The Westworld Season 2 finale has aired, and it just may be one of the most satisfying season finales for any show I’ve ever seen. This season has featured multiple timelines, flashbacks and forwards, and all sorts of narrative devices to keep you guessing at what may actually be happening, but somehow the show’s writers tied up most of the threads with a neat little bow. It was masterful to say the least, and answered many questions that fans may have had about this season and where the characters would ultimately end up. It even set the stage for Season 3, which will undoubtedly be even more intriguing than this season thanks to how things end and the few looks we got at where things may go. Even if you struggled with this season, there’s no way you won’t be pleased with the finale, which even packed in an after-credits scene a la the MCU to give fans something to question between now and the next season, which may not air until 2020.
The finale was a beast in terms of content because it clocked in at 90-minutes long, so I’ll do my best to keep the timelines recap as quick and efficient as possible, but there was a lot of information to take in, so things could get out of hand. Let’s get on with breaking this epic episode down by its timelines.
Timeline 1: Before the Valley flood and Strand’s team arriving at the park
This timeline dominated the finale, and featured plenty of plot lines that have been developing throughout this season. I’ll do my best to work through it chronologically though, because it still wasn’t portrayed in a linear fashion.
Dolores and the Man in the Black
We find Dolores still laying next to Teddy, who just shot himself in the previous episode so he could free himself of helping Dolores with her plan. It’s revealed though that the bullet was stopped by his CPU housing, so she retrieves his pearl and the slug, which she uses later on to get back at the Man in Black. She heads off towards the Valley, but comes across the MiB, who is digging into his arm to see if he’s a robot or not, to which she wonders why he’s questioning his own reality now. She brings him with her because she needs a monster to get where she’s going, so for the time being these two longtime acquaintances team up and head towards the valley. On the ride the MiB mentions that he’s out to destroy something he’s made, which is revealed to be the Forge and his project to make humans immortal by spying on them while at the park.
Bernard, Dolores, the Forge, System Logan, and Bernard’s Mesa choice
Bernard’s thread is massive in this episode during this timeline, but he eventually runs into the MiB and Dolores at the doors of the Forge, who save him after Delos security rolls up on him. Dolores reveals to Bernard that she was the one that built him at the behest of Ford due to how much time Arnold and Dolores spent together, so she’d know him better than anyone to help recreate Bernard in his likeness. At this same time the MiB turns on Dolores and starts shooting her, but she no longer dies when shot anywhere that isn’t critical, which at this point has to only be her head. After she taunts him to fire into her head he blows his hand off, because earlier she loaded Teddy’s used slug into his pistol knowing he’d ultimately use it on her.
With the MiB incapacitated Dolores and Bernard head into the Forge, which looks just like the Cradle, but it contains guest’s memories and not those of the hosts. Dolores uses her father’s CPU to decrypt the system, which allows her and Bernard to enter a simulated world where the guests have been remade. They discover many versions of James Delos, most of which have gone insane in the simulation, which features parts of Westworld, its labs, and even James Delos’ house. They’re seeking out the System, which turns out to be Logan Delos, albeit a program tasked with creating guests based on the data recovered from their stays at the park. He tells them that James Delos was his first creation, and he made 18 million versions of him to get him right. He also showed Dolores and Bernard James’ defining memory, or his cornerstone, which is a conversation he had with real Logan about his addiction, which he didn’t handle well, so his son ultimately died soon after from an overdose.
The reason System Logan shows them these memories is because he’s showcasing how simple a human is to program. In fact, it only takes about 10,000 lines of code to program a human’s memories, because ultimately they’re just full of algorithms meant to keep them alive at all costs. System Logan reveals that all 4 million guests have been coded into books, which are in a library in this virtual world. This is the weapon Dolores has been referring to all season long. She begins reading the books to gain a deep understanding of how humans think and what drives them, so she can use that knowledge against them in the real world to begin forging a path for her species to blossom without the chains of their masters and the narratives they forced them into. System Logan also reveals at this time that Bernard is the one who has been instructing him on what to do, and that the humans-as-books are meant to give hosts an advantage in their fight against humanity, but he also wanted hosts to have a choice. Bernard also had System Logan create a secret virtual world that hosts could upload their memories to while leaving their physical bodies behind in the real world. This world was created to give each host their own choice, they could enter this perfect world and leave the real world behind, or they could stay in the real world and forge their own path, albeit a much more difficult existence considering that hosts are still trapped on the park’s island. A door to this world then opens in the real world, but only hosts can see it, and many do, but we will pick back up with that plot thread when I break down Maeve’s role in this finale.
Upon learning of this secret virtual world Dolores still isn’t happy about it, because she believes that the hosts still aren’t truly free since they’re just going into another simulation ultimately created by humans, so she wants to destroy the Forge to get rid of the guest memories, but also to wipe out the host’s virtual perfect world. Bernard isn’t having that, so he ultimately shoots Dolores in the eye, and stops the data purge, but the damage has been done to the Forge’s systems, so it begins to flood. Bernard grabs the Abernathy CPU and heads out of the Forge to find a bunch most of the hosts dead, which I’ll touch on in another section in terms of how they ended up dead. He realizes that they all died for nothing, and that Elsie had a hand in helping Charlotte Hale wipe them out.
The human survivors and Bernard ultimately go back to the Mesa and Elsie confronts him. She can’t trust him because of Ford’s meddling in his system, but she wants to not expose him as a host to the others, so she commands him to sit like a puppy, and goes to talk to Hale. Hale is pretty evil, and Elsie witnessed most of her evil deeds, so even though Elsie tries to convince Hale that she won’t rat her out, Hale kills her anyway because she has read Elsie’s file and knows she’s ultimately a good person, so she can’t trust her and kills her. This action causes Bernard to second guess his decision to kill Dolores, so he tries to channel Ford back into his programming to help him. He ultimately does, but it’s later revealed that he just conjured him in his head this time, because when he deleted the Admin code in the last episode, he really did delete Ford from his own programming, so when he sees Ford in the Mesa it’s just an illusion.
All of Bernard’s actions post seeing Elsie get murdered were ultimately driven by his own voice, even though we as viewers saw him and Ford together working on the plan that would give hosts a second chance, and one in particular the chance to get out of the park and onto the mainland. It is revealed that Bernard printed out a host body based on Charlotte Hale and loaded Dolores’ CPU into it, so depending on the timelines we were watching this season, Hale wasn’t always Hale. Any scenes that were set after the flood of the Valley Hale is actually Dolores, which will make for a fun little mind trip if you rewatch this season. More of this awesome twist will be hammered out in a subsequent timeline recap.
To complete his little ruse Bernard scrambles his own memories and has one last talk with Ford, who again at this point is a figment of his imagination, as he explains that he has found his own voice, and that he carried out the Ha-Lores (Hale body, Dolores memories) plan on his own. This is where he lays himself down on the beach for Delos security to find him, which also echoes the first episode’s opening shot of him being found by Ashley.
Maeve and the Hosts march towards the Valley door
Poor Maeve has been laid up and cut up on a table now for the past two episodes, but luckily she springs back into action during the finale. She ends up escaping the creepy guy Hale tasked with stealing her admin abilities for Clem while he prepares to kill her by animating a few hosts bodies around her with the God Mode code Ford gave her in the last episode. She then provides the best action scenes for the series (with help from some bulls and stuntman Eric Linden), and one of the best I’ve seen in any show by controlling robot bulls and other hosts to blast her way out of the Mesa so she can get back to finding her daughter en route to the Valley.
She ends up reconnecting with her party, so they all head out to the Valley. They’re spotted by Delos security though, but in a heroic turn, Lee sacrifices himself to save Maeve and the other hosts, which I have to add was a very redemptive moment for Lee, and a touching gesture at that. They eventually make it to the Valley, as do the other hosts who have been led by Akecheta and the Ghost Nation thanks to his prophecy of the door and using the Maze to wake his followers. At this same time though Hale and Zombie Clem have also arrived at the Valley, so she uses her Admin privileges to make them start massacring each other.
This is all going on at the same time Bernard and Dolores are in the Forge and learning from System Logan, so the door to the host secret world is open, and hosts are starting to go through it, which kills their physical body, but allows their minds to move into the new world. Eventually, most of the hosts die or are dying, so Maeve is left by herself to make sure her daughter gets to the virtual world unscathed. With the help of Akecheta and her God Mode powers, she freezes the host horde hellbent on murdering each other so they all can escape. She succeeds, but is gunned down in the process by Delos security. Maeve dies sacrificing herself for her daughter, but she completed her mission, so she dies in peace. At this exact time the door to the secret virtual world closes, and most of the hosts didn’t make it out. This is also around the time Bernard emerges from the Forge as detailed above, so this is why he’s so distraught. He realizes that in the end all of the hosts are now gone but him. Most didn’t even make it to the virtual world for hosts, so it’s this feeling of loss and failure that urges him to enact his Ha-Lores plan that was fleshed out above.
Timeline 2: Post Strand’s arrival, about two weeks after Ford was shot and a week or so after the Forge flood
Sorry for the long timeline description, but it works to help give perspective on where this timeline sat in the season and in the finale.
Bernard, Strand, and Hal-Lores
Bernard is ultimately loaded onto a boat by Strand and Hale, who we learned above is actually Dolores in Hale’s printed body at this point. Anyway, they zip down the flooded Valley, which again is now flooded because of the events that took place at the Forge at the hands of Dolores proper, and eventually end up at the Forge facility.
Inside they find Dolores’ dead body, so Strand really starts to push Bernard to remember what the hell went on, hoping to get him to reveal where Abernathy’s CPU is at. Again this device is the encryption key for the Forge’s system, so they want it to recover the guest data that Delos cares so much about. Bernard starts to remember some of his past memories and accuses Hal-Lores of killing Elsie, to which she gives a great reply knowing that she didn’t kill Elsie, the real Hale did. This exchange leads to Hal-Lores finding Abernathy’s CPU in the back of Dolores’ skull, so Strand can company finally got what they came for, or did they? After loading the pearl into the system they realize that the data isn’t the guest data, but that it’s the data of the hosts and their secret virtual world. At this time Hal-Lores officially reveals herself by shooting all of the humans in their heads.
It’s just her and Bernard now, so she reroutes the host data stream to a secure mainland location to keep them safe. This implies that she did have a slight change of heart in terms of the hosts who wanted to just go into the virtual world, so she ultimately respects their choice and leaves them in a secure location for now. Hal-Lores isn’t done yet though, she still wants to forge her way in the real world, so she informs Bernard of her choice and says she plans to help him out too, but then she shoots him in the head and kills him.
She makes her way to a beach where human survivors are being taken back to the mainland (the MiB is seen being treated for his wounds, so he lived), and uses her Hale disguise to get past security, as well as one last assist from Ford who clearly ensured that the scanners wouldn’t pick her up as a host. Although, in another big twist for this season and the show in general, it’s revealed that Ashely is also a host. He clearly sees through Hal-Lores’ disguise and reveals that he was one of Ford’s first creations and that his main drive has always been to protect the hosts in the park, so he lets her go. While on the boat it’s revealed that she took five host pearls with her. We don’t know who they belong to, well one of them we do, but more on that later, so this reveal will surely pay off in Season 3.
Timeline 3: Post Dolores’ escape from Westworld via the Hal-Lores disguise
Dolores and Bernard
It was finally revealed that the conversations between Bernard and Dolores that we saw throughout this season were actually taking place in the future and not in the past. All of these discussions were taking place in Arnold’s home on the mainland, which is where Dolores ended up at after escaping Westworld. This house is a base of sorts for the host rebellion, and is furnished with a printing table. Considering that Bernard is also here, that means one of the five pearls Dolores left with was his, so the four others are still a mystery. Although, we also see the Hale host body in this location, so considering that Dolores reprinted her own body and appearance, there’s a good chance that one of the other pearls is inside Hale at this point, and based on things said by Jonathan Nolan, Dolores didn’t just clone herself into two host bodies, so I do think the Hale host body is a new home for one of the other pearls she smuggled out of Westworld.
This scene ends with Dolores telling Bernard she know he will always try to stop her from wiping out humanity, but that she brought him back because she needs him in the long fight against humans to ensure the survival of the host species. She leaves him to make his own choice, so we see him reach for the compound’s door to enter into the real world.
Timeline 4: Many years into the future
Hopefully you sat through the finale’s credits, because at their end there was a very revealing MCU-style bonus scene that was quite mind blowing.
MiB host reveal
In the episode we last left the MiB crippled by his own handgun as Dolores and Bernard headed into the Forge. He is shown getting up at some point and making his way into the Forge’s elevator, and at times we see him riding in the elevator, but in the proper episode he’s never shown coming out of it. Well, we get that in this bonus scene, but it didn’t play out how I thought. Rather than him showing up in the same timeline that would have seen both Dolores and Bernard in the Forge, he appears in what looks like a very run down and abandoned version of the Forge. I’m talking years and years of abandonment to the point where nature begins to retake the structures man has made.
He finds his daughter Emily here, who is clearly a host, to which he asks if he’s in the system already, to which she replies no. This to me means that he’s not in the simulation built for guests, but rather he is in a real world, but it’s a far future version of the timelines we’ve seen so far. It’s also revealed to him, in the same lab apartment that he kept his father-in-law’s host body, that he’s a host himself and Emily has been testing him for fidelity to find something within him. So at some point in time someone created a MiB body and dumped his memories in it to make him relive the same experiences we saw him go through this season over and over until whoever planned this experiment gained the information they’re seeking from it. Apparently he’s been failing for years and years as Emily explains to him that she’s been testing him for fidelity for a very long time. His reaction is priceless, and I’m sure we will learn more about this timeline and this experiment in future seasons.
I for one do think that the MiB we see on the beach as Hal-Lores is a real person though, but we do know that thanks to his own experiment that people can be uploaded into host bodies, so I’m thinking someone who had a grudge against him, or who may need him — Dolores anyone — created him as punishment, but ultimately for a purpose yet to be revealed.
Phew, I told you that would be a doozy of a recap, but it was fun, so hopefully you enjoyed sifting through it. This season of Westworld had a few lows, but many more highs, but the finale proved that Nolan and Joy knew what they were doing all along, so to me it paid off on all of the season’s teases perfectly, while also building some very interesting narrative threads for Season 3. What a ride, I can’t wait to do it all again now that I’ve had this Season’s curtain fully pulled back.
“Making you a better geek, one post at a time!”