Tuesday, May 28, 2024

The First Half of the Finale Poses More Questions

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Spoilers for 2×11 “eps2.9pyth0n-pt1.p7z” ahead

Originally, “eps2.9pyth0n-pt1.p7z” and its concluding second half were meant to air on the same night. To say that it shows is a massive understatement. The episode teases relentlessly and offers so little in the way of satisfying answers, even as things come together in ways Mr. Robot fans have awaited all season. Every bit of its run time was meant to tantalize the audience ahead of the second part. As such, judging the episode alone proves difficult.

Mr. Robot angelawhiterose

Well, besides saying Mr. Robot operated in the same tense, weird, fun to watch way it always does, of course.

While the biggest revelation (maybe? More on that later) was Elliot-related, most of “eps2.9pyth0n-pt1.p7z” aired without him, instead spending most of the hour with a captured Angela. She is ferried in the back of a van to a house in the suburbs and then into a dark, sparse room with a fish tank and a desk supporting an ancient Commodore PC and a rotary phone (gross). A small girl bearing a striking resemblance asks her a variety of questions that start out extremely personal and become very weird. Are you red or purple? Are you a giraffe or a seagull?

Mr. Robot objects
Seriously. Gross. Rotary phones made you find excuses not to call someone.

This segment, obviously, was very weird. While likely full of deeper meaning and foreshadowing, right now it’s just some weird thing that dominated the majority of the episode and led to Angela apparently siding with Whiterose, who was responsible for bringing her there. The closest thing to substantial answers came in their scene together. Angela was apparently meant to die 3 months earlier and Price stopped it. Whiterose confirmed that the “pet project” she and Philip Price talked about is Angela, and that Price ruined their friendship over Angela. She also hinted at Angela and Elliot being special because of their connection to the Washington Township scandal, and that their parents died for greater good (the greater good).

And…then Angela apparently joined Whiterose off screen. Next time we see her, she is telling the lawyer leading the lawsuit against E Corp not to contact her again.

While guessing at Whiterose’s true beliefs is damn near impossible, there seemed to be a hint of honesty to her question of Angela about belief in a dream making it come true. Angela has spent all season convincing herself of a certain self-image. Whiterose stressed the desire for Angela to believe in whatever cause the Dark Army leader is championing. Is this manipulation, honesty, or both? Whichever the case, I thought this scene the best in the episode and a good cap on Angela’s personal struggles throughout season 2, and a brilliant emotional strike by Whiterose to bring Angela to her side.

Unfortunately no one else really got that same closure, which leaves a lot on Mr. Robot’s plate going into the finale.

Mr. Robot dom
I relate way too much with Dom.

Dom also received significant focus in “eps2.9pyth0n-pt1.p7z,” as she deals with the aftermath of the attack on the diner. Which, we don’t get to see the result of. Yep, no idea if Darlene, Cisco, or both died. I only feel more confident now that Darlene is alive but going a whole hour without even a mention of what happened is really infuriating and further example of the “half an episode” feeling. It was an obvious tease that I would be much more annoyed about if not for the scrapped plan to air the two episodes on the same night.

Dom herself is clearly affected by the shootout, as anyone should be. After a long time seeing Dom the professional – bubbly, friendly, charismatic, and slightly unaware of social boundaries – the woman away from the job returns in the hospital. I have so much more to say about her character that I’ll save for the season recap. If not for the answers given in the Whiterose/Angela scene, I’d say Dom’s forced return home after leaving the hospital was my favorite of the episode. Seeing a lonely, possibly traumatized Dom start a conversation with her Amazon Echo, and the gradual breakdown of her confident image with each question she asks…wow. It was a powerful moment and Grace Gummer acted her ass off. And possibly raised questions about her sexuality, with her asking the female voice of her device if she loves her?

While Mr. Robot has definitely maintained a focus on the minds of its characters throughout season 2, I think a lot of the smaller moments focusing on issues like anxiety and isolation have been lost. This scene was a nice reminder of Mr. Robot’s skill in the smaller details of mental struggles, rather than the reality-breaking struggles of Elliot’s dissociative disorder.

Mr. Robot elliottyrell
Seriously, Mr. Robot, enough.

Speaking of Elliot…

He may have spent the majority of the episode off-screen, but I’m sure the majority of the discussion over the next week will focus on his reappearance to end the episode. With the use of lucid dreaming (I’ll avoid talking about the accuracy of the portrayal because I have no idea), he manages to spy on Mr. Robot as he searches through the mail to find a coded message hiding a phone number. A phone call leads him to a cab where he finds…Tyrell Wellick! Or is it?

And here is the biggest frustration of the episode. We don’t know if that was really Tyrell. Elliot doesn’t, either. He wakes from his lucid dreaming and loses Mr. Robot, and therefore any true sense of the reality of the situation. Which reminds me of the worries others had about the prison reveal. At what point does the complete unreliability in Elliot’s world distract and annoy rather too much?

So we don’t know for sure whether Tyrell is real or yet another figment of Elliot’s imagination. Tyrell gives some vague info on Stage 2, which he claims to have spent this time working on. His accent has changed slightly. The taxi driver does not confirm or deny Tyrell’s existence. Whether the fact he still wears a suit is proof or not is up for debate. Honestly, guessing seems pointless. That we’re still guessing even when he reappears is a bit frustrating.

The season 2 finale will be a vital moment for Mr. Robot. As someone still shaken by the way Lost constantly raised questions and either ignored or fumbled answering them, I can’t help but worry about Mr. Robot’s tendency to constantly raise more questions rather than answer them. With one more hour left in the season, a ton remains to resolve; Tyrell, Stage 2, Darlene, Whiterose, Angela, Dom, E Corp, the effects of 5/9, Joanna, Trenton and Mobley, fsociety, and that’s just off the top of my head. Obviously a good deal of this needs to carry over into season 3, but that doesn’t change the need to deliver some sort of closure on these characters and storylines for this season.

I trust Sam Esmail to do right by the audience. I trust that he has a plan. I hope that trust is rewarded. I don’t want another Lost on my hands.

Mr. Robot robotelliot

Other Thoughts:

  • So Philip Price is on the verge of replacing the dollar with E Coins? That sounds really ridiculous but since it most certainly won’t work, I’ll suspend my disbelief for now.
  • Angela was really, really creepy when talking to the lawyer. Robotic. I know she can be like that from time to time, but this was another level.
  • Whatever the accuracy of the use of lucid dreaming, I love the idea that Elliot stepped into not only Mr. Robot’s shoes, but that of the audience. For once he received the same perspective of the show’s events that we do.
  • The scene where Mr. Robot cracks the mail code was really awesome, and so was the sci-fi look of the room Angela is brought to. As always, Mr. Robot remains the best looking show on TV. If it doesn’t win some cinematography awards at this weekend’s Emmys, I’m sure it will win next year.
  • Speaking of the Emmys, if any show upsets the Game of Thrones hype machine (please), I think it will be Mr. Robot. The Americans is most deserving, but the Emmys rarely reward the shows that deserve it. Mr. Robot is fresh and grabbed immediate attention,  so that leaves it as the one hope to keep D&D from giving the finger to the shows that deserve the awards this year.

Images courtesy of USA Network

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