What The Heck Is Going On In The 'Westworld' Season 2 Finale?

Westworld season 2 went out with a bang last night...and we have questions. The show has always dabbled in mystery, but the season 2 finale took things to the extreme, essentially blowing up the show as we know it to create something new. But what does it all mean? Below, we break down some of the most pressing questions about the Westworld season 2 finale. Major spoilers follow, obviously.westworld man in black season 2 ending

Was The Man In Black A Host?

Not content to let the episode be mind-blowing on its own, Westworld creators Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy tacked on a whopper of a post-credits scene. In said scene, William, aka the Man In Black (Ed Harris) steps off an elevator in The Forge – where all the parks' human memories were kept – and finds...ruin. There's a lot of sand everywhere, which is a far cry from the flooded-out space we saw for most of the show. This sand seems to indicate a huge passage of time, but that's only the beginning. The Man In Black is confronted by his daughter, Emily (Katja Herbers) – someone he knows is dead (because he killed her himself). She greets him cheerfully, and the Man In Black groans, commenting that he thinks he's inside a simulation – perhaps the Virtual Westworld we saw earlier in the episode.

But Emily corrects him: he's in the real world, and we know she's telling the truth, because the scene isn't shot in letterbox format. As you may have noticed, anytime we go into the Virtual Westworld, the aspect ratio of the scene changes to letterbox format (with the black bars at the top and bottom of the screen). This lack of format indicates we are indeed in the real world.

And that's not all: Emily takes him to the white post-modern apartment room we saw earlier in the season. The room where William performed baseline tests on the host recreation of Delos owner James Delos. Emily comments that they've been testing the Man In Black for a long, long time. And there's one final test to perform: a test for fidelity.

The implication is pretty clear here: the Man In Black is a host. But how the hell did that happen? Before the post-credits scene, there was a quick shot of the Man In Black still alive, laying on a cot, his injuries being tended to. Is that Man In Black a host as well? No, probably not. Speaking with THR, Lisa Joy broke it all down:

"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."

Joy also added:

"We don't necessarily say [the Man In Black] 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. It's definitely a sequence that's indicative of a direction we're going to. 

In other words, both the Man In Black and Emily we see in this scene are (probably) hosts, or at the very least, not human – but they're also from a far-distant timeline. The Man In Black we see before the post-credits scene is the real, still-human Man In Black. But sometime in the future, a host version of the Man In Black was also created, with his real memories put inside it – just like James Delos.

If you have any doubts about what Emily's role is in all this, Herbers confirmed that the Emily we see in the post-credits is indeed a host, but the Emily we met earlier in the season was a human:

"From my understanding, I think she's a host in that scene. I don't think it changes that she was human before, when he shot his own daughter. From my understanding, that was 100 percent real."

At the same time, when Herbers was asked if the Man In Black is a host, she commented: "I'm not sure what he is. I think he might be something else entirely, but I really don't know." That makes things extra confusing, but it's likely safe to assume that whatever the Man In Black is in that post-credits scene, he's not human. But don't expect any concrete answers anytime soon. This scene is happening far into the future, and we might not get to the timeline right away. Joy said that, "Season three, the main story, will not be leaping forward that far."

westworld episode 2.7 dolores

Who Does Dolores Have In Her Bag? 

In one of the episode's many twists, we learn that Bernard built a host-version of Charlotte Hale (Tessa Thompson), and put Dolores' "control unit" (aka brain) inside it. This enabled him to bring the dead Dolores back to life in a new body. Dolores-Charlotte kills the real Charlotte and takes her place. She then escapes the island back to the mainland. In one shot, we see she has a bag full of control units (or "pearls", as some call them) – meaning she's smuggling several host characters' minds off the island for her own vague purposes.

So who are they?

Lisa Joy tells The Wrap:

"There is Host data in the actual hosts who did not "sublime" [aka escape to the Valley Beyond] — so their CPUs are still intact. So, if they didn't sublime, those pearls still contain their information. In each of those little balls in the purse is a Host, so there is a handful of them — but not an infinite amount of them. There are five. One Host per pearl."

Jonathan Nolan told EW:

"We've had some interesting conversations [about who the control units belong to]. It's a large ensemble cast and sadly we're saying goodbye to some people at the end of this season. But as always with this show, who remains and who doesn't is something we're having a lot of fun with. There's going to be a bit of a wait for a third season but we want to surprise and hopefully delight people with the way things progress."

We can't really narrow down who these hosts are, but we can make some safe assumptions about who they aren't. As Joy says, these control units belong to the Hosts who didn't escape to the Valley Beyond. That means Teddy (James Marsden) is out, because we see him chilling in the Valley Beyond during the episode's closing montage. Same thing goes for Akecheta (Zahn McClarnon) and most of Ghost Nation. Ditto Maeve's daughter.

But that leaves several possibilities: Maeve is a big one, since she's a main character on the show. Then again, Dolores and Maeve didn't exactly know each other very well, despite a few random encounters. We also see Westworld techs Felix and Sylvester eyeing-up Maeve's dead body on the beach, indicating they're going to bring her back to life. The only control unit we know for certain Dolores took with her is Bernard's. We know this because she brings him back to life (in a new body) at the very end.

westworld episode 2.7

Are There Two Doloreses At The End? 

After Dolores gets off the island in the Charlotte Hale host body, we're treated to a scene in which Dolores is back in her old Evan Rachel Wood form, talking with the resurrected Bernard. This stands to reason that after she got off the island, Dolores rebuilt her old visage and put her control unit inside it (somehow). But we also see the Hale-bot is there as well. Does this mean Dolores is somehow occupying two bodies at once? No. At least, that's what Jonathan Nolan says. When asked by EW if we're seeing two Doloreses at the end, Nolan replied:

"Ehhh, not really. The question of who's who and what we're looking at is something we're excited to play with. We're excited to withhold a little from the audience but ... it's complicated."

So who is in Hale's body? As Nolan says, it's complicated – and we're not going to know who it is until at least next season. As Joy told Deadline:

"What Dolores has done is that she's smuggled herself out of the park while impersonating Hale. She has put herself back into her body, and yet Hale is still there. The question is where is Hale now? And that's a question we'll be visiting next season."

westworld is stubbs a host

Is Stubbs a Host?

Ugh, who cares? Alright, I guess I better go into this as well, because I'm sure someone, somewhere, cares about Stubbs, played by the other Hemsworth brother. Stubbs, Head of the Westworld QA Security Force, kept popping in and out of episodes this season, usually to be shouted down by the Delos brass. Near the end of the finale, Stubbs encounters Dolores in the Charlotte Hale host body, and makes it pretty clear he knows who she really is. But more than that, he also strongly hints that he himself is a host.

So is Stubbs a host? Probably! Speaking with The Wrap, Lisa Joy commented that while they don't come outright and say Stubbs is a host, it's safe to assume as much:

"We don't say it explicitly, but if you are left wondering with all [Stubbs'] talk, his knowing talk about, "I've been at the park a very long time," and Ford designed him with certain core drives, and he's gonna stick to the role he's been programmed with; it's a little acknowledgement of just why he might have his suspicions about what's going on with Hale, and then lets her pass.

And doesn't it make sense if you are Ford and designing a park and you have a whole master plan about helping robots that you would keep one Host hiding in plain sight as a fail-safe? Maybe the Host who's in charge of quality assurance? And by the way, that was totally meant to be subtle [laughs]."

I'll be honest: this twist felt like a quick bit of retconning just to explain why Stubbs lasted so long on the show. The character is a bit boring, and he really didn't have much to offer. But throwing this twist in, the showrunners have made Stubbs at least somewhat more interesting. Although I'm almost positive this is one of those last-minute twists the likes of which we used to see on Lost, where it was clear the writers didn't have an overall plan all along, but were rather coming up with certain twists on the fly.

Westworld season 2 finale

What Will Westworld Season 3 Be About?

The biggest question I had when the Westworld season 2 finale ended was: "How the hell are they going to keep this show going?" Westworld went through so many changes this season that after this finale, the show as we know it is essentially dead. Something new is going to have to take root going forward. For one thing, I thought our days at Westworld and Delos were essentially done – how could they possibly re-open the park after all this? But Lisa Joy tells Deadline that there's still plenty of Delos higher-ups we have yet to meet:

"There is management outside of the park. Like any corporation, the brass isn't centralized at the business operation. There's more people to meet. Sylvester (Ptolemy Slocum) and Lutz (Leonardo Nam) survived, good on them. The series deals with a large period of time, and in a story about A.I. you'll say goodbye to humans along the way."

At the end of the episode, Dolores and Bernard have a conversation in which it's clear the two are going to be in conflict with one another for the foreseeable future. Dolores will likely try to destroy humanity, and Bernard will try to stop her. It's likely this conflict is going to play a big part in season 3. Jeffrey Wright confirmed as much in an interview with Esquire:

"The entire season has set them up as existing on polar opposites of this question about the intent of this uprising or this awakening. They represent Bernard being not an exact hybrid, but mostly human—having lived his life on the borderline between the two. He's more conflicted about his allegiances and his place inside that duality. Borne of that is a type of empathy that sets him apart from the others. As the two of them enter this new world, they're looking at that world and themselves from those different sides. The question that it raises is just because something is said doesn't make it so. Where this journey now takes the two of them and how they evolve over the course of that journey remains to be said."

That said, Jonathan Nolan told EW that next season will take place largely outside of the park:

"We're very excited about where the third season goes. It's been a long build-up to get outside the park. And we're incredibly excited about what that looks like and sounds like and what exactly our hosts discover out there."

Lisa Joy added (to THR) that season 3 is going to be a "whole new world":

"It's going to be a whole new world...This series is about reinvention and scope. The first season was a more intimate look at the park from within the loops. In the second season, the hosts broke out of their loops and were able to explore more of the park. In the third season, they've broken out of the park itself. We're in a new terra incognita. From the beginning, when Jonah and I were thinking about the series as far back as the pilot, we knew we wanted to explore other worlds in the park, and we also knew the one world we would start to see little glimpses of throughout the first two seasons was the real world, and that we would get there eventually — and when we did, it would be a whole new experience."