There were many of us who were hoping that Mr. Robot’s Season 2 finale would help bring together the disparate threads of the season, and perhaps even provide some answers. One of the biggest threads the show finally picked back up after a season-long tease was the return of Tyrell Wellick, who it seems is not only still alive, but definitely not a third part of Elliot’s personality. Like Elliot, we’ve been conditioned to expect everything to just be a trick by Mr. Robot, and yet, it still felt like a trick when Tyrell seems to indeed be real because we had been led to possibly believe otherwise.
Mr. Robot’s strength is not in its twists regarding what’s real and what isn’t, it’s about the illusion of control and how these characters fight against it. Angela, Darlene, Elliot, and even Dom warring with their own natures is what gave Season 2 its spark — but those moments were so few and far between (and muddied with Lynchian attempts at surrealism and overlong periods of blank stares) that the whole season felt like a drag. A beautiful drag, but still, too long.
When I wrote about sophomore slumps and the problem with auteur TV creators, I still had hope that Mr. Robot would right the ship by season’s end. And there were, embedded in the season, some really great themes and stand-out episodes. But “eps2.9_pyth0n-pt2.p7z” (which I’ll refer to here on out as “Python Part 2”) didn’t feel like a finale, and instead played out like just another episode. Sure, we found out what Stage 2 is, and how far Dom and the FBI have gotten with plotting out the movements and connections with fsociety, but we were still left with a ton of questions. Here are some of the biggest ones below, and add your own in the comments:
Are We Done Wondering If Things Are in Elliot’s Head?
At the end of Season 1, all most of us wanted to know was what happened to Tyrell. He seemed important, because he was a great foil for Elliot. But this “is he dead?” question was drawn out (shades of Jon Snow all over again) mostly through Joanna’s story, but through Elliot’s a little as well. The implication was important that, if he was dead, did Elliot kill him? What happened and why? Robot even suggests to Elliot that Tyrell is dead during the prison scenes.
But what was the point of that? For Elliot, it seemed clear after the finale that it was about protection — the Robot personality didn’t want Elliot to know about Tyrell and Stage 2 in order to protect it. Because sure enough, Elliot (after learning about the plans) starts to try and dismantle them, only to be shot by Tyrell.
While that makes sense for Elliot’s story, it makes less sense for the viewer’s experience. It seemed like just another gimmick that relies too heavily on Elliot’s unreliable narrator status. Ultimately, it didn’t seem to matter that Tyrell was alive except that he helped explained to us, and to Elliot, about Stage 2. But what will his role be moving forward? When Angela calls him at the end of the episode, he sounds more like a pawn. Speaking of …
Why Was Tyrell Crying So Much?
Tyrell Wellick might have been my favorite character to come out of Season 1, just because he was so incredibly weird and unpredictable. There was an unmistakable air of American Psycho to him, especially in his desire to — as we learned from Joanna — “do whatever is necessary.” What that means for Tyrell usually involves murder or attempted murder, as far as we’ve seen. He’s cold, and yet, not a sociopath. He seems to feel pretty deeply. But isn’t it odd how he spent almost all of his screen time in “Python Part 2” in tears?
For a character who has been established as so powerful and ambitious (it reminds me of Philip Price’s comments about always wanting to be the most powerful person in the room — Tyrell wants that too, though while at E Corps sometimes his calculations were off), he came off in “Python Part 2” are more of a minion or a pawn. By the time we get to the closing moments of the episode, with Angela talking to him on the phone, he’s crying (again) and saying how much he loves Elliot. What? They have some kind of relationship, mostly through the Robot personality, but since it’s all been off-screen this development felt wildly out of character. (Showrunner Sam Esmail addresses that relationship and more in an interview this morning with Variety, by the way, but I am still not satisfied!)
Will Darlene Collaborate with Dom?
The greatest addition to Season 2, without a doubt, was Grace Gummer as our brilliant and personally tortured FBI agent Dom. Gummer’s scenes as Dom, particularly when she was in her apartment and talking to her Alexa bot, were beautifully devastating. Gummer nailed Dom’s complicated drive that she uses both as a distraction and a shield from her empty life away work. When she talks to Darlene alone, she gets it. Remember the story Darlene tells about being briefly kidnapped from Coney Island? She’s always been unhappy, and though she loves Elliot and treats him as the only bright spot in her life, her relationship with him is still fraught. Dom pounces on that vulnerability, and focuses on making Darlene feel special.
Look at how Angela was ready to turn herself in, before she plucked up by the Dark Army (if that even happened as we saw it, I am tempted to think some or part of that was a dream). Mobley and Trenton considered it, too. Once Darlene saw the FBI’s board and how much they already know, I became convinced that she is going to try and turn Elliot to their side. Would he possibly consider it? He seems ready to put a stop to Stage 2, and he did have a vigilante streak in Season 1 that we haven’t seen explored much in awhile. So while I don’t think Darlene would ever turn on Elliot, I think there’s a possibility that should could try and bring Elliot in with her.
What Is Joanna’s Next Move?
Joanna has been one of the show’s most fascinating characters, even though she has mostly been orbiting the main story way out on her own planet. Her moving up to a series regular in Season 2 seemed to be the biggest indication that Tyrell was still alive, and that their stories were important. Though Joanna’s arc hasn’t been particularly clear this season, Stephanie Corneliussen plays her in a way that’s both terrifying and occasionally tender. She’s warm when she speaks of Tyrell and when she deals with her boytoy, but then she cooly orders a hit on someone, and now, is framing E Corp’s CTO for murdering his wife so that Tyrell will at least be off the hook for that. Joanna — and Mr. Robot — seem to be playing the long game here, but I’m interested to see where things go with her next, and if she will be reunited with Tyrell soon.
Is Angela Dark Army Now?
For most of Season 2, Angela seemed to be playing sides with E Corp. It reminded me somewhat of Tom Hiddleston’s character in The Night Manager, where he was on mission to get into the inner circle of the most dangerous man in the world in order to bring him down, and yet, he seemed to be (and who could blame him?) seduced by the wealth and power of having that status. Angela was both a part of E Corp, and yet also still presumably a sleeper agent working towards its destruction. Yet she too seemed seduced by the trappings of wealth and power it afforded her (consider that unfortunate scene at the bar where she tears down her dad’s blue-collar friend). But when the moment came for Angela turn the government onto E Corp’s misdeeds, it fizzled into nothing. Everyone has been bought. It was disappointing, and yet, realistic. But it also solidified the fact that her loyalties were still on point and anti-E Corp, even if she (like Dom) hit a wall.
Now that she’s met with Whiterose and seems to be well acquainted with Tyrell, it feels like she’s playing both sides again. Is she sympathetic to the Dark Army, and even working with them? But if that means letting E Corps off the hook (which it felt like when she told her lawyer to never contact her again), is Angela just going that much deeper undercover, or is she formulating a new plan of revenge? And if the latter, against whom exactly?
What Are Leon’s Intentions?
One of the biggest disappointments about Season 2 is how the original fsociety members were really scattered to the wind, and we barely saw anything of Mobley and Trenton throughout the season (to the point that if you didn’t know who those people were in the stinger, you really couldn’t be blamed). They’re hiding out and hoping that the Dark Army and the FBI find new targets that don’t involve them. But Trenton brought up something incredibly interesting: could she could have found a way to reverse the 5/9 hack?
Then Leon shows up, that Dark Army agent who protected Elliot in prison (we saw him slaughter that group of White Power guys, remember? He also loves Seinfeld). Is Leon there to kill them, or to recruit them? (Or even protect them?)
Just like at the end of Season 2, the power here seems to lie with Whiterose and her machinations with and against Philip Price. The biggest question going into Season 3 then is most certainly: What does Whiterose want, and what is she willing to do to put those pieces in play? And how will that affect our outsiders? Will they start working together, and if so, will that end game be worth waiting for?