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Trying to Make Sense of an Increasingly Incoherent Season of 'Mr. Robot'

By Dustin Rowles | Mr. Robot | September 15, 2016 |

By Dustin Rowles | Mr. Robot | September 15, 2016 |

Last week’s episode of Mr. Robot was terrific, and seemed to put the series on a track back toward Sane Town, a place where we could figure out what’s going on without rewatching every episode three times and trying to decipher blood-splatter trajectories in the hopes of unlocking a clue to an incoherent storyline. No one loves to yarn wall more than I, but last night I tripped over a knotted up ball of the stuff and banged my head on a coffee table around the time a little girl with (fake) belt marks on her back asked Angela, “Do you ever cry during sex?”


Why did Angela have to take an oblique personality test in order to meet White Rose, and why did a little girl in a school uniform have to administer it, and why did it have to be administered from a floppy disk on a computer from 1990? And why must we endure a five-minute metaphor about a door and images of a dead fish so that White Rose could tease answers to unlocking the mystery of Angela without actually providing any of those answers? What does the Washington Township plan have to do with E Corp’s plan to create a new currency, and what does it have to do with Elliot and Angela beyond motivating them to execute the 5/9 attack, which was originally engineered to take down E Corp, not strengthen it by putting them in a position to control the American economy? Why is Chinese bailing out E Corp if the ultimate goal in Phase 2 is to sabotage E Corp? What plan exactly was White Rose insisting that Angela drop? Infiltrating E Corp from the inside? Or turning herself in? Is turning herself in not on the table anymore? Because Dom knows what’s up, and she’s going to get Angela, anyway, unless she gets so frustrated with the FBI that she decides to join Team Elliot. Also, why was there some weird time loop while Angela was talking to her lawyer? Can the Dark Army manipulate time, too?

What’s going on? When did Mr. Robot become so detached from reality? Was everything in last night’s episode a dream? Was that actually Tyrell, or just another figment of Elliot’s imagination? Did Tyrell sound different? Or has it just been so long since we’ve seen Tyrell that we’ve forgotten what he really sounded like? Is he dead? Is he alive? Why is he quoting Casablanca? What does Back to the Future 2 and the music of Back to the Future have to do with anything, aside from it being Elliot’s favorite movie? Wait a second? Time loop. Back to the Future songs?

Is the show really going there?

Why can’t Mr. Robot interact with Elliot anymore? Why did we have to endure five minutes of Mr. Robot Google searching his way through a decoding project?

Who is Elliot? How did the hacker/programmer for a computer security company with multiple personality disorder who was seeing a therapist and engaging in low-level acts of hacker vigilantism end up being a pawn of the Dark Army? Or the leader of the Dark Army? When did he have time formulate phase 2? He barely managed to pull off phase one! Why does the Dark Army keep killing off Elliot’s friends? Is Elliot Tyrell now? Where are Trenton and Mobley? Is Cisco alive? (No.) Is Darlene alive? (Probably). If Darlene is alive, where is she?

Dom seems to have figured it all out. But what has she figured out? That the Dark Army was behind the 5/9 hack? How does she connect Angela to this? Why does she connect Angela to this? Does she even know who Elliot is? Why is Dom having a relationship with Alexa? (Side Note: My Alexa is near my television. Every time Dom asked Alexa to answer a question, my Alexa often would answer the same question. It was creepy.).

And why is Price so obsessed with Angela? What does the Congo have to do with it? Is power really Price’s sole motivation here? Did Phillip and White Rose orchestrate some toxic chemical bullshit so that Angela and Elliot’s parents would die so that Angela and Elliot would grow up some day and destroy capitalism? Because that’s a lot of foresight? And it’s starting to sound like Elektra in season of Daredevil or Rimbaldi in Alias, and if Mr. Robot doesn’t reattach itself to reality next week and answer a few of these questions in a satisfying and coherent way, I’m going to get frustrated and bail.

No, I’m not. I can’t quit you, Sam Esmail.

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Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here, follow him on Twitter, or listen to his weekly TV podcast, Podjiba.