What does the Westworld season 2 ending really mean? And 10 other questions we have

That’s it, Westworld season 2 is over. After ten unbelievable weeks the Westworld season 2 ending came out of nowhere and blew our minds. No matter whether you thought the rest of the season was pretty mediocre, or just not quite as good as the first season, I think we can all agree that the finale was something else! That means we’re right back to where we started at the beginning of the season - with a whole bunch of confusing questions we need answers to. If the Westworld season 2 ending is giving you a headache allow us to try and clear a few things up. Below you’ll find 10 big questions we have after watching the finale and 10 possible explanations/answers. Suffice to say, if you’re not up-to-date on Westworld you really need to turn away now and come back once you are because there are major Westworld spoilers to follow for everything up to and including the season 2 finale AND the Westworld season 2 post-credits scene. Now that we’ve got that warning out of the way, it’s time to talk about that shocking Westworld season 2 ending and what it all means for the future of the show. 

1. Why did Dolores help Ford make Bernard after Arnold’s death?

An image from Westworld season 2

We find out during the last few episodes of Westworld season 2 that Ford didn’t build Bernard on his own. In fact, it looks like Dolores did most of the work! But why would Dolores agree to recreate a version of Arnold after killing him at his request? Ford could have forced her to do it, but in the flashbacks it seems like Dolores is sentient and surely she would need to be ‘awake’ to even remember who Arnold was? Perhaps she merely missed Arnold and regretted what she’d done, so once it was clear that Arnold’s plan had failed - that Ford had been able to open the park despite his death - she wanted her friend back. Awww, that’s kinda sweet. 

2. How did Hector, Armistice, and Hanaryo survive to ‘save’ Maeve?

An image from Westworld season 2

When Sizemore calls for back-up to rescue him from the park in episode 7, the Westworld security teams promptly arrive and shoot Maeve multiple times before Sizemore tells them: “Don’t, she’s not like the rest, we need her.” I took this to mean that they’d already killed Hector, Armistice, and Hanaryo and rescued Sizemore, Felix, and Sylvester before finding Maeve, but in the finale the group turn up, looking exactly the same as they did the last time we saw them, to try and save Maeve (although she quickly proves she doesn’t need any help in that department). So, where have they been? Did they escape the security teams? If so, then how did Sizemore get picked up while Felix and Sylvester remained with the Hosts? Or were they killed, but Felix and Sylvester had a change of heart and rebuilt them so they could come and find Maeve? If so, they managed to get away with a lot considering how many people are wandering around Westworld HQ! 

3. Why is The Door meant for the Man in Black?

An image from the Westworld season 2

In one of the early episodes of Westworld season 2, Ford (via his creepy Ford boy Host) tells the Man in Black: “This game is meant for you,” but now that we know where this game leads - to The Door and a virtual paradise for the Hosts consciousnesses - what did Ford mean? It doesn’t seem like the Man in Black would have been able to walk through The Door, which was meant for the Hosts. Unless he’s a Host himself? But even then, there’s no guarantee that a Host version of a human would be able to enter Sublime. Luckily, I sat down with showrunner Lisa Joy to clear a few things up and she revealed what Ford meant. “The thing that Ford meant is, the Man in Black has wanted the stakes to be real for so long.” She tells me. “So when the second season starts and Ford, though this little Ford boy, says, ‘This game is meant for you,’ he means that the stakes are real. What you’ve wanted has come to pass. This will be a true test of your character.” Ahhhh!

4. Are Elsie and Charlotte really gone?

An image from the Westworld season 2 ending

I feel like we could ask this question after every HBO show (yeah, I’m looking at you Game of Thrones), but it makes more sense for Westword than most, to wonder if those characters who died, will stay dead. After all, we now know that there are back-ups of everyone who ever visited or worked within the park… somewhere (more on that later), so technically, you could bring Charlotte, Elsie, and anyone else who was killed back to life in a Host body. Yeah, they’d be a Host version of themselves, but as we’ve seen there’s very little difference between a real human and a Host version of them, and that whole pesky degradation issue looks to be resolved now so...

5. Why did Dolores need Strand to help her find the key?

An image from Westworld season 2

As we discovered during the Westworld season 2 ending, Charlotte is actually Dolores in disguise during the ‘current’ timeline (AKA, the timeline with Karl Strand), which begs the question, why did she go along with Strand and his plan for so long? Dolores-Charlotte knew where the key was all along because she was the one who left it in the Forge when she tried to delete all the human back-ups and stop the Hosts from entering Sublime (that’s the scene where Bernard shoots her in the head in case you don’t remember). After Bernard resurrects her in a Charlotte Host body, she’s spends a really long time working with Stubbs, Strand, and his team to try and ‘find’ the key even though she knows exactly where it is. Wouldn’t it have been easier to have just killed them all straight away and then gone and got the key herself without worrying about them stopping her? The only explanation I can think of is that Dolores needs them to drain the Forge, which as we know was flooded and turned into an ocean before Strand and co arrived. Plus, the only way she can really get off the island is by using DELOS and killing everyone kind of gives the game away that she’s not really Charlotte. 

6. Where are the human back-ups now?

An image from the Westworld season 2 ending

And speaking of the human back-ups, where are they now? Dolores originally tried to delete all the guest data, but Bernard stopped her purge before it was complete. When Strand and his team finally got into the system they thought they found the human back-up data and were getting ready to transfer it to the DELOS servers when they realised that it wasn't the guests' data at all, but the Hosts' virtual paradise. Once Dolores revealed herself and dispatched Strand and his team, she sent the Hosts somewhere safe (more on that in a minute), but that still leaves the location of the guest data unknown. Is the data still on the system? If so, there's no doubt DELOS will be back for it at some point. Perhaps Bernard transferred it somewhere safe to stop Dolores from trying to delete it again? Either way, I’d be surprised if the human back-ups didn’t come back into play for Westworld season 3. It’s just too good of an opportunity to pass up. 

7. Where did Dolores send the Hosts?

An image from the Westworld season 2 ending

The second part of the above question is, where did Dolores send the Hosts and their virtual world? Although Dolores originally didn't care about the Hosts who choose to enter the virtual paradise and was prepared to let them be destroyed along with the system, she eventually had a change of heart and sent them and their world "to a place no one will ever find them" for safe-keeping. The question is, where are they safe from DELOS? The coordinates which Dolores types into the system (see above) don't tell us much, but it's a safe bet that Ford or even Arnold set up a self-contained server somewhere for the Hosts to live without risk of being disturbed. The actual physical location of that server is less important than the chances of anyone ever finding it. To keep them truly safe, off-world sounds like a good idea to us!

8. What happened to the Man in Black?

An image from the Westworld season 2 ending

Is anyone else wondering why the Man in Black didn’t intercept Bernard when he left the Forge after shooting Dolores? The way the sequence is shot, we were obviously supposed to expect the pair to come face-to-face, but it never happened. It appears that another timeline is at play here, as revealed by the post-credits scene (again, more on that later), so did the version of the Man in Black who Dolores and Bernard left outside the Forge with a missing hand just lie there until he was rescued by DELOS? It doesn’t seem much like the Man in Black... The man we know wouldn’t let a missing hand stop him from following Dolores and Bernard down to the Forge and anyway, how did the rescue team find him? Did they just happen to be travelling by and spot him? And if so, why didn’t they run into Bernard as well? They would have had to have picked up the Man in Black at a very specific time to avoid both Dolores and Bernard going down to the Forge, and Bernard coming back up a few minutes later. It all sounds a little too convenient to me. 

9. Who has Dolores taken out of the park?

An image from the Westworld season 2 ending

You may have noticed that when Dolores-Charlotte left the park she had five memory balls in her bag. Who do they belong to? Are they Hosts or human copies? You could argue that at least two belong to Bernard and Dolores respectively as Dolores-Charlotte rebuilds herself and Bernard once she’s out in the real world. She does say that she rebuilt Bernard from her memories though, so it’s unclear if she would need one of these memory balls for that. Even if two belong to the new Dolores and Bernard, that still leaves three other memory balls up for grabs. I’m betting one is Teddy because, although she’s unlikely to bring him back (even if that's possible after he's been transferred to the virtual paradise), she’ll want to feel close to him and keeping his old memory ball would be like holding onto a token of her lost love. The others? One is probably Peter Abernathy. Other than the sentimental value of keeping her old dead Dad's memory ball, it also doubles as a key to the Forge, which you just know is going to come in handy at some point. I also really hope one is Maeve because she’s just too much of an amazing character to not be in season 3 - although it looks like Sylvester and Felix might take care of this - but Ford would be a good shout too, and would enable the incredible Anthony Hopkins to return for another season. The good thing about this scene, is that they really could belong to anyone, which leaves it open for the showrunners to bring back any number of characters in the next season. Fingers crossed!

10. When is the post-credit scene set?

An image from the Westworld season 2 ending

That post-credits scene, right? Oh my goodness! As I said earlier, we were supposed to think that the Man in Black is on his way down to the Forge when Bernard is on his way up, but the post-credits scene reveals that part of the Man in Black’s story we’ve been seeing this season is set in a different timeline as he arrives at the Forge long after the events of Dolores’ revolution (you can tell because of how rundown it looks). Plus, his daughter is there, which is weird because he killed her, and then he gets taken into the same room the James Delos Hosts lived in when DELOS was trying to figure out how to implant a human consciousness in a Host body, and BOOM! This version of the Man in Black is a Host and he’s been reliving his loop again and again and again, always ending up in the same place. 

I’ll let Joy explain further: “In the one timeline - the base timeline that we’re seeing when the park is under siege and Dolores plots her way out and Maeve helps all the other Sublime Hosts - what happened was the Man [in Black] really did kill his daughter. He made a choice, and the choice was wrong. At the end, in that coda [the post-credits scene], what you realise is: he’s been forced to live that entire… basically, the season we’ve just seen, he’s been living it again and again and again. He always makes the same damn choice. He always kills his own daughter. At the end, when you see Katja Herbers [Emily] again, we’re in the far future where now she’s not his daughter anymore. She’s a recreation of his daughter who’s come to examine him.” So, the post-credit scene is set way, way into the future where the Man in Black is now a Host version of himself trying to break free of his loop, but failing every time... Mind. Blown. 

If you're looking for more about the Westworld season 2 finale, then check out our full interview with showrunner Lisa Joy where we question her about some of the biggest mysteries from that final episode. 

Lauren O'Callaghan

Lauren O'Callaghan is the former Entertainment Editor of GamesRadar+. You'd typically find Lauren writing features and reviews about the latest and greatest in pop culture and entertainment, and assisting the teams at Total Film and SFX to bring their excellent content onto GamesRadar+. Lauren is now the digital marketing manager at the National Trust.