‘Alice in Borderland’ Season 2: Ending, Explained – What Does The Joker Card Signify? Will There Be A Season 3?


The second season of the Netflix series “Alice in Borderland” tells us how hypocritical and pretentious human beings are. Its narrative gives a critique of our society, thereby making us privy to the absurdity of man-made systems. Season two begins from where it had left us in the earlier season. Arisu, Usagi, Kuina, Chishiya and Ann had won the games, and they waited to witness what else was in store for them. They were told that, though they had collected all the Number Cards from the deck, the Face Cards were still left to be collected. So, let’s see what kind of challenges Face Cards pose in front of the players and if they are able to return to their real world once they have completed the games successfully.

Spoilers Ahead

Who Were The Citizens? What Did The Games Aim At Doing?

Arisu, Usagi and others soon found out that the motive of the games was not only to pose a challenge in front of the competitors but also to make them privy to their own real selves. Human beings live a life of contradictions and ostentatiousness, and the games were devised in such a manner that they peel off the layers and expose the real nature of each and every individual. When Arisu and his team played the first game called Osmosis, they were forced to face the truth from which they had been hiding. Kyuma, who was the King of Clubs, said that the gaming world was more real than the actual one. Kyuma and his teammates, i.e., Shitara, Uta, Maki and Goken used to play in a band together, but in due course of time, they made the decision to stay in the Borderland. Kyuma questioned the beliefs of the participants, especially Arisu and asked according to which parameters they were calling his world a fake one. He said that in his world, the games were a personification of conversations, but the difference was that here, the participants always spoke the truth. There was no scope for hypocrisy when one’s survival was at stake. A person might have pretended to be a sage who was ready to sacrifice his life for the sake of others and the games in the Borderland proved whether what he said was right or wrong. Kyuma believed that facing death changed a human being internally. Arisu’ meeting with Kyuma deeply impacted him. He knew if he had met the King of Clubs under normal circumstances, then they would have surely been friends. Both Arisu and Usagi saw how people left their ideals and principles at the first sign of trouble when they were competing together, in their second game, called Checkmate, against the Queen of Spades. Usagi had come to the arena with an orphan named Kota. People had sympathy for the kid, but they were not ready to lose because of him. There was a limit to which they could show empathy and it was highly circumstantial.  Towards the end of the game, Checkmate, Usagi had to make the people understand that it was not always about winning or losing, but it was about keeping humanity alive within them. She told them that the world wouldn’t be worth living if people didn’t care for each other and only looked out for their own selfish interests.

Chishiya had a mind-altering experience when he took part in two games back-to-back. In the first one, which was called Solitary Confinement, the Jack of Hearts had devised the game in such a manner that it exposed how untrustworthy and dishonest people could be. Everybody was ready to backstab each other, and they didn’t mind breaking the trust of another participant and letting them die. A similar thing happened in the game created by King of Diamonds as well. A fellow participant tried to trick Chishiya and the game master, but both of them got the better of her. The King of Diamonds was a man named Kuzuryu, who had been the second in command at The Beach. Kuzuryu was a good man, and he wanted to do what he wasn’t able to do in the real world. Kuzuryu was a lawyer who had fought a case for a huge multinational. The company had to pay a settlement amount as a fine, but they used their power to evade it completely, and the victims were never compensated. Kuzuryu witnessed everything happening in front of his eyes but couldn’t do anything about it. That’s why in the Borderland, he had created a game in which anyone could win, depending upon if it was their lucky day. Kuzuryu and Chishiya were similar in more than one way. Chishiya also had to face a similar dilemma when the grandson of the board of directors was given preference on the heart transplant list, and the one without any such backing was left to die by the doctors. Chishiya had realized the eternal truth of life, and his encounter with the King of Diamonds transformed him internally. So, one could say the citizens were not bad people and had found refuge in the Borderland. These were the people who didn’t have anything to look forward to in the real world or maybe they were so disappointed at the hypocritical means and methods of society that they had decided to stay in the Borderland forever.

Were Aguni And Niragi Still Alive?

Heading into the second season of “Alice in Borderland,” we spot that Aguni, and Niragi are still alive. Niragi became a part of Arisu’s team and played the game with them. It felt like such a big tragedy would have completely changed Niragi’s behavior, but the opposite had happened. Niragi had accepted the fact that he was a villain and that he needed to play out his part just like the good people in society. He believed if there were a majority of people like him, he wouldn’t have been considered a devil.

Aguni, on the other hand, was hiding in the forest with Akane Heiya and making a strategy to kill the King of Spades. The King of Spades was probably the only game master who didn’t have a proper game. He just massacred everyone who came into his sight. He was constantly supplied with bullets from the blimps that were hovering in the sky. He had been chasing Arisu, Usagi and others since the very beginning, and they were still clueless about how to deal with the assassin and get the better of him. The King of Spades was wearing a bulletproof jacket, which made it even more difficult to kill him. In the 8th episode of “Alice in Borderland”, we saw that as there were only two Face Cards left, all the survivors had decided to reach Shibuya and participate in the games. Arisu and Usagi’s spirits were lifted when they got reunited with Ann, Kuina, Akane and Aguni. The group believed that together they could kill the King of Spades and proceed to the next game. They didn’t have enough firepower to tackle the King of Spades, so Arisu came up with the idea that they would draw him to a nearby medical store, fill it with gas and blow up the whole thing. Aguni decided to be the bait, but the King of Spades’ ferocity was unparalleled, and eventually, everybody had to come out of hiding and fight with him. He started wreaking havoc on the players and severely injured each one of them. He almost killed Ann, Akane and Kuina, and he showed no sign of weakness. Even cumulatively, they weren’t able to stop him. After putting in a great deal of effort, Arisu was able to lure him inside the medical store. Aguni and Arisu together blew up the entire facility and finally put an end to their nightmare. Though Aguni shared a past with the King of Spades, he told him that he didn’t have anything against him. Aguni shot his nemesis, and we saw the Blimp in the sky getting shattered into pieces.

Niragi challenged Arisu and Chishiya to a game and told them that, contrary to what they thought about themselves, they were equally selfish and cruel as him. He said that they could also do anything to save their own lives. Arisu went through self-introspection and this time he didn’t lie to himself. He knew that no matter what he said, he still feared death and was constantly trying to escape his doom. For the first time, Arisu dropped his weapon and stood in front of Niragi. He told Niragi that though he desperately wanted to go to the real world, he was not ready to do it at the cost of someone else’s life. Niragi was proved wrong, and he was about to drop his weapon when Usagi arrived at the scene. Seeing her, he got instigated once again, and he shot her. Chishiya came in between and saved Usagi’s life. Chishiya and Niragi sat on the ground, like two wounded soldiers who had fought against each other with all their might but then had suddenly realized that such violence was not worth the cause.

‘Alice in Borderland’ Season 2: Ending Explained – Were Arisu And Usagi Alive? Did They Come Back To The Real World?

Arisu and Usagi were the only ones who were in a condition to walk and function properly. All the others had been severely injured while fighting with the King of Spades. In the final episode of “Alice in Borderland,” they got ready to face the last challenge, where the queen of hearts was waiting for them with another game. Arisu and Usagi wanted to win at any cost, as they knew that only then they could go back to their real world. Mira Kano, who was once a board member in Hatter’s regime, was the Queen of Hearts, and she had created the last game herself. It was a simple game of croquet, and she told both the participants if they played all three rounds without quitting or forfeiting the game in the middle, then they would win the last battle. Arisu and Usagi found it very surprising to know that winning or losing the game was immaterial to the final result. All the games they had played followed a simple pattern: they just had to win and survive. They couldn’t understand how it made any sense or what exactly the challenge was, that they had to overcome. Mira was a shrewd conspirator, and she had decided to play with the minds of both the participants. Her game was not about their stamina or their strength; it was going to test how mentally strong they were. After a couple of rounds of croquet, Mira took a tea break. Arisu was in a hurry to finish the game as Usagi was profusely bleeding after getting injured while fighting with the King of Spades. Arisu was persistently asking Mira if they would be able to return to their world after they finished the game. Mira also gave in to his request after a point but warned him about the fact that what she was about to tell him might shock him. The first theory that Mira put forward was that they were about 1000 years into the future, where rampant technological advancement had changed the face of the Earth. Mira said that humans were able to do gene manipulation and find cures for terminal diseases like cancer. She also said that scientific discoveries were able to eliminate all-natural disasters and in short, humans had become immortal. Mira said that Arisu was placed in a virtual reality simulation, and he was so engrossed in it that he had forgotten that all of it was not real. According to Mira, she was the administrator of the system, and Arisu, time and again, played the game because he missed the dopamine rush that humans, in general, used to get when their survival was at stake. Before Arisu could grasp the shocking revelations, Mira told him that she was just joking. Considering the bizarre developments that had happened in their lives, it was not improbable what Mira was suggesting, which is why Arisu and Usagi did entertain the possibility of it happening, even if it was for a fleeting moment.

The second theory that Mira gave was that the Earth was attacked by aliens, and they had been able to wipe off the memories of the entire human race. Mira said that for some time, there was a rumor spreading that the so-called elites of the society had created an underground community where they made Androids participate in a game and placed bets on them. Mira said that Arisu, Usagi and all the others were merely androids who had been given artificial memory and planted in the area for combat. Arisu got agitated and asked Mira if it was the truth or once again, she was playing games with him. Mira said that, once again, she was joking with them.

Mira told her third and last theory, and it had such a deep impact on Arisu that he almost got convinced to do what Mira was asking him to do. Mira said that she was a therapist, and Arisu had started visiting her after he lost his friends in the accident. She said that Usagi had also been admitted to the same hospital after she lost someone very close to her. Mira said that they had become like two peas in a pod and had developed a strong emotional bond. Arisu once again visited his past and saw his friends getting killed right in front of his eyes while crossing the road. Arisu started feeling guilty and held himself responsible for the deaths of Karube and Chotu. Mira made Arisu believe that to hide from his own emotions, he had created these childlike games inside his mind. She told him that it was all an illusion and that nothing existed in reality. According to Mira, Arisu had forgotten that these games were figments of imagination, and that is why he now wanted to know the truth behind them. She told him that he was in a position where he was contradicting himself. His search for a purpose in life overlapped with his desire to know the truth about this gaming world. Usagi intervened, and she told Arisu that he was being misled by Mira, who just wanted them to end the game. Mira had sort of hypnotized both Usagi and Arisu and was coercing them to forfeit the game by making them believe that it was not real. She was almost successful in her endeavors, but Usagi spoiled her plans. She cut her wrist to show Arisu that she had been with him all this time and was pretty much alive and real. She reminded him of all the good times they had spent together. She reminded him of how innocently he had promised Usagi to protect her from all perils and stand alongside her no matter what the circumstances were. Arisu finally came back to his senses, just in time, and Mira accepted her defeat. Though Mira knew that finishing the game of croquet meant that she would be killed by the laser beam, she couldn’t help but admire the beautiful bond that Usagi and Arisu shared. After the final game was finished, there was an announcement made where all the survivors were given the option to either become citizens of Borderland or decline the offer and go back to their world (which we believe to be the real one).

Arisu, Usagi, Aguni, Kuina, Ann, Akane, Chishiya and even Niragi declined the offer to become permanent residents of Borderland and went back to the real world. They didn’t have any memory of what had transpired in the Borderland once they reached their actual world. In the real world we saw that a meteor had struck and caused widespread damage. A lot of people had lost their lives, and many had been gravely injured. Arisu and all the others found themselves in the same hospital, and they felt a sense of deja vu when they saw each other. Aguni was in a coma, and Akane, who lost her leg in the real world, too, saw him from outside. Chishiya and Niragi laid on their beds next to each other and had a conversation about how they hadn’t been very good humans and how they were adamant about rectifying it now. Usagi met Arisu near a food vending machine, and instantly, Arisu got smitten by her. Towards the end of season 2 of “Alice in Borderlands,” we saw a gust of wind blowing away a deck of cards lying on the table. The series left us on a cliffhanger, and the last shot we got, before the screen faded to black, was of the card of a joker.

What Does The Joker Card Signify? Will There Be A Season 3?

The Joker is considered to be a wild card of the highest order, and maybe Shinsuke Sato and his team of writers wanted to hint at what we could expect from “Alice in Borderland” Season 3. It is said that every ending indicates that there is going to be a new beginning, and the Joker card aptly symbolizes that notion. It could be possible that it was just the beginning of another gaming spree, and we would soon see the players returning to the arena and facing the challenges head-on. One thing that could be said with certainty is that the level of games would be a notch higher as compared to what we witnessed in “Alice in Borderland” Season 2. It is not clearly ascertained if a person could only visit the borderlands if they had a near-death experience or there was some other way to do that also. It could also be possible that some extraterrestrial beings were morphing reality and adapting it according to the narrative.

Alternatively, it could also be possible that a meteor might have hit Tokyo in reality, and the people who were on the verge of dying visited the Borderland before a final verdict could be passed upon them. Borderland was like a transit area where it was decided whether the visitors would be kept there forever or sent back to mortal life. Though there are different concepts and theories pertaining to what happens in that transitory zone, in the series “Alice in Borderland,” it is shown that the visitors are made to participate in various games, and only if they succeed are they given a choice to return or stay. So, it is quite possible that nobody would have returned to the real world if Arisu, Usagi and others hadn’t won the games. “Alice in Borderland” Season 3 might give us some answers as to whether there were some higher powers controlling the Borderlands. It is also possible that Arisu and the others find themselves stuck in the games once again.

See More: ‘Alice In Borderland’ World Explained: What Does Borderland Symbolize? Is It Real Or A Fictional Reality?

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Sushrut Gopesh
Sushrut Gopesh
I came to Mumbai to bring characters to life. I like to dwell in the cinematic world and ponder over philosophical thoughts. I believe in the kind of cinema that not necessarily makes you laugh or cry but moves something inside you.

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