Mr. Robot: Season Finale Review

SEASON 2, EPISODE 12 eps2.9 pyth0n-pt2.p7z

They’re planning something. Mr. Robot, Tyrell, Dark Army, and White Rose are in cahoots to plan something big, and the worst part…they all think it’s me. They all think I’m the ringleader, the one in charge, and I have no idea what it is. – Elliot Alderson

Creator Sam Esmail wrote and directed last night’s second season finale of Mr. Robot, which aired four evenings after the show’s main star, Rami Malek, walked away with a Best Actor Emmy for his work in 2015. If anything, Malek was even better in 2016, though some will say the first season was stronger than its younger brother.

I’m too close to the situation to adequately formulate an opinion on which season I enjoyed more, although I felt much less confused during Season 1. Even though a reliance on being grounded isn’t ever going to be Esmail’s way, we were thrown much more material this time around, but there was no increase in overall direction. Thus, we were in the dark quite a bit, which is fitting with all the power surges and the blackout that ended last night’s episode.

Tyrell Wellick is indeed alive, although when Elliot started to wonder if it was just another trick from the Mr. Robot side of his brain, I admit I did the same. He’s just as insane as he was the last time we saw him, but with some warped sense of purpose, where he wants to be a god, alongside his idol, who we find out is actually Elliot. As a matter of fact, Tyrell Wellick tells Angela Moss he loves Elliot, and of course so does she. That was an interesting phone call, because it revealed two things. First, Alderson didn’t die from the gunshot wound, and second, Angela is a much bigger part of Stage Two than maybe we ever realized.

What is Stage Two? Well, it’s leveling a building in New York that E Corp is using to try and rebuild itself in order to survive the Five Nine hack. Paperwork from various facilities around the country is being housed there, and an explosion created from malware, which releases a combustible level of hydrogen gas, is all it would take to wipe out a chance for Phillip Price to recover quickly, even with the Chinese bailout.

This was really a two-phase episode, where Elliot’s scenario was the A story, and Darlene’s story on the B level. Somewhere underneath was the unbelievable confrontation between Joanna Wellick and Scott Knowles, which left the entire world uncomfortable as we watched Scott beat this evil woman half to death. I think I was actually so uneasy afterward because she absolutely deserved what she got. It was a female being savagely attacked, but was it REALLY a woman? She’s gorgeous, no doubt there, but damn she’s one effed up dame.

Who says “Fuck her and her fetus corpse. That child is lucky to be dead?” Seriously, who the hell says something like that to a man whose wife your husband strangled to death on a rooftop? The answer is Joanna Wellick. And, after the beating, she tries to convince her new sex toy to help frame Scott for the murder of his pregnant wife, a crime her psychotic husband committed.

The back-and-forth between Dom and Darlene was fascinating stuff, and maybe the episode’s strongest content respective to things that made sense. We find out just how well this investigation has been handled, and Dom lets us know why the episode title refers to a python. It’s an animal who lies in wait, picks its spot to strike, and can sometimes survive for over a year without water. The white board lays out the entire case, and Darlene cannot believe that they’ve figured virtually everything out, except what the next step will be.

Before the gotcha moment, Dom tries to psychologically break Darlene down, first with the good cop routine, and then with pure honesty. Darlene is having trouble dealing with the shootout at the diner, the loss of Cisco from her life, and also a constant feeling of irrelevance in comparison to her brother. One of the more important sequences of the entire 48 minutes occurs as Dom walks her through the office, trying to prove to her that she’s actually much more special than she thinks. Virtually every person in that building stops what they’re doing, stares directly at her, partially in awe and partially in fear. As they walk, one of the power surges hits the room and it flickers for a brief second. It was a subtle touch, but another way for Darlene to notice her own handiwork. I hope we get more between those two early in Season 3.

This is just another of Mr. Robot’s mind tricks. He’s not holding a gun. He’s not even there. – Elliot

Touch that keyboard and I will shoot you. – Tyrell

No you won’t. You can’t. He doesn’t exist. I’m the only one that exists. It’s time to finally take back control. Real control. – Elliot

Elliot is in the dark, even more so than we are, about what he’s planned, or what Mr. Robot has planned through him. In that grimy warehouse, he sees what’s to come, and he recoils in terror. This isn’t what he wanted, he says. People may well die in that explosion, and that’s not what this thing was ever about. While he sits and tries to cancel the plan, Tyrell grabs the gun, which we later find out Elliot gave to him for just this sort of occasion. It’s actually the second time in as many weeks that I’ve thought of Back to the Future, this time it was the sequel, when alternate-1985 timeline Biff Tannen pulls out the gun to shoot Marty McFly.

Elliot instructed Tyrell to take out anyone who might seek to stop the plan, and it was similar to Old Biff telling 1985 Trump Biff that a scientist or a punk kid might one day ask about the Sports Almanac. And if that ever happened…

What does “all the way” mean? Mr. Robot kneels over the wounded Elliot to apologize to him and tell him this is what it means, that if anyone got in the way, they had to be taken down, up to and including the mastermind himself. The father’s image is flickering a bit, which matches the son’s precarious state and questionable survival. But, we know he lived, because of the Angela-Tyrell phone call.

At the end of the episode, which ends with the giant blackout that leaves cars screeching and sirens blaring, we’re sort of left where we started. There was a definite end to Season 1, a stopping point, with just enough of a post-credits scene to keep things interesting. Last night, however, what exactly was our resolution? There were some twists, and some extremely straightforward events, but as the credits rolled, I was both thrilled by the entertainment I received…

…and baffled by the WTF of it all.

I think that’s what Sam Esmail wanted from the audience. He’s never going to display his full hand. There’s some Breaking Bad in Mr. Robot, but even when that show went strange, it never even approached this show. This is by far the weirdest, most creatively daring, visually arresting program in the history of television. Sometimes, that’s more a detriment than a benefit, though last night, I just enjoyed the roller coaster. And, like many roller coasters, when it was over, I needed to exhale.

After the credits, we were treated to a Fry’s Electronics store break session at an outdoor table. What we all knew, or what I think we all knew, was that Trenton and Mobley (errrr…Frederick) weren’t dead. And they’re not. They’re in a warm climate working menial retail jobs, laying low, and trying not to get either arrested or killed. As for Trenton, she thinks she’s discovered a way to reverse Five Nine, or to greatly change it, to potentially put back what fsociety broke. She wants to go home to her family. Markesh isn’t sure, and he’s scared, but she’s wearing on him.

It will be most interesting to see where those two fit into Season 3, because this is very much a “with us or against us” universe, and they may well become disruptive in the wrong ways for the Aldersons and their disciples. I also had a bit of a Chuck flashback, even though I knew we weren’t hanging out with the Nerd Herd. Leon’s appearance was a cool way to end it, as he asks about the time, which all but officially places him in the Dark Army. He…might not be a friend to them if he heard anything they were talking about.

Finally, we have to talk briefly about that network shot. A subversive show like Mr. Robot undeniably seeks to be took a comedic swing at Burn Notice during Darlene’s interrogation, but in effect revealed the shift in network philosophy. Original programming on USA was always known to be blue sky in nature, with pretty people, problems that could be fixed in one hour, and happy endings. Suits began to change things just a bit, but it’s Sam Esmail’s show that flipped USA upside down. I laughed, even though I was a big fan of Burn Notice.

Was this the resolution I wanted from Season 2? No, because we didn’t really get one. There was a climax, but nothing was decided. While there are many more episodes to come, I still wanted the proper place in which to store my proverbial bookmark. We were left in the middle of a WHOLE lot of craziness, which makes the wait for next season that much tougher. It wasn’t as much of a cliffhanger as it was a story that just stopped right in the middle of an important sentence. Some people probably didn’t care for it.

It was effective, though, because it’s what people are talking about today. We don’t know exactly what happened, but the theories will be a lot of fun to sort through over the next several months. Mr. Robot is the ballsiest show I’ve ever seen. It’s just unreal how averse to tradition it is in every possible way. Sam Esmail is weaving a story that we’re not soon to forget.

Come follow me @JMartOutkick. If you want any other details, the answer is s… never mind.

Written by Jason Martin