Alice in Borderland season 2 ending explained – do the players make it back to the real world?

By Jonathon Wilson
Published: January 4, 2022 (Last updated: March 13, 2024)
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Alice in Borderland season 2 ending explained - do the players make it back to the real world?
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Summary

Alice in Borderland Season 2 delivers an exciting and poignant finale that just about works as an ending if the show isn’t renewed, but realistically feels like a setup for more games to follow.

This article contains spoilers for the Netflix series Alice in Borderland season 2, episode 8, including an open discussion on Alice in Borderland Season 2’s ending.


It has been a long time getting here, in more ways than one. As if the two-year wait for a second season wasn’t agonizing enough, the expanded episode runtimes of Alice in Borderland’s eight-episode sophomore outing – this finale alone is feature-length – made the journey a lengthy but never quite arduous one. Nevertheless, here we are, and there’s everything still to play for.

Alice in Borderland season 2 ending explained

To recap, briefly, Arisu and his friends, only some of whom have survived this far, have made it to the final battle with the Queen of Hearts, aka Mira. Arisu and Usagi are the two players registered, with most of the gang having been killed or badly injured in the battle with the King of Spades in Episode 7. Kuina, Ann, Aguni, Akane, and Chishiya are all either dead or barely hanging on. Usagi has a few knife wounds of her own.

It’s quite fitting that the finale game is the most obviously Alice in Wonderland-inspired. It’s initially a game of croquet that the pair don’t even have to win but simply complete three rounds of. However, there is such a thing as too good to be true, and that’s very much in play here. Mira keeps employing delaying tactics while Usagi’s wounds fester.

There’s definitely a sense of the season’s underlying themes catching up to the action here, though. The most persistent question that has been asked throughout has been whether or not the group will be able to return to the real world on completion of the games, and to Arisu, Mira represents the potential answer to that question, so he presses her about it. In return she spins false accounts, trying to convince him that everything has been a delusion born of the trauma of losing Karube and Chota in a car accident. She claims to be a doctor treating him in a psychiatric facility, and that Usagi is a fellow patient.

Luckily, Usagi is able to snap them back to reality with a bit of self-harm, and Mira is actually moved enough by their authentic connection to concede. As has been a trend all throughout the season, though, she’s able to say very little before she’s eventually fatally run through with a laser. Apparently, Arisu will have two choices, and the one he picks will reveal what kind of person he truly is.

What does the ending of Alice in Borderland Season 2 mean?

After the completion of the games, the surviving players are all asked whether they want to remain and become “citizens”, presumably like the previous face-card game masters, which implies that there has been a version of these games before and, of course, that there could be another version of them again, with faces like Banda and Yaba becoming citizens.

Needless to say, Arisu, Usagi, Kuina, Chishiya, Aguni, and Akane all decline – even Niragi does.

It seems very much like those who decline the offer to return to the real world, albeit one damaged by a meteorite that they all mistook as fireworks. They’re all patients in a hospital, united by the fact their hearts all stopped for one minute after the disaster, but otherwise strangers; they have no memory of any of the things they experienced in Borderland. And yet there is a quiet, unspoken connection between them as they walk through the hospital gardens, that sense of shared experience and feelings. It isn’t quite a happy ending, but it’s close.

What does the Joker card mean?

However, one of the final things we see is a table in the gardens containing several cards that are carried and scattered by a light breeze, leaving only a Joker card behind. This implies that the gang remains in the game in some form, and are about to face their steepest – or at least most unpredictable – challenge yet.

What does the Joker card mean? Probably nothing good. The connotations of the Joker card are rarely positive — in most card games they have some kind of special, often detrimental effect, and the very idea of them is that they don’t look or behave like any other cards in a deck, which are all defined by their suit and number. It could mean that Arisu and the others have stepped outside of the game’s usual parameters, or simply that they’re being tricked into believing the games are over when they’re not.

You can stream Alice in Borderland season 2, episode 8 exclusively on Netflix. What did you think of the Alice in Borderland Season 2 ending? Let us know in the comments.


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