Last week was a ‘one’ shot thrill ride which appeared to finally get Stage Two under way. Except, maybe not, since eagle-eyed viewers spotted Elliot slip back into the server room after Angela was done.
In other theories; could Darlene already be dead, and what Elliot saw was his own projection as he tried to remember his missing four days? … I hope not. I’m not ready for that.
The ‘Previously On’ segment focuses hard on Angela’s journey of the three seasons so far, her mission for justice after the loss of her mother.
The show opens on a flashback to the 90s. A cute blonde girl eats popcorn, and watches the animated ‘Back To the Future’ TV series. The girl is important for two reasons; She is, in fact, Young Angela. And she is, in fact, the same exact little girl who interviewed Adult Angela in that house back in episode 2.9.
Mr. Alderson is there but Elliot is not ,and it’s not entirely clear what the party is. It looks like a sort of morose gathering for Angela’s dying mother, with a red velvet cake that reads ‘See you in another life’. Not the next. Not in heaven. Another. Curious. Mr. Alderson suggests Angela go and talk to her mother, the way he would hope Elliot and Darlene would for him. Angela doesn’t want to talk to her mother. Mr. Alderson talks about the Back to the Sea dance from Back To The Future, and how Marty had to make George ask his mother out, so Marty could even be born. (Fun Fact; It’s the exact music from that exact moment that played over Elliot and Tyrell’s reunion last year.) Mr. Alderson knows it’s scary, but Angela can do it. He asks her to ask Elliot to be brave in the same way if ever Mr. Alderson is no longer around, and finally little Angela rises.
Her mother is speaking to Antara Nayar, the lawyer from seasons one and two who was working on the Township lawsuit. Antara brings up an ‘anonymous benefactor’, mention of whom makes Angela’s dad exit the conversation. The donor has offered to pay for her treatments, but Angela’s mother has decided to spend her remaining time with her family. Antara sweetly reminds her people are still fighting for her, her family. Angela has watched and likely heard the whole thing. The actresses in this scene are …so perfect. Angela hates the party, and angrily rants that her mother will be gone forever when she’s dead. Her mother denies this, insists she will always be there, no matter what. Which, in this show …
Angela’s mother tells her; ‘Know what I believe? That this isn’t the end. There’s another world out there for the both of us. And we’ll see each other again. We’ll play and dance and bake and sing. Doesn’t that sound beautiful? Will you believe with me?’ the tiny girl, crying, smiles.
That was as sad was it was entirely fascinating. Could Angela’s mother have known something?
Then we’re back, now, outside Angela’s office, right where we left off and Elliot is asking Angela, ya know, any news she might want to share? He tells her he saw her at the code signing machine … wait, how? He doesn’t say he saw her coming out of the room, but at the machine. Seriously how? He can’t have, we know this. On CCTV? Does he mean he was on the floor and saw her coming and going, and his wording is fuzzy?
Angela tells him they need to let today happen, which he again clarifies, is blowing up a building. Horrified, Elliot realises she’s okay with it and demands to know how long she was working with Tyrell. He completely melts down, then, as anarchists rush in, he hustles her into the safety of an office. Angela tells him this is what he wanted, and he says she sounds like ‘him’. Coldly she says ‘You, you mean’ and drops Whiterose’s name, which sends Elliot’s spiral into overdrive. He shrieks ‘People are going to die!’ and she says they’ll be fine … including his father and her mother.
He tells her she’s not making any sense, and demands she give him the information she took off the code-signing machine. She’s already given it away, and he demands to know where Tyrell is. Angela shoves Elliot away and turns her back, then slips into her Evil Corp persona (which, interesting) and points out Mr. Alderson can’t even be in this building, as he was let go this morning.
Elliot looks sick, he spots the Red Wheelbarrow fast food bag and remembers Tyrell’s cryptic poem about the same thing, realising where Tyrell must be, and with tears in his eyes he leaves.
Darlene is NOT DEAD, and is back with Dom and Agent Other Guy, who wishes they’d put a wire on Darlene. Darlene claims she told Elliot what she had to, but isn’t forthcoming with exactly what that means. Elliot calls her and tells her he’s texted her Tyrell’s location for the Feds to move in and stop him. They want her to bring Elliot in for his protection, but he won’t come. Darlene reminds Elliot everything she told him (which again, the Feds are not privy to) was true. Dom knows something is being left out, and Agent Other Guy is checking the address which is of course, the Red Wheelbarrow restaurant. While the feds rush off, Elliot VOs he needs to get to the recovery building himself, to keep the hack at bay.
Dom and Agent OG go and see eeeeeeeeeeeeeevil Santiago, who looks briefly terrified he might be caught. He insists they do surveillance first, to Dom’s frustration. Santiago argues Darlene is an unreliable witness, despite Dom’s entire opening salvo being ‘We literally heard Elliot Alderson give us this information with our own two ears’. Come on. Dom is smarter than this, how is she not connecting the dots with his behaviour?! Santiago stalls claiming he’s ‘doing it right’ since they’ll only get one shot, and even Agent OG is like ‘… dude?’. They leave in disgust, though not to go and report this obvious fucking mole.
Santiago then uses HIS OWN DAMNED PHONE TO TEXT IRVING A CLEAR AND OBVIOUS WARNING.
HE’S NOT EVEN A GOOD SPY, DOMINIQUE. COME. ON.
Whiterose as Zhang is at a very fancy club looking just slightly pensive, as Price approaches to offer congratulations on … the aforementioned, insane, annexation of part of one continent to a different continent entirely, with no historical claim for such. Whiterose bitchily ponders how Price even made it what with, you know, the in-building riot at Evil Corp, and Price says something told him not to miss this little soiree … not for the world. Speaking of Evil Corp, Price wants the economic accord China promised. Whiterose, with a winning smile promises ‘ALL will be done by the end of the day’. Price … maybe even thinking he and Zhang finally found common ground, is relieved. Whiterose suggests that since they both won as intended, they drink and be merry. They hilariously bitch about the gauche location of the party, the even more gauche owner of the club who has invited them all on a boat trip the next day. Neither is inclined to go as the owner wears tiny shorts that flash his junk, and in THE BEST MOMENT OF THE SHOW, Price’s joke about it makes Whiterose spit her champagne. That was perfect.
An awkward silence settles as the pair realise that other than their scheming, they have nothing to talk about. Price leaves and Whiterose takes a call about Tyrell’s compromised location, telling the caller ‘That changes nothing. You know what to do.’
Elliot reaches the data tower and sees everyone heading back inside in spite of his bomb threat, and realises they don’t know what to look for. Nabbing a security guard’s passcard, he gets into the building and sets up a laptop, explaining to us he can roll back the patch Angela installed. But as he’s about to, he flickers to Robot and wakes up in a taxi outside, having lost 15 minutes but still only yards from the building. He sprints back inside.
Darlene calls Dom demanding answers, but Dom has nothing to give her. Dom calls Darlene out for keeping something from her, protecting someone (Angela), but Darlene ends the call and leaves the apartment, ruining some girl scouts’ day as she passes. Dom, frustrated, throws Agent OG a knowing look and asks if he wants to go get … lunch. He takes a second to get it. They nod at each other as the music gets a certain ‘western’ vibe about it (The Plugz, Reel Ten from Repo Man) and like a two-person posse of badasses, off they go for … lunch.
We finally check in with Tyrell, who is confused his computers are being taken away and is, he thinks, preparing for his flight to Kiev with Joanna and the baby. Irving is there saying nothing in response to Tyrell’s many questions, and finally Tyrell starts to realise something is wrong. Irving sadly explains Tyrell isn’t going to Kiev, and to Tyrell’s hysterical freakout, simply hands over an envelope, with the advice to follow the instructions, then burn them. He leaves with a genuinely remorseful apology.
Elliot gets back to the same conference room as before, but his laptop is gone. He wonders and worries about Mr. Robot, whether he or Elliot has more control and if Robot can switch, can Elliot? Is it a matter of who wants to win? He agrees with us, it’s fucking confusing. Elliot races off, finds a computer lab, as elsewhere Dom enters the Red Wheelbarrow and feeds intel to Agent OG, outside. Seeing nothing obvious just yet, she decides to sit down and eat. She’s served by the same girl that Irving was kind of a jerk to, learning the place has only been open six weeks.
Elliot finds a computer and logs in, but once again, Robot moves and Elliot comes to elsewhere. This time he’s still in the Tower and only lost 5 minutes. He might be winning. He realises this can’t be a stalemate like their chess games, because in this instance a stalemate is Robot’s win. He finds his way back to the computer lab. There’s one other guy in the lab, by the way, who Elliot keeps quietly freaking out with his general weirdness. Elliot fights for control, flickering but not moving from his seat, and only losing a few minutes. He repeatedly mentions how he needs more time; each Robot flicker costs him minutes. He tries to talk to Robot through a notebook program, but after this flicker … yeah, RobElliot has destroyed every machine in the computer lab.
Elliot eyes a fire extinguisher, and decides to go directly to the battery room.
In his basement, Tyrell read his instructions. Dom sneaks into the kitchen of the diner. Santiago, in his office, ONCE AGAIN USES HIS OWN. PHONE to call his mother, and warn her to stay home all day. He stares at an ‘I Love New York’ snow globe.
Tyrell has read and burns his letter, while Dom explores the kitchens above.
Angela rides home on a subway, and listens to two old ladies have those weird oversharing conversations people do on public transport. A guy in an fsociety mask pulls a gun and mugs everybody, but when he turns to Angela, our girl caught somewhere between shock and no longer caring, she stares him down until the train reaches a station, and he flees under the power of her icy gaze.
In the restaurant, Dom finds a worker fanning heavy smoke, which is pouring out from under a door to a back room that according to Agent OG, isn’t on the floorplan.
In his basement cell, Tyrell prepares to do something with handcuffs, as upstairs, Dom calls in the fire alert to Red Wheelbarrow, and a Tyrell sighting to Santiago. With Agent OG heading around the back, Dom decides to go in. She … doesn’t want to warn any of the customers or staff of the FIRE?
On her train, the old biddies tell Angela she could have died, but Angela firmly says ‘No. No one is going to die’.
Dom kicks the door in and enters Tyrell’s basement where, thanks to his careful staging, it looks like he’s been held as a prisoner, cuffed to a bed. She finds a fake wall, and the secret tunnels used to come and go from the basement.
Elliot is racing down hard, concrete steps to the battery room in the basement of the tower. He’s talking through how he can turn the battery room into a vacuum, to make it impossible to create a spark and ignite the gas filling the room. So, Mr. Robot tosses him down a flight of stairs. Elliot fights to his feet, flickering and phasing but it’s clear Robot isn’t strong enough to take over completely — just keep hurting him. Elliot reaches a long corridor and pushes forward, but with every flicker, Robot smashes Elliot’s body into a wall, the ground, the pipes, whatever might hurt him. Bruised, bleeding, wheezing like his ribs are broken, Elliot pushes on. It’s horrific, brutal and as Cindy and I are discussing … wildly out of character, even for Robot.
The FBI have joined Dom at the Red Wheelbarrow, and Santiago is dressing down Dom, which surely this has to be screaming ‘THIS GUY IS SHADY’ at her, right? I mean I know at this point he has to stick to the role, but I feel like a little contrite apology would sell better than every single thing he fucking well does, and yet here he remains. Santiago then makes himself even more obvious by sending her away from her own scene, so she can go and wait back at the office for evidence. Hoooookay I’m getting tired of this now.
Angela has made it back to her apartment. Darlene turns up and demands entry.
In the basement, Elliot has reached the battery room, but the card he stole has finally been cancelled and Robot is now flinging the kid’s body entirely across a room. When Elliot comes to, Robot has left a message, ‘I’ll kill us before I’ll let you stop us.’
Darlene is confronting Angela about her using Elliot and all that terrorism that’s about to happen. Angela is still clinging to her belief the building will be evacuated. Darlene calls her out, and is more than ready to turn Angela over to the FBI herself.
Dom, angrily getting coffee outside the diner, sees … Tyrell Wellick running through the crowds and yelling, ‘YOU HAVE TO STOP THE GAS’.
They’re setting up Elliot, aren’t they?
In the basement, Elliot is telling Robot there are no paper records in the building anyway, which Robot validates – -since with his delays and Dark Army moving the timeline up, there’s been no time to consolidate them all, and Elliot says they’re being played. Elliot begs for help opening the door, and a confused Robot reels, seemingly unsure of what to do. And in doing so, taking up more of that time Elliot vitally needs.
Dom runs up on Tyrell, who is begging and screaming that they ‘Stop the attack’, warning people will die. Dom asks ‘What attack?’ and right as she does, Darlene and Angela get identical alerts on their phones and share a heavy look. Then, they flicker. Wait, they got a reality flicker like Elliot does?
Elliot wakes up an undisclosed period of time later, inside the battery room, and he races to turn on the vents. Relieved, he leaves, and we see Robot is letting him. Tyrell is dragged off in cuffs. The building is finally evacuated for real, and Elliot manages to slip outside unseen. He’s relived, thinking Tyrell has finally lost, or at least Elliot has time to make him see reason. But, he wonders, the Dark Army knew they were moving too early, and he’s curious what their plan was.
Elsewhere we see Whiterose watching Price make a discrete but rushed exit from their little party.
Elliot walks through the city and notices everyone is staring in shock at their phones. He rushes over to crowds outside a TV store and his world goes silent. We see people behind him sobbing, losing it. A newsreaders voice says ‘Across the country …’
We see the screen. It was never the tower.
It was never the tower.
It was all the other buildings. 71 Evil Corp buildings have exploded, killing thousands and thousands.
Oh, my God.
Okay, where do I even begin?
First of all, sorry to repeat myself, but Santiago totally takes me out of the show at this point. I’m starting to lose respect for Dom as a character for not even like … I don’t know, asking Agent OG if she thinks Santiago’s longevity and habit for obstructing all her best leads is a little odd?
Moving on. Little Angela as we saw in the flashback is the little girl from Angela’s interrogation from last year, confirming the fan theory Angela saw her younger self. What does this mean? If nothing else, the girl from the house in 2.9 is now the only person other than Robot to appear the same age in both the past and the ‘present’. Mr. Robot, he is, we think, a hallucination. Some have speculated he’s something else, something external that only Elliot can see.
But, Angela speaking with her ten year old self? How? Was this ‘our’ Angela, somehow brought forwards in time? To show Angela what can be achieved, that if she can see a version of her own younger self, think what else she could see? Or is it an Angela from an alternate reality? Otherwise, wouldn’t our Angela remember something of this strange incident?
Speaking of, Elliot and Robot reached a new … something, this week. Robot has been harsh and cruel, but the violence he unleashed on Elliot this week was something new and dark and horrifying. However, it makes a twisted sense. I think Robot knew the real plan. He kept Elliot ‘on mission’, by aggressively going after the Tower, but it was all a ruse. If he’d backed down, Elliot would have given it some thought and figured out Dark Army was doing something else. That meant fighting bloodily to the end to let Elliot think he had ‘reasoned’ with him and won. But in reality … it was all to set Elliot up, distract him. Whiterose even said, Elliot is valuable, but he needs to be focused on something. We thought that meant enacting Stage Two. It appears to have meant distracting him as long as possible from seeing the truth. As usual. Now, that does raise an interesting question; Does this mean Whiterose does know the difference between Elliot and Robot? I’m not sure.
As it stands … Elliot’s been set up to take the entire fall for all of this. Hell, Elliot set himself up. He’s the one who stalled the paperwork, suggested onsite storage instead; he gave them Tyrell’s location, he’s all over Evil Corp and the Tower on the day, acting suspicious as hell, and I don’t know if anyone else noticed, but he left fingerprints and DNA everywhere. It seems fairly obvious what happens next, right? Tyrell will claim fsociety, led by Elliot, abducted him and forced him to help with the hack.
I say, seems obvious. But on this show, who knows. Mr. Robot returns to blow our minds next Wednesdays on the USA Network.