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In Westworld Season 2, One Episode Stands Above The Rest

After the artificially intelligent Hosts of "Westworld" begin a rebellion at the end of Season 1, they become much more prominent in subsequent seasons of the HBO drama. These include Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood), one of the first robots at the park to become conscious of her nature, and Maeve (Thandiwe Newton), a former brothel madam who learns how to control humans and communicate telepathically with the other Hosts. Some Hosts join Dolores' violent quest, while others like Bernard (Jeffrey Wright) choose to not take up arms against the humans. 

Season 2 does introduce the other Delos theme parks populated with robots, such as Shōgunworld and a place based on the British Raj, as well as more Host characters, such as Colonel Brigham (Fredric Lehne) and Akane (Rinko Kikuchi). But the show delves further into the machinations of the main theme park and how other residents of Westworld would achieve sentience as well. One Season 2 episode especially drove fans to tears.

The episode Kiksuya got heavy praise from Redditors

The title of "Kiksuya" means "remember" in Lakota (via Fansided), which is fitting for the main character's journey, and an episode centered on a group of Native hosts called the Ghost Nation. The Nation lives in the park and has been programmed by Ford (Anthony Hopkins) to believe they are an indigenous American tribe. In "Kiksuya," one of the tribe's members, Akecheta (Zahn McClarnon), begins to achieve sentience. As he discovers the truth, Akecheta begins a search for the Valley Beyond, where hosts can live free of humanity.

A post by u/High-On-Cinema on the "Westworld" subreddit displayed a still of Akecheta and the title "Nothing...Just Wanted to Appreciate Him...," drawing high praise for the episode from other Redditors. The original poster named "Kiksuya" the best episode in their opinion, and many fans agreed.

Part of the love for "Kiksuya" comes from Akecheta's story. The host is originally motivated by the loss of his love, Kohana (Julia Jones), but eventually educates all of the tribe about their true natures. u/Deadlament wrote, "Absolutely the most incredibly majestic character his story arc brought me to tears," while u/theitgrunt praised how the episode "can stand by itself as it's [sic] own self-enclosed, impactful story."

Zahn McClarnon has been on shows like Longmire and Fargo

Redditors also loved actor Zahn McClarnon's performance as Akecheta in the episode, with u/High-On-Cinema commenting that he had the "most impactful performance on the show. Even more than [Anthony] Hopkins and [Ed] Harris." The Ghost Nation is a fictional tribe created for the park by Ford, but McClarnon is part Lakota and Standing Rock Sioux and was consulted during the production of "Kiksuya" for ways to strengthen the character. McClarnon told The Hollywood Reporter, "I was able to bring my culture, growing up on and off a reservation and surrounding reservations, spending most of my life around Indian people." The Ghost Nation characters also largely speak in the actual Lakota language.

McClarnon was critically acclaimed for his "Westworld" performance and has become more prolific recently after several decades in film and television. He was a regular on the series "Longmire," appeared on FX dramas like "Fargo," and is about to star in the AMC series "Dark Winds." When asked what he wants to delve into as an actor, he gave an answer that was worthy of Akecheta. "Love, I guess, whether that's romantic love or just love for another human being," he said. "Exploring that sort of thing is what gets me out of bed" (via The New York Times).