The genre-swapped musical cover in the fifth episode of Wesworld’s second season probably sounds familiar — not just because it’s a cover of a well-known song, but because we’ve actually heard this very song before on the show. Except, the last time we heard the Rolling Stones’s we were in Westworld. The instrumentation is a little different in Shogun World.
This post contains spoilers for Westworld* Season 2, Episode 5.
When Maeve, Sizemore, Hector, Armistice, and the two doofus technicians Felix and Sylvester get captured by some rogue swordsmen and taken into Shogun World, they see new sides of themselves. See, when Sizemore wrote narratives for all of Delos’s various parks, he self-plagiarized quite a bit. Hector and Armistice’s bloody attempted robbery of the safe in Maeve’s brothel wasn’t exactly unique. In Shogun World, the ronin Musashi (Hiroyuki Sanada) and his dragon-tattooed accomplice try to steal from the teahouse where Akane (Pacific Rim’s Rinko Kikuchi) operates as a geisha.
In both instances, a cover of “Paint It Black,” plays, only in Shogun World it’s performed with traditional flutes and Japanese instruments rather than on a player piano. In Season 1, the use of “Paint It Black,” a “modern” song, was meant to highlight the artificiality of Wesworld’s Wild West setting. In context, the specific track also highlighted Hector and Co.’s willingness to resort to violence and a certain sense of nihilism. In Season 2, “Paint It Black” signifies that Sizemore is a goddamn, unoriginal hack. Rather than come up with a story that would be specific to Shogun World’s setting and Japanese history and culture, he just shoehorned the gunslinging narrative he wrote for Westworld.
It’s cute, and it makes for some good moments when Maeve, Hector, and Armistice meet their dopplegängers, but consider this: Is Westworld’s depiction of lazy writing just … lazy writing itself?
Given that Dolores and Teddy have been having the same conversation all season, and up until now all Teddy has done is look like a confused puppy, maybe we should praise Westworld for figuring out how to turn repetitive plots into an feature, rather than a bug.
“Paint It Black” still rocks, for what it’s worth.