Mr. Robot Recap: Surreality Check

“Are you a giraffe, or a seagull?” If you’re flummoxed by that Zen koan of a question, then you know how we’re feeling as we try to make sense of the big ball of WTF that was this week’s Mr. Robot. But amid all the riddles and confusion, we did gather some important clues — and saw the return of a sorely missed character. (We think.)

Of course, knowing Mr. Robot, all the surreal goings-on in Season 2’s penultimate episode could just be in Elliot’s head, since he began the episode by sinking into a lucid dream: “Mind awake, body asleep…” But let’s take a stab at piecing together what happened, just in case it all turns out to be real.

Let’s get this out of the way first: No update on the status of Darlene and Cisco after last week’s shootout. A blood-splattered Dom mentioned there are “several people dead” (without specifying who) as she bickered with her boss and waved off doctors. She wanted to go after the Dark Army — “This could be an act of war” — but her boss once again stood in her way, this time because China is floating E Corp a $2 trillion (!) bailout loan. He told Dom to just go home and get some rest. I sincerely hope this guy turns out to be a Dark Army mole, because if not, he’s just a shitty mansplainer of a boss.

Meanwhile, Angela found herself trapped in the back of a van driven by the two strangers who accosted her last week. She demanded her phone back, but they stayed silent as they pulled up to a house in the suburbs. They led Angela into a dark, creepy room with an illuminated fish tank, an old-school computer, a rotary phone, and a “Hang in There” kitty poster. Angela asked (speaking for all of us): “What the f—k is going on?”

Here’s where things got really weird: A ponytailed young girl entered and calmly began asking Angela wildly bizarre questions. Like, “Have you ever cried during sex?” Or “Have you ever fantasized about murdering your father?” Plus, the aforementioned giraffe vs. seagull quandary. Angela refused to play along at first, but the girl told her if she didn’t, “I’ll be punished.” To prove it, she showed Angela bruises on her back from an apparent beating.

A sympathetic Angela agreed to cooperate, but got frustrated when the girl kept asking the nonsensical riddle, “Is the key in the room?” Then the rotary phone rang. A robotic voice led Angela through a series of questions similar to a text-based computer game from the ’80s: “You are standing in a dark room…” The game ended with Angela using a key to open a door, and then the girl asked again: “Is the key in the room?”

Spying a copy of Nabokov’s Lolita on the desk, Angela remembered a quote from that book: “Yes. The key was in my fist; my fist was in my pocket.” That seemed to satisfy the girl, who left to get Angela’s “results.”

That whole David Lynch-ian sequence, we later found out, was just an elaborate test conducted by Whiterose. (The girl’s bruises were just makeup.) Informing Angela they had precisely 28 minutes to talk, Whiterose urged her not to reveal the incriminating Washington Township info. And she knew about Elliot’s dad and Angela’s mom, too, telling Angela they died “to take humanity to the next level.” (Ugh.) The whole conversation was dense and cryptic, but it must’ve worked on Angela, because the next thing we knew, she was telling her lawyer to forget the voice mail she sent, adding, “Don’t call me anymore.”

mr-robot-season-2-episode-11-elliotOh, and then there’s Elliot. Remember him? He was asleep for most of the episode, but he woke up (or so we think) to find Mr. Robot rifling through his mail. One of the takeout menus had a bunch of numbers scrawled on it, which Mr. Robot decoded to discover a phone number. The number led to a robotic voice (another one!) that told them there was a cab waiting at 25th and 8th. Elliot went there and found a cabbie who called him by name. Elliot entered the cab, and then the cab’s other door opened… iiiiiiiiit’s Tyrell Wellick!

Seemingly unaware that we’d been waiting all season to see him, Tyrell nonchalantly climbed in and told the cabbie, “Church and Chambers.” Elliot was as stunned as we were, since he thought he killed Tyrell. In fact, he demanded the cabbie acknowledge Tyrell’s existence to confirm he’s real, which led to the cabbie angrily kicking both of them out of the cab.

Out on the street, Tyrell tried to calm Elliot down, assuring him that everything is fine and the vaunted Stage 2 is ready: “When you see it, you’ll be pleased.” Putting an arm around a bewildered Elliot, Tyrell couldn’t resist quoting Casablanca: “Louie, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.” God, I missed that kook.

Bits and Bytes:

* One big clue that this whole episode was in Elliot’s mind: the musical nods to his favorite movie franchise, Back to the Future. No less than three songs from BTTF were heard this week: the blues instrumental “Night Train” and “The Ballad of Davy Crockett,” when Angela was in the van, and “Earth Angel,” in that final scene with Elliot and Tyrell. Whoa… this is heavy.

* Loved the ominous beeping during Angela and Whiterose’s conversation, with each beep exactly one minute apart. Man, Whiterose wasn’t kidding when she said 28 minutes!

mr-robot-season-2-episode-11-dom* Is there anything sadder than a wiped-out Dom having a heart-to-heart with her virtual assistant Alexa? And when Dom finally asked Alexa if it loved her, the thing had the nerve to respond: “That’s not the kind of thing I am capable of.” C’mon, Alexa! Learn how to lie to protect someone’s feelings!

* You may have noticed Angela’s van captors credited as “Inconspicuous Man” and “Inconspicuous Woman.” (Hee.) But did you notice they’ve been following her for weeks?

* A tidbit from last week’s Hacking Robot after-show that seems especially relevant: Darlene’s hacker handle is “DoloresH4ze,” a reference to the young temptress from… Lolita!

* Coolest little-girl TV performance of the year: Angela’s pint-size inquisitor, or Game of Thrones‘ tiny spitfire Lyanna Mormont?

* Technically, this week’s Mr. Robot was Part 1 of a two-part season finale, which concludes next Wednesday. Maybe it’ll all make perfect sense in retrospect!

Is Tyrell really alive and well? And what does Angela have cooking with Whiterose? Hit the comments to spin your pre-finale theories.

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

24 Comments
  1. jlc2014 says:

    Great recap and a totally trippy episode. I guess they want us to wonder if Tyrell is alive or indeed part of Elliot’s lucid dream?

    Also, did anyone notice that the soundtrack to Back to the Future was p,aging in the background?

  2. Ben Walker says:

    What is white rose motive behind the hack

    • Jamo says:

      To have complete leverage over Ecorp via the bailout as well as control the Washington township lawsuit by implicating Angela and Elliot. Whiterose knew that Proce was considering closing the Washington Township plant due to the fact that the litigants wanted spontaneous spot checks allowed in their settlement. The Chinese are either manufacturing nuclear weapons or fuel for nuclear weapons at the Washington Township plant. Price startled by the possibility of unannounced regulatory checks into the plant planned to close it. White rose as the Chinese ambassador used the hack to have Angela get the spot checks removed from the lawsuit and then he knew the US would refuse to bail out Ecorp so they would have no choice but to come to China for the money and when they did he would leverage Price to keep the plant open and operating. Also, I believe China is behind the push for the Ecoin standard so they can control the world’s currency but that is just a guess.

  3. Britta Unfitered says:

    Big ball of WTF indeed. I’m glad other people noticed the Back to the Future songs. I kind of wondered if I was just making up that connection in my head. I do wonder if it means anything or if it’s just that the writers are completely obsessed with Back to the Future. Honestly, the show is really starting to frustrate me, so I hope the payoff next week is amazing. I dislike Angela, I’m starting to get bored with B.D. Wong, I don’t like the games the writers play by making us go full episodes without answering very burning questions, i.e., what happened to Darlene last week, I’m not crazy about Tyrell and his psychotic wife, Dom is just kind of there, and oh, did I mention I really can’t stand Angela and every single storyline associated with her? At this point I’m only interested in Darlene, Mr. Robot, and Elliot. And I kind of dig his psychiatrist, because who wouldn’t like Gloria Reuben? I liked the characters in the prison, but now they are gone, and there hasn’t been enough Christian Slater this season. I did like that Slater-heavy episode though when Elliot was getting his ass kicked and Mr. Robot took over. Eh, this show is kind of going downhill. I really, really hope there’s a fantastic payoff next week.

    • Clark says:

      I’m right with you re: Angela. Perhaps the most annoying TV character ever written! Although I understand the need to try something new and creative in these times of diminishing novelty, I’m afraid Mr. Robot, like Mad Men, Breaking Bad, et al is suffering from a tendency to out weird itself.

      • Luke Mobley says:

        Angela can’t be as annoying as someone with so little patience and mental acumen as you seem to have to not figure out more of what’s going on already. This is a show based very much in reality but also in the mind of someone (at least one) struggling with his own sanity. And guess what, there are annoying, frustrating people in reality. What do you want, a show where every single character and action is what YOU find fun, cool, interesting, not-too-confusing (grr!), and not annoying? Well sorry everything doesn’t go your way, but the show wasn’t made just for you or the equally whiny and impatient Britta above. Wtf else do you have to do/watch? Just move on, or are you just a whiny masochist? Btw, if you think Angela is anywhere close to the ‘most annoying TV character ever written, then you haven’t watched much TV at all. Ally McBeal alone is a thousand times more annoying.

    • Luke Mobley says:

      This is a show based very much in reality but also in the mind of someone (at least one) struggling with his own sanity. And guess what, there are annoying, frustrating people in reality. What do you want, a show where every single character and action is what YOU find fun, cool, interesting, not-too-confusing (grr!), and not annoying? Well sorry everything doesn’t go your way, but the show wasn’t made just for you or the equally whiny and impatient Clark. Wtf else do you have to do/watch? Just move on, or are you just a whiny masochist? The show just seems to be over your impatient head.

  4. Jim says:

    Most frustrating show ever.

  5. mr mr1213 says:

    Did anyone not pick up on the start of the scene with mr robot digging around looking for that flier? that you could still hear elliot speaking mind awake, body asleep as it slowly faded out with the scene building up…….?

  6. skywalker says:

    Don’t forget also Time Bomb Town from BTF!! I had to look up the name of that one, first time I listen to the whole song actually…that made my day

  7. KatsMom says:

    Definitely noticed the Back to the Future soundtrack throughout. I joked to the husband that no one would ever be able to find Angela again because her captors had taken her back to 1955.

    I can understand some frustration with this show, but I truly still enjoy it because I’ve taken a zen kind of approach to watching it. I don’t really know what’s going on at the moment, and I’m OK with that. :)

  8. Fernie says:

    The use of Back to the Future soundtrack is genius! Is he really awake? Or is the music there to throw us (the viewers) off? I thought I wasn’t going to like Angela’s character, but it’s turning around. What a season!!! Can’t wait for next week!

  9. Clark says:

    There’s a 4th BTTF song. The one that wakes Marty on his clock radio – as Elliot is speaking to Tyrell after the cab ride.

  10. Melissa says:

    Tyrell’s voice seemed odd to me. He didn’t sound like himself. And his hair was darker. No idea if that means he was just an illusion or not, but I thought it was interesting nonetheless.

  11. In the Pilot episode Angela points out that Elliot’s favorite movie is Back To The Future Part II which is where Marty goes into the future as opposed to part one where he goes into the past, and she’s seen holding a DVD cover of the movie. I’m feeling for a lightswitch in the dark here but has anybody read The Marabou Stalk Nightmares by Irvine Welsh. It’s about someone who is living in a fantasy coma world andalso the real world(part conscious, part asleep). What if Elliot was in a coma from his dad pushing him out of the window and was now in a hospital bed experiencing the same thing as Marabou Stalk Nightmares and his fantasy holiday with his mum but really in prison was a clue to this? I love shows that can make me think this deep, lol

  12. Chris Brown says:

    4 songs from bttf. “Time Bomb Town” is the 4th. When Marty is asleep right before he goes to twin pines mall. The song is coming from his clock radio. The order of the songs were part 1, part 2, part 1, part 1. Which is 1211. Was this an accident or in purpose since in this episode they are deciphering codes? Hmm…

  13. J_greywolf says:

    I think Darlene is alive. Who else would Dom want to interview after her “rest”?

  14. UltraViolet says:

    This episode is beginning to echo whistle-blower tales of Monarch Mind Control program, especially with Darlene’s reveal of her childhood abduction, disclosing severe family dysfunction early on (key symptoms of a Monarch). Monarch programming, developed by DARPA and CIA after WWII, intentionally traumatizes ‘gifted’ children to split the personality into multitudes of hidden alters which are later triggered into action by pre-programmed coded phrases, ciphers or maybe even music cues. Monarchs slaves are unknowingly used for illegal covert-Ops. (Manchurian Candidate)

    This explains the lapses in Elliot’s memory, thought to stem from a childhood brain injury. It also offers a more likely excuse for Elliot’s previous psychiatric confinement and narcotic drug use. It’s exactly how Monarch works. The M/C victims are totally unaware of their alters, per se, however sometimes memory bleed-through occurs, creating confusion for the individual, ie., Elliot/Mr Robot and his missing time.

    I think The Dark Army is not the ‘Anonymous-like’ do-gooder team, but instead they are operatives advancing world takeover in a covert plan for NWO elites. Dark Army/Whiterose, China and E Corp CEO Philip Price are colluding and also rival factions in competition for global dominance. That’s why the Dark Army operatives manage to surveil everyone and are jolly-on-the-spot for assassinations.

    One fringe component of DARPA Monarch M/C is time-shifts. Whiterose/Xe/Chinese Minister of Security Zhang is obsessed with time, thus the scene with all the clocks in the Minister’s China home with FBI agent Dom DiPerro. Xi says, “as a constant reminder of mortality.” That’s not the only reason…

    “Every hacker has her fixation. You hack people, I hack time.” — Whiterose
    Monarch Mind Control
    conspiracy.wikia.com

  15. gregn213 says:

    How in the world would it be possible to anyone to build/assemble a missile that large in any community without someone noticing something suspicious? And with all the people involved in the project remaining silent?

  16. Mavis Cola says:

    The entire scene of Angela’s interrogation borrows HEAVILY from Scientology practices.