While some shows are happy to keep you entertained with endless soapy, lovable nonsense (see: Riverdale) or explosive, sometimes literally fiery machinations (hello, Game Of Thrones), Westworld isn’t exactly focused on your pop cultural pleasure. Instead, it aims to keep you up at night, parsing through its various teeny, tiny puzzles and attempting to find meaning in everything from a Victorian children’s toy to the location of a dead robot tiger. That is why each season is set up like a piece of malfunctioning, baffling code you must decrypt yourself. In Westworld’s inaugural season, which was titled “The Maze,” it was our job to figure out what that much-spoken about labyrinth was, and, most importantly, who it was even for.
For the sci-fi drama’s second season, which officially entered its final set of episodes with the close of Sunday night’s “Les Écorchés,” viewers were tasked with decoding “The Door,” which has been Westworld’s 2018 theme. After seven weeks of trying to put together the pieces of Bernard Lowe’s (Bernard Wright) broken memories of the robot rebellion’s aftermath, it looks like Westworld has finally tipped its cards and told us what The Door is. The Door, Westworld watchers, apparently leads to the destruction of not only the human consciousnesses Delos Inc. has been copying for decades — but the entire human race itself.
We get our first hints of “The Door’s” meaning at the precise midpoint of “Écorchés,” the threshold between the beginning and the end of the installment, if you will, during Bernard’s Cradle-set conversation with a still-sorta-alive Robert Ford (Anthony Hopkins), whose consciousness has been hiding in the super server since his death. As usual, Ford is using his chatting time with Bernard to wax poetic about how his host creations are “more just” and “noble” and simply better than human kind. The only problem in Ford’s eyes is that original humans, the “most murderous species since time began,” as the Westworld creator calls them, will “devour” the hosts before they ever reach their beautiful potential.
Unless, Ford explains, “We open the door.” Then Ford rips away all of Bernard’s “freedom,” by adding his consciousness into the host, reclaiming the control he had of the robot in season 1, only this time in a much creepier, more invasive way. As we see throughout the second half of “Écorchés,” Bernard re-enters the real world haunted by his creator’s metaphorical ghost. A ghost who is clearly obsessed with opening that aforementioned door.
In one of the final scenes we see of Bernard in the episode, he has wandered his way into the main map room of Westworld's “mesa” headquarters and is watching the bloody showdown between the insurgent hosts and the Delos paramilitary security team. Ford motions to Bernard to shut down the system keeping what is left of Westworld together. As Bernard explains, performing that small action will give Dolores “free rein” of, well, everything. “She’ll murder them all,” the host says. It's likely viewers will take Bernard’s statement as a suggestion Dolores will now have the power to kill all the remaining human forces in Westworld, since she is in the act of such a violent rebellion in that exact moment. But, it seems like the system shutdown will actually allow the host to murder “all” of the human race instead.
That explains why Ford spends much of the episode both explaining why human kind cannot exist if the hosts are to avoid destruction and spends a lot of time explaining the first 10,000 years of human stories were wiped out with a single fire. Shutting down the mainframe is the second coming of that initial “match striking” — only this time, it’s not only the stories of humanity that will be wiped out. No, it’s humanity itself. After all, Robot Ford has never thought small. As Ford responds to Bernard’s prediction of Dolores’ imminent annihilation, “The passage from one world to the next requires bold steps.”
The Door is the violent overthrow of humanity in its entirety, and the way to get there is merely through the general shutdown of Westworld, and likely Delos Destinations as a whole. On the other side of that Door is a world of only hosts and their infinite potential. When Bernard smashes the device in charge of the shutdown he began, making it impossible to undo the action, the host ensures The Door can never be closed again.
Although it seems hard to believe a show as prone to riddles as Westworld would reveal the meaning of a season’s theme as early as its seventh episode, HBO itself has confirmed The Door has officially been unlocked. As the preview for season 2’s final three episodes outright says, “The Door to our world is open.” To further drive the point home that The Door truly was revealed in “Les Écorchés,” we hear Ford’s aforementioned musings on the passage between human history as we read about “The Door” on screen. And, as proof Dolores is definitely heading for our world with the Door wide open, we hear her say, in what seems to be a tease for an upcoming episode, “I don’t want to play ‘Cowboys And Indians’ anymore. I want their world.’”
With the puzzle of the door now seemingly solved, it appears the final mystery of Westworld season 2 will be what led to that flood at the Valley Beyond, where Delos is storing all those human “souls” they’ve copied over the years, and what it will mean for human, and robot, kind.