The second season of Mr. Robot has been a slow boil. We spent a lot of time in “Elliot’s mom’s house,” and inside Elliot’s head, as the fallout from last season’s hack played out in his absence. For the most part, this fallout was depicted through the show’s female characters. Angela and Darlene both tried to assert themselves in their new roles, and Joanna did, well, lots of Joanna stuff — murder, violent bedroom things, being intense while wearing immaculate designer outfits — with her husband missing. But now with Elliot out and the FBI closing in on the fsociety operation, all of those things are starting to change, and everything came to a head in this week’s suspenseful episode, “Hidden Process,” which kind of served as the typical action-packed prestige television penultimate episode because the next two are being billed as a two-part season finale.
Despite the episode being the first one since the premiere to check in at a standard, non-extended 43 minutes (or maybe because of it), it was packed with big developments. A lot of things happened. This post is 1,500 words and I don’t even mention the thing at the beginning where Price compares himself to the Almighty Lord and insinuates that there are only two people on Earth more powerful than him. (My money is on Whiterose and Martha Stewart.) So let’s jump in before this gets out of hand.
Here are six questions I have about everything that took place.
Tyrell: Dead or nah?
This is the big question. One of the big questions. There are a lot of big questions.
The status of Tyrell Wellick has been an ongoing mystery this season, to the point that it’s becoming a bit of an issue. We thought he was dead, then maybe he was alive, then we were told he was dead and killed by Elliot, and now he might be alive, unless he isn’t, and we won’t find out until next week at the earliest. Which is fine. Mysteries are fun. The problem is that when you spend an entire season building one up, especially when it’s a pretty straightforward question like “Did he die?,” you put a lot of pressure on yourself to make the answer really interesting. Otherwise people will start to wonder, fairly, if the whole rigmarole was worth it.
And in either scenario, there are a bunch of other questions that need to get answered, too. If he’s alive, we need to know how he has remained hidden for this long considering he’s the most wanted man in the world, and why Mr. Robot has gone to such great lengths to hide it from Elliot. And if he’s dead, we need to know who has been calling that phone and sending items to Joanna, and who the hell is crazy enough to screw with Joanna and make her think her dead husband is alive. That last one, mostly. Because until she involved Elliot, she was the only one who knew about all this, which would mean someone has been doing it to troll her, personally. This is a bad idea. The only people I can think of who would be nuts enough to do this are the husband of the woman Tyrell killed in season one, or literally any teen on reddit.
Speaking of Joanna… still terrifying?
So terrifying. Even more so now that she’s flailing around recklessly looking for her husband. Think about this for a second: We know from seeing the cover of at least one tabloid that she’s being followed by the paparazzi, and she’s still running around New York meeting with people who end up murdered and/or were recently released from prison for hacking their therapist’s boyfriend and stealing his dog. That is not what one might call a careful, reasoned strategy. Joanna was terrifying when it seemed like she had everything under control. Now she’s a loose cannon. That’s even scarier.
Also: The beginning of her meeting with Elliot, when she was sitting on the couch with the kind of posture you can only acquire by ordering murders and he was standing in front of her freaking out, had the potential to be the best staring contest in TV history, just based on the two sets of eyes involved. Would I watch a full episode of those two staring at each other in silence, Elliot with his eyes bulging out of their sockets and Joanna with hers set into “ice shark” mode? Maybe.
How funny would it have been if — as the camera was twisting around Elliot’s room Blue’s Clues-style searching for something Mr. Robot was hiding from him, after Mr. Robot disappeared, which seems important — Tyrell just jumped out of Elliot’s closet and shouted “Boo!” like he had been secretly hiding there this whole time?
What was up with everything that happened on the subway?
Elliot has been very bad at intimacy and anything resembling touching, so the fact that he initiated a kiss with Angela feels like a big deal, and seems to signify that there was a very strong emotion behind it. The question is what that emotion was. Was it guilt, for getting her involved in his world and leading her down a path that got her in a subway car on the way to a lawyer’s office to plan a confession to hacking the FBI, which is generally frowned upon? Was it love, and the drama of the situation — and the fact that he might not see her ever again — moved him to do something he wanted to do for a long time? Or both. Or is he just going to have her killed now, like in The Godfather. Probably not that last one.
And who was it that picked up Angela after Elliot left? It says a lot about how hosed she is that there are at least three powerful groups who could be motivated to snatch her off a subway car: E Corp, the Dark Army, and the FBI. Not a fun time to be Ang!
What was the weirdest story in an episode filled with people telling weird stories?
3) Joanna’s henchman’s story about driving around with a violinist who liked to masturbate in the car.
2) Darlene’s story about some strange lady kidnapping her at Coney Island and giving her the life of a princess until the authorities intervened. (And, for the record, there is a lot going here, both in the story itself — imagine, like, the news coverage of it — and in the way she relates to Elliot and the world as a chronic second banana. She had to get kidnapped to feel special as a child, and her brother had to go to jail for her to feel special — or at least in charge — as an adult. Elliot is very messed up, but please know that Darlene is hecka messed up, too.)
1) Joanna’s story about her first date with Tyrell, in which she asked him to acquire a woman’s cubic zirconia earrings, and he did by sleeping with her and stealing them. I want you to think about two things here: One, imagine being on a first date and being told to steal someone’s fake diamond earrings, or hearing them tell this story at a dinner party when someone trying to make small talk asks how they met. And two, imagine the poor woman waking up the next morning and realizing her fake diamond earrings were gone. Picture her explaining it to friends over coffee. Everyone on this show in insane.
Darlene and/or Cisco: Dead or nah?
So here’s where this is interesting: Yes, the thing where Dom ran out covered in blood, meaning someone definitely got hit with one of those bullets, and it was probably someone between her and the gunman, which narrows it down to either Darlene or Cisco. (My money is on Cisco being dead and Darlene being taken in for questioning by the FBI, but this show has proven me very wrong before.) And sure, the thing where two episodes this season have ended with cliffhangers involving a Dark Army mass shooting in which Dom has to hit the deck to avoid getting killed, and the hitman commits suicide before getting caught. (The static shot in this one, set up outside the diner with the wall obscuring our view, made the whole thing really intense, especially the way it was cut together with the other action from the episode.)
But mostly, how did the Dark Army know where to go? They showed up just after Dom radioed it in, and she was the only one who figured out where Cisco was. That seems to imply one heck of a circumstance, or that the Dark Army has access to the FBI’s communications through hacking or a source. Maybe it was Dom’s boss, who was all “Eh” in response to her concerns that a BOLO for Cisco would get him killed, because it looks like he’s either very evil or very incompetent. Sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference.
So, yeah. That two-part finale is shaping up to be pretty interesting.