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Westworld Finale Post-Credits Ending Scene Explained: Is William a Host?

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That which is real is irreplaceable.

This story contains spoilers for the Westworld Season 2 finale, titled "The Passenger."

The Westworld Season 2 finale featured plenty of twists, but the Marvel-esque post-credits scene left fans with a purposefully confusing ending, seeming to confirm the fan theory that William (aka the Man in Black) is a host.

And maybe he is, but not necessarily right now.

Co-showrunner Lisa Joy clarified the events of the finale's post-credits scene in a number of interviews - reiterating that the real William did indeed kill his real daughter, and then, unable to reckon with what he'd done, began digging in his arm to try and find a port as a way to excuse his heinous actions. "He’s digging into his own skin for answers and doesn’t find any wires by the time Dolores arrives," she told Deadline. "By the end of this timeline, he’s being shipped out into the real world. He did kill his own daughter, he’s in the prison of his own skin, locked in his own confusion and guilt."

So the Man in Black hasn't been a host all season long, as some fans have speculated (despite his questionable ability to survive multiple gunshot wounds). Instead, when William wakes up alone and injured outside the Forge, the timeline has shifted to the future, which we don't realize until the post-credits scene - meaning that despite some camera and soundtrack trickery when William is taking the elevator down, there was never any possibility of him coinciding with Bernard on the way up.

Exit Theatre Mode

Even though we're in a different timeline in the post-credits stinger, the ramifications of William's murderous choice are clearly still affecting him years later, as he comes face to face with an actual host version of his daughter. The best interpretation of the confrontation - put forth by Vanity Fair's Joanna Robinson - is that perhaps "in the future, William has put his human consciousness into a Host body and is running a repeating test on himself in order to figure out if there’s some version of his journey through the park that doesn’t end with him massacring Emily."

It's a heartbreaking prospect - when the host version of Emily asks what he was hoping to find on his quest through the park (one that he's apparently repeated over and over again throughout the years), William admits, "That no system can tell me who I am. That I have a f---ing choice."

"Yet here we are, again," Faux Emily points out, implying that every one of the Man in Black's quests has resulted in the same outcome - presumably with the real Emily dead thanks to William's paranoia, his hand blown up by Dolores, and his grip on reality splintering. In short, a perfect parallel to Jim Delos, who was doomed to his own virtual loop, unable to find an outcome in which his beloved son Logan survived instead of overdosing because of his father's cruelty. Ultimately, the world that they created to be an escape simply ends up proving that Jim and William are, as the virtual version of Logan points out, "irredeemable," forever trapped by their own failures.

Joy doesn't overtly confirm this in any of her interviews, but her explanation of William's dire future, as teased in the post-credits stinger, seems to align with the theory in her interview with the Hollywood Reporter: "In the far, far future, the world is dramatically different. Quite destroyed, as it were. A figure in the image of his daughter — his daughter is of course now long dead — has come back to talk to him. He realizes that he's been living this loop again and again and again. The primal loop that we've seen this season, they've been repeating, testing every time for what they call 'fidelity,' or perhaps a deviation. You get the sense that the testing will continue. It's teasing for us another temporal realm that one day we're working toward, and one day will see a little bit more of, and how they get to that place, and what they're testing for."

While Joy stops short of confirming that William is a host in this future scenario, she does clarify to THR, "it's not his original incarnation. That version of him that was 'human' would be somewhere lying dead, and this is some other version of himself now. He doesn't quite understand what."

Neither do we, but hopefully we won't have to suffer through years of the same loop before we get our own answers.