WARNING: Spoilers for Westworld Season 2.
Westworld Season 2 had so much to wrap up that it needed an extra, post-credits scene to do it. The season finale, “The Passenger”, didn’t just address the mystery of The Door and lay some serious groundwork for what’s to come in Season 3, it also dealt with a Forge-worth of character payoff.
One character who got a rather short shrift in the episode was William aka the Man in Black. Last week’s episode, “Vanishing Point”, delved deep into his past and the more recent misdeeds that led to his wife’s suicide and saw him shoot definitely-not-a-host daughter Emily, prompting him to question his own reality. In the finale, Westworld dispatched William early on – Dolores planted a spent bullet in his gun that blew off his fingers, leaving him writhing on the dirt. A short coda at the end of the episode confirmed his survival, with Delos having found him and prepping to take the company head to the mainland.
However, the after-credits scene of the Westworld Season 2 finale deepens what’s going on with the character considerably. Earlier in the episode, William was seen hiding in the elevator at the Forge, with the editing suggesting he was waiting to shoot Dolores as she escaped. However, Bernard left the bunker without being challenged. The stinger picks up with William in this situation, revealing what was actually going on there.
What Happens In Westworld Season 2’s End-Credits Scene
In the end-credits scene, William travels down into a now-deserted Forge to be greeted by his daughter, Emily, dressed in real-world clothes. He questions his reality immediately, reacting to her existence – assuming she’s a host – and asking if he’s part of the human data network Delos was collecting. She denies this (and the aspect ratio backs up), saying they are in “what’s left of” William’s world.
The Man in Black is then led into a room similar to the one where William held the human-host replica of James Delos. They discuss what William wants to achieve and how “Emily” has been testing her “father” for a long time. When she confirms she’s looking for “fidelity“, the truth is unavoidable: William (or at least this William) is a host.
Westworld Season 2’s End-Credits Scene Is (Probably) Set In The Future
The big question here is when the scene is set. The editing in the episode made it seem like William’s elevator trip was happening alongside the host outbreak, and it must be noted that he still has the hand injury he got from Dolores. However, the dilapidated nature of the Forge, which is very much the world William built, points to this actually taking place in the far future. This wouldn’t be the first time Westworld‘s used standard editing to create the illusion of events happening concurrently but actually decades apart, although it’s perhaps the most unrelentingly misleading.
The implication is that a host-human copy of William and a host copy of Emily are stuck in a never-ending fidelity test loop. The hows and whys are kept vague. This may still be part of Ford’s final game with The Door – something he said was made for William – but given that we’ve seen Dolores (both Abernathy and Hale vintage) and Bernard playing with guest and host data in the Forge during the episode, it’s likely a result of their new plan. As such, the exact situation and motivations for what’s going on could actually be being saved for Dolores’ war in Westworld Season 3.
This means that the end-credits scene does little to actually address the long-standing mystery of whether the Man in Black is human or host during the contemporary events of the series. Depending on when this scene is set, Westworld Season 3 could be playing with two Willaims: the original and a near-perfect replica. This would back up the suggestion in “The Passenger” that he is human after all, and further that the doubt is less plot and more character-driven. And that brings us to the other reveal in the scene.
What William Wants (And Why His Host Struggles)
It took two seasons, but Westworld has pretty much explained William (as best as he can be). Season 1 secretly showed his origins by way of a younger version, and Season 2 used flashbacks to reveal his involvement in the park becoming a data-storing behemoth, as well as the personal tragedies that weighed heavily on him. Still, the show had held back what was driving him in the park.
In the end-credits scene, Emily asks him straight up why, to which he responds that he wants to show “That no system can tell me what I am – that I have a choice“. This is a reference to Delos’ monitoring and evaluation of Westworld’s guests, specifically the data readout Ford gave William shortly before Season 1’s events; it painted him as a dark, irredeemable figure (which led to Juliet’s death). William rejects that notion and through The Maze and The Door has looked to prove he cannot be so simply summed up by a program; he is looking for the same sense of existence as the hosts have been.
This may be why it’s taken so long to come close to fidelity in the experiments. The Man in Black is so resistant to the notion that everything that makes a human being can be stored in written code that to become aware of his present existence is to challenge his core worldview. It could also explain why this moment in time is being used for William; it is him at his most susceptible and open to his reality.