The Final Game
Episode 8 of Alice in Borderland Season 2 starts this finale with a look at the devastation caused by the King of Diamonds. Akane and Aguni are barely holding on and almost dead, while Ann most certainly has passed. Kuani, Chishiya and Niragi watch on weakly as the blimp hovers overhead.
What happens during the final game?
Of course, this brings us to the final game. Arisu, Usagi and the Queen of Croquet, Mira, are together. The game is simple. Arisu and Usagi just need to complete three sets of croquet without withdrawing. If they give up, it’s game over. They don’t even have to win, but just complete the game. There’s no way it’s that simple, right?
Each team has two balls. To win, they need to pass their balls through the six hoops in a certain order then hit the final finishing peg. In doing so, it will then win the game. The Queen wins the first set with relative ease, while the second is dragged out. This seems to be part of the Queen’s game, given Usagi is bleeding out and is on borrowed time.
Arisu wins the second round, eventually, but before they start the third, the Queen decides they should stop for tea. Whilst sitting together, she hints at knowing more about this world and what’s happening. She immediately rattles off about the future and how humanity has advanced in the last 1000 years.
Is Arisu really in therapy?
Is the Queen telling the truth or is all of this a big game? Arisu notices a camera in the bushes behind and eventually susses out that Mira is taking them for a ride. Her stories about aliens, androids and this being a big virtual reality game are all unfounded.
With a gun pointed at Mira’s head, she eventually reveals that everything they’re seeing is all an illusion. Something concocted inside Arisu’s head. All these children’s games he’s been playing were deisnged deliberately by his psyche and he was always destined to make it this far. Mira is his psychiatrist and they’ve been doing therapy together all this time but he’s forgotten. The story is incredibly realistic, including Chota and Karube actually being hit at Shibuya Square and Arisu in a hospital, grieving.
When Usagi shows up and pleads with Arisu to wake up, Mira immediately turns and asks Arisu if he wants to give up. Of course, they’re still in the game and as Usagi begins bleeding, collapsing on the floor, she stops him from taking pills and even slits her own wrists as a way of waking him up. Arisu is forced to confront his own demons.
How does Arisu escape?
The hardest battle to fight is that of the mind, and it’s Usagi’s influence – and the love they have for another one – that helps break free from the Queen’s mental stranglehold to push back through to the Croquet game on the rooftop. “game on.” Arisu says, deciding not to give up.
As such, we return to the table, with Arisu holding Usagi, who happens to have really slit her wrists. Mira actually helps them out, after seeing this display of love first-hand, and they end up playing the final set. Mira wins, but as they finished all 3 sets and completed the game without giving up, Arisu and Usagi win by default.
Do Arisu and Usagi make it out alive?
Mira promises that Arisu will find out the truth around what’s happening very soon, going on to tell them he’ll have a choice that he’ll need to make which will explain everything. And with that, Mira is killed and the final game is cleared. The Queen of Hearts’s blimp is destroyed, setting off fireworks all over Tokyo.
All surviving players are given that aforementioned choice that Mira mentioned. They either accept or decline permanent residency in this world. Agune and Akane both decline. Kuani does the same, while we see players all over the place choosing to decline or accept.
What happened in Tokyo?
We then jump back to Arisu back in the real world, with Chota and Karube still alive. They encourage Arisu to live his life to the fullest and not waste a second of it. All of our characters who declined the invitation are there too, in Shibuya, but this time we see things from another perspective. While Arisu and the others head down to the bottom of the train station and hide out, a meteor crashes and smashes into Tokyo, blowing the entire place to smithereens.
Arisu survives somehow and awakens to find medical personnel around. In fact, they’re everywhere, trying to help out the injured and assess the extent of damages here.
How does Alice in Borderland Season 2 end?
It’s been two days since the meteorite exploded over Tokyo and an entire 10km radius has been completely destroyed. Karube, Chota, Tatta, Shibuki and several others are declared dead. Apparently Arisu had also been dead for a whole minute too, given his heart had stopped, during that time. Chishiya is there too with Niragi, while Akane and Agune are also alive. Ann returns from the dead too, although it’s touch and go for a while, given she’s in surgery for a while.
Kuani is reunited with her mother and father, while Arisu looks out the window and notices all the characters we’ve seen over the course of the season with their loved ones or recovering in hospital. And of course, we finally fall to Usagi. Now, none of the characters really know each other in this reality but the bonds they’ve formed over time and in the game world clearly can’t be broken and have managed to transcend time.
When Arisu and Usagi touch hands, they get a sense of Deja vu as if they’ve met each other before. The pair decide to go for a walk together and step outside. Arisu encourages her to hold onto him as they head outside. The camera pans across to a table where there’s a deck of cards. All the cards disappear, with the only one left happening to be the Joker. The camera zooms in and we fade to black.
What does the Joker card mean?
While the actual meaning of this card could well be coincidence and just a way of potentially teasing another season, Alice in Borderland has never just been random and everything seems to be placed deliberately.
The Joker card at the end generally tends to act as a wild card. Of course, this could be in reference to “The Fool”, as it’s commonly referred to, as in this entire final act was just a whole fantasy concocted and it’s part of the same game again, but a different layer to what we’ve seen before.
Then again, there’s also the idea that the Joker represents unexpected changes in fortune, which could have a simple meaning of showing that Arisu has now changed his fate and managed to find good fortune among all this misery. The fact that the meaning is so ambiguous certainly leaves a positive or negative outcome on the table – we’ll leave that up to you to decide!
What is the game world? Did the meteorite really hit?
There are several different theories around the final act and the best seems to indicate that these guys and gals didn’t physically move to the game-world but instead just had their souls transported there, with all these life and death games essentially representing their struggles to try and stay alive in the wake of such atrocity. The game world serves as a sort of gateway between life and death. The “fireworks” weren’t fireworks after all but actually the sparks from the meteor breaking up and crashing into Earth.
The idea of letting people stay in the game world seems to be a way of giving these souls the choice of either accepting death or going back to their bodies. Those who stay within the game world and take up permanent residence are presumably either dead or stuck in comas. The time within the game world is very clearly a lot longer than that in real life, in a sort of nod to Inception and the way our dreams feel longer than they are. We know that Arisu’s heart stopped for a whole minute before he awoke, so it seems this minute is about the same length as the entire game world.
So the meteorite did hit and those who managed to make it all the way to the end and survive the game, make their choice and find a way back to their real life. It would appear that the game is now over but of course, there could be another twist to the tame.
The Episode Review
So Alice in Borderland comes to a excellent conclusion, with some solid answers around what’s happening and a lovely final scene to end things on. This Japanese series has been a wild ride over the episodes and this second season has arguably been better than the first, with a lot of solid set pieces, exciting games and a lot of answers to the big questions too.
The idea that the bonds these guys made within the game world transcends time and space is a beautiful idea and it helps to give this show some gravitas beyond a simple selection of life or death games.
There’s a lot to pick out here and dissect, and in a way it would be a disservice to see this renewed. I appreciate the manga continues with Alice in Borderland: Retry, but the ending we get here is actually really solid and it’s not really needed to drag this one out.
The ambiguity that this one finished with is partly why it works so well and throughout the season we’ve seen a number of ideas toyed with, including humanity, life’s purpose, honour, friendship and love. Alice in Borderland has been a fantastic watch and worth its weight in gold. Surely this one’s got a spot on the top TV shows of 2022 right?