The following contains spoilers for Westworld Season 2.
The Westworld Season 2 finale was confusing to say the least. The show revealed that a crucial character wasn’t who we thought she was, that Bernard has been working behind the scenes this whole time to build Robot Heaven, and oh, the very nature of humanity to boot.
The finale was so revelatory and confusing in fact that now there seems to be a question regarding something that viewers had long etched into stone: the nature of the Man In Black’s identity. Ed Harris’ William a.k.a. The Man In Black was an early contender for “secret robot” back in season one. It was understandable why: he operates within the park with cruel, machine-like efficiency. As far as the innocent hosts are concerned, he may as well be a Terminator.
Then the show revealed once and for all that not only was William a human being, he was the actual owner of the park. Since then, William’s status has never been in doubt…until now, thanks to a mysterious post-credits sequence in the finale.
So what gives? Is The Man In Black a secret robot after all?
The answer remains a definitive no…but also in the distant future kinda maybe. Let me explain. First, it may help to check out our breakdown of the inscrutable post-credits scene. If your link-clicking finger is too tired, here is a helpful TL;DR.
The post-credits scene takes place in the very distant future. The hosts, represented by William’s deceased daughter Emily, are testing William for “fidelity” just like William once tested the data ghost of his father-in-law for fidelity. The scene occurs so far in the future that Ed Harris confirmed to USA Today that the “original” Man In Black is in fact dead. As you know, however, dead men have this habit of not walking around in the flesh. So who is this William? Is he a host?
Whether this distant future William is a host depends on your definition of host. He’s not inhabiting his original, organic body so in that sense: sure, he’s a robot. But the inner-workings of his new host body are presumably the exact same awful and evil William. It’s William’s exact personality and essence extracted. As the episode earlier reveals it’s not even that hard to extract a human’s mind. The attempts with Delos failed because the system mistakenly assumed that human’s are complex. In fact, they are quite simple. It only takes some 10,000 or so lines of code to replicate them exactly.
This future William then is very much William, just not in the original in-the-flesh way one would expect. William is only kinda-sorta a robot in the finale’s post-credits scene.
As for everything that happens before that in the finale – and everything that happens to William in season one and two entirely? Forget it. There’s no host there. He’s all human and always has been. In fact, since the system in The Forge singles him out as “irredeemable,” he may have been the “most human” human on the show.