The fifth episode of Westworld’s second season was in many ways a repeat of one of the most consistent parts of the first season. As Maeve and her group, including Hector, Armistice, and Sizemore, venture into Shogun World, they find that the bank robbing narrative from Westworld is taking place in the faux-Edo period as well. Hector’s counterpart, a ronin named Musashi, makes an especially striking impression, in no small part thanks to actor Hiroyuki Sanada’s measured performance.
This post contains spoilers for Westworld Season 2, Episode 5.
Musashi should feel familiar to Westworld viewers because he’s explicitly a knock-off of a fan-favorite Westworld character. Sizemore admits that he cribbed a bit from himself while writing narratives for Westworld, but while Musashi occupies the same space as Hector (and has the rugged bad boy good looks to go along with it), there’s a little more to his character.
Musashi is a ronin — a masterless samurai. During the episode, “Akane No Mai,” he reveals that he used to be the captain of the Shogun’s guard, but he left the position on bad, unclear terms. Based on how he was able to predict the brutal measures that the Shogun’s men would enact on the town, it’s clear he has a brutal past, but it seems there’s a certain nobility to him. Did he leave the Shogun’s employ because the feudal leader is a maniac? It’s not yet clear.
In the real world, fans of Japanese cinema and/or people who watched Lost to the very end will likely recognize Hiroyuki Sanada. He played Dogen in four episode’s of Lost’s sixth season, but he’s also a highly respected actor in Japan. Sanada starred in the 2002 film Tasogare Seibei (The Twilight Samurai in English), a period piece that garnered near-universal critical acclaim, was nominated for the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film and claimed 12 Japanese Academy Awards.
Musashi’s story in “Akane No Mai” ends on a bit of a cliffhanger. He, along with Hector and the Armistices, get captured by the Shogun’s men while creating a diversion as part of Maeve’s kind of confusing plan. However, the “next week on” preview reveals that Musashi will return for at least one more episode.
Westworld Season 2 airs new episodes on Sundays at 9 p.m. Eastern on HBO.