Last week, Mr. Robot kicked into high gear, and this week it shows no signs of slowing down. After an explosive confrontation with Angela, Elliot rushes to prevent the actual explosion of E Corp’s recovery center.
Elliot and Mr. Robot’s mental cold war finally heats up, as Mr. Robot, determined to ensure Phase 2, tries to wrest control of their shared body. As the two personalities switch back and forth, the audience is only shown Elliot’s perspective, losing time in bits and pieces like he does. These jumps forward are as jarring for us as they are for Elliot. “Yeah, I agree,” he says. “This is fucking confusing.”
Elliot has always framed his own mind as a computer, referring to his reasoning, emotions, and memories in terms of software and code. The sound of electronic crackling signifies Elliot pushing against the barrier between his own memory and Mr. Robot’s. When Mr. Robot seizes control, we see Elliot’s mind shut down, like a screen glitching and blinking off. These video and audio editing techniques reinforce the idea of Elliot’s mind as a computer, and of Mr. Robot as a corrupting virus.
As the clock ticks down on the building’s destruction, Elliot and Mr. Robot switch more and more rapidly. The result is a series of faster and more frenetic cuts, standing in direct contrast to last episode’s single long take. It’s impressive that these opposite methods are able to coexist so seamlessly within the same show, each capturing the same level of tension and anxiety.
Meanwhile, having won the vote allowing China to annex the Congo, Whiterose exchanges awkward pleasantries with Price, who is completely unaware that he’s about to be betrayed. Thanks to a tip from Elliot to Darlene, the FBI discovers Tyrell’s hiding place at the Red Wheelbarrow. Surprisingly, Irving lets Tyrell live, and he narrowly escapes as Dom arrives. He resurfaces, seemingly intending to be caught and warning of the imminent attack. Darlene confronts Angela about her betrayal, and Angela insists that no one will be hurt in the recovery center’s destruction.
As Elliot and Mr. Robot become more desperate to gain the upper hand, their battle of the minds turns physical. To slow Elliot down, Mr. Robot has to resort to throwing himself down stairs and banging his head against walls. Eventually, it appears as if Elliot is simply beating the crap out of himself. It looks so absurd it’s hard not to laugh. Since the reveal of Elliot’s dual personas, series creator Sam Esmail has never shied away from his show’s Fight Club inspiration. This scene seems to once again homage that classic film, mirroring the scene in which Edward Norton’s narrator character beats himself up as he fights Brad Pitt’s Tyler Durden.
As the building’s destruction looms, Elliot shows Mr. Robot that the Dark Army has been manipulating him, and together they stop the explosion. But neither of them understands the full extent of Whiterose’s plans. In one of the biggest twists of a show built on big twists, 71 other E Corp buildings around the country explode. All of the characters look on in horror as the news reports that thousands are dead. Through mistakes or failures, each of them is responsible.
Now that Phase 2 is complete, where will the show head next? There are plenty of questions still to be answered. Why did the Dark Army want Tyrell to be caught? What do they plan to do with the Congo, and with the massive hadron collider we saw in the season premiere? What’s Whiterose’s endgame, and what does it have to do with bringing Elliot’s father and Angela’s mother back to life? The stakes are higher than ever now, and if the show continues at the pace of the last couple of episodes, we’re certainly in for plenty more surprises.
The war between Elliot and Mr. Robot reaches a thrilling climax as they come to blows over the fate of Phase 2. A major twist changes everything and raises the stakes higher than ever.