

William and Emily reach an emotional understanding, with the Man in Black's daughter admitting it was unfair to blame him for Juliet's suicide. William responds to this olive branch by ditching Emily in the middle of the night, because one of the core tenets on William's journey to self-discovery is never, ever stop being a dickhead.

But the only thing more abundant in Westworld than chafing is karma. After ditching his daughter, William almost immediately runs into another ghost from his bloody past: Maeve.

Maeve's Journey

While all of the above is going down, Maeve is on her own voyage to find the daughter she once had in a past life, before Ford re-programmed her into a less emotional brothel role. She recruits a crew of her own along the way, one much more rag-tag than Dolores' army. First, skittish head Westworld writer Lee Sizemore ( Simon Quarterman ), helpful because he knows the way to Maeve's destination. Second, Host gunslinger Hector Escaton ( Rodrigo Santoro ), slightly more helpful because he was literally programmed to shoot guns good while wearing the shit out of some chaps. This trio does enough walking to fill at least 3/4 of a Hobbit . Along the way, they pick up mostly-good-hearted technicians Felix Lutz ( Leonardo Nam ) and Sylvester ( Ptolemy Slocum )—who are mostly just trying to avoid getting slaughtered by robots—and outlaw-bot Armistice ( Ingrid Bolsø Berdal ), who is mostly just spending time slaughtering humans. Eventually, they emerge from Westworld's maintenance tunnels into in a snowy, wooded area.

Where they are are promptly attacked by a Samurai.

Yes, Maeve's journey takes a long detour through Shōgunworld, or "Park 2", the area next to Westworld designed to feel like Japan's Edo period. One of season 2's big revelations is the fact there are actually six parks; we know of Westworld, The Raj, Shōgunworld, and [ major season 3 spoilers, courtesy of eagle-eyed viewers pouring over trailers ]  Warworld, which is based on Nazi-occupied Italy, a.k.a. the height of destination vacation fun. Based on the themes we do know, I'm just going to assume the two unknown parks let you ride on the Hindenburg and contract the Bubonic plague.

Shōgunworld, on a normal day, plays out almost identical storylines to Westworld—including mirror-image counterparts to all the characters we know—except everyone is stabbing each other instead of pulling triggers. (" You try writing 300 stories in 3 weeks," Sizemore says.) But things have gone absolutely batty, and Maeve and Co. are swept up in a narrative-gone-wrong involving Hector's counterpart Musashi ( Hiroyuki Sanada ), Maeve's counterpart Akane ( Rinko Kikuchi ), Clementine's counterpart Sakura ( Kiki Sukezane ), and a Shogun ( Masaru Shinozuka ), who doesn't have a counterpart but has gone completely insane. 

The Shogun kidnaps Sakura, and during the rescue attempt, Maeve discovers she can control the Hosts around her with her mind. "A new voice," she calls it, a casual term that I can confirm goes over better in HBO dramas than it does in therapy. (In reality, Maeve is manipulating the Mesh Network that runs between Hosts.) Both the Shogun and Akane die during the night's events, but Maeve uses her newfound ability to fend off the remainder of the Shogun's ninja army. 

Leaving Musashi and Sakura behind in the peaceful Shōgunworld area "Snow Lake", Maeve and her companions access a utility tunnel and finally reach the sector where Maeve's daughter lives. Tragically, it's also the sector where Maeve's replacement lives. Thandie Newton does a spectacular job of selling the moment Maeve realizes the daughter she's been searching for has no idea who she is. If you're still with me [checks notes] six bajillion words into this, you might notice we're jumping all over the place, and that's because Westworld season 2 often treats its storytelling like Chipotle's drunkest employee, just mashing stuff together and hoping that tinfoil wrapping holds long enough to not spill the beans. But as I said, there are moments of great, heartwrenching beauty throughout, and this is inarguably one of them. The perfectly-packaged side-guac of Westworld season 2 moments.

So, of course, it immediately gets shot to shit. The arrival of the Ghost Nation sends Maeve and her daughter into their old home, where they're found by the Man in Black. At this point, William just assumes every second of his day has been designed by Robert Ford. A seagull could take a shit right on William's head and he'd be like "Robert, Robert , you've gotten lazy." So when he stumbles upon Maeve and her daughter—a moment that has played out countless times in William's past trips to the park—he assumes it'll end the same bloody way. But Maeve is enlightened now, and she uses her mind-tricks to wake Lawrence up, too. William's partner turns on him, shooting him a number of times, but Delos forces arrive before he can finish the job. They shoot down Maeve, too, as she watches Ghost Nation members make off with her daughter. A frantic Lee Sizemore convinces them to bring a severely damaged Maeve back to the Mesa.

Inside the Mesa

Things finally start to come together inside The Mesa. Charlotte Hale is holed up with Head of Security Ashley Stubbs—played by the most cubiform Hemsworth, Luke Hemsworth —as she tries to extract Delos' data from Abernathy's head. Dolores has just driven the Sweetwater train right into the damn place, searching for her father and looking to kill anyone who doesn't run on ones and zeroes.

And Bernard? After the battle, Bernard was dumped by Clementine inside a cave next to programmer Elsie Hughes ( Shannon Woodward ), the tech Bernard attacked at the end of season 1. After Elsie fixes the hole in Bernard's head the duo discover the Host body of James Delos; after years of isolation locked away in the same room, the Delos human-host hybrid has been driven into a deep, face-slicing insanity, which is also known as "becoming a freelancer who works from home." Afterward, Elsie discovers a strange command actively altering the Cradle's codes.

So while Hale toils over Abernathy and Dolores arrives at the Mesa, Bernard is down in the basement, jacked into The Cradle, where he discovers none other than the consciousness of Robert Ford. This Hannibal-ass conniver uploaded himself to the server before Dolores put a bullet in his head back in season 1. He reveals to Bernard that the overall plan for the park was to eventually test the limits of immortality, but it still isn't working. "M y mind works here, but not in the real world," noted gamer Robert Ford tells Bernard. But Ford's always got a contingency; when Bernard unplugs from The Cradle, Ford comes along for the ride inside his head. 

Meanwhile, Dolores has carved a path of vengeance to where Hale is keeping her father. Because Dolores' greatest weakness is any opportunity to say absolutely nothing for 15-20 minutes, Hale and Stubbs are able to escape. After a tearful farewell, Dolores pops open her dad's head and extracts the all-important drive. Back at the Cradle, Angela distracts the world's horniest Delos operative long enough to pull the pin on his grenade. Because Angela's spiritual awakening also ramped up her aptitude for sick ironic owns, she whispers "Welcome to Westworld" as the Cradle explodes.

With their back-ups destroyed, all of the Hosts are officially free*.

(*to die for good, which is objectively the worst part about being human. Thanks, Dolores .)

Dolores' blood-soaked journey does have consequences, though. Before the final charge to the Valley Beyond, Teddy takes stock of the monster Dolores turned him into. Not willing to do her dirty work any longer, Teddy shoots himself in front of Dolores.

Ghost Nation

For my money, the most successful aspect of Westworld season 2 is its Ghost Nation storyline, a hauntingly lovely diversion that not only explains some wonky unanswered questions from season 1, but also does a better job demonstrating the mind-bending horror of realizing your world is an illusion than anything Dolores says. It's mostly told through episode 8, "Kiksuya", directed by Uta Briesewitz , written by Carly Wray and Dan Dietz . 

The story revolves around Akecheta—played by the great Zahn McClarnon —one of the first Hosts ever built, so convincingly lifelike he was sold Logan Delos (Ben Barnes) on convincing his father to invest in the park. Akecheta played a passive role, living a quiet life on the plains with his wife Kohana ( Julia Jones ) until he stumbled upon the aftermath of Dolores' first massacre before the park opened. The Host not only finds Arnold's body, but also the maze toy that belonged to Arnold's son, which sparks the first hint of consciousness in the robot's head. Because the last thing Westworld techs needed at that point was a Host remembering every time some rich asshole had stabbed him with a Bowie knife, Akecheta was completely reprogrammed into the brutal, unfeeling leader of the Ghost Nation.

That is, until the day he found Logan Delos, delirious, nude, and rambling after being abandoned by William in season 1. "There must be some kind of way outta here," says this smokeshow to the chief, which spurs Akecheta deeper into the desert, where he becomes the first Host to glimpse the "Valley Beyond". It's a door of some sort, a portal to a different world.

Realizing the illusion of his own existence, Akecheta returns to his former tribe and kidnaps Kohana, eventually managing to break through her programming with the words they used to say in their former roles. ("Take my heart when you go." "Take mine in its place.") But soon after, Westworld techs take Kohana back to the Mesa and replace her with another model, a "ghost." Broken, Akecheta wanders the park for ten years. Unable to find the truth he's searching for, the Host heads beyond the wall of death, purposely getting himself killed and waking up inside the Mesa. Tragically, he finds Kohana, his original Kohana, immobile and offline in storage.

Akecheta understandably does not react favorably to finding the love of his life locked away along with hundreds of other naked butts. He dedicates his life to spreading the maze symbol, but because he must operate in secret he spreads it underneath the scalps of other Hosts. This is kind of like teaching someone math by writing "1 + 1 = 2" on a bullet then shooting them in the head, but it at least explains that weird thing from season 1. During this time, Akecheta also devotes himself to watching over Maeve and her daughter—during the Host's ten-year sojourn, Maeve's daughter helped out a wounded Akecheta—which adds another perspective to Maeve's season 1 memories. Again, an admirable attempt re-wire something from season 1 that doesn't quite hold up, because there are better ways to watch over a family than "peer through the window like a spooky monster." But still, A for effort.

Flash-forward to Westworld season 2, when Akecheta finds William, severely injured from his showdown with Maeve and Lawrence. The Host takes him in, but Emily soon catches up with them and convinces Ghost Nation to hand over her father.

Alone once again, William and Emily return to the subject of Juliet's suicide. And again, William becomes convinced his daughter is a Host planted there by Ford to test him. After shooting two Delos security guards—technically Williams' first "real" murder—he turns the gun on Emily and kills his own daughter. Realizing the Emily before him runs on actual human blood and not robot-juice, a grief-stricken William walks into a field and contemplates suicide. At the last moment, he cuts open his own arm instead, because this absolutely wonked-out son of a gun now thinks he is a Host built by Robert Ford.

This is how Dolores finds him. She needs the Man in Black to reach the Valley Beyond.

The Valley Beyond

So, full disclosure, it's never actually made very clear why Dolores needed The Man in Black to reach the Valley Beyond. They just kind've ride awkwardly together for a while—the expansive cinematography courtesy of DP John Grillo is, admittedly, gorgeous—then Dolores dumps William and heads inside just fine. That's emblematic of this last bit; despite what it sounds like, I enjoy Westworld season 2, but its home stretch twists itself about six too many times until its basically a Wetzel's Pretzel of what in the actual fuck.

So, as basic as possible, what is the Valley Beyond?

The technical term is actually "The Forge", and it's basically The Cradle except the size of the Grand Canyon. Instead of housing Host back-ups, The Forge was designed to hold all the data taken from the Guests. As revealed by William, the park had been extracting DNA from visitors for years through scanners inside their hats, which means there is simply no data on people who think they look silly in a Stetson. Huge blindspot. Also a huge blindspot: Unbeknownst to Delos, Robert Ford had used the processing power of the Forge to create a digital paradise, a place where the Hosts' consciousness would leave their physical bodies behind. Once the Forge is fired up, it creates a literal rip in reality only the Hosts can see; if they cross the threshold, they're uploaded into robot heaven while their body falls to the canyon below.

Here's how all our main players assemble:

  • Bernard meets Dolores and William outside the entrance to the Forge. Dolores is just like "Jesus Christ of course Bernard is here, right now," which is a pretty good peek behind the curtain of creating Westworld season 2. William goes for a classic double-cross but his bullets don't work on Dolores, and she takes him down in a mirror image moment from the first time the Man in Black met Teddy in season 1.
  • Teddy, for the record, remains dead for the remainder of the season. RIP Teddy.
  • Meanwhile, back at the Mesa, a tech with an unnecessarily villainous goatee named Roland (Aaron Fili) discovers the code that gives Maeve her mind-control powers. He inserts it into Clementine, turning her into a puppet that Delos plans to use to stop the Hosts from whatever hullabaloo they have planned. Delos forces race off to the Valley Beyond with Clementine leading the charge on horseback, which is stirring to watch and hilarious when you realize it 100% would be faster to just put Clementine in the passenger seat.
  • Maeve, too, escapes the Mesa, controlling a herd of robot-buffalo to take out the surrounding guards. Together with Sizemore, Hector, Felix, Sylvester, and Armistice, Maeve makes for the Valley Beyond. Along the way, Sizemore sacrifices his life to buy the rest of the crew some time.

Below-ground, Dolores places Peter Abernathy's pearl into the Forge, allowing her and Bernard to enter the system. They find an avatar of Logan Delos, who shows them the simulated laboratory where he created 18 million copies of his father before cracking the code to replicating a person's consciousness in a Host body. The trick? Realizing that human beings are uncomplicated flesh-sacks who just want to eat, sleep, bang, and occasionally watch 3-4 episodes of something on Bravo before bed. Delos' attempts at immortality were fading because their systems were too complex and rejecting the basic-ass coding that makes a human who they are. The Logan-avatar shows Dolores a "library" containing all the data Delos had collected on the human brain, and every "book" is thin as a Goosebumps novel.

To this day, I still can't decide if the Westworld creative team was being self-reflective when they came to the conclusion that you don't need to add unnecessary complexity to something that, in the end, just ain't that deep.

Either way! Dolores has yet another change of heart and decides the Valley Beyond isn't good enough for her Host brethren, either, because it was created by humans and humans have dumb monkey brains that only want to put things in cages. This is...not inaccurate, but the timing could be better. As Bernard looks on with a trademark Jeffrey Wright Look of Great Concern, Dolores begins the process of flooding the Forge.

Not fantastic news for the thousands of Hosts—led by Akecheta and the Ghost Nation—who have gathered to cross the threshold into digital nirvana. Adding to the hullabaloo is Clementine and her manipulated coding, whose presence drives the Hosts into a violent frenzy. Less Valley Beyond, more San Fernando Valley. Armistice snipes Clementine off her horse, but the melee continues. Maeve holds off the ruckus long enough for her daughter to cross the threshold, and the last person through the door before it closes is Akecheta, who reunites in paradise with Kohana.

Delos security machine-guns the rest of the Hosts, Maeve includes. Down in the bowels of the Forge, Bernard also puts a bullet in Dolores' head. Back at the Mesa, an immobile Bernard watches Charlotte Hale murder Elsie for not having the "moral flexibility" to continue supporting Delos' overall shadiness. Bernard searches in his code for the Robert Ford data that's still lurking back there. Ominously, Ford tells Bernard to craft an "epilogue."

So! The central storyline of Westworld season 2 ends with everyone we know (except Bernard) just super dead as corpse-filled floodwaters fill the canyon. Which brings us back to the season's very first image: Bernard waking up on a shoreline, reuniting with Hale and the rest of the Delos rescue squad, and discovering a brand new sea in the middle of the park. To paraphrase another HBO lead character who was almost certainly a robot in disguise, time is indeed a flat circle.

Twists, Trickery, and an Escape Into the Real World

Down in the Forge's control room, the team finds Dolores' body, which causes Bernard's brain to finally un-fudge itself and reveal that he was behind pretty much every development in season 2. He remembers killing all of the lab technicians working on the James Delos-bot project. He remembers scrambling his own memories to avoid detection. And, most importantly, he remembers building a Host version of Charlotte Hale, into which he deposited Dolores' Pearl. Westworld season 2's biggest, most Reddit-defying twist is that the Charlotte Hale navigating the most current timeline was Dolores in disguise the entire time. Dolores-as-Charlotte kills everyone in the room, re-routes the still-preserved Valley Beyond data somewhere no human could find it, then turns the gun on Bernard.

Later, still in Hale's body, Dolores escapes the park, smuggling five pearls with her. (One of them is definitely Bernard's, while the other four remain a mystery heading into season 3.) Before she goes, Ashley Stubbs momentarily stops her and insinuates that he knows the real deal, then low-key confirms that he is also a Host. This is shocking to anyone who has never looked at Luke Hemsworth with at least one functioning eyeball. Not-Charlotte hops on a boat, as Felix and Sylvester are instructed to pick up Maeve's remains, and Stubbs gets a call to pick up a "high-value survivor." This is, assumedly, the Man in Black, who spent the entire saga back at the Valley Beyond crawling around and trying not to die.

A good deal of time later, Bernard wakes up in the basement lab of Arnold's old house, not in the park but in the real world. Dolores is back in her original body, and basically tells Bernard it's time for the human race to get got. Bernard, who just came back from the dead with his full-on naked ass sitting in a cold metal chair, is like "that's fine, yeah." The Charlotte Hale Host is there as well, but we still don't know whose pearl is in that head. I'm hoping for Teddy, because I'm pretty sure Tessa Thompson's energy embued with the soul of James Marsden is actually the cure for the Coronavirus. I'll check back here in a few weeks to confirm.

Either way, this trio of Hosts walk out of the house together and into the real world, our world, and right into season 3 .

William's After-Credits Hell

Ah, if you think a show like Westworld isn't going to include a deeply puzzling after-credits scene then I got a stake in a cowboy-themed robot park to sell you. Before leaving season 2 behind for good, we catch up with the Man in Black, who exits an elevator in what we think is the Forge, but actually opens into a room that looks a whole lot like the chamber in which William once tested the James Delos Host.

There to greet him is a Host version of his daughter, Emily. A ton of time has clearly passed. The place is trashed and abandoned. “This isn’t a simulation," the Emily Host says. "This is your world. Or what’s left of it."

The duo sit down and Emily begins a familiar test, insinuating that the William we see here is actually a human-Host hybrid, possible the first successful case. And what is Emily testing for? "Fidelity." Crash to credits.

For more on Westworld season 3, check out our full review .

To revist this article, visit My Profile, then View saved stories .

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Sandra Upson

Westworld Recap, Season 2 Episode 8: The Great Ghost Nation Mystery

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In the canon of Westworld , the Ghost Nation does not play by the rules. They sometimes vanish into thin air. Their minds are impervious to Maeve's (Thandie Newton) takeover attempts and Ashley Stubbs' (Luke Hemsworth) voice commands. They collect human captives for unknown reasons. They are totally mysterious, living on Westworld's margins and never emerging as full characters—until now.

Because of their puzzling nature, the Ghost Nation has invited a plethora of fan theories. Are they humans? Are they medics, helping to keep the guests safe? Holograms? Memory fragments? A simulation within a simulation?? Ancient aliens?! Sunday night's episode laid all those theories to rest, revealing that they are ... wait for it ... just hosts. No gimmicks. That might not be as involved or exciting as some viewers' wildest dreams, but given Westworld 's habit of manifesting human consciousness in increasingly outlandish ways, the simplicity is a relief. (Even if it leaves unanswered how they can disappear in an instant—they must have exceptional horses.)

The awakening of the most familiar Ghost Nation host, Akecheta (Zahn McClarnon), has a simple explanation, too. Living out on the edge of the park with his buddies, he couldn’t help but become sentient. What was his trick, his great insight, his grand mental hack? He just ... lived.

Life on the outskirts has its advantages: A close-knit sense of community, sweeping natural vistas, and a much smaller risk of getting murdered by random visitors. For almost a decade, Akecheta managed to avoid getting killed. Because he and many of the other Native American hosts could stay alive longer, their memories piled up. Whenever one of their people got replaced with a different host, they could discuss the oddness of having some new guy impersonating one of their old pals.

It’s a departure from what Westworld has implied before about the emergence of sentience. In Season 1, Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood) and Maeve began to achieve consciousness after Delos technicians introduced reveries—snippets of memories that were supposed to make the hosts more spontaneous. Akecheta's awakening shows that they didn't need a covert software update to gain self-awareness; all they needed was time. The diabolical truth about Delos is that every time its technicians erase a host's memories, they are killing off the first shoots of sentience.

In this episode, Akecheta and Maeve's daughter are inside a Ghost Nation encampment when he tells her, in Lakota, the story of his awakening. He's not a bad guy, he assures the girl, just a nice fellow with a juggalo's taste for face paint and a broken heart. His journey began when he happened upon a carving of the maze right after Dolores killed Arnold in Sweetwater. He became obsessed with it, drawing the pattern everywhere like a school kid doodling the "Cool S" all over his notebooks. It became his first clue that there was something more to life than what he knew.

A second hint came when he stumbled across Logan Delos (Ben Barnes), sun-scorched and delirious after his cousin William (Jimmi Simpson) dispatched him into the desert naked and tied to his horse. Logan kept repeating in a feverish haze that he was in the wrong world. "His words cracked something open for me," Akecheta tells the young girl. He started searching for clues to other worlds, and eventually found what appears to be the Valley Beyond while it was still under construction. He becomes convinced that it contains a door to the outside world. (Finding "The Door," of course, has also been the Man in Black's quest this season.)

Then one day, Akecheta caught a glimpse of a beautiful woman from another Native American tribe, and he recognized her as his partner from a former existence. He kidnapped her and managed to jog her memory of their shared past, and they searched for an exit together until Delos lab techs brought her in. Much like Maeve’s quest to find her daughter, Akecheta hunted for her reincarnation in every corner of Westworld, eventually resorting to killing himself to see if he could find her in death.

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Down in the Mesa Hub labs, the technicians examining Akecheta were astounded to discover he hadn't died in almost a decade. In one hard-to-believe scene, he wakes up mid-software-update and calmly rides an escalator down to Cold Storage, where he finds his decommissioned wife. He weeps at the realization that he cannot get her back, but also realizes he has a larger mission: He must help the other hosts recapture their memories of the people they’ve lost. Then he saunters back to his lab chair without encountering a single Delos staffer, and gets shipped back out to Westworld.

He begins slowly awakening his own people to their memories, using the symbol of the maze. Tattooing the maze on the underside of their scalps becomes a Ghost Nation meme. How this never raised concern among Delos staff seems puzzling—surely the lab techs who stitch their heads back together would at some point notice and get spooked by the warriors’ macabre artwork.

But never mind those details, because soon Robert Ford (Anthony Hopkins) shows up, in what is perhaps Westworld 's most Hannibal Lecter scene yet. Akecheta finds him in a clearing where spotlights are bathing Ford and the bodies of several Ghost Nation warriors in light. Ford is casually sawing off their scalps, exposing the maze tattooed beneath each one.

Ford tells Akecheta that he has been watching him for years, but that he had not meant for the maze symbol to have lasting meaning. He then instructs Akecheta to begin leading his people to the new world after Ford himself dies.

The episode ends back at the Mesa Hub, with Charlotte Hale (Tessa Thompson) examining Maeve’s software. She realizes that Maeve is still controlling hosts out in the park. What she doesn’t see is that Maeve has been using the host mesh network to monitor her daughter—and has been listening in on Akecheta’s story. Their factions are now aligned. The mystery of who the Ghost Nation warriors are has been solved; who they will become, however, has yet to be revealed.

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  • Cast & crew
  • User reviews
  • Episode aired Jun 10, 2018

Zahn McClarnon in Westworld (2016)

The telling of Akecheta and the Ghost Nation's journey to consciousness; Maeve's life hangs in the balance. The telling of Akecheta and the Ghost Nation's journey to consciousness; Maeve's life hangs in the balance. The telling of Akecheta and the Ghost Nation's journey to consciousness; Maeve's life hangs in the balance.

  • Uta Briesewitz
  • Jonathan Nolan
  • Evan Rachel Wood
  • Thandiwe Newton
  • Jeffrey Wright
  • 156 User reviews
  • 11 Critic reviews

Westworld (2016)

  • Dolores Abernathy

Thandiwe Newton

  • Maeve Millay
  • (as Thandie Newton)

Jeffrey Wright

  • Bernard Lowe

James Marsden

  • Teddy Flood
  • (credit only)

Tessa Thompson

  • Charlotte Hale

Katja Herbers

  • Emily Grace

Simon Quarterman

  • Lee Sizemore

Zahn McClarnon

  • Man in Black

Anthony Hopkins

  • Dr. Robert Ford

Ben Barnes

  • Maeve's Daughter

Aaron Fili

  • All cast & crew
  • Production, box office & more at IMDbPro

Did you know

  • Trivia The Native American language spoken by Akecheta and the other members of the Ghost Nation is Lakota.
  • Goofs When Akecheta approaches the village after Dolores has killed Robert the string of his bow is on the outside of his right forearm. Useless to try and arm an arrow fast. The moment Akecheta reaches Robert his bow is reversed and the string is on the inside.

Kohana : Take my heart when you go.

Akecheta : Take mine in its place.

  • Soundtracks Main Title Theme Written by Ramin Djawadi

User reviews 156

  • Jun 11, 2018
  • June 10, 2018 (United States)
  • United States
  • Official Facebook
  • Coral Pink Sand Dunes - Sand Dunes Road, Kanab, Utah, USA (Akecheta rides horse on sand dunes then discovers Logan dehydrated under a tree)
  • Home Box Office (HBO)
  • Jerry Weintraub Productions
  • See more company credits at IMDbPro

Technical specs

  • Runtime 58 minutes
  • Dolby Digital

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The final beat of Westworld ’s first season set me on edge—the introduction of the Ghost Nation. I’m Metis, a citizen of one of Canada’s many indigenous nations, and partially a product of the kind of tribes that HBO was trying to evoke. The plains, and the people who rode them, are in my blood.

So on the one hand, there was a thrill in seeing Westworld introduce Native American characters—it’s rare to see indigenous actors in Hollywood, especially ones as talented as Lakota actor Zahn Tokiya-ku McClaron, who plays the Ghost Nation member Akcheta on the show—but on the other hand, there was apprehension, because when westerns do cast indigenous parts, they’re typically casting for savages, noble or otherwise.

For much of its second season, it looked like we were facing a typical phenomenon with  Westworld.   The “bloodthirsty savages” were positioned as oppositional forces to our protagonists, but on its most recent episode,  Westworld assuaged my fears. It gave us a heartfelt and provocative character study of Akcheta.

Akcheta is not Lakota. He isn’t indigenous. He’s not even human. Akcheta is a factory-built android, created by the Delos corporation for the entertainment of the uber-rich. Sunday’s episode, “ Kiksuya ,”  let Akcheta tell the story of his ongoing epiphany, and the personal hell he’s put through as his creators shift his story from a pastoral romance to a blood-soaked thriller. That shift is important—and allows Westworld to take on tropes as old as the Western itself.

1. Westworld wasn’t playing along—it was preparing to flip the script.

In Westworld , the Delos Corporation is in the business of crafting stereotypical Western narratives for their guests. Lee Sizemore, the British head-of-story for Delos, leans on the same core cliches and tropes of each particular park’s genre, so when we saw the Ghost Nation done up in war paint, scalping their enemies and whooping across the plains, we weren’t seeing the Lakota through the eyes of Westworld- the-show’s creators, we were seeing them through the eyes of Sizemore and Westworld-the- park’s creators. The distinction is subtle, but it was made more obvious in last night’s episode.

In “Kiksuya” (“ remember ,” in Lakota), McClaron plays Akcheta, one of the android hosts who “wakes up” from the narratives, remembering all his past lives and deaths. Unlike many of the other hosts, he doesn’t join in the slaughter against Delos and the park’s guests. Instead, he goes off to discover an exit from the world he knows, fueled by love for Kohana (Julia Jones, Choctaw and Chickasaw) and a desire to enlighten as many other hosts as he can. In “Kiksuya,” the Native American is not a savage, but a source of wisdom that empowers himself and those who listen a chance to adapt.

Where Westworld  nails this dynamic is in looking at how the park’s staff fed off malicious stereotypes. Just as Hollywood and other forms of entertainment have dehumanized native peoples, we hear park staff commenting on their directors’ motivations: “They wanted a strong-but-silent type. Something brutal. Dehumanized. They probably want the guests to feel better when they’re kicking his ass.” “Kiksuya” combats that dehumanization by allowing us into Akcheta’s head and heart. Having him serve as the narrator and the sole star confronts us with his “humanity” in a way that few other hosts have been able to do.

2. Westworld  let a Native actor stand on his own.

McClaron is a phenomenal actor—period. He isn’t a good Lakota actor or a good indigenous actor; he’s good in any talent pool. He’s stolen scenes in  Longmire  and Fargo , and  Westworld  was wise to trust him with carrying so much emotional weight. It’s an opportunity that few other indigenous actors receive.

There have only been two indigenous actors to receive an Academy Award nomination: Graham Greene (Oneida),  who won best supporting actor for his role in Dances With Wolves and Chief Dan George (Tsleil-Waututh), who was nominated in the same category for Little Big Man . On the television side, August Schellenburg (Mohawk) received an Emmy nod for Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee, but there has yet to be an indigenous winner at the show. It’s a cold, hard, fact—Native American actors aren’t given substantial parts in movies or television and are seldom recognized when they do.

Westworld  offered Akcheta an entire episode almost all to himself. It’s a pleasure and privilege that few other actors on the show—white or not—have been afforded so far, and we can only hope to see more of him as the threads start weaving together at the end of the season. McClaron’s performance is already being hailed as one of the brightest spots of the second season. That could mean that awards season isn’t out of reach.

3. Westworld  let the language shine.

Over the past few months, I’ve been putting together proposals relating to Canada’s pending Indigenous Languages Act . The bill is being considered as a way to help revitalize the languages that were the target of a systemic, purposeful and abusive policy of elimination.  In the 1960s, a nation-wide “scoop” sucked indigenous children in Canada away from their homes and communities to put them into anglo-Canadian families instead. What’s more, c hildren were taken from their homes and beaten if they used their native language in residential schools.  Similar patterns emerged in the United States, too. Now, most indigenous languages are threatened with extinction, their cultural and scientific knowledge at risk of being lost forever. There are major international efforts underway to reverse that trend, and media use is part of that work.

Westworld  chose not to shy away from indigenous language in “Kiksuya.” Subtitles abound without concession or pandering, and the show even invested in experts to make sure it was accurate (Larry Pouier and Cordelia White Elk). This helps preserve the language and share its unique and beautiful aesthetic with a world-wide audience. That’s not enough, nor will it be the final word, but it’s an important part of the restoration process, and it’s an appreciated effort by those who care about linguistic preservation and the revitalization of indigenous cultures.

Westworld nailed it last night. By consulting with indigenous experts, starring an indigenous actor, showcasing an indigenous language and countering anti-indigenous tropes, they pushed westerns in a better direction. It isn’t totally untrod ground—” Kiksuya”  joins the small but growing library of pro-indigenous Westerns like Longmire , Wind River  and Hostiles—but it still matters. These stories cut across genres, tones and mediums. They share a humility toward and respect for indigenous peoples, and while that recognition won’t be the panacea for every social ill in Indian country, they represent a commitment to not to be part of the problem.

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  • Entertainment

The 'Westworld' Actors You Absolutely Need to Know

Updated on 5/7/2018 at 10:02 PM

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As Westworld transforms your living room yet again into a madcap saloon overrun by robots, firefights, and mystery, you'll notice one of the show's strongest assets is its cast. Hollywood heavyweights Anthony Hopkins (as Dr. Robert Ford), Jeffrey Wright (Bernard Lowe), Ed Harris (the Man in Black), and James Marsden (Teddy Flood) have all given heft to the HBO sci-fi saga, but you'll spot many more familiar and not-so-familiar faces as the drama unfurls, ones that will make you ask: Who the heck is that and what are they doing?

Lisa Joy and Jonathan Nolan's ensemble, like many of TV's more ambitious projects , offers a mix of underrated and rising talent, all worth knowing more about. To keep track of everybody, consult our running list, which details the players you'll see sporting Stetsons, bonnets, and future-chic corporate garb, grouped by the season in which they first appeared. We'll be updating this after every episode, so stay tuned.

New in Season 2

sela ward on westworld

On the show: Ward plays older Juliet, William's wife, who, by the time he’s gone full Man in Black, has become despondent about her husband’s dark obsession.  In real life: She's been Teddy Reed in Sisters , Lily Manning in Once and Again , Helen Kimble in The Fugitive , and TV reporter Sharon Schieber in Gone Girl . In a more than 40-credit career, Ward has proven a dependable star and supporting force, able to fit into projects ranging from the action-y ( Independence Day: Resurgence ) to the more biting ( Graves ). (Fun fact: She passed on the role of Susan for Desperate Housewives .) Offscreen, she's written a memoir, 2002's Homesick , and founded Hope Village for Children , a home for foster kids.

ghost nation cast westworld

Rinko Kikuchi

On the show: Kikuchi plays the geisha Akane, built by Lee Sizemore as Shogun World's mirror to Maeve.  In real life: Kikuchi got her start in her native Japan before first garnering international recognition, in 2006, for her Oscar-nominated turn in Alejandro G. Iñárritu's Babel . Since, she's enjoyed a blend of projects both Stateside and abroad. The last time you saw Kikuchi was probably in Pacific Rim: Uprising , in which she gave a tragic performance as Mako Mori, Jake's (John Boyega) adoptive sister. 

hiroyuki on westworld

Hiroyuki Sanada

On the show:  Sanada plays Musashi, who, similar to Akane, is Hector's Japanese counterpart.  In real life: A seasoned, malleable character actor, Sanada always had dreams of becoming an action star. Fortunately, the Tokyo-born talent has become no stranger to the genre, appearing alongside several big-name stars, including his friend Jackie Chan in Rush Hour 3 , Keanu Reeves in 47 Ronin , Hugh Jackman in The Wolverine , and, next, The Avengers  in their forthcoming movie (in an as-yet-undisclosed role). 

hbo westworld katja

Katja Herbers

On the show: Herbers plays Grace, the kind of veteran park guest who's both shockingly knowledgeable and daring. In real life: This Dutch actress grew up in Amsterdam, before honing her chops in Belgium and Germany. While her transition to Hollywood only began about three years ago, she's quickly landed a string of high-profile jobs (see: The Americans , Manhattan , The Leftovers , Manhunt: Unabomber ). Herbers likes her latest one a lot, but she thinks it's just as mind-boggling as you do. "I think that there are as many layers to [ Westworld ] as there are layers to the park and levels of game that you can play," she told  Interview recently. "I've just been rewatching the first season, and I'm amazed by how much I didn't catch the first time around."

jonathan tucker westworld

Jonathan Tucker

On the show: Tucker plays Major Craddock, a mustachioed (and very hungry?) leader of the Confederado army. In real life : Before Tucker was Craddock, he was Young Tommy in Sleepers , Tim Weiner in The Virgin Suicides , Bob Little in Parenthood , and Jay Kulina in Kingdom . The Boston-born actor has also won CNBC's Celebrity Million Dollar Portfolio Challenge  (!) and co-written a Nick Jonas song  (!!) because why not. "It's one of the great highlights of my life," Tucker's quipped of the latter , "as a completely non-musical person."

westworld season 2 peter mullan

Peter Mullan (James)

On the show: Mullan plays James Delos, Logan's dad and the founder of Delos Inc. , the company behind the Westworld project. In real life: An award-winning writer-director-actor, the Scottish actor has had a varied (and impressive) career. A small sample: His first full-length film, Orphans , won big at the Venice Film Festival in 1998; he earned a BAFTA nominee for his Magdalene Sisters script in 2003; and his acting in Top of the Lake put him in Emmy contention in 2013. You probably know him as Swanney, the drug-dealing "Mother Superior" found in Danny Boyle's  Trainspotting ; and  Ozark fans will also know him as Jacob Snell, the adage-obsessed kingpin who creeps the hell out of Jason Bateman.

giancarlo esposito westworld season 2

Giancarlo Esposito

On the show: Esposito plays the reincarnation of El Lazo, a revolutionary host whose storyline was once Lawrence's. In real life: An Emmy-nominated veteran of the stage and screen, Esposito boasts an almost 50-year career and 170 credits. His long résumé includes such seminal highlights as Do the Right Thing , The Usual Suspects , and Breaking Bad -- on which he played the fan favorite drug and fried chicken kingpin Gus Fring. Esposito credits his delightfully surprising Westworld appearance (Season 2, Episode 2) to his love for Sir Anthony Hopkins. "I've said some great things about Anthony, and he's said some great things about me in regard to my work as Gus," he told Vulture. "So I think it was all kind of synchronous in that way."

westworld season 2 claire unabia

Claire Unabia (Juliet)

On the show: Unabia, whose involvement on the show has been the subject of much speculation , plays Juliet, aka William's wife and Logan's sister, aka the mysterious woman in the photograph from Season 1. In real life: Unabia's an actress, model, and an arts organizer. Westworld is her only scripted credit to date, but she made some noise on the reality front during 2008's Cycle 10 of America's Next Top Model where she finished eighth. "I'm writing, directing and starring in a short psychological zombie film," she said after she was eliminated. "I'm also pitching TV shows and modeling and just seeing where life takes me."

gustaf skarsgard westworld

Gustaf Skarsgård (Strand)

On the show: Skarsgård plays Karl Strand, the head of Delos Operations who enjoys bossing people around. In real life: If the name sounds (or looks) familiar, it should! Gustaf is yet another actor from the famous Skarsgård clan, which includes his dad, Stellan; and his brothers, the actors Alexander, Bill, and Valter. When he's not busy attending family functions or dissing Stubbs, you can find him looking insane as the Vikings ' Floki.

betty gabriel westworld

Betty Gabriel (Maling)

On the show: Gabriel plays Maling, an officer working with Strand to restore order in the parks. In real life: Gabriel broke out in 2017 with a tremendous performance as Georgina, the eerie housekeeper from Jordan Peele's hit Get Out . Already, this Good Girls Revolt alumna is following up with a big year, having booked -- in addition to Westworld  --  Diverted Eden , Unfriended: Dark Web , and Upgrade .

fares fares westworld

Fares Fares (Antoine)

On the show: Fares plays Antoine Costa, a tech expert with "an objective perspective" and a knack for scraping out robo-brains.  In real life: Born in Lebanon and raised partly in Sweden, Fares got his start collaborating with his younger brother, the talented filmmaker behind 2000's Jalla! Jalla!  and 2003's Kopps . He'd make a splash overseas, but it wouldn't be until 2010, appearing alongside Joel Kinnaman in Daniél Espinosa's Easy Money , that he would break into Hollywood. With recent gigs in Tyrant , Zero Dark Thirty , and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story , he's on the rise.

westworld season 2 zahn mcclarnon

Zahn McClarnon (Akecheta)

On the show: McClarnon plays Akecheta, one of the hosts who, along with Angela, first lured Logan to the Westworld project. He later became a leading force in the park's Ghost Nation. In real life: Since the end of the '80s, this actor of Lakota and Irish descent has racked up more than 70 acting credits, most notably stealing scenes as Fargo 's Hanzee Dent, The Son 's Toshaway, and Longmire 's Officer Mathias. (Not-so-fun fact: McClarnon gave everyone a scare during Season 2's production, when, while off set, he sustained a head injury that sent him to the hospital. Fortunately, he was soon "on the mend" and able to finish his work.) He's poised to continue his prolific output; you might have already seen him earlier this year in Jason Momoa's Braven , as the drug trafficker Hallett.

evan rachel wood on westworld

Evan Rachel Wood (Dolores)

On the show: Wood plays Dolores Abernathy, a glass-half-full rancher's daughter who, contrary to her appearance, is the oldest android walking around Westworld. She also seems to possess free will by the time season two rolls around, and has a darker, more violent side thanks to  Arnold .  In real life:  After moving from North Carolina to California in the mid-'90s, Wood wasted no time building her filmography (see:  Digging to China ,  Thirteen ,  The Wrestler ,  True Blood  --  Yahtzee!  -- and Into the Forest ). The Golden Globe- and Emmy-nominated actress has also made a name for herself as a singer , LGBT advocate , and magazine  columnist .

thandie newton on westworld

Thandie Newton (Maeve)

On the show: Newton plays Maeve Millay, a sharp robotic madam whose popularity with customers fades as she becomes increasingly self-aware. At the beginning of season 2, she's on a quest to find her daughter, who probably exists only as code, but oh well. In real life:  Born in London, Newton turned to acting after a back injury made her abandon dance dreams. The Cambridge grad broke out with 1998's  Beloved , and has since taken versatile turns in such dramas as  The Pursuit of Happyness   and Paul Haggis'  Crash ; and in such comedies as  Norbit  and  Run, Fatboy, Run . You'll next see her in Xavier Dolan's star-studded  The Death and Life of John F. Donovan .

rodrigo santoro on westworld

Rodrigo Santoro (Hector)

On the show:  Santoro plays the black leather-clad Hector Escaton, Westworld's most-wanted outlaw who carries lots of firepower and a not-so-subtle last name . In real life:  Santoro will be most familiar as Xerxes from the  300  movies or as the diamond-hungry Paulo on Lost. You might have also seen the Brazilian actor in  Love Actually ,  Charlie ' s Angels: Full Throttle ,  Focus ,  The 33 , or Timur Bekmambetov's  Ben-Hur  remake.

tessa thompson, westworld

Tessa Thompson (Charlotte)

On the show: Thompson plays Charlotte Hale, a mysterious board director who, as DJ Khaled would say, might be up to something. In real life: Best known for her roles in  Creed ,  Selma , Thor: Ragnarok , and  Dear White People , the actress also has musical talent -- you can find her vocals on some cuts by the electro-soul outfit Caught A Ghost. She also co-stars in Janelle Monáe's video album Dirty Computer .

jimmi simpson on westworld

Jimmi Simpson (William)

On the show: Simpson plays William, a wet-behind-the-ears visitor who favors wearing white hats, defending certain bots, and making viewers wonder if he's a young version of the Man in Black. Spoiler: He's a young version of the Man in Black. In real life: This New Jerseyan's résumé includes no dearth of parts best described as twisted or "that guy"; highlights include the guinea pig-loving hacktivist on House of Cards , It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia 's Liam McPoyle, The Newsroom 's Jack Spaniel, and David Letterman's Lyle the Intern. Offscreen, the  Theatre World Award winner enjoys throwing "Jersey Style" barbecues .

ben barnes on westworld

Ben Barnes (Logan)

On the show: Barnes plays Logan, William's douche-y friend who favors wearing black hats and treating the hosts like toys. He's also William's future brother-in-law, and his family owns Delos, which owns Westworld.  In real life:  After landing the titular role in The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian, the Brit went on to deliver strong performances in Oliver Parker's  Dorian Gray , Sergey Bodrov's  Seventh Son , and the History Channel's  Sons of Liberty . (Don't mess with him: he really does know how to fight and ride horses .)

simon quarterman on westworld

Simon Quarterman (Lee)

On the show: Quarterman plays Lee Sizemore , Westworld's pain-in-the-butt head of narrative who concocts the roughly 100 interconnected storylines that fuel the park. In real life:  Another Brit, Quarterman made his debut in the early 2000s playing small TV parts overseas. An out-of-the-blue lead in  The Scorpion King 2   helped him snag meatier spots -- refer to  The Devil Inside  and  Estranged  --  and convinced him to head Stateside.

talulah riley, westworld

Talulah Riley (Angela)

On the show: Riley plays Angela, the extremely accommodating host who welcomes guests to Westworld and later joins forces with the mysterious Wyatt. In real life: Born in England, Riley kickstarted her career with Agatha Christie TV roles and Joe Wright's Pride & Prejudice before moving on to St. Trinian's , Inception , and Thor: The Dark World . The  actress-author has also generated headlines for marrying and divorcing SpaceX CEO Elon Musk -- twice.

luke hemsworth on westworld

Luke Hemsworth (Stubbs)

On the show: Hemsworth plays Ashley Stubbs (real name, swear to God), Westworld's head of security, aka that office dude who loves holding his tablet, walking around with in-your-face good posture, and making awkward eye contact. In real life: Nope, this isn't Hunger Games man or  Thor ; this is The Reckoning  guy! If the eldest Hemsworth first took up acting in the early 2000s, quit to briefly start a flooring business , and then came back to give Hollywood another shot. Don't expect his floor expertise here, but do expect sassy comments.

clifton collins jr. on westworld

Clifton Collins Jr. (Lawrence)

On the show: Collins plays Lawrence, the unfortunate automaton who briefly becomes the Man in Black's captive and key. In real life: An Emmy-nominated actor, Collins boasts a screen career that spans more than two decades. You might recognize him from recent work on Ballers and Pacific Rim , or from Alias  and the miniseries Thief . He  also co-authored an edgy cookbook, Prison Ramen , which shares recipes and stories from behind bars.

louis herthum on westworld hbo

Louis Herthum (Peter)

On the show:  Herthum plays Peter Abernathy, Dolores' dear ol' dad who has a Shakespearean freak-out after stumbling upon a modern-day photograph. Peter is also the valuable "package" that Delos wants in exchange for saving people's lives in the aftermath of Robert Ford's new narrative/massacre. In real life: Though this Baton Rouge native's career stretches back to the early '80s, he's made the most noise in recent years with his strong work in  Longmire,   True Blood, and this  great  Westworld  gif .

ingrid bolsø berdal on westworld

Ingrid Bolsø Berdal (Armistice)

On the show:   Bolsø Berdal plays Armistice , a mysterious bandit with an expansive serpentine tattoo and top-notch shootin' skills. In real life: This Norwegian actress has graced screens big and small for more than a decade, but it wasn't till recently that she made the switch from foreign slashers to moneymakers such as  Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters  and  Hercules . Unclear if her character gets to say, " There's a snake in my boot! " -- but we can sure as heck hope.

leonardo nam on hbo westworld

Leonardo Nam (Felix)

On the show: Nam plays Felix Lutz, Westworld's bird-obsessed repairman who befriends one of his repeat customers. In real life:  Even if you weren't aware of it, this Australian-bred actor of Korean descent has been a gem for more than a decade: Remember the pothead Roy from  The Perfect Score ? Or how about poor ol' Morimoto from  Tokyo Drift ? You can also find Nam in  The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, Betas , and Netflix's  Altered Carbon . 

ptolemy slocum on hbo westworld

Ptolemy Slocum (Sylvester)

On the show: Slocum plays Sylvester, Felix's coworker who's occasionally a dick and always ready for VR action. In real life: Aside from having the coolest name on this list, the actor, who was born in Kenya, also scored major life accomplishments by performing improv with Neutrino, one of the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater's most lauded longform teams; appearing in Hitch ,  Wonder Showzen , The Sopranos ,  The Wire ,  Veep , and  Preacher ; and, last but not least, narrating a couple of the  Star Wars  " Honest Trailers ."

steven ogg on westworld hbo

Steven Ogg (Rebus)

On the show: Ogg plays Rebus, a milk-loving bandit who looks like he may or may not be related to Erlich Bachman . In real life: To enjoy Grand Theft Auto V' s Trevor is to enjoy Ogg. You can find more of the Canadian-born actor (and his epic facial hair) throwing fists on The Walking Dead , playing Sobchak on Better Call Saul , and breathing heavily as a super-creepy locksmith on  Broad City .

angela sarafyan on westworld

Angela Sarafyan (Clementine)

On the show: Sarafyan plays Clementine Pennyfeather, Maeve's popular, doe-eyed coworker from the brothel. In real life: The Armenian-born actress is heavy on low-budget fare and guest parts, but Twilight fans should know her as Tia and old Cingular users as the Umbrella Girl . Despite almost missing her shot at Westworld , she's been one of the show's most intriguing characters to date.

shannon woodward on westworld

Shannon Woodward (Elsie)

On the show: Woodward plays Elsie Hughes, a curious up-and-comer in Westworld's behavior department -- likes bots, doesn't like surprises . In real life:  Although she's young, Woodward's screen career has already taken her from the sets of  Clarissa Explains It All   and  The Drew Carey Show   to The Riches   and  Raising Hope . You'll also spot the Arizona native casually hanging back in the "Hot n Cold" music video because she's BFFs with Katy Perry.

sidse babbett knudsen on westworld

Sidse Babett Knudsen (Theresa)

On the show: Knudsen plays Theresa Cullen, Westworld's no-bullshit woman-in-charge who ensures the park doesn't go off-script. In real life:  Knudsen hails from Denmark, where initial success came with Jonas Elmer's  Let's Get Lost   and Susanne Bier's  The One and Only -- both of which helped her net her country's top acting award. She went on to earn more international acclaim as the star of  Borgen , a popular political drama about a Danish prime minister, and to start something of a Tom Hanks streak with  A Hologram for the King   and  Inferno .

michael wincott on westworld hbo

Michael Wincott (Old Bill)

On the show: He's the whirring Westworld antique robot who likes to do shots with Dr. Ford and sleep in a body bag. In real life: The veteran Canadian actor's career highlights include scene-stealing roles in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, The Crow, Strange Days, Dead Man , and Basquiat (alongside Jeffrey Wright). More recently, you might have seen him in Knight of Cups and 24: Live Another Day, or heard his voice work in such vid games as Halo 2 and Darksiders II . He usually gets called in to do "things that have a certain degree of intensity to them" -- so be ready, just in case.

gina torres on hbo westworld

Gina Torres (Lauren)

On the show: Torres plays Lauren, Bernard's former partner and the mother of his child. In real life: Firefly fans might have relished spotting Zoë Washburne in Westworld 's third episode. The New Yorker adds the HBO guest gig to a wide-ranging list of credits that includes Cleopatra 2525 Angel The Matrix Reloaded and Revolutions , Alias , and Star Wars Rebels .

sorin brouwers on westworld hbo

Sorin Brouwers (Wyatt)

On the show: Brouwers plays Wyatt, Teddy's lunatic of a nemesis who's described as a "pestilence." In real life: A fairly fresh face, you can see more of Brouwers on Vanessa Bayer's "Sound Advice," MTV's Awkward , and The Brink . He's also done motion-capture work for such video games as Mortal Kombat and Injustice: Gods Among Us .

lili simmons on hbo westworld

Lili Simmons (New Clementine)

On the show: Simmons plays New Clementine, Sarafyan's in-park replacement. In real life: A model before hitting the screen beginning in 2010, the actress is best known for her work on the Cinemax series Banshee , but has also had recurring parts on Ray Donovan and Hawaii Five-0 .

james landry hebert on hbo westworld

James Landry Hébert (Slim)

On the show: Hébert plays Slim Miller, the weaselly El Lazo henchman William and Logan rescue. In real life: Looper, Gangster Squad , and Super 8 stand out among the actor's filmic accomplishments. On the small screen, the Louisianan made nice contributions to Mob City , Agent Carter , and the Taken TV series.

chris browning on hbo westworld

Chris Browning (Holden)

On the show: Browning plays Holden, a Sweetwater guide who functions a lot like a Teddy prototype. In real life: This Nevada native has been racking up TV guest turns since the early '90s, popping up on series ranging from  In Living Color and Matlock to Sons of Anarchy and Timeless . If Holden's period garb gives you déjà vu, it's because of Cowboys & Aliens .

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ghost nation cast westworld

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‘Westworld’ Recap: Ghost Story

By Sean T. Collins

Sean T. Collins

If you want something done right, give it to actor Zahn McClarnon to do. That’s the logical conclusion to draw coming out of this week’s episode of Westworld , titled “Kiksuya” – and the series’ best hour by a considerable margin. For once, the show’s annoyances (easy escapes, constant pointless bickering, those damn orchestral alt-rock cover versions) aren’t enough to overwhelm the material of real value. It took one of its most underutilized cast members, placed him at the center of a storyline that directly addressed the series’ sci-fi conceit but combined it with real mythmaking power and then let him run. The warrior  Akecheta may not save Ghost Nation and its many human captives, but he just might have saved this show.

Until now, McClarnon had only been required to do is act mysterious and menacing – which is easy to do when you’re covered head to toe in death-cult warpaint – and spend a little time in a real-world flashback scene looking smart and suave. (The dude is all cheekbones.) But if you watched Fargo Season Two, you know that this actor is capable of so much more. As Hanzee Dent, the Native American enforcer for a Midwestern crime family, he was a nearly mute murder machine whose every move and murmur carried the weight of the whole rotten world. His reading of a weary, whispered line like “Tired of this life” – so tired that even identifying himself as said life’s owner was too much to bear – was all he needed to make himself the season’s greatest monster and its wounded moral heart.

This is the McClarnon we get tonight. And it’s not because all his part requires of him is to play the strong silent type. Akecheta’s arc in this episode is … well, it’s not an arc at all. It’s a labyrinth. Or more appropriately, a Maze.

We first see the Ghost Nation warlord as he discovers the Man in Black , who’s in the process of slowly dying from multiple bullet wounds. (Yet he can still squeeze out tough-guy clichés to himself like “You’re not dyin’ here, not yet.” Ok.) But the brilliant sunlight, as captured by director and former The Wire cinematographer Uta Briesewitz, and the legato strings from composer Ramin Djawadi hint at something more than menace. Sure enough, when Akecheta returns to camp with his hostage in tow, he quickly changes gears, approaching Maeve’s daughter with an affect halfway between concerned guardian and long-lost friend. In soft-spoken Lakota language, he tells her the story of his life – which, it turns out, she once saved, many memory-erasures ago.

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From here, the character and actor cycle through several demanding, emotionally draining versions of being the same basic man – or “man,” since in several scenes he’s no more sentient than an iPhone, giving his conversations with other hosts that uncanny-valley vibe. He tells his young confidant that he was once a happy family man living a peaceful life out on the plains, until he stumbled across Dolores the Deathbringer (now there’s a nickname) in mid-massacre. He discovers the mad scientist’s Maze symbol, and his own insane obsession with it leads the tribe to fear him. Soon, the park’s technicians to pull him from service. He’s eventually reprogrammed him into a face-painted killing machine: “This time, I came out breathing fire.”

McClarnon does beautifully sick work in that gruesome guise, at one point smearing the blood of a victim on his face in sheer ecstasy. But Akecheta’s wanderlust upends his life a second time when he rides out into the desert and spots Logan (Ben Barnes), naked and deranged from exposure to the elements following the events of Season One. “There’s gotta be a way out of here,” he rants. “Where’s the door? …  This is the wrong world! ”

Like the Maze design before it, this triggers something in the warrior’s mind. He visits his old village and recognizes his former wife. He realizes he’s been conducting the same slaughter over and over. Eventually he rides even further into the desert and discovers “The Valley Beyond” – the gigantic excavation where Delos presumably stores all their intel on the guests. He quietly kidnaps Kohana , his lost love, and unlocks her memories by washing the make-up from his face and reciting old, shared sweet nothings. But their time together is short-lived: The Valley Beyond has been paved over. Technicians find and kidnap her while he’s out hunting, filling her role in the village with a different host.

Desperate to hang on to his memories as long as he can, he avoids getting killed – in freaking Westworld! – for almost a decade. He finds more of his family replaced, and discovers that the villagers tell stories of “The Ones Below,” demons who seize people and take them to another world. He realizes that to find his wife again, he must allow himself to travel there. Somehow he’s able to play dead convincingly enough to fool the tech bros and sneak into the storage facility where out-of-service host bodies are kept – including Kohana and her brother. He cuts off the man’s braid and brings it back to his still-living mother; his silent tears and her sobbing collapse during this sequence are the episode’s emotional high point.

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Soon, like both Dolores and Maeve (who spends the episode being hacked by park techs, as a genuinely regretful Sizemore sobs apologies to her), Akecheta becomes a spearpoint of robot revolution. He will spread the symbol of the Maze far and wide – including to Madam Millay and her daughter, who misinterpret the symbols and his presence as something sinister. He fails to protect them from the Man in Black, whom he turns over to his vengeful daughter Emily in the present day. But the warrior himself is spared erasure by none other than Robert Ford .

In a gorgeously constructed face-off between McClarnon and Anthony Hopkins – made to look like a gory version of a Natural History Museum diorama – Akecheta receives a warning from the cryptic old bastard that the Deathbringer is returning, and that he must be ready to lead his people to a new world. McClarnon is amazing in this moment; you can feel his reluctance to follow his computerized orders from the park’s omnipotent creator in the intensity of his eyes and the ground-out timbre of every word. It makes for a truly moving contrast with the episode’s finale: We discover that far from being incapacitated, Maeve has been broadcasting to Akecheta all along, receiving his promise to care for her daughter in a series of closeups on the three characters as they look directly into the camera.

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Husband, madman, outcast, killer, slave, prophet, parent: Akecheta are all these things in more in the space of a single hour. By allowing the focus to remain on just this one man in all his many incarnations, the still-epic scope of the story feels rooted and real in a way it never has before. The cast is too big for this to remain the creative model for the show, but for now we’ll take what we can get. This is the episode where Westworld lives up to its potential at last.

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Westworld: Ghost Nation, Revealed

Three Atlantic staffers discuss “Kiksuya,” the eighth episode of Season 2.

A still from the 'Westworld' episode 'Kiksuya'

Every week for the second season of Westworld , three Atlantic staffers will discuss new episodes of HBO’s cerebral sci-fi drama.

David Sims: As Westworld rushes to its epic Season 2 conclusion, viewers were due at least one more special episode, something akin to “ The Riddle of the Sphinx ,” that fleshes out the wider universe of Delos and the history of the park Robert Ford and Arnold created. What better subject matter than Westworld’s most mysterious inhabitants, the adversarial, fictionalized Native American tribe of Ghost Nation, and particularly their leader, Akecheta (Zahn McClarnon)? For so much of the show’s running time, Ghost Nation have played the limited role demanded of them by the hackneyed internal narrative of the park’s stories. Finally, with “Kiksuya,” we get a glimpse into their real story.

It’s something the show has teased all season. When Ghost Nation were introduced in the first season, they were faceless villains, made up in white and black paint (marked with bloody handprints), targets for hosts and guests alike to fight off. They were the backbone of Lee Sizemore’s gross, rejected new narrative centered on cannibalism, a garish attempt to jack up the stakes in a park already centered around murder and assault. In Season 2, there have been hints that they’re not the villains they appear to be. Akecheta’s recent intervention with Maeve, and his tribe’s encounter with Ashley, suggested that higher consciousness had bloomed for Ghost Nation as it had for Dolores and her merry band.

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Kiksuya means “remember” in Lakota, which is the language Ghost Nation speak on screen. It’s one that William (as Akecheta rescues him from near-death) admits he never bothered to learn in all his years at the park, even though his daughter has become conversant. This shortcoming reflects perfectly on William’s still-limited understanding of Westworld, the maze, and the hidden valley he’s now seeking. He remains under the mistaken impression that it’s all about him, that every person he encounters is speaking with Ford’s voice, and that the inner lives of hosts are practically nonexistent.

That self-centeredness, after all, is what led William on his quest to solve the secret of “the maze” in the first season (a quest that led him to attack Maeve’s homestead, among other things). But the maze was never meant for him—it was a buried message for the hosts themselves, left by their creator Arnold, whose initial death (at the hands of Dolores) we see depicted in this episode. And the maze was a message that worked on Akecheta, one of the earliest hosts ever built, whose tribe initially occupied Westworld as peaceful farmers, before paying customers were allowed into the park.

Slowly, we see Aketcha’s self-awareness develop over the decades, even as he’s repurposed into a bloodthirsty warrior and separated from the woman he loved. It’s a typical narrative for the hosts of Westworld , who had their memories papered over by the park’s hacky writing of “violent delights” and “violent ends.” But what’s atypical is Akecheta’s ability to survive—for many years, he just doesn’t die, knowing that could lead to the wiping of his memory. It’s the closest thing a host has come to living an actual human life, and it’s a fascinating notion to consider—I loved watching the old techs realize what an intense creation Akecheta was, when he finally did allow himself to visit the park’s lower decks.

Beyond that, the metaphor of Akecheta’s life and Ghost Nation’s purpose within Westworld clicked much better for me than the adventures of Shogun World. Here was the colonizers’ view of Native American society boiled down to its three simplest clichés—at first, they’re docile and friendly, then frightening, one-dimensional enemies, then mysteriously spiritual, blessed with the kinds of higher truths Westerners could only hope to understand. Akecheta has been largely ignored by the park’s busy inhabitants up until now, but it seems that’s finally about to change. Spencer, I know you were less enthralled with the episode than I was—what’s your read on the history of Ghost Nation?

Spencer Kornhaber: As it so often does, Westworld has spun a sumptuously told story at which we can nod our heads and say, “Yes, I see.” The show has long toyed with idea that religion always boils down to, as Akecheta puts it, the suspicion that “there isn’t one world but many, and we live in the wrong one.” This episode committedly riffed on that idea as the Ghost Nation fashioned stories about the underworld, its denizens, and the promised land beyond their own. Mythmaking is a super-relevant theme in our own era, when the wildness of the headlines has led people to suspect we’re living in a simulation. But then again, it would have been relevant at any point in human history—to be alive is to wonder if being alive is all there is.

I’ll confess to wondering if this is all there was when watching this hour of TV. McClarnon is a formidable actor, and it’s like witnessing an amazing sleight of hand to see his previously sidelined character suddenly command attention—and trigger real feelings—with every mournful flick of his eyes (how good was he in that scene when Ford puts him into analysis mode, clearly against his will?). Yet Akecheta’s journey to consciousness is really just a modified version of the one that Dolores and Maeve have lived out over the course of the series so far. His slow realization of the loves he’s lost may be wrenching, but it just retells one of the few coherent messages the show ever bothers to preach: To be sentient but not free is hell.

There were some neat wrinkles like, as David pointed out, the reveal that Akecheta went 10 years in the park without dying (new puzzle: Why did the techs’ manager insist this old model be sent back into the park, rather than swapped out?). And I’m intrigued by the maze symbol being a subliminal trigger that goes viral—it’s like if everyone who listened to the Laurel/Yanny clip was actually being incepted with the knowledge of a new language. But much of the hour fell into that old Westworld mode of answering mysteries that were never that compelling to begin with. Whither Logan after William sent him into the desert? What was with the maze carved into the scalp shown in the first episode of this season? I’d forgotten to wonder about both, but the answers are here nonetheless.

The episode-ending reveal moved things along more excitingly. Maeve, though bloodied, is quite conscious and issuing commands to other hosts from afar. What does it mean? For one, she likely heard Lee Sizemore’s bedside apology, which further sets the table for him and her to go beyond being mere begrudging allies in their relationship. And the fact that she was communicating with Akecheta through her daughter did, among other things, answer the question of why he was subjecting a little girl to his entire life story. More importantly, the newly forged alliance between Maeve and Ghost Nation may prove to be an important counter-faction against the bloodthirsty legion led by Dolores, whom we now have a great new nickname for: Deathbringer.

I’m most curious about what’s about to befall the other deathbringer of the show, the Man in Black. The conversation between him and his daughter two episodes ago made for one of the most moving scenes of the whole series, due to them being, you know, actual human beings with stakes in the real world. She’s taken him back from Ghost Nation with the promise to inflict pain, but I’ll bet that for once in this show, it’s not the kind that involves stabbing or shooting. Sophie, predictions for what Emily has in store? Also, we haven’t much discussed the scene with Ford, which looked like it took place in a diorama at a natural-history museum. When Ghost Nation makes it to the other world, will that once-frozen bear come with?

Sophie Gilbert: Spencer, you mentioned mythmaking, and Akecheta’s journey into “the other side of death” (i.e. the subterranean control centers of Westworld HQ) to find his beloved felt modeled after the story of Orpheus, heading into the underworld to find Eurydice. When Akecheta left his four-hour programming update (too real, Westworld , too real) and ventured into a cold, dreary wasteland—finding Kohana standing motionless amid a vast group of naked bodies—the room was like a high-tech kind of Hades, dark and empty. The moment was chillingly powerful, as was the following scene, when Akecheta returned the braid of a warrior to his sobbing mother.

David, you wrote last week about how the true host awakening of Season 2 has been Maeve’s humanity. Her personal journey was echoed by Akecheta’s in this episode, and his powerful affection for Kohana. In the beginning, he explained to Maeve’s daughter, he had a very different life, with a peaceful home and a love he would have died to protect. But, it turned out, that was just phase one of Delos’s narrative. What was described mockingly by Delos technicians as Akecheta’s “dull, exquisitely pastoral existence” was disrupted by a more violent storyline in which he was dehumanized so that the humans who tortured and killed him could feel better about it. This might not feel particularly shocking given what we know about the callousness of Delos and its employees, but it fits into both the sweep of American history and the more recent treatment of immigrants by ICE and the commander in chief. The easiest way to enable brutality against other humans (or hosts, in this case) is to make them seem less human.

I agree with you both that McClarnon was extraordinary in this episode, conveying an entire emotional arc and evolution that in Maeve’s case has played out over two seasons. But I’m also with Spencer here: The episode felt like an echo rather than something that really deepened our understanding of the events at hand. And so much of it was entirely predictable: Akecheta waking a woman in bed only to find she was a different person from Kohana, Kohana’s unresponsive presence, Emily’s return to claim her father. The biggest surprise of the hour was Maeve, communicating with Akecheta in her wounded and subdued state, commanding him to protect her daughter. But wasn’t he doing that anyway?

As for the scene with Ford, Spencer, it left me cold. More florid metaphors about darkness and light, more irritatingly calm explication, more affirmation that Ford is both creator and prophet of this cruel and ugly world. To quote Blofeld in Spectre , he’s the author of all this pain, which he justifies by arguing that the hosts need to suffer to achieve self-awareness. Is it worth it? Only the hosts can say. Is it ethical? Absolutely not. At this point, for me, Ford and the Man in Black are different sides of the same megalomaniacal coin, deluded and increasingly tiresome to watch. Charlotte Hale, too, feels almost implausibly awful. Westworld has always been more about plot than character development, but the two aren’t mutually exclusive, as Season 2 seems to think. And as interesting as the hosts are, their awakenings (as this episode showed) follow the same pattern, meaning the show continues to keep viewers at an emotional distance.

One thing that is clearer now is what’s in the valley beyond: a door. Or “a passage to another world,” as Akecheta described it. Is it the way to the real world? And if so, couldn’t the hosts just get there via the visitor’s center? Or is it a portal to the three other worlds we haven’t yet seen? God, I hope one of them has dinosaurs. That would truly make Westworld a contender for the most ambitious crossover event in history .

IMAGES

  1. Westworld Season 2 Episode 8 Trailer Focuses on Ghost Nation

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  2. 'Westworld' Ghost Nation: Season 2 Finally Gives Us Answers

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  3. Westworld Season 2 Featurette

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  4. Ghost Nation is Awakened in This Week's Westworld

    ghost nation cast westworld

  5. 'Westworld' Ghost Nation: Season 2 Finally Gives Us Answers

    ghost nation cast westworld

  6. 23 Things We Learned About The Ghost Nation In Westworld Season 2

    ghost nation cast westworld

VIDEO

  1. Hunters & Collectors

  2. Seven Nation Army

  3. Westworld Behind The Scene SECRETS Fans NEVER Knew

  4. Insane

  5. WESTWORLD

  6. Theatre of hate

COMMENTS

  1. Ghost Nation

    The Ghost Nation are a large group of Hosts representing a stereotypical hostile Native American tribe as commonly depicted in Western-genre films. They usually speak in Lakota, but have spoken English to a few guests/hosts. After the Confederados attack the train that Dolores Abernathy, Lawrence and William are travelling on, the three escape along with a few others and ride away from the ...

  2. Westworld (TV Series 2016-2022)

    Westworld (TV Series 2016-2022) cast and crew credits, including actors, actresses, directors, writers and more. Menu. ... See agents for this cast & crew on IMDbPro Series Directed by . Richard J. Lewis ... (6 episodes, 2016-2022) ... Ghost Nation Native Warrior (uncredited) 1 episode, 2018 ...

  3. Ghost Nation (TV Series 2019- )

    Ghost Nation (TV Series 2019- ) cast and crew credits, including actors, actresses, directors, writers and more. Menu. Movies. Release Calendar Top 250 Movies Most Popular Movies Browse Movies by Genre Top Box Office Showtimes & Tickets Movie News India Movie Spotlight. TV Shows.

  4. List of Westworld characters

    Introduced in season 2, he is a host and a Ghost Nation elder. He has a fearsome reputation in the park, leading raiding parties and taking hosts prisoner. It is subsequently revealed that he started to achieve sentience decades earlier, purposefully avoiding death for many years and accumulating knowledge of the "other world". Unlike Dolores ...

  5. Westworld Season 2 Cast & Character Guide

    Talulah Riley as Angela - Formerly one of Westworld's greeter hosts, and more recently a member of Wyatt's bloodthirsty cult. Jonathan Tucker as Major Craddock* - A commanding military officer. Zahn McClarnon as Akechata* - A member of the Ghost Nation tribe. Julia Jones as Kohana* - A member of the Ghost Nation tribe.

  6. 'Westworld' Kohana and Ake: Who Are The Ghost Nation Characters?

    As we learned in Westworld Season 2 Episode 8, Ake was originally programmed to be a peaceful Host living a simple life with his wife, Kohana (Julia Jones). Then shortly before the park opened ...

  7. Westworld: The Ghost Nation's True Purpose Revealed

    Warning: Major spoilers ahead for Westworld Season 2, Episode 8 Westworld finally provided answers to their Ghost Nation questions in this week's episode, "Kiksuya". Zahn McLarnon gives a great performance as his character, Akecheta, provides insight about the history of the Ghost Nation and their awakening.

  8. Why the Ghost Nation hosts on 'Westworld' are way more important than

    Maeve's connection to the Native hosts. On season one, episode two, "Chestnut," Maeve has flashbacks of her homestead being attacked by the Ghost Nation hosts. These memory flashes begin after Dolores tells Maeve the "these violent delights have violent ends" code trigger. The first memory Maeve re-experiences is her in the homestead narrative ...

  9. Westworld Casts 12 New Characters

    The new cast members of Westworld Season 2 include a Skarsgård brother and Get Out's biggest breakout. ... EW surmises he appears as a member of Ghost Nation in the official Season 2 trailer: HBO.

  10. 'Westworld' *Finally* Explained Ghost Nation and Their Backstory is

    Culture 'Westworld' *Finally* Explained Ghost Nation and Their Backstory is Mind-Blowing. Westworld finally explained the backstory of Ghost Nation in Season 2, Episode 8 "Kiksuya."

  11. Ghost Nation (TV Series 2019- )

    Ghost Nation: With Jason Hawes, Steve Gonsalves, Dave Tango, Shari DeBenedetti. High-stakes cases and a robust, multi-stage investigation that begins with a shocking paranormal story and a tantalizing piece of evidence.

  12. 'Westworld': Robert Ford Returns, Ghost Nation Looms

    Explore the latest on Westworld - Robert Ford's return, Ghost Nation's rise, and the secrets of the hosts. ... Jason Isaacs Among Six Joining Cast Stephen King David Soul, 'Starsky and Hutch ...

  13. What We Know About Ghost Nation On Westworld Season 2

    Westworld's Ghost Nation Is About To Change Everything — Here's What We Know ... When Tiffany Pollard first joined the cast of VH1's popular celeb-reality series The Flavor of Love in 2006 ...

  14. 'Westworld' Ghost Nation: Season 2 Finally Gives Us Answers

    The area of Westworld where Ghost Nation—a Native tribe of hosts—resides is, according to Delos' official site, "only recommended for expert gameplayers" and "the most difficult to ...

  15. Don't Panic, But <i>Westworld</i> Finally Explained Ghost Nation

    Don't Panic, But Westworld Finally Explained Ghost Nation And we learned so much mind-blowing new info as a result. By Mehera Bonner Published: Jun 10, 2018 8:58 PM EST

  16. Westworld Season 2 Recap: From Ghost Nation to the Valley Beyond

    Flash-forward to Westworld season 2, when Akecheta finds William, severely injured from his showdown with Maeve and Lawrence. The Host takes him in, but Emily soon catches up with them and ...

  17. Westworld Recap, Season 2 Episode 8: The Great Ghost Nation Mystery

    They are totally mysterious, living on Westworld's margins and never emerging as full characters—until now. Because of their puzzling nature, the Ghost Nation has invited a plethora of fan theories.

  18. "Westworld" Kiksuya (TV Episode 2018)

    Kiksuya: Directed by Uta Briesewitz. With Evan Rachel Wood, Thandiwe Newton, Jeffrey Wright, James Marsden. The telling of Akecheta and the Ghost Nation's journey to consciousness; Maeve's life hangs in the balance.

  19. How 'Westworld' Flipped the Script on Hollywood's ...

    For our premium ad-free experience, including exclusive podcasts, issues and more, subscribe to. Plans start as low as $2.50/mo. The final beat of Westworld's first season set me on edge—the introduction of the Ghost Nation. I'm Metis, a citizen of one of Canada's many indigenous.

  20. Westworld (TV series)

    Westworld is an American dystopian science fiction Western television series created by Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy that first aired on October 2, 2016, on HBO.It is based upon the 1973 film of the same name written and directed by Michael Crichton and loosely upon its 1976 sequel, Futureworld.. The story begins in Westworld, a fictional, technologically advanced Wild-West-themed amusement ...

  21. Westworld Season 2 Cast: Who Plays Charlotte Hale, Dolores ...

    John P. Johnson/HBO. ‌. As Westworld transforms your living room yet again into a madcap saloon overrun by robots, firefights, and mystery, you'll notice one of the show's strongest assets is ...

  22. 'Westworld' Recap: Ghost Story

    'Westworld' gives the brilliant, underrated actor Zahn McClarnon the spotlight - and delivers its single best episode by a large margin. Our recap.

  23. 'Westworld' Season Two, Episode Eight: 'Kiksuya'

    Beyond that, the metaphor of Akecheta's life and Ghost Nation's purpose within Westworld clicked much better for me than the adventures of Shogun World. Here was the colonizers' view of ...