Spoilers for the Westworld Season 2 finale below.
Just when you might have thought that you had Westworld‘s Season 2 finale, “The Passage,” all figured out, showrunners Lisa Joy and Jonathan Nolan had another surprise in store. In a post-credits sequence, we see the Man in Black / William stumbling into the Forge, where we expect him to run into Bernard and Dolores/Charlotte. Instead, it looks like a shell of its former self. The Man in Black is greeted by his daughter, Emily — or the form of his daughter Emily, anyway, since he killed her in the previous episode — suggesting that this isn’t the same timeline we were expecting him to be a part of. In fact, it’s an entirely new one. Joy told THR,
“In the far, far future, the world is dramatically different. Quite destroyed, as it were. A figure in the image of [William’s] daughter — his daughter is of course now long dead — has come back to talk to him. He realizes that he’s been living this loop again and again and again. The primal loop that we’ve seen this season, they’ve been repeating, testing every time for what they call ‘fidelity,’ or perhaps a deviation. You get the sense that the testing will continue. It’s teasing for us another temporal realm that one day we’re working toward, and one day will see a little bit more of, and how they get to that place, and what they’re testing for.”
The word “fidelity,” of course, was the major clue from that scene — it harkened back to the episode where William is testing the James Delos-bot for that same thing, that is, testing to see if the construction of a human mind could exist in a host body. With Delos it definitely did not work, and it seems like there’s also a struggle with the Man in Black’s new form. But speaking of forms … is he a host now? Was he before? Joy gave some additional hints:
The Man in Black we’re seeing in the scene is “not his original incarnation,” Joy adds, stating that it’s “some other version of himself.” What’s more, Joy says it’s not fair to automatically assume that this version of the Man in Black is a host: “A host refers to a creature like Dolores, someone who is pure cognition, someone who is made up of nothing and has a fabricated body as well.”
Nolan, speaking with EW, also clarified that, “They do explicitly say they’re not in the system. And we do see the ruins of it. So that does suggest in that scene we are further in the future. We’d always said with this story we wanted to consider the beginning, middle and the end the of the emergence of a new form of life on Earth and we managed to cover a lot of those bases in this season.” Though the post-credits scene does not confirm a time-jump for Season 3, Nolan continued that,
“We just love the ability to play in perceptual terms with the hosts being immortal. There is a subtle shift in this season, when you started seeing more and more backstory of the Man in Black, it should raise suspicions, and it has for a lot of people but, um … returning to the last question, your take it on it, which, as usual, is astute, is we’re watching a series of events play out: We see Emily’s dead body, we see the Man in Black in extremis — but not quite dead yet — but we also understand we’ve explored Delos’ greatest mistake, the one unalterable moment, the cornerstone decision he makes in his life, and we’re seeing that play out with the Man in Black. We’ve seen how it is that, using The Forge, that you’d be drawn back to these key moments and you’d run them again and again…”
Let us know what you thought of the finale, and what your theories may be on where things go from here. You can also check out our theories post, as well as a tracking of the show’s entire timeline so far, both of which will be updated shortly to include the events of the finale.