Sunday's episode of Westworld, "Akane No Mai," finally gave fans of the show something they've been waiting to see ever since the finale of Season 1: Shogun World, the sister park to the title locale that takes guests to a violent mashup of Edo period Japan. Like Westworld, Shogun World is a lavishly detailed, almost seamless production aimed at giving its customers the most realistic experience possible, which means the show's creative team had to design and build an incredibly immersive piece of theme park all over again.
Spoilers for the Westworld episode "Akane No Mai" ahead!
Though the episode does take a bit of time for a particularly important plot point between Teddy and Dolores this week, much of the runtime of "Akane No Mai" is devoted to Maeve, Hector, Lee, and Armistice finding themselves immersed in Shogun World, and how they navigate its particular story and characters. Almost immediately, they find themselves in a new landscape that's also strangely familiar, as Lee reveals that he borrowed quite a few details from Westworld storylines to populate Shogun World.
Maeve's Mariposa saloon becomes Akane's tea house, Hector and his band of bandits becomes Musashi and his band of bandits, and so on. That's a strange trip for the characters themselves to take, but the audience had to take it too, which meant the production had to mirror the set design of Westworld's Sweetwater with a Japanese town, right down to the way the various shops line the main thoroughfare. It also meant the characters had to mirror each other right down to costume design. In a new behind-the-scenes video released after the episode, the show's cast and crew break down how that was done.
The 13-minute video is broken down into three sections, with the first examining the design of Shogun World, the second examining the character dynamics at work, and the third examining the new level of violence the show explores by substituting guns for katanas. There are no major plot secrets revealed, but it's fascinating to see just how much detail work went into building the show's set. For example: The cherry blossom tree next to the house is artificial, and was built by craftsmen who had to glue each individual blossom on by hand. Another example: The characters are all wearing similar costumes, right down to the leather on the edges of Musashi's kimono to make him look more like Hector.
Oh, and they actually built the Shogun's severed head, right down to the severed esophagus inside, so if you're into Westworld's gore effects, that segment offers up a special treat just for you.
Check out the video above to see just how detailed Shogun World is even beyond the way it's presenting in the show.
Westworld airs Sunday at 9 p.m. EST on HBO.