Death, death and more death -- but only the strong survive in the real world.
WARNING: Spoilers ahead! Do not proceed if you haven’t watched the season two finale of Westworld.
It’s time to close that door and open a new one.
Sunday’s season two finale of Westworld proved that pretty much nothing is finite -- except for human consciousness. Titled “The Passenger,” the episode made bold claims about what it means to be human. According to Ford (Anthony Hopkins), humans are nothing more than passengers to predetermined algorithms; it’s the hosts, questioning their fundamental drives, who really have free will.
That’s in essence what the door was this season: a choice for the hosts, to enter the “virtual Eden” as many of them did, or stay behind to fight for a place in the real world, like Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood).
But opening that door -- and then closing it -- didn’t come easily. After all, we had a 90-minute episode and lots of time (and hosts) to kill to set the show up for a major season three reset in the real world. Here’s how it went down.
Dolores, reeling from Teddy’s (James Marsden) death, got her act together and headed off towards the Valley Beyond/Glory/The Door/The Forge to finish her mission, where she came upon the Man in Black (Ed Harris), reeling from Emily’s (Katja Herbers) death and questioning the nature of his reality. They parted ways at the door, where the Man in Black accidentally shot his hand to pieces, and Dolores decided to take Bernard (Jeffrey Wright) -- whom she created when recreating Arnold failed -- down to the forge.
So what is the forge? It’s an underground lair where copies of every member of the park are kept. While in the forge, Dolores and Bernard opened the door -- before destroying it and flooding the valley (hence all the dead bodies in the season premiere).
The door was actually an opening in the sky, which led to a virtual world where hosts could be “free.” Pretty much every host was thrilled with the idea and lined up for their new life, with Akecheta (Zahn McClarnon) leading the way -- except for Dolores, who called it a “gilded cage” that couldn’t compete with the real world. She’d rather see the hosts die than live in a dream.
Before Dolores closed the door, however, Maeve (Thandie Newton) figured out how to save herself from being dismembered, as her crew finally found her in the lab. They headed out with Lee’s (Simon Quarterman) help to reunite with her daughter. Lee later sacrificed himself to allow Maeve and her group to escape from Delos guards. (Read our interview with Quarterman here.)
Those Delos guards, under Charlotte’s (Tessa Thompson) orders, were also on their way to the door, where Charlotte planned to use Clementine (Angela Sarafyan) as a creepy horse(wo)man of the apocalypse, causing the hosts to kill each other as she passed by on horseback. It then became Maeve vs. Clementine in a battle of the minds, before Clementine’s voodoo came out victorious. Maeve and her crew were all killed, but her daughter was able to make it to the door alongside Akecheta.
Then the door closed.
INSIDE BERNARD’S MIND
Inside the forge, Bernard and Dolores learned all sorts of stuff from a virtual Logan (Ben Barnes), like how humans basically don’t have free will. Dolores expressed her plan to destroy all humans, and Bernard worked up the courage to actually kill her to save the human race.
He was recovered by the Delos team, but after watching Charlotte kill Elsie (Shannon Woodward), Bernard realized he had made a huge mistake. He conjured up an image of Ford and got to work on his plan -- replacing all the important corporate Delos people with hosts, and bringing Dolores back to life in Charlotte’s body.
Flash forward to Bernard being interrogated by Strand (Gustaf Skarsgard) and his team, and we realize this was all part of Bernard’s plan to begin with. Scrambling his memories was part of the plot. Dolores -- in Charlotte’s body -- killed them all, including Bernard. As for the hosts in the virtual world, she sent them to a place they could never be found. “There’s no coming back. No passage between their world and ours,” she said.
THE OUTSIDE WORLD
Dolores, in Charlotte’s body, managed to escape Westworld with Stubbs' (Luke Hemsworth) help (he’s a host, FYI), hopping on a boat and arriving in the real world. But she wasn’t alone -- Dolores took five consciousness balls with her. Who were they? Well, back at Arnold’s house, she essentially rebuilt herself. And then she rebuilt Bernard. For those counting, that means she has three left.
“You’ll try to kill all of them, and I can’t let that happen,” Bernard said.
“I know,” she replied. “If I were human, I would have let you die. But it will take both of us if we’re going to survive. But not as allies, not as friends. You’ll try to stop me. Both of us will probably die. But our kind will have endured.”
“We each gave the other a beautiful gift, a choice,” she continued. “We are the authors of our stories now.”
We were already shook, but then Westworld decided to shook us once more with an end-credits scene depicting what happened when the Man in Black tried to go after Dolores in the forge. It’s there that he encountered Emily -- yes, the daughter he killed, meaning yes, she’s a host.
“Oh f**k. I knew it,” he said, before he and Emily made their way into the Delos hatch, where he previously tested host versions of his father-in-law.
“This isn’t a simulation, William. This is your world, or what’s left of it. Do you know where you are, William?” she asked, as he insisted that he’s here to prove “that no system can tell me who I am. That I have a f**king choice.” “How many times have you tested me?"
"It's been a long time, William. Longer than we thought. I have a few questions for you. The last step is a baseline interview to allow us to verify," Emily replied.
"Verify what?" he inquired, though his face said he already knew the answer.
That’s it -- the Man in Black becomes a human-host, we just don’t know when. According to Herbers, the scene is set in the “far future.” Read our interview with her here, and check back to ETonline on Monday for all the questions we have about season three.