The ‘Mr. Robot’ finale leaves us with more questions than answers
By Bethonie Butler
(c) 2016, The Washington Post
The Season 2 finale of “Mr. Robot” is inspiring the same sort of conflicting reviews as its illusory second season. If you were hoping to walk away with clarity, you’re probably really disappointed right now. But despite ending on a rather puzzling cliffhanger, the episode did reveal some key information about Elliot, fsociety and the Dark Army. Let’s talk about what we know – and what we don’t.
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▪ Mr. Robot is the one who set up stage two and it’s terrifying.
As established in last week’s mind-bending episode (part one of the finale), Elliot has no idea what stage two is and doesn’t recall orchestrating it.
The opening scene was a flashback that showed Tyrell discussing a potential collaboration with Elliot (as Mr. Robot) in Coney Island. Elliot was dismissive and Tyrell reacted angrily at first, threatening to expose Elliot’s dirty little secret. “You’re only seeing what’s in front of you,” Elliot told him. You’re not seeing what’s above you.” Tyrell became emotional, reciting William Carlos Williams’s poem “The Red Wheelbarrow.” He explained that the poem amounted to the only English words his father knew and that he said it sometimes to remind himself of the man he never wants to become.
Enter the appropriately trippy Kraftwerk track, “Hall of Mirrors,” which helped transition us to present day. Tyrell took Elliot to the warehouse that has served as his center of operations while he’s been away (read: not dead).
The space has several servers that run on an uninterrupted power supply. Elliot learned that he had hacked firmware that would override safety limits on the UPS devices, causing a sequence of events that would fill the room with hydrogen gas and yield a big enough spark to cause an explosion that would level the entire building. This is about the time that Mr. Robot appeared to remind Elliot that this had been their plan all along.
The location is significant because E Corp is storing paper documents in an adjacent facility, with plans to rebuild the databases fsociety took down in the “Five/Nine Hack.” Stage two would ensure that the financial information recorded in those documents is never recovered, but it would also kill anyone in the vicinity.
▪ Darlene is alive.
After keeping us in the dark in the first part of the finale, “Mr. Robot” revealed that Elliot’s sister is alive and in FBI custody. Cisco was killed in the shootout two episodes ago. Dom tried all sorts of good cop tactics to try to get Darlene to talk, but she kept invoking her Fifth Amendment right.
This led to a very funny (and meta) warning from Dom’s boss, who informed Darlene that, per the Patriot Act, she didn’t have any rights in this particular line of questioning. “Do you know what that means? It means that you are not on some TV show, this isn’t ‘Burn Notice,’ there are no blue skies for you out there. Characters like you are not welcome here.” What a shoutout to the network.
▪ Dom knows a lot more about fsociety than she’s been letting on.
When being nice to Darlene failed to yield information, Dom tried to appeal to her ego. When Darlene rejected the notion that she had been involved in something as major as “Five/Nine,” Dom said she had something to show her. “You’re a lot more special than you think,” she said.
The scene unfolded slowly, but it was one of the episode’s most beautiful - the camera focused on Darlene’s emotionless face as Aimee Mann’s “The Moth” played loudly. FBI agents stopped and stared at Darlene as she followed Dom down a hallway to a room where the FBI had plotted out the “Five/Nine” hierarchy. The map included Darlene and her fellow fsociety hackers, in addition to Angela, Susan Jacobs and other players directly related to the attack or its aftermath. Dom explained that they had taken a “python approach,” lying in wait until they could get to the man at the center: Elliot.
The other big reveal here is that Romero, the late fsociety hacker, was killed not by the Dark Army, but by a stray bullet from a neighbor. Darlene’s reaction to Dom’s disclosure? “You’ve got to be f---ing kidding me.”
▪ Tyrell is real.
Tyrell actually exists. We know this because Tyrell shot Elliot after he tried to delete the malware and stop stage two. A teary-eyed Tyrell picked up a gun and reminded Elliot that he had told him to carry out the plan at all costs. Elliot, now in a consistent state of questioning his reality, challenged him, asserting that Tyrell might also be a hallucination. (How many people would have stopped watching this show if Tyrell had turned out to be another figment of Elliot’s imagination?)
Ultimately, Tyrell pulled the trigger and a bleeding Elliot fell to the floor.
▪ Scott Knowles was the one calling and sending gifts to Joanna.
The widowed CTO of E Corp is the one who sent Joanna that sonogram photo and other gifts. Scott was very drunk when Joanna showed up at his doorstep. He confessed that Sharon had told him she was pregnant the day he was named CTO and they had gone to get a sonogram. Seeing their baby had brought him unexpected joy, but it was cut short later when Tyrell killed Sharon. He wanted Joanna to feel what he felt, which is laughable since the jury’s out on whether Tyrell’s wife even has feelings.
Joanna responded with an onslaught of insults, which sent Scott into a violent rage. He attacked Joanna, choking and punching her repeatedly until she struggled to breathe. A subsequent scene found Joanna consulting with her erstwhile boyfriend, who was so angry he punched a Tom Cruise poster. Joanna urged him to channel his anger into a less physical method of revenge - framing Scott for Sharon’s murder with a fake story about how he witnessed a disheveled, disoriented Scott come down from the roof the night of the party celebrating his appointment as CTO.
▪ Angela knows about stage two and is in contact with Tyrell.
This was one of the episode’s biggest surprises – after being absent for most of the episode, Angela resurfaced in the final scene. Tyrell was freaking out on the other end of the phone. “Tyrell, you did what you had to do,” she told him. The plot thickens. Does this mean Angela is working for the Dark Army? Has she been working for them this entire time? Angela told Tyrell she’d be on her way and reminded him that she should be the first person Elliot sees when he wakes up.
This scene implied that Elliot was getting medical help for his gunshot wound, but we never saw Elliot after that. “I love him,” said Tyrell, who has made a point to say that he cares deeply for Elliot and believes they share a connection (Daddy issues, for one). Despite her questionable loyalties, Angela said she loved Elliot too.
▪ Trenton and Mobley are alive.
Creator Sam Esmail told viewers to stick around after the credits. That’s when we were reunited with Trenton and Mobley, who have left New York and are working at a Fry’s Electronics store ... somewhere. Trenton has some information that we’re not yet privy too, but she believes it can help them return to their normal lives. Just as Mobley came around to considering her idea, Leon – Elliot’s former fellow inmate and Dark Army agent – showed up with a message, presumably from Whiterose: Do you have the time?