Hope you didn’t turn off HBO when those Westworld season 2 finale credits started to roll.
Because if you did, you missed showrunners Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy putting a little surprise buried at the very end of Sunday’s 10th episode, titled “The Passenger.”
In a rather Marvel-like move, Westworld had a rather pivotal post-credits scene (the show’s first season finale had one too, but that moment — showing Armistice freeing her arm — was more skippable).
Sunday’s sequence (spoilers below) showed the Man in Black stumbling into The Forge facility where the secret guest data was stored. Only it’s apparently years after the events in the episode, with the facility in ruins. He then sees his deceased daughter, Emily.
“Oh f—, I’m already in the thing, aren’t I?” he asks.
Emily says no, he’s not in “the system,” and leads him to an apartment that looks just like one park founder James Delos was trapped in as an experimental host for so many years. Emily begins to run a fidelity test on the Man in Black, except now he’s on the other end of the same fidelity test that he ran on his father-in-law for decades.
Our suspicion is that somebody (Ford or Dolores?) printed out a version of the Man in Black from the secret data vault, and entombed him in The Forge with a printout of his daughter as a kind of hellish punishment, condemned to get an ironic taste of his own technological medicine for all eternity — or, perhaps, as a way of creating a replacement for the Man in Black in the real world to aide Dolores’ mission? The scene takes place long after the main action in the show. We think the real Man in Black (who we see recovering in a tent on the beach at the end) is still a real human, not a secret host, and is unaware of his alternate self.
Another theory has it that somehow Emily herself did this — remember how she told the Ghost Nation leader Akecheta that her punishment for her father would be “much worse” than what he had planned? Was this what she had in mind? But then, how would she have been able to wrangle such a fate given that she was killed so soon after that?
EW has an interview with showrunner Jonathan Nolan right here where we ran our theory by the writer-producer about what this scene means — and he’s more forthcoming in his reply than you might expect. Nolan talks about that and other burning questions.
Also, check out our deep-dive finale recap where we break down “The Passenger” into chronological order to help more easily explain what exactly was going on, while giving our thoughts.