War of the Worlds Season 2 Ending: Breaking the Time Loop, Bill, Emily and the Future

What happened in the War of the Worlds finale, and how will that ending affect season 3? Spoilers.

War of the Worlds season 2 episode 8 Bill and Emily
Photo: Epix

Warning: contains spoilers for War of the Worlds Season 2.

Bill did it. He went back in time, broke the time loop, erased the aliens out of existence and saved billions of lives by stopping Earth from ever coming under their devastating attack in the first place. Almost erased the aliens out of existence, that should say, because – handily for season three – the alien invasion timeline is still somehow creating ripples in this parallel universe. And almost erased most of the aliens out of existence, that should really say, because when Bill travelled back in time, he took half a dozen of the Invaders along with him. Now they’re on Earth too, with nothing but hatred for humanity. Should end well.

How did Bill manage it? Why are echoes of the other timeline bleeding through into the new one? And what does all of this mean for War of the Worlds’ recently commissioned third season? Let’s dig in.

How did Bill go back in time?

By using Micah’s matter wave transposing formula and an alien ship. As Isla told Bill, the alien spaceships are alive; their matter waves grow and change, which opens a pathway to enable time travel. Micah’s formula had been devised to travel back to a point in time that would break the invasion time loop and stop the alien race from ever existing. Unable to reproduce on their home planet, plagued by genetic weakness, and raised to hate humankind, the aliens invaded Earth to slaughter its people, cure themselves, and colonise the planet. Micah evidently thought genocide too high a price to pay for survival and so sought a different route. He did the maths required to plot a course back to a point in time from which he could sabotage the Invasion plan by stopping his people from ever existing in the first place. 

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Somehow, Micah knew a) that Emily was the ancestor of his people, and b) the timetable of her hospital appointments. He wrote a formula to a point in time where she could be killed before she and Sacha conceived the twins that would form the starting point of this new human-hating human race. Before he could carry out his plan though, he was killed by his brother Jokim at the Grenoble Observatory (where he’d traced the source of the signal Catherine and her colleagues sent into space). After he was killed, Catherine took his journal containing the formula, and brought it to London to share with Bill Ward, to whom she passed on Victor’s lesson about the need to have faith.

Isla had become disenchanted with Adina’s tunnel-vision belligerence and started to question if there was really any difference between her people and the humans she’d been raised to believe were so worthy of hate. She chose to betray her people and help to finish what Micah started after she learned that Adina had lied to her about Micah having been killed by the humans. She got Bill on board a ship and programmed it with Micah’s formula before Adina, Jokim and a handful of others chased them on board. Adina shot Isla, and everybody on board the alien ship was transported back in time. 

How did Bill break the time loop?

In the new timeline, Bill and Isla were found unconscious outside a hospital and taken in for treatment. Isla died of her gunshot wound, and Micah’s journal containing the time travel formula was taken from her and placed into storage. Bill spotted Emily, Sarah and Tom in the hospital and realised why he’d been sent to that time and place. He led Emily – who was still blind in this timeline – onto the rooftop, told her that the visions she’d been having of dead bodies in the streets were of the future, and that he had to stop it from happening to save billions of lives. Then he pushed her off the roof, killing her. That stopped the timeline dead in which Emily and Sacha conceived the twins that went on to form the race that invaded Earth. 

In retrospect, it’s a pity Bill didn’t hop on the Eurostar and push kitten-killing Sacha off a tall building instead of innocent Emily, but needs must. And to be fair to Bill, in the original timeline, Emily was also trying to kill Emily to stop herself from inadvertently creating a race of killer aliens, but Sacha wouldn’t let her die. 

Bill’s choice was also a sacrifice for him, in a way. By killing Emily so publicly, he made himself the chief suspect in a murder investigation, and as we saw from the newspaper headline Zoe was reading, he was arrested at the end of the season. But not before he’d righted some past wrongs and made a proper apology to his ex-wife Helen (who’d died hating him for lying to her about her partner’s death), and told son Dan that he loved and was proud of him. A prison sentence, if that’s what Bill’s now facing, is a walk in the park compared to the timeline he’d just travelled back from.

So, everybody on board the ship travelled back in time with Bill?

It looks like it. Bill, Isla, Adina, Jokim and a handful of other aliens were all on board the ship when it moved back in time, and all of them ended up in the same hospital in the new timeline. As Bill has stopped their people from ever existing, the remaining aliens on Earth are outliers, stranded in this version of events without a past or a future.

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And everybody killed during the series is now alive in the new timeline?

Absolutely. That list includes Bill’s son Dan, who works for the government, his ex-wife Helen, Sarah Gresham, hospital porter Ash, Kariem’s sister (?), Sacha’s father/uncle Noah, and most importantly for us: Professor Catherine Durrand, who was shot in the head by a Mechanical in the original timeline in the finale, but who is now alive and well and repairing her estranged relationship with her recovering drug addict sister Sophia.  

And all of the connections we saw made in the series now never happened?

That’s right. The soldiers never came to the Observatory, so Catherine and Colonel Mokrani never met and fell in love, neither did Sophia and Nathan, whose unborn baby now doesn’t exist. Emily never met Kariem, and crucially, never met and conceived twins with Sacha. Presumably Sarah and Jonathan are still together in the new timeline, as Jonathan never met Chloe in France. Victor’s family are still alive and well, so he doesn’t attempt suicide and never meets Catherine. The list goes on.

Had we seen that footage of Catherine at the Observatory before?

Basically yes, though compare Catherine’s scenes in the season one premiere to these and there are very slight differences to her appearance and dialogue, which shows that the scenes were possibly re-filmed. In the show’s first ever episode, Catherine and her colleague chat about “choice paralysis” and supermarket toothpaste right before she detects the first alien invasion signal. In the season two finale, they have basically that same conversation but no signal arrives to interrupt, so it continues to Catherine’s colleague casually asking her out and her turning him down before visiting Sophia to make amends with her. 

So, how is season three going to work if the aliens don’t exist?

It’s going to be different alright. And it’s worth remembering that some aliens still exist in this timeline, they’re just ship-less and Mechanical-less, and there are barely enough of them to form a decent five-a-side squad. One question that season three needs to answer is how the original timeline is bleeding into this revised version of events. New timeline-Zoe dreamt of a ‘memory’ from the old timeline, and from it, recognised both Bill and the name Emily. Her first port of call in the third season will be to Bill’s prison cell for a long chat. We delve into the season three possibilities in more detail here.  

War of the Worlds season 2 is available to stream on Epix in the US and is airing weekly on Disney+ in the UK.