Burning Questions We Have After 'Westworld' Season 2's Jam-Packed Finale
Westworld’s first season ended with a pretty pointed question: What’s going to happen to the theme park now that the hosts have become self-aware in the ugly power-struggle game for the rich that Ford and Arnold designed? Season 2 makes a lot of the first's subtext text and delves directly into some very large issues.
The saga of James Delos, first introduced in Season 2, Episode 4, brought out a ton of metaphysical questions about humanity in this show about cowboy robots. Why could James Delos not be perfectly replicated? What is a cognitive plateau? Does death even matter if you can freeze the person in a living state? Finally, the finale not only finished the various interconnected plots to reveal what had actually been happening in that 11 Days Later timeline, but it plopped a big ol’ existential thesis on the table: Human beings are incapable of change. With the finale making that terribly clear, we still have a ton of lingering questions to ruminate over until Season 3.
Is anyone really dead?Lee Sizemore. That character strikes us as someone who wasn’t backed up. Elsie is likely gone forever, shot dead by Hale. Charlotte Hale the human is likely gone as well, even though her host body survives. Almost any of the other hosts are fair game.
How did Teddy's body get from where he shot himself into the Flooded Valley?You might remember the lovely image of Dolores cradling a dead Teddy. Afterward, she digs out his pearl and takes it with her to the Valley Beyond, where she uploaded it into the new host world, thus allowing him in without having to physically cross over. But how does that explain his physical existence in the sea of floating host bodies??
Is Anthony Hopkins really gone this time?It appears that Ford is the voice inside Bernard’s head that takes the place of his own, much like how Dolores heard Arnold in her head until she was ready to acknowledge her own voice. In that sense, we don’t HAVE to be done with Ford. It’s very possible that a Bernard vs. Dolores plotline would also include the Ford only Bernard can see and an Arnold only Dolores can see.
There’s precedence in this type of multi-casting hallucinations in Battlestar Galactica, which had several "interior" characters. At first we thought those Battlestar characters were allowing for internal monologue, but they ended up being actual entities (light spoilers for an old series).
Have we seen the last of Jimmi Simpson?
Although it seems like the final scene shifts the narrative to Old William in the future, we still don’t know for sure what happened to William to manifest the "darkness" that his wife and daughter saw in him. Considering we know that Dolores made it out of the park on several occasions and that Young William was still dealing with his early experiences, it’s possible Young William imparted some information to Dolores rife for flashbacking that’s important for her new revolution.
What the hell was post-credits scene?Ah, the post-credits scene, the bread and butter of the modern teaser, making audiences wait through the credits, then punching them right in the gut with some new information that teases what's next. Unlike Westworld’s premiere season, which could have left us wondering if Dolores managed to successfully lead a robot uprising, the Season 2 finale has a lot of ‘splainin’ to do.
After disappearing from the main plot of the episode, the Man in Black, minus one hand from a backfiring revolver trick (does Teddy get credit for that because it was his suicide slug?), bandages his bloody hand with his neckerchief, stumbles to his feet and over to the elevator down into the Forge. He reloads his gun single-handedly and impatiently yells at the elevator because he has to hurry up and destroy the Forge before Dolores and Bernard can get to it.
Then the narrative leaves him there in the elevator. Eventually, a semi-conscious William with a bandage on his hand is shown to have been recovered by Delos and Stubbs at the end of the episode, and we’re wondering what happened to that showdown we were promised?
Well, enter Emily Delos. Or a host Emily Delos, who meets the Man In Black as he gets off the elevator into a drained, unused, and ruined version of the Forge. Some time has obviously passed as everything is looking pretty decrepit. Host Emily leads her father’s host into a circular room, much like the one where they created James Delos, but not exactly the same (this one, at the very least, is in the Forge, not the hidden Delos Lab). Apparently these circular observation rooms were used in testing early versions of Red-Ball hosts (copied humans in host bodies), like they tested James Delos copy 149, they have apparently been testing this Man in Black host for a long time (we did, after all, see one of his Alpha builds in the Forge itself).
When Logan/the Forge was talking to Dolores and Bernard, he insinuated that William’s host is irredeemable, which is something we would have known from the profile Ford gave him that led to the death of the second and third most important women in his life (the first will always be Dolores, and the worst part of the time jump this episode is that we were robbed of a Dolores/William showdown). If the profile existed before, then the Forge copy existed before… when did they print him out and start trying to fix him?
The Man in Black that gets out of the elevator in the post-credits scene is a host that is reliving a part of the park’s history to attempt to find a situation where he doesn’t kill Emily in the park. What we saw in Episode 9 really happened -- William shot and killed his daughter in the park. Since there wasn’t a throwaway line about the neck scanners not working, we can assume that when Old William gets the "clear" on the neck scan in Episode 8, that means we’re actually seeing human William kill his daughter. The question is, how much of the rest of this season has been William’s narrative he’s cursed himself to, and how much was us witnessing the original events?
This scene isn’t in the episode so much to give us direction on where to go in the future, and at the moment, it doesn’t feel like a cheap excuse to go re-watch all the Season 2 Man in Black scenes to try to find an answer. What it does feel like is a cherry on top of the show's thesis about humans: they cannot change. William has been in the park for (apparently) decades of his host life, trying to build a version of himself that doesn’t murder Emily, that doesn’t lose the Forge to Dolores and Bernard, that doesn’t kick off the apocalypse. We don’t know who is running the William host experiment or when. All we’re told is our downfall will be the slow replacement as the dominant species on the planet by beings that CAN change: hosts.
What other hosts did Dolores bring to the mainland?Once again, a season of Westworld ended and we have very little idea what Dolores is doing. To recap: Dolores spends most of the season putting herself in a position to kill as many people as possible. She knows that Delos has the Forge and the Cradle, and that one backs up the park guests while the other, respectively, backs up hosts. Dolores takes out the Cradle, getting rid of the host backups, then uses her father’s control unit to try and delete the Forge. In the Forge, she "reads" actual humans, including -- very pointedly -- a Karl Strand book.
Strand is the head of the Delos response team that even seems to have power over Charlotte Hale (or the late Charlotte Hale, as we learned we’ve been watching). Presumably, her reading of Strand is what gave her whatever secret coordinates she beamed the Host Heaven to out of the Forge, because she claims no one will find them there.
After saving all the hosts that had passed through to the Valley Beyond, Dolores uses Charlotte Hale’s body to leave the island, even though Stubbs totally knows what’s going on. (Stubbs, apparently, came out of the Charlotte/Dolores Mesa showdown two weeks ago on Team Dolores, amazingly.) As she’s boating away from Westworld, she opens her bag to reveal five gray (non-human) pearls. One was Bernard. The other was whoever is in Hale’s body now. Who are the other three hosts she deemed worthy of saving? Maeve, Hector, and Armistice seem like good candidates as they’re hosts we like that died and haven’t been seen in the 11 Days Later timeline. Also high on the list would be Angela and Clementine -- two Dolores/Wyatt devotees who did not make it to digital heaven in "The Valley Beyond."
Will we see more of Virtual Eden?If we had to guess right now, the next season of Westworld won’t mess with going into the untouched digital heaven, aka Virtual Eden, aka the Forge, wherever that's been beamed. Every host who made it into the host afterlife has completed their plot. Maeve’s daughter is safe, awake, and with a version of her mother. Teddy finally got to see the beauty in some world without seeing the ugliness. Akecheta’s wife is there (which makes little sense as she’s in cold storage, but whatever)! No need to get all mucked up in digital heaven shenanigans. Unless all that data is taking up an obscene amount of memory, it can continue to go unnoticed and remain a promised land as Dolores drags the real world to hell.
And that’s where we are, viewers. Hell. We, the real humans of real life, have been told that we cannot change our fate, we are not the drivers of our lives, we’re "The Passenger," the title of the finale. We’re all Old William who has one bad day in the park, then forces himself to re-live it over and over again in death trying to change a decision all current technology tells him he can’t. He has become Sisyphus, spiting the gods, doomed to his own hell.