The two-part season two finale of Mr. Robot kicked off this week. The show was coming off its best episode of the season, one in which gears started cranking in a bunch of different directions, speeding up what had to at that point been a slow burn. A lot happened. The whole thing ended with one character getting abducted on the subway and another possibly dead or injured in a storm of bullets at a small New York restaurant. It left us with a number of unanswered questions, both small and large, and the hope that the final two hours could pull everything together to provide a resolution.
This brings us to last night’s episode, and lol, of course we’re not getting answers yet. Or if we are, we’re just getting ones that raise more questions. This is Mr. Robot, dummy. You should know what you’re dealing with at this point. That’s not to say the episode was bad. Not at all. I think I loved it, actually. It was just… it was really nuts. Sometimes I think the only reason I recap it is so I can confirm everything really happened and I’m not the one having vivid hallucinations about anarchy and Christian Slater, you know?
Let’s try to sort through all of this together. Here are some questions I have heading into the conclusion of the season.
What the hell?
I mean, right? Even for a show with a long track record of letting things just get weird as hell and then rolling with, this episode was strange. You probably watched that trippy episode with the ’90s sitcom opening and thought, “Well, this is the weirdest thing I’ll see this year, for sure.” But then last night a child in professional attire walked into a room containing a fish tank and a Commodore 64 and a “Hang In There” kitty poster and proceeded to interrogate a recently kidnapped woman about whether she is a giraffe or a seagull. Am I saying that was definitively weirder than a character having a TGIF-influenced psychotic break in which Alf killed a guy? Nope. But I am saying it’s a worthy challenger. That’s really saying something.
What’s going on with Angela and Whiterose and what was up with the Dark Army’s Tiny Interrogation Unit, anyway?
So, a few things here:
– I looked over my notes after this episode ended and realized that I had written “What the hell?” four separate times, three of which were related to this scene. I want you all to really think about what happened here. There’s a high-ranking official in the Chinese government who leads a secret double life as a female puppetmaster named Whiterose, who is in charge of a murderous mask-wearing hacker collective and organized crime group called the Dark Army. The Dark Army kidnapped Angela and brought her to what appeared to be a standard home in the suburbs and locked her in a room with the fish and “Hang In There” kitty poster I mentioned. There she was asked a series of cryptic questions by a young girl who had makeup applied to her back to create the illusion that she would be beaten if Angela didn’t answer the questions. After Angela answered them, Whiterose came in and talked about doors and time and revealed that Angela’s mother and Elliot’s father — who, and it’s important to note that we all just accept this now, is now a Machiavellian anarchist that Elliot sees in hallucinations — died because of a master plan that has been unfolding for decades. Take a few minutes to wrap your head around that.
– The thing Whiterose said about attempting to make things real by force of will… this kind of ties back into the motivational tapes Angela was listening to earlier, no?
– Something happened between Whiterose talking about Elliot’s role with the Dark Army and Angela showing up at the lawyer’s house looking like some sort of serene brainwashed zombie. Heck if I know what it was. I assume we’ll find out at some point. Or maybe we won’t.
– Do you think that girl doing the interrogation is the Dark Army’s only child interrogator, or do you think there is a whole staff of them? And do you think they have an office where they all sit at desks and file paperwork and complain about each other? And why isn’t that a television show that I can watch five seasons of on Netflix right now? All fair questions that deserve answers.
What is Phase Two and how does it relate to Price and E Corp, if at all?
Price sure seems pleased with himself, what with the interest-free $2 trillion loan he got from China and his strong-arming the United States government into more or less replacing the dollar with E Corp’s own Bitcoin-esque cryptocurrency, but if there’s anything we should have learned from this show by now, it’s that things can change fast and abruptly, especially when someone thinks they have the upper hand. Whiterose seemed mighty cool about things, and everyone keeps saying Phase Two is on track, which, given Elliot’s involvement with it and his stated goal to destroy E Corp, seems to imply that Price might be playing checkers while the Dark Army is playing chess.
And this brings up two rather important subquestions:
– If you had just gotten the eff hacked out of your company, wouldn’t you maybe be a little nervous about converting your business into a digital currency?
– What would you do if someone gave you, personally, an interest free $2 trillion loan?
My answers: Yes, and fill a football stadium with Jell-o, just to see what it looks like.
Dom… u okay?
Where you at, Darlene?
I still refuse to believe Darlene died in the diner shootout because she is important to the show and she is my second favorite character. But if she’s alive, then, like, where is she? At first I thought maybe the Dark Army snagged her and had her grilled by an adorable ice-cold toddler in a tiny navy blue power suit, but then I realized that they only sent two people to the restaurant, one of whom committed suicide and the other of whom zipped off into the night on a motorcycle. So she’s, what? In the hospital? Being questioned by the FBI? Being questioned by the FBI in the hospital? Someone just tell me if she’s okay, for the love of God.
That said, I do kind of love that this show put one of its main characters directly in the path of one zillion bullets at the end of an episode and then just refused to even mention her in the next. “Oh, you thought we’d give you closure on that cliffhanger? How quaint. Here’s a five-minute monologue about a door instead.” Stay crazy, you odd little television show.
What are we making of the thing with Tyrell at the end?
We did get one answer to a big, season-long question, though. Maybe. It could also all be fake. Which would raise even more questions, to the degree that it would be more of a reverse answer than an answer. Although even if it is real, it raises a million questions, because this entire show is like trying to catch a greased-up squirrel with your bare hands. But in a good way. Mostly.
Anyway, hey Tyrell! Turns out all Elliot needed to do to find him was do a little dream mojo flippity flop on his brain so he could observe the hallucinatory version of himself instead of vice versa, then crack a multistep cypher scribbled on a BBQ menu, then follow himself through town and shout at a cab driver a bunch. I can’t believe he didn’t think of it earlier. It was right in front of his face the entire time.
Assuming this was all real, which we might as well do until we have evidence to the contrary, this scene added another layer to the questions about Elliot’s involvement with the Dark Army. Between the things Tyrell said and the references to Elliot that Whiterose dropped, it’s looking like he had a much bigger hand in everything that went down than we were led to believe last season, and like he’s an integral part of the braintrust for whatever is coming up next.
I also have something close to 500 questions about the address Elliot got for Joanna by tracking the blocked phone number and why seeing it pleased her so much. Joanna is only happy when sinister things are happening or about to happen. I’m terrified for whoever or whatever is at that location. She might just torch it and stand on the street grinning as it turns to ash. Joanna is the greatest.
Which would be a more interesting spinoff: An origin story about the rise of Whiterose or a series set 16 years in the future that follows the adventures of the Wellicks’ child at a fancy Manhattan prep school?
See, you’d think it would be the first thing because there’s so much going on there and every single piece of it is fascinating, but I really want you to picture a teenager that has spent his formative years learning about the world from Joanna Wellick (and possibly Tyrell), and then I want you to picture that person interacting with his peers. It would be like Cruel Intentions if Ryan Phillippe’s character was raised by a loving murderer and a father who was blamed for trying to destroy the global economy.
My point is that there’s no wrong answer.