‘Mr. Robot’ ssn2_p0stm0rt3m.doc

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Now that I’ve had a few days to properly digest the season finale of “Mr. Robot,” I thought it was a good time to go over what we’ve seen and what it all means and, in some cases, what it could mean moving forward. Spoilers for those not caught up with both seasons of the show to date!

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Phase 2 is a Go

After a lot of hemming and hawing on the show’s part, it turns out we basically knew what Phase 2 was all along, at least if one were paying attention to Season 1. Of course, it’s been a year, and everyone might not have re-watched the show since then, but it was clearly foreshadowed heavily there if you go back and look at it.

Basically, Phase 1 (aka the 5/9 hack) caused Evil Corp to have to rebuild from the ground up using physical, paper documents which needed to be shipped from various locations to one location to start the process anew. That location not so coincidentally happened to be near the lair that Tyrell (Martin Wallström) took Elliot (Rami Malek) to in the finale.

The plan was to bring down the location by remotely starting a fire using malware in a process too complicated to get into here. The problem was, it almost certainly would have resulted in costing a lot of innocent people their lives. Okay, as innocent as Evil Corp employees can be, at least.

But lest we forget, both Elliot and Angela were Evil Corp employees once upon a time. (Technically, Angela still is.) So, it’s not as if everyone there are terrible people, like, say, Phillip Price (Michael Cristofer)- who isn’t likely to be in the building at the time, I might add. As such, Elliot understandably objected once he realized the full scope of the plan, and for that reason, Mr. Robot’s safeguard kicked in.

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Mind Awake, Body Asleep

Unfortunately, said safeguard was telling Tyrell to take matters into his own hands by giving him a gun and telling him to use it in case Elliot got cold feet and/or started acting erratically, as he is wont to do. Elliott, like many of us, myself included, suspected that Tyrell was simply another hallucination like Mr. Robot, and gambled that such was the case by defying Tyrell, despite his warnings.

He was not. Unless one goes the extra mile of having Elliot shoot himself, which I don’t think was the case, then Tyrell is very much alive and has been lying low all this time, making sure all the ducks are in a row for Phase 2, as well as dodging the authorities for the murder he committed. Once that was the case, he met with Elliot and they finished the job together- or that was the plan.

Instead, Elliot realized the ramifications of the plan at the last minute and tried to stop it. This, in turn, forced Tyrell to have to stop him by shooting Elliot before he could. It was a gut shot, so the likelihood of it killing him is low, but he will definitely be in pain for some time and this time, it didn’t look like Mr. Robot would be there to save him with some neo-sitcom shenanigans and ALF cameos, as Mr. Robot flickered out of existence before his eyes.

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Use Your Enemy’s Hand to Catch a Snake

For those of us who thought Dom and the FBI were two steps behind fSociety at all times, we were certainly in for a shock when, along with Darlene (Carly Chaikin), we discovered that they were a hell of a lot closer than any of them thought. It seems that the incident that set a lot of this in motion, the death of Romero (Ron Cephas Jones) wasn’t actually the Dark Army’s doings at all- but no one but the FBI knew that.

So, opting for a wait-and-see approach, the FBI simply sat back to see what everyone else they suspected would do, and sure enough, everyone scrambled to cover their tracks. The Dark Army took out various people, including Cisco (Michael Drayer), while others, like Trenton (Sunita Mani) and Mobley (Azhar Khan) went on the run.

Meanwhile, Darlene got sloppy, leaving that VHS tape behind at that smart house- not to mention killing Susan Jacobs (Sandrine Holt), and Dom knew it. While we last see Darlene being confronted with everything the FBI does know- and it’s a lot (Dom even knew about the slasher movie thing)- it would certainly seem as if Darlene is royally screwed and will be forced to turn tail for the FBI and become a snitch/narc. That sucks, but at least she’s not dead.

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Joanna, I Love You

Speaking of snakes lying await in the grass, we also had the twisted tale of Joanna (Stephanie Corneliussen) and Scott Knowles (Brian Stokes Mitchell). It turns out that it was Scott who had been sending Joanna those mysterious gifts and calling her- hence her bodyguard, Mr. Sullivan (Jeremy Holm), reacting the way he did when Elliot traced the call.

Joanna wasted no time in confronting him, and he wasted no time in denying it, saying that he wanted to see her suffer the way he did after his wife was killed by her husband, Tyrell. This led to one of the coldest retorts I’ve ever heard in my life. Joanna, at first seemingly sympathetic, caressed Scott’s face, then said: “F*ck your dead wife and her unborn fetus.” Yikes! Remind me to stay on Joanna’s good side- if there is one.

Perhaps understandably, this led to Scott flying off the handle and trying to kill her, but he thought better of it at the last minute, even after she continued to goad him all the while, like some alternate version of a similar scene in “True Romance” with James Gandolfini and Patricia Arquette.

Not that I condone violence, least of all against women, but boy, is he going to regret not finishing the job. Especially since, no sooner did she return home than she told her boy toy to contact the police and frame Scott as the murderer of his own wife instead of Tyrell. Is it wrong that I find her character totally sexy? I’d probably do anything she told me, too. I’m not sure what that says about me, but I kind of love Joanna.

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Angela Goes to the Dark Side

Another coldly sexy character is Angela (Portia Doubleday), who herself ventured into the snake’s den when she started working for Evil Corp on an even higher level, hoping to bring things down from within. Just when she was THAT close to doing it, the Dark Army pulled her aside and managed to shift her alliances, stopping her from doing so in favor of a much bigger plan: Phase 2.

If last week’s episode seemed like a David Lynch movie, what with all the dream-like sequences- notably the one with the little girl asking questions like “Have you ever cried during sex?” and “Are you a giraffe or a seagull?”- the show shifted back into David Fincher mode for the finale, as it turned out Angela was now in cahoots with Tyrell himself, who called her after being forced to shoot Elliot.

When we last see her, she’s telling Tyrell she’ll be right there and wants her face to be the first one Elliot sees when he wakes up and reassuring Tyrell that he did the right thing, even as Tyrell confessed his love for Elliot and his regret for doing what he did. I guess we’ll have to wait until next season to find out for sure, but it seems to me that Angela took Whiterose up on her offer and joined up with the Dark Army, putting aside her revenge quest for now.

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The System is Fry’s

In the post-credits sequence, we also learned Trenton and Mobley’s whereabouts, which was working at a Fry’s Electronics store in some barren-looking region, possibly Arizona or Nevada. Trenton tells Mobley that she found a back door into Elliot’s hack that could possibly reset everything they’d done and set it right again, essentially rebooting the system. This would seem to confirm what Elliot was trying to do when Tyrell shot him.

Mobley, however, will hear nothing of it, wanting them to retain a low profile. Unfortunately, it’s too late for that, as Trenton’s explorations clearly caught the attention of the Dark Army, who sent none other than Leon (Joey Bada$$) to seek the two out. We close with Joey asking them for the time, in a clear echo of Whiterose’s time-fixated ways.

I’m not sure if this is a good thing or a bad thing, TBH. On the one hand, if the Dark Army had intended to wipe them out, they already would have done so if they knew where the two were. The fact that they sent Leon instead would seem to indicate that they instead want to protect them, much as they did with Elliot when he was in prison.

But will they want to if they find out what Trenton was trying to do? Probably not, which is why I think Leon is really there- to keep an eye on them and make sure they don’t do anything squirrely in the meantime, until Phase 2 is up and running. Cross your fingers, because if Trenton doesn’t let this go, it might not end well for her- or Mobley, by default.

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Would You Like to Play a Game?

So, all in all, while the second season was somewhat frustrating at times, stretching the prison gambit out a little longer than maybe it should have, having certain characters- notably Elliot himself- drop out of the proceedings for extended periods of time or keeping Elliot separate from the action for most of the first half of the season, it was still rewarding in the long run, IMHO.

Yes, one had to be incredibly patient, but once the whole of the picture was revealed, the pieces fell into place beautifully, just as in the first season. I get why people were frustrated by a lot of it, and grumpy about flourishes like the slasher movie thing or the faux-sitcom, but even those seemingly beside-the-point things had motivations and reasons behind them. The slasher movie was what inspired Fsociety in the first place, as well as the trademark mask, and the sitcom was Mr. Robot’s way of shielding Elliot from the beating of his life.

That said, I think it’s safe to say that the prison thing overstayed its welcome a bit, as most everyone figured it out long before the revelation. As my readers know, I subscribed to the mental institution theory, which proved to be wrong, but not that far from the mark, either.

It seems like creator Sam Esmail is determined to have a “hook” each season- a puzzle to be figured out- or he has so far, at least. I can’t say I have a problem with that, per se- I love a good mystery- but maybe don’t drag things out to such an extent next season, especially when the results become somewhat anti-climatic because you’ve given everyone more than ample time to figure things out. That said, they weren’t kidding when they said this wasn’t “Burn Notice”- though these characters are definitely welcome, IMHO.

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It’s fine to have a twist here and there, but maybe lose some of the being cryptic-for-being-cryptic’s sake things. We already have a David Lynch in the world and no one does cryptic better than he does, so maybe stop trying to outdo him, because it can’t be done, really. Besides, the “Twin Peaks” revival is just around the corner, and you certainly don’t want to compete with THAT. (Though the scene in the room with Angela and the little girl gave it the old college try, ending up like a small scale version of “Ready Player One.”)

Instead, I would suggest streamlining things a good bit and only being mysterious when it pertains to the actual mystery itself. All too many times there were scenes in which we were only given half an idea of what was going on, but nowhere near any semblance of a clue to actually figure it out. Speaking of slasher movies, it’s like the original “Friday the 13th”- you can’t suspect Mrs. Vorhees of being the murderer if she’s not even in the movie until the final reel.

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“Mr. Robot” is like that. There’s all these weirdly obtuse sequences that don’t add up to anything until they do. Even the instances where there are clues, such as the prison thing, it’s dragged out to such an extent that it’s sort of meh by the time you actually get to it. I’m not saying that Esmail should stop trying to make the show unique and mysterious, just to not try so hard to cover his tracks that the proceedings don’t make sense half the time.

It makes for a trying viewing experience for some, and that can lead to sinking ratings in the process. I, for one, think that the world is a better place with “Mr. Robot” in it, and the various awards the show has won- congrats, Rami Malek!- and/or been nominated for show that others do, too. Esmail has already said he has an endgame in mind- it would be a shame if he didn’t get to see it play out. But if he keeps up the mind games, there may not BE a endgame.

Mr Robot meets ALF

So, while I didn’t hate this season as much as some, I do get the criticism. Like I said, it’s possible to be edgy and unpredictable without being overly demanding and asking too much of viewers. At this point, the show is more the latter than the former, and it may cost the show some viewers in the process. But it’s nothing that can’t be amended in time for Season 3, which is a good year away at this point. Get on it, Esmail!

What did you think of Season 2 of “Mr. Robot”? Was it too oddball for your tastes? Did you have trouble following it? Do you think the show would benefit from streamlining things a bit, like I suggested? What would you suggest the show do to better itself and right the ship? What would you like to see in Season 3? Any predictions for what’s going to happen? Did I miss anything important from the finale?

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Sound off down below and see you next season!