Westworld is a theme park based on the myth of the Old West, complete with cowboys, horses, ladies of the night, confederates, Mexicans, and a tribe known only as "the Ghost Nation." Throughout the series, very little attention has been given over the Ghost Nation, they are mainly painted men who are stereotypically othered for the enjoyment of the guests to murder. They've been so unimportant, they are recast at will. But this season is setting about changing this with the new episode "Kiksuya." What is the Ghost Nation? Warning: Spoilers for Westworld Season 2 follow.
This season saw the production begin to take the Ghost Nation characters more seriously, giving them slightly more prominent roles, and casting Zahn McClarnon an actor of Lakotan descent, as Akecheta. McClarnon also appears without makeup in the scene where Logan is introduced to the "Argos Initiative." Now they've given us an episode focused on their tribe, all in Lakhota, with subtitles.
Teddy's memory in Season 1 of killing everyone in Escalante didn't include any indigenous bodies. Turns out this was not an oversight. Arnold forgot to kill an entire segment of the host population when he committed suicide. Akecheta and his proto-tribe, including his original cornerstone wife, were going about their gentle little loops when he heard gunfire. He came upon the scene, saw Dolores had murdered Arnold and found the maze puzzle.
Akecheta became obsessed with the puzzle shape, carving it into everything, skins, rocks, and dirt. But before the rest of the tribe could do anything about his behavior, the park was retooled for the opening. Half of them were rewritten into the Ghost Nation, with Akecheta as the leader.
But the park left his original programming in. One day, he went off-loop and rode until he accidentally ran into the naked Logan William left behind. Logan was ranting about there needing to find "the door" to escape, and this world "was wrong." Akecheta covered him with a blanket and rode on.
But seeing Logan triggered his old memories. Akecheta began to go off-loop regularly, finding the Valley Beyond while it was under construction. He also kidnapped his former wife, triggering her memories of him. But before they could find the Valley Beyond again, she was captured and her memories of him removed.
Akecheta response was to avoid dying or "going below" at all costs, as it obviously cost memories. He wasn't the only one who stayed alive far longer than intended. A few other of his proto-tribe members weren't dying regularly enough either and noticed when their loved ones suddenly changed faces. Finally, Akecheta decided to allow himself to be killed to "go below" and find the truth.
When he returned topside, he'd been given ten years of updates, but the lead behaviorist was so impressed he'd not died, she didn't wipe his memory. Akecheta, meanwhile, found the deactivated hosts, including his wife. He was now determined to teach the truth: This world was wrong. The Ghost Nation began carving the puzzle image into their scalps to help them remember, and spreading the myths of those deactivated "below."
When Ford discovered the maze carvings in the scalps, he set out to discover why. Akecheta came to him. Ford was amused and amazed at the mythology his hosts had created, and decided to add a bit more, telling Akecheta the Valley Below door he found was actually for all of them to escape this place forever.
When the new narrative began, Akecheta once again found the bodies and realized Dolores was the killer. He named her "Deathbringer." The Ghost Nation are now working to stop Deathbringer from getting the door before they do, for she will destroy it, trapping them all here in the wrong world forever.
Will the Ghost Nation stop Dolores in time? Or is she right to want to blow up the door, and Ford was just messing with Akecheta? With only two episodes left, fans will find out soon enough.