I know, I know, I’m a little late to the party. Even though the second season of Mr. Robot finished airing this past September, I’ve only just recently caught onto the show, embarked on a serious binge fest, and had my hopes and dreams destroyed by the season 2 finale like the rest of you.
Before I chime in with my better-late-than-never two cents, I have to first give credit where credit is due. SPOILERS.
Mr. Robot season 1 was nearly flawless, in my opinion. I was devoted to the story, as well as the complex vigilante-cyberhacker, Elliot Alderson (played by Rami Malek) after just one episode. Show creator, Sam Esmail, delivered mind-blowing plot twists that left my jaw on the floor. It’s the type of show that begs you to figure it out. You will desperately search for clarity in the chaos that is unfolding before you, as told by Elliot, a completely unreliable, unstable narrator who struggles to depict the truth to everyone, including himself and therefore the audience. It’s a maddening show, in the best possible way.
Now, despite having understood this, I still do not excuse Mr. Robot for the disrespect that was the season 2 finale. I mean, this was comparable to The Walking Dead’s Season 6 “Who’s-Brain-Is-Negan-Going to-Bash-In-With-A-Baseball-bat” kind of rage-inducing audience betrayal.
Not only were there zero answers to any of the questions that built up during the slow-burn first half of the season—which for the better part felt dull, isolated and monotonous, offering very little of the character interactions that made the first season so gripping—but in the last 30 seconds it ended on the most blind-siding, seemingly out of context piece of dialogue you could imagine.
Let’s revisit what happened shall we:
Angela receives a phone call from a very distraught Tyrell, who we are to believe just shot Elliot. With a gun. Now, this is confusing enough because up until this point, we had absolutely no hint of knowledge that Angela and Tyrell knew each other or were connected in any way…but then it gets even more confusing. Angela tells Tyrell she should be the first person Elliot sees “when he wakes up,” even though from the audience’s perspective, it’s pretty clear Elliot is out for the count. Because he was SHOT…in the GUT. But then, in case your head wasn’t already spinning enough, Tyrell proceeds to tell Angela he loves Elliot. Like, love, love? Or like, cult-leader love? I don’t know, but this is when my head left my shoulders and exploded into the stratosphere.
Now, since we were so blatantly disrespected by this “finale”, let’s discuss the answers we deserve to see in the Season 3 premiere, or-else-we’re-never-watching-this-show-again, I guess.
- Is Tyrell alive?
Up until this point, we don’t actually have confirmation that since his disappearance, the returned Tyrell isn’t just another persona made up in Elliot’s mind, much like Elliot’s dead dad, Mr. Robot. I mean, we’ve seen Elliot grab himself by the throat and even push himself off a pier in public, convinced that he was physically fighting his alter personality, Mr. Robot. So how do we know Elliot didn’t just shoot himself? If this is true, and the real Tyrell Wellick is either dead or still MIA, who was Angela talking to on the phone? Did the conversation actually happen, or was it all in Elliot’s head?
- What’s Angela got to do with it?
If it was the real Tyrell Wellick on the phone with Angela, how the hell do they know each other, and what sort of plot are they involved in? Angela’s storyline this season felt mundane and useless to the plot as a whole. Her character arc seems to have hit a plateau, where she wonders, cold and calculating, through her own world of corporate success, completely separate to the rest of the story. If she was a part of this in some grander way, it would have been a more satisfying ending if this was built up, like, at ALL prior to the finale.
- Was Elliot just lucid dreaming?
Although I cringed when I first discovered this possibility, I can’t deny that it would make sense. Angela even comments in one of her final lines “when he wakes up,” and we know in the episodes prior he was repeating the mantra “mind awake, body asleep.” So how much of what we witnessed this season was just all a dream? It’s clear that we can’t trust Elliot, and while the lack of a reliable narrating creates paranoia in the viewer when trying to decipher between what’s reality and what’s a figment of Elliot’s imagination—or rather, what Elliot allows us to see as the viewer—it at least keeps us on our toes. If we can forgive Elliot for making us trudge through episode after episode of the same basketball court, diner, and series of dark rooms, only to find out afterwards he was in PRISON the entire time, (*face palm*) can we forgive him for misleading us through episode after episode of a dream sequence? I don’t know, man.
All I know is, since the season two finale was so lacking in explanations of any kind, the season 3 premiere has a lot to live up to if it wants to satisfy its viewers’ demands.