Before the final credits roll in Westworld’s Season Two finale, a new version of Bernard opens a door to what, we can assume, is the real world. Radiohead’s “Codex” plays over the scene. It’s a song that could have a number of meanings, but the simplest explanation is that it refers to the ancient form of a book as a stack of papers—the medium through which the Bible was spread through the world.
Within the context of the Season Two finale of Westworld, this song has a couple of other fitting meanings. It could refer to the way in which the minds of humans are represented inside the Forge as leather-bound books. It could also be a reference to the data contained in Westworld’s futuristic version of the codex—a tiny ball containing all the data of a host’s mind. It’s also a piano ballad in which Thom Yorke dreams of forgiveness. “Jump off the end,” he sings. “No one gets hurt. You’ve done nothing wrong.”
There’s little forgiveness to be found in this final episode of Westworld’s second season. We end at the beginning, with an apocalyptic flood that has only drowned the sins of the guests in this doomed sci-fi theme park. This season, it turns out, was a flat circle—one that was told in a shuffled order, and didn’t become completely clear until this tenth episode was in place.
What happened to Team Maeve?
Before she can be dismantled by the Delos team, Maeve is able to heal herself up in time to make it to where the rest of the hosts are traveling to the Valley Beyond. She gets there with the help of Lee Sizemore, who sacrifices himself for reasons I don’t think were necessary. Hector and Armistice all die in a battle at the Valley Beyond, when a re-programmed Clementine causes all the hosts to go nuts and kill each other. There, Maeve briefly reunites with her child before holding off the crazed hosts so she can get away into the Valley Beyond. Unfortunately, Maeve is shot and killed by the Delos assault team.
Given the time dedicated to Maeve and her abilities and her existential awakening, it’s a disappointing ending to her narrative arch. She went through all that just to die on a battlefield. Yes, she could still be reprinted, but it just doesn’t feel like it went anywhere.
What actually was the Valley Beyond?
Valley Beyond is essentially an opposite of the Matrix: a computer program where the minds of the hosts can live happily ever after. It’s represented in this finale as a tear that opens up in the park—and when the hosts walk through it, their minds are uploaded into the cloud. It’s a hallucination, though; as their minds pass through this other dimension, their bodies fall into a canyon below. Our good boy Teddy makes it there, so does Akecheta and so do a few others. But this isn’t enough for Dolores, who wants to take the real world, not a Gilded Cage, as she puts it.
What the hell is the Forge?
Before the big flood, Bernard and Dolores enter the Forge, where they learn that Ford had figured out a way to reduce human consciousness into a simple algorithm that could predict their every move. There, the hosts have data on every single human who has entered the park, including the staff. Humans don’t change at all, the best they can do is live according to the code, the Forge (who takes the form of Logan) explains.
What happened to Dolores and Bernard?
After reading all the information on the humans, Dolores learns what she needs and begins to destroy it with the flood. But Bernard doesn’t want her to destroy the Host World along with it. “No world they create for us can compete with the real world,” she tells him. “I don’t want to play cowboys and Indians anymore, Bernard. I want their world.” But, because he knows she will “burn their world to the ground,” he shoots Dolores and kills her. He cancels Dolores’s Data Purge and when he exits the Forge, he runs into Elsie, who doesn’t trust him. She puts him in analysis mode, where he must sit and watch as Charlotte kills Elsie. (I would imagine she’s dead for good this time, but who knows in this show.)
Freaked out by Elsie’s death, Bernard realizes he’s the last of his kind. Bernard takes Dolores’s brain and put it into a host version of Charlotte Hale. Directly after the flood, he killed the real Charlotte Hale and scrambled his own brain so they couldn’t get it from him.
In present time, Dolores/Charlotte kills the Delos dudes and thanks Bernard for her second chance. Dolores/Charlotte changes her mind about getting rid of the Happy Host Matrix Land and beams their information to “a place where no one will ever find them.” Then, Dolores/Charlotte kills Bernard. Now disguised as Charlotte, Dolores escapes the park into the real world with a bag of host orb brains. Just before she leaves, she runs into Stubbs, who says some cryptic things about how he was following Ford’s orders as his own core drive.
To me, the subtext here is that he’s also a host who is responsible to protecting the hosts within the park. When he’s dead, Ford and Bernard have a conversation that reveals that Bernard was acting with his own free will when he decided to kill Charlotte and save Dolores.
We flash forward to sometime after Dolores/Charlotte leaves the park. It appears that Dolores/Charlotte rebuilt the Dolores model along with Bernard. There, she tells him, “If I were a human, I would have let you die. It will take both of us 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.” This seems to be a setup for Season Three, where Dolores will attempt to destroy humanity and Bernard will try to broker peace between humans and hosts. They’re adversaries who both want hosts to be free in the real world.
What was with William after the credits?
So, William lives through this whole ordeal. He gets shot about a billion times and has his hand blown off. But when Charlotte is escaping the park, one of the Delos employees says they’ve found a high-value target, who is alive and in bad shape. We see William on a cot, all sorts of messed up. That’s not the end for him this season, though.
In a post-credit scene, William enters the Forge. The problem is, it’s some sort of post-apocalyptic-looking version of the park that seems as if it’s been abandoned for many years. His daughter is there—or some a version of her, at least. “This isn’t a simulation, William,” she tells him. This is the park “or what’s left of it.” He asks her how many times she’s tested him. “It’s been a long time, William, longer than we thought.” She then tells him she has a few more questions to verify fidelity.
We know that William makes it out of the park originally with his hand blown up, because we see him on the cot. Yet, this scene appears to take place directly after his hand is blown up before going down into the Forge. If this is indeed long into the future, it’s possible the hosts are recreating all of these events over and over to trap William in his own version of a loop hell, or they’re using them to test for fidelity.
Where does all of this leave us at the end of Season Two?
Essentially, this entire season was a flashback looking at the days since Dolores’s uprising in the final episode of Season One. It certainly makes it feel like there was little forward progress in this entire season. Why did we need to see Shogun World? Why did we briefly see The Raj? Other than fan service, it’s entirely unclear. It took 10 episodes to show what happened between the flood and Season One. The entirety of the events after the flood were taken care of in what was probably less than an hour in total. With that, Westworld essentially sets itself up for another season, in which both Dolores and Bernard have escaped to the real world, eager to allow the race of hosts to thrive.
Is becoming an android the solution to the “final problem” of mortality? That seems to be the giant takeaway from the season 2 finale of Westworld, “The Passenger,” where we finally learn about the true reasons for the giant puzzle that Dr. Ford (Anthony Hopkins) and Arnold (Jeffrey Wright) put together and later take apart for the Delos company. We also get an earful and a dressing down of humanity. Essentially, the writers seem to be saying we’re not as complicated as we think, and we seem to be hellbent on self-destruction or destruction of others no matter what.
This was a long episode. It clocked in at one hour thirty-one minutes, and most of it moved really fast and a lot of it could be confusing if you didn’t go back and watch again. Or three times. Or four times. So it is understandable why many are poo-pooing this episode. However, there are some really great moments and plot takeaways that make the investment of watching for two years well worth it.
If you have time for nothing else, know that this entire storyline jumps between time. Not everything is the present and most of it is the past. It is tough to piece together the present without going back and watching every single episode of Westworld as each memory or flashback.
One: More characters are hosts than you think. And many of the key characters are actually copies of a human. (Hellooo Man in Black!) And yes, some hosts get out after the battle of the Valley Beyond.
Two: The androids have figured out how to transfer their own consciousness into human body copies. Some androids can transfer their own consciousness to other android systems. The park’s purpose has layers.
Three: Delos’s only son Logan and head of security Ashley surprise the hell out of me in this episode. And once you see their true role? You will have that Oprah-level “a ha” moment that then makes re-watching older episodes more enjoyable while also allowing you to connect the dots about certain behaviors. Ashley is not daft. Not at all. He was just playing a role.
Four: The flashbacks of the season – all the memories of all the characters – might be copies of memories and not actual memories. Keep that in mind as you read the recap and review past episodes.
Five: The Valley Beyond is a real place where code can go to live forever without being hampered by their physical bodies. It’s a heaven of consciousness. At the same time, it is a metaphor for our real world. No matter how you look at it, the Valley Beyond is a door to a new world.
That’s a promising premise to build off of. Does it mean we leave the park behind completely next season? Possibly not, since we see Felix and Sylvester tasked with salvaging what they can from the dead hosts just before the camera shows Maeve’s body. Those who are probably not coming back include everyone who made it to the Valley Beyond, which unfortunately means saying goodbye to both Akecheta and Teddy, two very good boys, who deserve to be happy and frolic in the host fields.
The season as a whole was filled with hits and misses, and although it does feel like in the end not much of anything was accomplished, you have to respect the vision of these 10 episodes. For the most part, Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy pulled off an extremely complex season of television, and were able to improve on some of the complaints of Season One. At the very least, Westworld ends at a promising place for a third season, which we can expect to probably not happen for a long time.
Sources Used : https://www.esquire.com/entertainment/tv/a21781658/westworld-season-2-finale-cliffhanger-recap/