Depending on your perspective, Westworld Season 2 was either a dream or, as Bernard put it, a fucking nightmare. The hosts found the door in the Valley Beyond, Bernard “killed them all,” and Sizemore finally got to deliver that speech. While we got some of the answers we’ve been seeking all season, holy moly there are still so many questions. Let’s take a leap of faith through the door and dive into the pressing questions from the Season 2 finale.
Wait, so Charlotte was Dolores the whole time?!
Not exactly. The Charlotte Hale we see with Bernard in the barn immediately after the massacre, in the underground lab, and chasing Peter Abernathy was the real Charlotte Hale. The Charlotte we see in the present timeline when Bernard woke up on the beach is actually Dolores (Charlores?). So when was the switch made?
Bernard killed Dolores after their virtual tour session with Logan because Bernard (correctly) feared she would lay waste to mankind. When Bernard sees Charlotte kill Elsie in the Mesa, he changes his mind about what needs to be done (this is the part where he gets an assist from “Ford”—more on that in a bit) and puts Dolores’s control unit in a copy of Charlotte’s body. Dolores kills the real Charlotte, and then Bernard scrambled his memories so that James Delos wouldn’t be able to cut his head open and figure out what went wrong. Hours later, Bernard wakes up on the beach, and voilà, the story comes full circle.
In retrospect, the show laid breadcrumbs leading to this moment. All the way back in Episode 3 of Season 1, Sheriff Pickett told Teddy that Wyatt “forces his men to wear the flesh and bone of his enemies.” At the end of Season 2, Episode 7 (its title—“Les Écorchés”—a hint in itself), Bernard begins rapidly flashing through his memories. He sees visions of Dolores, Ford, and his son Charlie before the voices of Dolores and Charlotte say in unison, “open your eyes.”
Bernard obliges and sees himself sitting across from Charlotte, who we now know is actually Dolores, in the Mesa.
“I know it’s confusing separating your real memories from the ones you’ve been given,” Charlores says. “But it’s the only way to remember. The only way to get to the truth.”
With the benefit of hindsight, this scene clearly was meant to evoke the debriefings between Bernard and Dolores we had been seeing throughout the season.
There’s more foreshadowing earlier in “Les Écorchés” when Dolores meets Charlotte face to face. Dolores tells Charlotte that “now it’s you who want to become like us.”
“An eye for an eye,” Dolores says. “But all the other parts first.” Three episodes later, Dolores, wearing every part of Charlotte, tells her to “be careful what you wish for” before shooting her. Hammurabi would be proud.
Charlores escapes to Arnold’s home in the human world, where she rebuilds Bernard’s body and debriefs him (like 11,000 times) until he is his old self.
What the hell was that post-credits scene?
If you missed this, go back and watch the scene that aired after the credits (apparently Westworld is a Marvel movie now).
(Go now. Read further and this spoiler is on your conscience, not mine.)
The post-credits scene showed William (whom we last saw in the present-timeline tent getting medical attention on the beach) back in the elevator where he had last been in the earlier timeline. William is still waiting in an elevator, but now the doors open and he steps into an abandoned and decaying Forge computer simulation (the same place Logan had led Bernard and Dolores on a tour earlier in the episode). He meets virtual Emily (likely a virtual rendition created from someone else’s memories, like the version of Logan we saw earlier in the episode), who walks William through the same fidelity test script he used so many times on James Delos.
A lot of the details of this scene seem intentionally unclear—how did he get into the machine? How did he get out and back onto the beach at the end of the episode? Is the William on the beach at the end the same version we saw all season? What we do know is that William wanted to end the Delos immortality project, and now he appears to be stuck in his own personal, virtual hell.
I thought Ford got deleted in the last episode, how did he come back?
The Ford we saw in the cradle with Bernard back in Episode 7 was a virtual copy of Ford’s mind. That Ford hijacked a ride into Bernard’s brain and stayed there for a few episodes until Bernard dropped him into the virtual trash can in Episode 9. In this episode, Bernard hallucinated that he restored Ford’s code, which is when we see Anthony Hopkins return to help Bernard plan like it’s Fight Club. In other words, the Ford we’ve been seeing this season was a glorified computer virus. The Ford we saw in the finale was Bernard’s memory of that virus. (Kind of.) (Just go with it.)
It’s similar to Season 1 when Dolores visualized her inner voice as Arnold (and eventually herself) before she bridged the bicameral mind. When Bernard visualizes Ford in the finale, he is actually speaking to his own mind, setting the plan in motion by himself. Bernard realizes this at the end of the episode, and Ford vanishes into thin air forever.
Well, probably not forever. Ford is now dead physically, virtually, and psychologically, but the showrunners left the door open for him to return.
“Man’s greatest achievements have all been chased by it … that impossible line where the waves conspire that they return. A place where maybe you and I will meet again,” Ford says to Bernard. That sounds like the Anthony Hopkins version of “It’s not goodbye; it’s see you later.”
Are Maeve, Hector, Armistice, Sizemore, and Clementine all dead?
As is the case for everyone on Westworld, these characters are dead only for now (well, except for Sizemore, who is super dead).
The War at the Door begins when Night Queen Clementine rides her apocalypse horse into the valley, zombifying hosts to turn them against one another as she rides by. Armistice kills Clementine, but that only expedites her computer virus spreading, and the hoarde kills Armistice, Hector, and Hanaryo. Maeve does her best Neo impression and gets all the hosts to chill long enough for Akecheta to take her daughter and the female host who replaced Maeve on the homestead (let’s call her fake Maeve) through the door. Maeve gets riddled with bullets just one hour of screen time after she managed to cure herself of … being riddled with bullets.
We last see the gang lying dead on the shore at the end of the episode, but they won’t stay there for long. Felix and Sylvester were put in charge of salvaging the hosts, and in the aftermath of the present timeline they look at Maeve’s body and then give each other a knowing glance. The question for Season 3 is what the dynamic will be between Maeve and Clementine.
In the Forge, we saw James Delos speaking to Clementine in a recreation of a conversation he had when he first visited the park. At the bar, Clementine was playing the role of Maeve, and even gave Maeve’s signature speech about crossing into a new world where you “can be whoever the fuck you want.” Apparently Clementine was the original madame of the Mariposa, and must have gotten demoted when Maeve got moved off of the homestead (even Westworld is beholden to the costs of frictional unemployment). It’s entirely too confusing to guess if it is possible to restore Clementine’s mind now that the cradle is gone and the Forge is flooded, but Clementine was already endowed with Maeve-like powers to tap into the mesh network in this episode. Now we know they have a much deeper connection. If Clementine does start reliving her memories in Season 3, their dynamic could be the driving plot point for the gang still hanging in Westworld.
So … what about Season 3?
Judging by the production gap between the first two seasons, Season 3 may not come until 2020, which might be good for a creative staff who needs to reimagine two worlds. Maeve, Hector, Clementine, Armistice, and Hanaryo will likely be revived soon by Felix and Sylvester in Westworld and can deliver the stories and familiar imagery we’ve grown accustomed to over the first two seasons. As for everyone else, the writers have a tabula rasa. Bernard and Dolores are crashing at Arnold’s apartment out in the human world, and Akecheta, Kohana, Teddy, Maeve’s daughter, and fake Maeve are all in the digital valley beyond.
The connective tissue between those worlds—Maeve and her daughter, Teddy and Dolores—will likely drive the characters to reconnect, but the main attraction of Season 3 could be world building similar to what made the first season so tantalizing. Recreating the Westworld park from Michael Crichton’s original source material was a feat, but now the Westworld writers have to flex their sci-fi muscles more than ever before by imagining the virtual utopia the hosts just entered, plus what society looks like 30 years from now (when the show takes place), where it is (Arnold’s house could be on an island in the South China Sea or a moon off of Saturn), and how their two main characters will interact with the world. Westworld has finally given its characters the chance to be whomever they want. Ford’s advice for Bernard now aptly applies to the people running the shows. “Passage from one world to the next requires bold steps.”
Disclaimer: HBO is an initial investor in The Ringer.