maeve shogun world

Jordin Althaus/HBO

Maeve has a new level of control on ‘Westworld’

‘I told you I found a new voice. Now we use it.’


Michelle Jaworski

Internet Culture

Posted on May 21, 2018   Updated on May 21, 2021, 3:18 pm CDT

Warning: This article contains spoilers for the latest Westworld episode, “Akane No Mai.”

As one of the more “awake” hosts of Westworld, Maeve has had an unprecedented level of control over other hosts for much of season 2, but the latest episode shows just how powerful she’s become.

At the end of “Akane No Mai,” Maeve and the geisha Akane (Rinko Kikuchi) are set to be executed in Shogun World after Akane murdered the shogun leader who killed her surrogate daughter Sakura. All looks lost for the women who had much in common—thanks in no part to Lee Sizemore plagiarizing himself to create their narratives—until Maeve takes her ability to command hosts to a new level. She telepathically gives a command in Japanese, and seconds later, her would-be executioners turn their swords on each other.

westworld maeve shogun world

It’s the second time she’s used her mind to command another host, and as was the case with the first, it stuns Lee and the hosts around them. And as more men are summoned to join the fight in the episode’s final moments, it’s sure to come in handy.

Maeve has always had more control—but how she’s wielded it has set her apart

Throughout season 2, Maeve and Dolores have embarked on similar journeys. They’re both awake—Dolores after she reaches the center of the maze, Maeve with programming that tasked her with leaving the park—but they’ve both taken different paths.

Dolores is hellbent on a revolution, using intimidation, bullying tactics, and changing a host’s very code (poor Teddy) to get others to follow her command. She can wake up other hosts, but no matter what it is, she has to use her words to do it. Maeve, on the other hand, uses her words to achieve a different end. She can converse and convince, but if all else fails, she can order other hosts around, though it’s not foolproof. It doesn’t work on Ghost Nation, which seems immune to her commands, and after attempting to order Musashi to let her and her companions go, he tells his men to gag her.

Dolores is looking at the big picture. She has plans for Westworld and the humans who have enacted decades of violence upon her and her fellow hosts, and she doesn’t care who may get harmed in the process. Maeve’s plans—as well as her control of other hosts—focus on the smaller picture. So far, she’s used it to get out of sticky situations and even tried to wake up Akane, who wasn’t as receptive to the idea as other hosts may have been.

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John P. Johnson/HBO

What’s changed for Maeve in “Akane No Mai” is an instance of “extreme trauma and violence.” In the midst of a fight with a ninja, she’s nearly choked to death, but it sparks a new power: the ability to telepathically command other hosts.

It’s unclear if Maeve could fine-tune that ability to command a full army of hosts like the one that Dolores had following her at one point. But as her journey gets even more dangerous, it could very much come in handy.

Maeve’s abilities might look familiar

Before this episode, Maeve has had an almost unprecedented level of control over herself and the hosts around her. Part of that was due to her programming—which had her planning an escape from the park—but she’s also gained control over her own narrative; she operated with free will at the end of season 1 after stepping off the train about to leave Westworld. And while her ability to telepathically order hosts to kill themselves and each other broke new ground for her, it’s familiar territory for viewers.

We’ve already seen what Maeve can do, but on a less grand scale: Robert Ford, one of the creators of Westworld, has a similar power.

The first instance of it almost looks like a magic trick, one he’s showing to a young host who was made to look and act like a younger version of himself. Ford and young Robert come across a host rattlesnake, but Ford can wordlessly make it move around in whatever direction he likes before sending it away.

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Toward the end of season 1, the source of that power is more explicitly stated. Although Bernard tries to get Clementine to shoot Ford, she cannot do so. And that’s because there was a backdoor built into Clementine, Bernard, and all of the hosts in Westworld by Bernard himself. With that backdoor, all Ford has to do is weave a narrative about Bernard’s self-inflicted gunshot to the head, and Bernard will do it, no question.

Maeve doesn’t appear to be aware of that type of backdoor existing in other hosts, but it does seem as though she’s accessing it both by voice and mental command. She’s been upgraded beyond what most hosts are capable of, and as she noted in the season 2 premiere, she killed herself on multiple occasions to get the kind of security clearance that she had access to.

Her two uses of the new ability so far have been linked with death, but it’s uncertain what else she might do with the kind of power that led to her being called a “witch.” Now that she has it, she might’ve gained the upper hand in her quest to find her daughter—and might be even more of a threat if someone tries to double-cross her.

Want more Westworld? Check out the Upstream podcast for a weekly Monday discussion of the latest action.

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*First Published: May 21, 2018, 10:35 am CDT