Westworld showrunners explain that post-credits scene, where Season 3 goes, and the show's view of humanity

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Jun 25, 2018, 12:17 PM EDT

The second season of Westworld came to an end Sunday night, and as expected with a show like this, it went out leaving viewers with plenty of mysteries and questions to pore over before Season 3 arrives. Showrunners Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy are, of course, still keeping many of the show's secrets to themselves, but in a number of post-mortem interviews after "The Passenger" aired on HBO, they did manage to shed some light on at least a few things.

**Spoiler warning: There are spoilers for the Westworld episode "The Passenger" below**

In an episode full of huge developments — Maeve is dead again, Elsie's dead for real this time, Ford might finally be gone for good, and The Valley Beyond turned out to be a virtual Eden for the hosts to escape to — the biggest is what turned out to be a game-changing setup for Season 3. Though Bernard (Jeffrey Wright) killed her when he came to realize their respective goals for the hosts were fundamentally at odds with each other, Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood) found new life after all, following the events at The Forge.

Distraught over the apparent extinction of his kind, Bernard had a change of heart (with a little help from Ford's voice in his head) and decided to give Dolores another chance. So he printed up a host clone body of Charlotte Hale (Tessa Thompson) and put Dolores' "pearl" (the little ball containing her consciousness) inside of it. Dolores killed the real Charlotte, took over her role in Delos, and made it to the mainland, where she both rebirthed Bernard and carried a few other pearls (containing still-unknown hosts) with her.

Now Dolores (back in her own, reprinted body) and Bernard are out in the world of humans, ready to create a new life for their kind while knowing that they have differing philosophies that could mean the death of them both. It's a fascinating and ambitious set-up for Season 3, and in separate interviews both Nolan and Joy confirmed it means we'll be spending a lot of time in the "real" world going forward.

"We’re very excited about where the third season goes. It’s been a long build-up to get outside the park," Nolan told Entertainment Weekly. "And we’re incredibly excited about what that looks like and sounds like and what exactly our hosts discover out there."

Speaking to The Wrap, Joy confirmed that there are three hosts now out in the world — Dolores, Bernard, and an unknown "creature" in Charlotte's host body — with more to come from the pearls Dolores smuggled out.

"It was always the plan to explore the real world, and we have Dolores there, Bernard’s there, and a creature that is certainly inhabiting Hale’s body is there [laughs]. So we’ll come to know more of who 'Hale' is," she said. "There are three hosts out in the world, and next season will really be an exploration of what they find and who they become."

Elsewhere in the realm of game-changers for the show, there's that post-credits scene featuring The Man in Black (Ed Harris) and his daughter Emily (Katja Herbers). Or at least versions of The Man in Black and Emily. Before the credits rolled, we saw in the "present" of the show that William (Man in Black's given name) was one of the casualties rounded up by park security to be taken home, so he clearly survived the ordeal, which included getting part of his hand blown off after Dolores rigged his gun to backfire.

Before we saw that, though, we saw a shot of him riding in an elevator, apparently to descend down into the Forge, before Bernard opened the same elevator and found no one inside. Huh? Well, the post-credits shows William actually making it to The Forge, only to find it in ruins. There he meets Emily, and the two return to a ruined version of the apartment where a younger William repeatedly tested a host version of James Delos for "fidelity." Emily reveals to William that she too has been testing him for "fidelity," and that he's made the journey to The Forge many times before. It's a confusing scene, but according to Joy it's not part of the current events of the show. Rather, we're getting a glimpse of a distant future.

"In the far, far future, the world is dramatically different. Quite destroyed, as it were. A figure in the image of [William's] 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," Joy explained to The Hollywood Reporter. "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."

Joy also confirmed that, just because the "fidelity" test has been repeated for hosts throughout the season, we shouldn't necessarily assume William is just another host at this point. In the distant future, he might be a different kind of entity entirely. 

Finally, there's something a bit more philosophical the finale addresses in detail, and it concerns the Delos plan to record the brains of all of the park's guests for future use. When Dolores and Bernard finally arrive at the Forge, they're greeted by an AI that takes the form of Delos' dead son, Logan (Ben Barnes). He shows them around and reveals the park's massive library of guest data as exactly that: a literal library. It's structured that way, in part, because the company discovered that their early failures in replicating human beings were due to their overestimation of humanity's complexity. According to the show, humans are programmed to their own codes that follow them throughout their life, and each code is simple enough to be contained within a single book. It's a rather grim view, but one Nolan found merit — and even a little optimism — in.

"Much of [dramatic storytelling across the ages] has concerned itself with 'how will we overcome?' and personal growth and change. At a certain point you gotta f***ing call it. We’re not going to fix this s***, we’re not going to figure it out," he told EW. "But there’s an opportunity for the things that replace us to do so. And that’s the dream of every parent, right? That their child doesn’t face the same things they do, that they make better choices? But there does seem to be a pattern of behavior that follows us, that history echoes from the past, the same mistakes, the same foibles. So you say: At what point does this fix itself? Or are we just stuck this way?"

Westworld will return for a third season on HBO sometime at a still-unannounced date. What did you think of the finale? Let us know in the comments!