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‘Alice in Borderland’ Season 2 Ending Explained: What Was Real and What Was Fake?

One of the most twisted shows on Netflix is back. And if you thought that Alice in Borderland’s first season was warped, you’re not ready for Season 2.

Based on the manga of the same name by Haro Aso, Alice in Borderland is a dystopian sci-fi series where survivors of an apocalyptic event are forced to play games. Win and you get a few more days. Lose and it’s your life. Think of it as live-action anime Squid Game that was released a full year before the Korean hit. Trying to parse through Alice in Borderland’s Season 2 ending? We have your back.

Alice in Borderland Season 2 Plot Synopsis… What Is The Plot of Alice in Borderland Season 2?

If you need a refresher, Alice in Borderland takes place in modern-day Tokyo after an unexplained event wipes out most of this major city. The survivors who are left are given visas to stay in this new realm, known as Borderland. When their visas expire, they’re shot on sight by a laser. The only way to extend a visa and keep living is to compete in a series of games. Each game has been assigned a different card. The suit of each refers to the type of game — Spades are strength, Clubs are team battles, Diamonds are battles of wits, and Hearts are games of betrayal — and the number refers to the level of difficulty. It’s a simple system for a really messed up concept.

Last season ended with former gamer turned best boy Arisu (Kento Yamazaki), climbing enthusiast Usagi (Tao Tsuchiya), and the rest of the survivors making their way through all of the number cards. That means it’s time for the face cards.

Usagi (Tao Tsuchiya) in Alice in Borderland
Photo: Netflix

First up was the King of Clubs. Arisu, Usagi, the timid Tatta (Yutaro Watanabe), the punch-happy Kuina (Aya Asahina), and heavily scarred Niragi (Dori Sakurada) took on Kyuma (Tomohisa Yamashita) and his gang, the leader of a band who truly believes that everyone on his team is equal. It was an uphill battle that almost ended in our heroes’ deaths. But at the last minute it was Tatta who figured out how to win. Each player was given a bracelet that showed his or her point value. Players on different teams were encouraged to “battle,” which in this case meant touching each other. After contact was made, whoever had fewer points lost the battle. After being told that he was selfish and unfocused his whole life, Tatta cut off his own hand so that Arisu could use his bracelet to take down the constantly naked King himself. His plan worked, but it also cost Tatta his life.

Where was Chishiya (Nijirō Murakami), our manipulative medical student, during all of this? He was taking on the Jack of Hearts. All participants in this game were given collars that displayed their suit on the back of their necks. Those collars could only be seen by other participants. Periodically, all players had to enter chambers and announce their suit. Saying the wrong suit meant instant death, so yeah, the stakes were high. The game was eventually won by Sunato Banda (Hayato Isomura) and Ōki Yaba (Maiguma Katsuya), who let Chishiya live in an uncharacteristically nice move.

Chishiya (Nijirō Murakami) in Alice in Borderland
Photo: Netflix

The rest of the season was just as high stakes as these first two games. Usagi, Arisu, and a very unlucky kid managed to face off and win against the Queen of Spades. Chishiya tested his intellect against the King of Diamonds, a man who sacrificed himself so that Chishiya could live. Finally, Arisu, Usagi, Chishiya, Kuina, Niragi, driving extraordinaire Rizuna (Ayaka Miyoshi), high school archery pro Heiya (Yuri Tsunematsu), and the fearless Aguni (Sho Aoyagi) all teamed up to take on arguably the most formidable foe in this game: the King of Spades.

All season long the King of Spades hunted these survivors with his arsenal of weapons. It took every ounce of planning, cunning, and strength, but the remaining eight were finally able to take him down. It was a victory that came with a particularly high cost. That battle left Chishiya, Kuina, Heiya, Niragi, Rizuna, and Aguni all on the brink of death. The only people able to tackle the final face card were Arisu and the barely-able-to-walk Usagi.

Remember, the game that took out Arisu’s two best friends and emotionally scarred him was a Seven of Hearts. So you better believe that the Queen of Hearts was a living nightmare. Mira Kano (Riisa Naka) originally told Arisu and Usagi that they would just be playing a game of croquet. But as is always the case with hearts, the actual game was far more manipulative and intricate than hitting a few balls. Mira used Arisu’s desperation to learn the truth about Borderlands to manipulate him, lying to him repeatedly until he finally believed that he had a breakdown after his friends’ deaths and that she was actually his psychiatrist. After luring him into her web, Mira told Arisu that if he took the pills she offered, he could give up and this would all end.

You know who called this bluff? Usagi. She explained that if this was all part of Arisu’s imagination then he wouldn’t actually care about her, and that simply wasn’t the case. Usagi cut her wrist to wake Arisu from his trance. As desperate as that move was, it worked. Arisu reached for her instead of the pills. This sweet moment moved Mira so much that she agreed to finish their game of croquet, essentially admitting defeat and embracing certain death.

After the Queen of Hearts fell, all of the remaining survivors were given a choice. They could either stay in Borderland permanently or they could leave it and experience whatever was on the other side. Only two people — the winners from the Jack of Hearts, Banda and Yada — decided to stay in Borderland. The rest declined. That’s where this series really ends.

Rizuna (Ayaka Miyoshi), Kuina (Aya Asahina), Usagi (Tao Tsuchiya) and Arisu (Kento Yamazaki) in Alice in Borderland
Photo: Netflix

Alice in Borderland Season 2 Ending Explained:

After everything, the Queen of Hearts was sort of right. In some way, this was all a hallucination. All of this misery started the day that Arisu and his friends Chōta (Yūki Morinaga) and Karube (Keita Machida) saw fireworks around the Shibuya train station. In Alice in Borderland‘s final moments, the series returns to that fateful day. Only the fireworks that Arisu, Chōta, and Karube saw weren’t fireworks but a meteorite.

Chōta and Karube as well as several others died during the collision, just as they did in Borderland. But Arisu, Usagi, Chishiya, Kuina, Niragi, Rizuna, Heiya, and Aguni all survived. It’s implied that everything that happened in Borderland was a limbo of sorts, either a collective hallucination or a realm between life and death that Arisu experienced during the single minute he was “dead.”

“Episode 8” shows what really happened to all of Borderland’s survivors. Both Rizuna and Aguni were put in intensive care, but it’s implied that they both survive. Chishiya ended up in a hospital bed beside his former rival Niragi, and the two were able to joke together. Kuina was reunited with her transphobic parents after running away from them. Heiya lost her leg in the explosion. We even see what happened to the little kid Arisu and Usagi protected during the Queen of Spades challenge. He escaped with minor head injuries. That left Arisu and Usagi.

The lovebirds ran into each other in front of the hospital’s vending machine. Arisu asked Usagi if they had met before, and she said they hadn’t. But after talking with him a bit longer, she changed her mind. They took a walk together, and Arisu finally decided to embrace his life instead of burying himself in video games.

In Alice in Borderland’s final moments, the camera settles on a table outside of the hospital that’s littered with playing cards. All of the cards are blown away save for one: the Joker. Does that mean this was all fake and that Borderland is actually reality? Is this a joke that the manga’s creator Haro Aso is playing on us all? Are we looking at a backdoor Persona 5 pilot? We honestly have no idea. But we relish wasting several more hours trying to figure it out.

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