Zahn McClarnon had never acted in a love story on screen. He’d also never worked with children — or Anthony Hopkins — but he got to do all those things in just one episode of Westworld.
The 51-year-old actor joined the HBO series this season as Akecheta, a Ghost Nation host whom viewers had previously only seen in a terrifying light, seemingly on his way to abduct Maeve’s (Thandie Newton) daughter in flashbacks, or trying to scalp other hosts and guests. It was on Sunday night’s episode, however, that we finally got some backstory, and realized Akecheta wasn’t at all what he seemed.
In fact, he was one of the first hosts to discover the maze and reach consciousness, and became fully aware of his change in storyline. Scalping was another way of prompting others find the maze, and he was trying to help Maeve’s daughter, not hurt her. All this, plus the reveal that Akecheta was the first host to see the door made Sunday’s episode a powerful one — especially for McClarnon.