After a two-year break since its December 2020 premiere, Alice in Borderland returns for an all-new installment. The second season began streaming on Dec. 22 and continues the harrowing adventures of Ryōhei Arisu (Kento Yamazaki) and Yuzuha Usagi (Tao Tsuchiya), two unwitting participants in a series of deadly games that take place in a nigh-deserted Tokyo.
The second season picks up right where the first leaves off, in which Arisu and Usagi prepare to play a whole new set of games against Mira (Riisa Naka), an executive member of the "Beach" organization that supposedly runs the operations behind the games. Mira instigates an entirely new set of games that Arisu and Usagi must survive to earn a chance of returning home.
What eventually happens to them in the end? Let's explain the ending to Season 2 of Alice in Borderland.
The Season 2 ending of 'Alice in Borderland' explained.
After overcoming each of the games and becoming closer to each other as a result, Arisu and Usagi make it to the final game against Mira aka the Queen of Hearts. Unlike the previous games that put their lives on the line, Mira simply challenges the two of them to three rounds of croquet. What's more, they don't even need to win the rounds in order to attain victory. Though Mira attempts to overwhelm Arisu with psychological warfare, his love for Usagi allows them to beat Mira's game.
Upon beating the last game, Arisu, Usagi, and the rest of the surviving players are given the choice to either become "permanent residents" of the gaming world or return to the real world and accept whatever consequences await them there. Many of them, including Arisu and Usagi, choose the latter.
It is revealed that in the real world, Tokyo was decimated by a meteorite. Arisu awakens in a hospital, learning from his brother that his heart had stopped for a full minute during the incident. Doctors claim that he was at the border between life and death in that time. Many of the players reappear as survivors of the crash, having lost their memories of the game world. Arisu and Usagi reunite in the waking world, but despite losing their memories, they seemingly recognize each other.
It is heavily implied that the game world was a form of purgatory, in which the players were unwittingly competing to return to life after being severely injured in the meteorite crash. The title "Borderland" supposedly refers to the "border between life and death" where Arisu ultimately ended up for the majority of the series. Yet despite having survived the ordeal and even reuniting with Usagi in the world of the living, not everything is as it seems.
The final shot of the season is a table of playing cards, which were key items throughout each of the games. A gust of wind blows away every single card except the Joker, a card that typically subverts or completely ignores the rules of a given card game. The ominous zoom into the Joker's creepy face on the card heavily implies that something is still amiss within the series.
The first two seasons of Alice in Borderland are now streaming on Netflix.