Mr. Robot: Play It Again, Elliot

By  · Published on September 15th, 2016

A Familiar Face Re-Emerges As Season Two Begins To Closes Out.

As Season Two of Mr. Robot slowly comes to an end, the greatest surprise has been the show’s evolution from the paranoia and plot twists of Season One into a white-knuckle cyber thriller that slowly pushes both its viewers and its characters into uncomfortable and dangerous territory, forcing the stakes higher than we thought possible and making us feel as naïve as a hoodied Elliot fist-pumping in Times Square after he successfully hacks Evil Corp. This week’s ‘eps2.9_pyth0n-pt1.p7z’ didn’t offer us answers to last week’s big events – there wasn’t even a whisper regarding Darlene and Cisco’s fate, nor do we know what awaits Joanna Wellick at the Upper East Side address that Elliot uncovered – but we were finally given a murky confirmation that Tyrell is indeed alive and ready to kick off Phase 2, if only we knew what that meant.

The episode kicks off with Elliot murmuring a mantra (“mind awake, body asleep”) in an effort to lull himself into a lucid dream so he can find out what Mr. Robot is up to. In the meantime, presumably as Elliot falls asleep, we’re given two diversions. First, we see Dom being treated for shock in the hospital after the shooting. She berates her superior for releasing Cisco’s picture to the press, as she had warned him that the Dark Army were going to act as a result. As we learn, Dom’s warnings haven’t been falling on deaf ears but instead there are much larger forces at play. Price got his bailout in the form of a two trillion-dollar interest free loan from the Chinese government. (Seriously, can Whiterose get in the student loan business?) Now Evil Corp are joining forces with the government to regulate and offer Ecoin loans. For Evil Corp, it’s business as usual thanks to the Chinese bailout, only now they’ve evolved as a result of the 5/9 attack and are now infiltrating the cryptocurrency world.

Meanwhile, Angela finds herself being transported in the back of a van to a suburban house where she is locked in a dark paneled room with a large fish tank, a table with an old computer, telephone and a copy of Lolita and, perhaps fitting for Angela, a “Hang in There, Baby!” poster on the wall. A small child enters the room and tells Angela that water is leaking from the fish tank and they have to begin because there isn’t much time. The girl sits at the desk, inserts a floppy disk into the Commodore console, which roars into life with oddly nostalgic clicks and whirls, and begins by asking Angela an oddly invasive question. When Angela hesitates, the girl pleads with her to answer and turns around to reveal bruises on her back, promising that there will be more if Angela doesn’t cooperate. And so, the two engage in an incredibly strange Choose Your Own Adventure, which is puzzling for both Angela and viewers.

In the end, it is revealed that Whiterose is behind Angela’s abduction. He is fascinated with her, not unlike his exchange with Dom earlier in the season, mostly due to the fact that she should be dead – something he tells her outright – but has managed to stick around. What Whiterose isn’t a fan of is Angela’s persistence in exposing Evil Corp’s dealings in the Washington Township Leak and the current situation in Flint. He warns her that she needs to drop her plans to expose the files and to confess to the FBI. It’s still unclear what Whiterose, the Dark Army and China want with Evil Corp’s nuclear plants – perhaps they are vital to Phase 2? In the end, Whiterose’s persuasions work as Angela shows up at her lawyer’s house and calmly tells the woman never to call her again. Is Angela out of danger? It’s doubtful as she isn’t that important to Whiterose. Angela must keep her mouth shut and now that she’s done her part, it’s unclear what will happen to her. But considering the hail of bullets that greeted Dom after her last conversation with Whiterose, Angela might want to watch her back.

Finally, we’re back in Elliot’s apartment and it seems his sleep experiment worked. Elliot sits up in bed and finds that Mr. Robot has reappeared and is standing in his hallway, shuffling through his mail. He sits down at the computer and Elliot comes over to watch what he is doing. As he waves his hands in front of Mr. Robot’s face, we realize the two have switched places, with Elliot being the unseen observer – except he is also Mr. Robot, adding an extra layer of meta to a show already steeped in the surreal. Elliot spies on himself, watching Mr. Robot decode a message hidden on a take out menu. Eventually, he is left with a phone number, which tells him to get in a cab that will be waiting for him on the corner of 8th Avenue and 25th Street.

Elliot stalks Mr. Robot through a late-night flea market set up in Washington Square Park, finally coming to the intersection in question where a cab is indeed waiting. But Mr. Robot is gone. Elliot attempts to enter the cab, momentarily disturbed that the cab driver knows his name, but then realizes he doesn’t know what address to give the driver. Suddenly, the door beside him sweeps open and someone enters, giving the driver the address. It is Tyrell, alive and well. As the two head to their unknown destination, Tyrell tells Elliot that it’s risky for them to be seen together but that they should be safe since they are working with some very powerful people. He’s presumably referring to Dark Army but could he also mean Evil Corp? Price seemed to infer earlier in the episode that the hack simply sped up plans that were already in place.

Elliot is having none of Tyrell’s easy going conversation and begins to flip out in the cab, slamming his hands on the partition and asking the cab driver if there really is someone sitting next to him. It’s a fun nod to the paranoia viewers have felt after Season One revealed that Mr. Robot was really Elliot and to the slew of harried Tweets (some of which are my own) questioning if Elliot is also Tyrell. As always, we don’t get a clear answer. The cab driver is furious, cursing Elliot in Arabic and Tyrell hauls him out of the cab, annoyed that he upset the driver. As the two begin to walk to their destination, Tyrell tells Elliot that they really did pull it off and that Phase 2 is ready to go. He wraps his arm around Elliot and as the two walk away Tyrell pulls his best (or worst) Bogie impersonation, telling Elliot that “this is the start of a beautiful friendship.”

Is it or has Elliot’s mind been hacked?

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Jamie Righetti is an author and freelance film critic from New York City. She loves horror movies, Keanu Reeves, BioShock and her Siberian Husky, Nugget.