The finale of Westworld was very complicated, some might say convoluted, including my friends who had way too many questions about the finale to be satisfied with the episode. This seems to be a common theme. In hopes of having them…and you… enjoy all of the treats embedded in the confusing plotline, I offered to answer all questions relating to Westworld. I immediately regret this. HUGE spoilers ahead!
What is everything?
Good. Something easy to get us started. Let’s break it down.
What is Delos?
Delos is the investment company that owns Westworld. William, Karl Strand, and Charlotte Hale are all executives on the Delos board, charged with cleaning up the mess and saving the company.
Who is James Delos?
Remember the Scottish guy that Young William was talking to?
How about the old dude who was masturbating in that really chic modern room?
Oh, yup. Got it.
That was James Delos. He’s Logan’s dad and the founder of the Delos company.
What’s the Cradle?
Remember that big red room of computers that Angela smashed like it was the patriarchy?
Oh yeah. That was awesome.
That was the Cradle – a vast computer system that had a VR version of Westworld inside. They used it to simulate the hosts before actually building the park, and it had a backup of all the host brains.
What’s the Forge?
The Forge is similar to the Cradle. It’s a server farm that was built underground in the middle of the desert of Westworld. We found out this season that Young William, with the permission of James Delos, piloted a program to take human consciousness and place it into a host body so people can live forever. Unbeknownst to the guests of the park, Delos began collecting DNA and guest consciousness. The Forge is the server farm that stores actual Guest Consciousness.
What’s the Valley Beyond?
Akecheta and the Ghost Nation, aka the Native Americans, believe that inside The Forge is a door to another “Host Heaven” world. They refer to this as “the Valley Beyond.”
Is this the same door that William is looking for?
No. Different door. Well, maybe.
Fine, yes, it’s the same door. William (The Man in Black) loves playing Ford’s games. In the first season, he was looking for The Maze. In this season, Ford created a game for William to find “the door.” William assumes The Door is in the Forge.
Why is everything?
Why is it called The Forge?
A Forge is also where a metalsmith crafts his work so it could be referring to crafting people. However, you could think of it as “forging a document.” They are making copies of humans, but does that inherently mean they are forgeries? Are these counterfeit people or real people? The name itself is a reminder of one of the central themes of the show.
You’re getting nerdy about this again…
Can’t stop, won’t stop. The dictionary definition of “Forge” specifically says, “for the purposes of deception” which could give us some insight about Delos’ ultimate plans for how they want to use the consciousnesses of guests. Isn’t that cool?
Sure. So, why is everyone going to the Forge?
Some people are trying to get to The Forge. Some people want to go to The Valley Beyond.
You’re killin’ me smalls. Aren’t they the same place?
The Forge is the physical server farm that stores all human consciousnesses. But, it does indeed have a portal to a VR “Host Heaven” where hosts can upload their minds to live free and happy away from humans. The data for that VR also lives in the servers of the Forge.
Is that why Dolores want to get to the Forge?
Dolores isn’t interested in going to Host Heaven/Valley Beyond. Her end goal is to go back to the mainland, live in the real world, and dominate humanity. You know, typical Robot stuff.
And how does the Forge help with this?
Dolores wants to understand human “coding” to give her a competitive advantage. If she accesses the consciousnesses of people who have visited the park, which include very powerful people in the real world, she could have a significant advantage in her world domination game.
What. Actually. Happened?
So…what happened in the Forge then?
Before or after the flood?
I hate you.
Honestly, I hate myself right now. It’s tough to follow. We bounce between two different timelines with Bernard. The first timeline is before the flood. Let’s start there.
Dolores and Bernard go into the Forge and access the VR-world inside. They enter a virtual room that looks like that little room where they tested James Delos for fidelity. That was a host version of James Delos with his actual human consciousness inside. They were testing to see if he would work. Bernard and Dolores have found themselves in one of the system’s attempts to replicate Delos’ consciousness as code.
Dolores and Bernard are inside a computer simulation of James Delos’ mind and his memories. Which is why they run into Logan.
Yeah, whatever happened with Logan?
Well, that wasn’t the actual Logan.
Do you hate me?
The Logan we see talking to Dolores and Bernard is the AI tour guide of the VR Forge.
This show is f*cking weird.
I know isn’t it great? This is a visual TV show, okay? They’re pulling out some tricks to make it cinematically interesting. The Logan we see is the control system of the Forge, personified as Logan.
But why would it be Logan?
That’s actually a beautiful piece of character work. If we are inside James Delos’ mind and memories, it’s interesting that the computer would manifest itself as Logan. This tells us the devastating truth that Logan was the core of Delos’ consciousness. Even though it seemed like he didn’t care about his son, it shows that he cared a great deal. There’s that heartbreaking scene where they reveal the memory that defines James Delos’ life: when Logan asked for help, and his father refused. Even though Logan was pleading, his father walked away, and Logan overdosed six months later. Delos’ consciousness replays that moment over and over and over, like an eternal regret, living forever inside a computer. Isn’t that devastating?
Actually, yes. Yes, it is.
There’s also a fantastic commentary about human nature in this sequence. Control-System-Logan (CSL) talks about how difficult it was to create human consciousness because they assumed it would be complex, but it’s actually very simple. They spent so much time trying to figure out why humans make the choices they make until they figured out that even humans don’t know. Humans live according to their code, and they don’t change at all. Are we really that different from hosts? Do people ever change? Can we break free from our patterns and what’s in our nature? They don’t answer it, they just pose the question. I love how this show makes you think. Do you want to discuss that philosophically for a few hours?
No, literally, all I want to know is what actually happens in the Forge.
Fine. CSL leads Dolores and Bernard to the library of human consciousnesses, and Dolores does her homework on the consciousnesses of the world’s most influential people.
So why is Control-System-Logan helping them so much?
CSL reveals that Bernard was the one who created the Forge and Valley Beyond/Host Heaven, so the computer can give him whatever he wants. CSL shows Bernard how to open the portal to the Valley Beyond, and that’s when the giant rift opens in the sky. A host can jump into this virtual portal as a way of uploading their minds to Host Heaven. “They will leave their bodies behind, but their minds will live on here.”
Akecheta, Ghost Nation, Maeve & Co. all converge on this big rift in the sky to jump into the Valley Beyond. Of course, that’s also when evil Clementine tells all the Hosts to kill each other, so that’s what that big fight was about. All of the Hosts were trying to escape Clementine and make it to the Valley Beyond.
Dolores hates the Valley Beyond though. She thinks it’s just another version of slavery for Hosts. She doesn’t want a happy, VR world, she wants the real world. “Because that which is real is irreplaceable” …you see what they did there?
[At this time the author would like to note that she received a blank stare.]
Anyway, Dolores wants to destroy the Forge and all the consciousnesses inside. She overrides the cooling system and starts…you guessed it…THE FLOOD!
But wouldn’t that destroy the Valley Beyond?
Bingo. And Bernard ain’t happy about this. He finally stands up to Dolores and shoots her in the head. He presumably stops the Valley Beyond from being destroyed, but he can’t stop the flood, so he runs away as the actual valley fills with water.
Host or Human?
But Dolores is low-key still alive. Right?
Right. Bernard gets to the surface and realizes how many hosts died at Clementine’s (but really Charlotte’s) hands. Back at Westworld Headquarters, Bernard witnesses Charlotte murder Elsie. Breaking down and not knowing what to do, Ford reappears in his mind!
I’ll skip to the spoiler. This isn’t really Ford.
IS ANYTHING REAL??
I’m going to murder you in your sleep.
But then how will I answer your questions?
In the last episode, Bernard successfully deleted Ford from his mind. But after Elsie’s murder, Bernard imagines that Ford is there because he doesn’t understand his own consciousness yet. This is the moment where Bernard gets genuinely Woke. He only imagines that Ford is there as he debates what to do, but really this is Bernard all along, making his own decisions.
What does he decide?
He knows he has to get his hands dirty, but poor Bernard, he just can’t do it. He realizes he needs Dolores back to do what needs to be done. He builds a Host version of Charlotte Hale with Dolores’ mind inside. Dolores-as-Hale murders the real Charlotte and impersonates her. Bernard then scrambles his memories so no one can find out the truth about Charlotte’s identity. He passes out on a beach and wakes up to the Delos team, led secretly by Dolores in Hale’s body.
So after that, every time we see Hale, it’s actually Dolores?
THAT’S RIGHT. She’s trying to get back to The Forge to finish what she started. She also had a change of heart and uploads the Valley Beyond to the cloud, so it’s safe, and even puts Teddy’s mind inside so he can live free forever. So cute. Those two.
Hale-Dolores then steals a few more host brains, sneaks off to the mainland, finds Arnold’s old house, and starts printing bodies, including Bernard himself. And that’s where we leave things. Also, Stubbs is a host.
And what about the Man in Black? Is he a host? Or a human?
He’s a human. Every time we’ve seen him, he’s a human.
Oh, thank God.
Except for the end. The post-credits sequence takes place much later than anything we’ve seen. If you notice the Forge is pretty rundown at this point. And Emily says, “the system is long gone” so we can presume that when William comes down the elevator, it’s a while after Dolores has left the island.
So he’s a Host then?
We can presume that it’s William’s consciousness in a host body, living forever as a robot. Although he pioneered the program, he never wanted to live forever, so this is actually his own personal hell. He’s on a loop of the day he killed his own daughter, having to relive the pain of that over and over and over. If this is the end of Ford’s game for William to find “The Door,” it really is the ultimate revenge on Ford’s part.
But his daughter was there at the end? Was she a host?
The Emily he’s talking to isn’t really his daughter either. She’s either a host body or the personification of the Forge AI, the same way Logan was the personification of AI to Delos. See how they are mirrored? Both men who have wronged their children forced to live in eternal regret and damnation.
Remember Delos’ final words in episode four, The Riddle of the Sphinx? It’s a fascinating parallel.
“They said there were two fathers. One above, one below. They lied. There was only ever the devil. And when you look up from the bottom, it was just his reflection laughing back down at you.”
Boom. Think about it.
Well, there you go. Special thanks to my friend for providing questions! So now you all can enjoy all of the amazing moments of the finale. It’s okay to cry at the beautiful culmination of Maeve’s season arc when she lets go of her daughter, sacrificing herself as she watches Akecheta lead her daughter into the Valley Beyond. Or when Sizemore sacrifices himself so Maeve & Co. can get away (speaking of character arc). Thandie Newton’s performance in both of those scenes was incredible. Relish in the devastated look on William’s face when he realizes he’s being tested for fidelity. That’s emotion right there. Don’t even get me started on that one single moment when we realize that Akecheta’s wife is already in the Valley Beyond!
Westworld is always better in a second viewing, even if it takes a little Q&A and a mild understanding of mythology to get there.
And with that, I’m taking a nap until 2019. See you nerds for the season three premiere.