Mr Robot S02E12 “pyth0n-pt1.p7z” REVIEW
Available on Amazon Prime
Writer: Sam Esmail
Director: Sam Esmail
Essential Plot Points:
- We begin with a flashback to Tyrell and Mr Robot making plans outside the Fun Society arcade from the end of season one. Except this time we see Elliot, not Mr Robot. Tyrell threatens to tell everyone Elliot’s “dirty little secret”. Elliot tells Tyrell he’s only seeing what’s in front of him, not what’s above him.
- Back to the present day, Elliot and Tyrell arrive at a door, and are buzzed in. A man in white lab overalls is eating a sandwich (from the Red Wheelbarrow BBQ). They enter a lift and Elliot and Tyrell get out on what looks like an abandoned floor. There is a computer here, and not much else.
- Tyrell shows Elliot something on the computer screen – we don’t see what.
- Darlene is in an interrogation room with special agents DiPierro and Santiago. Darlene answers all their questions by pleading the Fifth. Santiago tells her the Fifth amendment is no use under the Patriot Act.
- Joanna Wellick has gone to the source of the phone calls: E Corp CTO Scott Knowle’s house. He’s still a bit of a mess, and has been drinking. Joanna wants to know why he’s been sending her gifts, phoning her. He tells her that his wife Sharon was pregnant, he found out on the day of the party, the day that she was killed. He wanted he to feel a similar despair.
- Joanna winds him up until he snaps and starts to strangle her. He then punches her repeatedly in the face. He realises what he’s done and dials 911.
- Darlene is still in the interrogation room with DiPierro. The special agent is being chummy with Darlene, but Darlene knows she’s only doing it to get information out of her.
- DiPierro brings an fsociety mask, video camera and video player into the room, all found at Cisco’s house. DiPierro also has the shell casing from the gun Darlene stole. Darlene is still playing hard ball and giving up nothing.
- Elliot is at the computer with Tyrell, looking at blueprints for a building, and firmware for a UPS (uninterruptable power supply). Mr Robot and Tyrell have a plan in motion and this is all part of it, but Elliot doesn’t remember.
- Tyrell shows him the view from the window; across the street E Corp trucks are unloading documents. The building is the storage centre for all E Corp’s documents, to help them rebuild their database after the hack.
- Elliot starts to remember the plan: to overload the UPSes and release hydrogen gas from the lead acid batteries, then continuing to overload them creating a spark, igniting the hydrogen and levelling the building.
- Joanna is back at Derek’s apartment. He’s angry, and wants revenge against Knowles. She tells him to change his story to the police to say he saw Scott Knowles coming down from the stairwell to the roof the night of the party.
- DiPierro wants to show Darlene something. She leads her through the FBI office, to the investigation room. On the wall is a chart with everybody’s on it – fsociety, Elliot, Angela, the Dark Army – all connected to each other. In the centre is Tyrell Wellick.
- Back in the abandoned building, Elliot is arguing with Mr Robot. Elliot wants to know what everything is for, why Mr Robot lied about them killing Tyrell. Mr Robot tells Elliot that he’s only supposed to know as much as he can handle, that they needed to go “all the way”
- Elliot doesn’t want to continue with the plan; it will level the building and people will be killed. Elliot tries to delete the malware and back out of the plan. Confused by Elliot’s change of heart, Tyrell gets a gun – the gun from the Fun Society arcade.
- Elliot thinks Tyrell is another of Mr Robot’s tricks, that he isn’t real. Tyrell threatens to shoot Elliot unless he leaves the computer alone. Elliot ignores him, saying he’s taking back control.
- Tyrell shoots Elliot.
- Elliot falls to the ground bleeding. As he loses consciousness we see Mr Robot flicker in and out of existence (but not Tyrell).
- Tyrell reveals that Elliot gave him the gun and told him to stop anyone who got in the way of the plan.
- Fade to black.
- Let’s Be Frank with Frank Cody is on TV. He’s telling us, “what’s really happening”. A phone buzzes and the TV is muted.
- It’s Angela’s phone, and Tyrell is calling her. Angela says she’s been expecting his call and that she’s on her way. She wants to be the first person Elliot sees when he wakes up.
- After multiple brownouts and power surges, the city finally loses all power.
- The credits roll, and Kenny Rogers sings, “We’ve Got Tonight”.
- After the credits, we see a car pulling into a Fry’s Electronics parking lot; Kenny Rogers is playing on the radio. It looks hot, and there are palm trees.
- From a distance we see two people talking at a table outside the store, calling each other Frederick and Tanya. It’s Mobley and Trenton.
TanyaTrenton has found something; she thinks she may have the keys to reverse the hack, to put everything back the way it was.
- Leon approaches them and asks the time.
If part one of this two part season finale was all about keys, then part two is all about
doors wheelbarrows. Red Wheelbarrows. We have no idea the significance, but they feature quite a lot this episode. To be fair we do actually get to see behind a couple of doors, and find out the answers to a couple of questions, but, of course, this is Mr Robot, so where there are answers, there are always more questions.
Tyrell and Mr Robot have been plotting together without Elliot since season one, and now Elliot finds out the next phase of their scheme. Except it’s a bit of an anticlimax, and involves burning some paper (okay it also involves levelling a building). We’d like to think Whiterose’s grand plans amount to more than this; she didn’t go to all this trouble to set fire to a stack of documents. Of course Tyrell is still just another pawn in Whiterose’s games, so we presume this is just a step on the path to the “next level of humanity”. It’s fun to see Elliot as Mr Robot, with Rami Malek replaying one of Christian Slater’s scenes, a rare chance to see Elliot in Mr Robot mode, something that’s usually hidden from us.
It seems that Tyrell is actually Tyrell at this point, and very much alive. Elliot doesn’t believe this, thinking he’s another trick played by Mr Robot, or another facet of his own psyche, presumably up until the point that Tyrell shoots him. Which means that the shell that DiPierro found at the Fun Society arcade is now another mystery, given that it isn’t from a bullet that killed Tyrell. At least not the Tyrell we’re seeing now; Elliot could well be seeing Tyrell in place of just about anybody.
Angela makes a brief appearance after her “interview” last episode, seemingly involved in the Dark Army’s plans now, Tyrell turning to her for help after shooting Elliot. Even though we’re pretty sure that Sam Esmail wouldn’t kill off Elliot (we’re never 100% sure about anything in this show mind you), Angela’s request to be the first person he sees when he wakes up is some reassurance that he’s still alive.
Darlene is now a guest of the FBI. Her scenes with DiPierro are some of the best and worst this episode. DiPierro’s chumminess feels a little clumsy, and shows Grace Gummer’s quirkiness come slightly unstuck for the first time. All is forgiven though, as Agent DiPierro leads Darlene through the FBI office and to the investigation room with the suspect board in it. Carly Chaikin’s wide-eyed wonder plays out wonderfully to a very pleasing cover of Aimee Mann’s “The Moth” (provided by the Deux Love Orchestra). DiPierro cleverly drops the good cop act to pander to Darlene’s need for approval, making her feel special, praising her for her part in one of the greatest events of the twenty first century.
So Mr Robot has gone “all the way”, doing what is necessary – much like Tyrell – in allowing Elliot to get shot so as not to derail the grand plan. Just as Tyrell and Mr Robot seem to have everything on track, about to deal the final blow to E Corp, we see Trenton and Mobley, apparently with the power to put everything back to “normal”. Although we have a feeling that Leon might have something to say about that.
We said after part one that it felt like we’d arrived at an intersection; now it looks like we’ll have to wait until season three to see which direction the show takes us. But at least we didn’t get eaten by a grue.
- Darlene’s scenes walking through the FBI offices and arriving at the investigation board are superb.
- We get to see Elliot in Mr Robot mode.
- We find out what happened to Trenton and Mobley.
- Tyrell is probably alive.
- We find out who’s been sending Joanna those gifts. If we’d just found out who’d sent us that creepy music box we’d have done more than swear at him…
- The episode feels a little short.
- Elliot gets shot.
And The Random:
- The poem “The Red Wheelbarrow” (1923) – which Tyrell quotes his father as saying – is by William Carlos Williams. But it needs to be seen in its original formatting for its full effect as the “appearance” of this poem is important as its words (how very meta, and how very apt for Mr Robot):“So much depends
upona red wheel
glazed with rain
beside the white
Although a great deal of literary criticism has been devoted to the meaning of this minimalist poem, it’s pretty clear William Carlos Williams has crafted each stanza to look like a mini wheelbarrow.
- The python in the episode’s title refers not to the programming language but the large snake; the “patient predator” as DiPierro put it.
- Does Elliot have a “dirty little secret”? Tyrell certainly seems to think so.
- The Fry’s Electronics where Trenton and Mobley are working, with the great big snakes in the logo, is on Phoenix, Arizona.
Review by Arthur Scott