‘Westworld’: Is the Man in Black a Host? Here’s What That Post-Credits Scene Meant

The Man in Black
The Man in Black | HBO

Just as Westworld fans thought they had figured out the mind-bending Season 2 finale, a post-credits scene came along to completely throw them for a loop and force them to question the nature of their reality. So what, exactly, was that final scene implying? Is the Man in Black a host? Has he been one all this time?

In the episode, after the Man in Black gets his fingers blown off, he wakes up and starts to head down the elevator into the Forge. But then he never ends up meeting up with Dolores and Bernard. Instead, we later see him lying on the beach recovering from his injuries, having been rescued by Delos.

However, in the post-credits scene, the Man in Black finally gets off the elevator, only to find the Forge is completely abandoned. He runs into what appears to be a host version of his daughter, Emily, who tells him that this is what’s left of his world. She also reveals that they’ve been testing him for a long time in order to achieve fidelity.

Wait, what? Does this mean that the Man in Black is a host? Has he been a host all season? What’s going on?

Well, the first thing that’s important to understand is that the final scene is meant to be taking place far into the future. This is initially a bit confusing, but it seems that in the present timeline, the Man in Black never actually got back up and descended into the Forge. That scene of him getting into the elevator was in the future; in the present, he actually just remains lying on the ground and ends up recovering in the cot at the end.

Lisa Joy confirmed to The Hollywood Reporter that this scene takes place “in the far, far future.”

The implication definitely seems to be that the Man in Black is a host in this scene, as he’s tested for his fidelity just as the James Delos host was earlier in this season. However, Joy told The Hollywood Reporter that “we don’t necessarily say he’s a host.”

Even if William is supposed to be a host in that scene, though, this doesn’t imply that he’s been a host all season. Some fans read that ending as meaning that the Man in Black has been a host in a simulation for all of Season 2, but Joy has shot down that idea.

Instead, this is how she explained it to The Hollywood Reporter:

“For the majority of the season, we’re seeing him in the same timeline as everybody else…What we see in the end recontextualizes a little bit of that. All of that did happen in that timeline, but something else has occurred, too. 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.

She also explained that the version of the Man in Black we’re seeing there at the end isn’t his original incarnation; that original incarnation is lying dead somewhere.

The Man in Black
The Man in Black | HBO

So for now, it doesn’t seem like the Man in Black was actually a host in a simulation for the entire season or anything like that. Instead, this post-credits scene is just giving us a glimpse into the future. At some point in the next few decades or longer, William will die, and a host version of him will be tested for his fidelity, as we’re seeing in that final scene. In the process, he’s forced to recreate many of the events of Season 2, but those events really did happen to the human William long ago.

Joy further explained the scene in an interview with The Wrap by saying:

And we get the feeling that, in the far-flung future, the Man has been somehow reconjured and brought into this world and he’s being tested the same way the humans used to test the Hosts. And that is a storyline that one day we’ll see more of.

Does the fact that this post-credits scene takes place far into the future mean we’re getting a big time jump for Season 3? Apparently not; Joy told The Hollywood Reporter that in Season 3, “the main story, will not be leaping forward that far forward.” She just said the post-credits scene is something they’re going to get to “eventually.”

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