Westworld loves a good twist, but the Season 2 finale had a post-credits scene that took things to a whole new level.
The scene depicted the Man in Black (Ed Harris) hobbling into a totally destroyed version of The Forge, his hand still blown off from his standoff with Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood). Inside, he was greeted by a host version of his daughter Emily (Katja Herbers) who led him into a room identical to the one in which they tested the copies of James Delos (Peter Mullan). She started asking the Man in Black a series of questions that seemed to ominously hint that William was no longer just human, but a copy of himself being tested for fidelity just like he previously did with Delos.
There are about a million possible theories about what the heck was going down there, but we've compiled four of the best ones to help you make sense of all these totally tangled clues.
Theory 1: It's a Post-Apocalyptic Future
We know Delos and William were trying to find a path to immortality, so it only makes sense that a simulation of his own consciousness was being built and tested somewhere. We also know that Dolores, Bernard (Jeffrey Wright) and a host version of Charlotte Hale (Tessa Thompson) were unleashed on the world at some point, which could be why The Forge was in such a state of destruction. They could have managed to completely trash the park at some point in the quest for revenge... or the rest of the world could look exactly the same way if the rogue hosts decided to start a full-on apocalypse.
In the event of an apocalypse, no one would be around to stop host-Emily from continuing to test copies of William for fidelity, meaning he'll keep on going through these torturous loops forever. Is it wrong that that kind of hell feels like a fitting end for the Man in Black?
Theory 2: It's a Perpetual Delos Simulation
The finale also revealed that The Forge was where an advanced computer system tested and retested digital copies of Delos until it broke him down into a predictable and faithful line of code. It did this by setting copies of Delos loose in the simulated park over and over again with only slight variations to test for fidelity. If that's what's happening with William, then his whole storyline for Seasons 1 and 2 could have just been one of these simulations to test how a particular variation of him would act. Basically — it's all been one big lie.
This explanation would also clear up why Emily is the host questioning him, since in the version that was testing Delos', the system took the shape of his "cornerstone," which was his son, Logan (Ben Barnes). It only tracks that Emily would be William's cornerstone.
Theory 3: It's About William's Guilt
Obviously, one of the saddest theories currently making the rounds is that William is actually the one behind this never-ending simulation of his own consciousness. This version of events theorizes that after exiting the park in the Season 2 finale, William was so guilt-ridden (and a little insane), that he started testing copies of himself in the same host-rebellion situation looking for a deviation in which he didn't murder Emily. It doesn't seem like he's succeeded, but the goal here seems to be to prove to himself that there was some version of events where his daughter might have lived.
It's ultimately a pretty pointless exercise, but guilt and grief don't exactly give way to reason very often.
Theory 4: It's About Human Redemption
This one might seem a little outlandish, but if you want to look on the bright side, it's the one for you.
We all assume Dolores has evil plans in store for the human world, but what if her plans for humanity changed somewhere along the way? When she changed her mind about the fates of both the hosts and humans in the park during the Season 2 finale Dolores proved that hosts are capable of fundamental change, so there is precedent. However, let's not forget that the simulation system ultimately came to the conclusion that humans do not have free will because their "coding" and fundamental drives always made their choices predictable and unchangeable, no matter how many deviations they were presented with. There's a possibility that Dolores and Bernard have set out to prove (or disprove) this theory by running the same simulations with William, an arguably irredeemable human — and thus a perfect test subject.
If they're the ones behind this testing, it could prove that they're trying to prove humanity does have free will and is capable of change, which is kind of beautiful when you think about it.