If there’s one thing that has made this season more frustrating than the last, it’s the way that it seems to meander, how the characters are being taken through what really is some fascinating progression, but that it all is taking twice as long as it should to happen. What happened with Elliot in the prison could have been condensed to three episodes. What happened with Darlene and fsociety could have done the same. While Season 2 of Mr. Robot has been a visually stunning and intense ride, sometimes it feels like it’s an exercise in style over substance, emphasizing stylistic flourishes for the fun of it.
What made this episode particularly interesting was the way that it seemed to open up the abyss, making it feel as if some impending apocalypse is at hand. It’s the first half of the finale, and it certainly feels like a “part 1” in that it withholds answers to the season’s most pressing issues, building tension without any payoff. After the shooting, Dom fears that the Dark Army is pushing China and America into some sort of apocalyptic war. Price pushes forward with a plan to create a new currency using bailout money from China, likely stumbling into some sort of Dark Army trap. And Elliot is moving closer to whatever Stage 2 is, some plan that likely involves the Dark Army tearing into E Corp via this bailout deal. It’s not the most exhilarating episode of television, but it works to build tension going into the back half of the finale.
It’s definitely apparent that the show originally planned for this finale to be a two-parter that aired together. This episode doesn’t really feel complete, doing more tone-setting than anything else. Everybody is isolated, Angela in the dark room after being kidnapped, Dom in her apartment after the shooting, Elliot on the move as he hunts for Tyrell. And everybody is moving towards some sort of epiphany, some sort of revelation. Angela is on the verge of being part of some machination crafted by Whiterose, and probably crafted by Elliot. Dom is on the verge of cracking the 5/9 hacklliot is on the verge of understanding the depth of the plans he has crafted for Stage 2. Really, this entire episode is a massive tease, setting up pins so they can be knocked down next week. But it’s a tease in a relatively good way, crafting a tone that feels ominous and foreboding as it moves into the endgame.
Of course, much of the finale hinges on what comes next. The entire season has been built around the Tyrell reveal, and now that he’s back, he’s going to have to be immeasurably important to whatever comes next in order to matter. In fact, the season finale has to really, really deliver in order to make it all worthwhile. Tyrell is going to have to be important, we’re going to need some closure with Darlene, the conflict between Price and Whiterose has to come to a head, and Stage 2 has to be revealed in a big, big way. That’s part of the danger of structuring the season this way, placing so much emphasis on revealing the answers behind mysteries. If those answers aren’t satisfactory, the entire story is damaged, sometimes heavily. And when we see Tyrell and Elliot walk off together, moving towards Stage 2, we’re judging the validity of what comes next.
The season finale is going to have to do some heavy lifting to make the whole season feel worthwhile, but I’m relatively confident we’re going to get there. Really, it could go either way, style being prioritized, teasing us further, or substance being prioritized, giving us the payoff we’ve all been waiting for. The show has finally set up everything it needs to, eleven hours of television, eleven hours of getting ready for whatever Stage 2 is. The fate of the season rests in the finale. Let’s see how it goes.
What did you think of the episode? Do you think Stage 2 will begin in the finale? Let me know in the comments!