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Mr. Robot Season 2, Episode 11 Recap: It’s the End of the World as We

Is 'Mr. Robot' marching toward the apocalypse?

Is Mr. Robot marching toward the apocalypse? Earlier this season, Dom—in the throes of both boredom and despair—asked Alexa, Amazon's voice-controlled personal assistant, when the world would end. "Unless a future technology goes very wrong indeed, Earth is most likely to be destroyed in several billion years' time," came the somewhat reassuring answer. (This is, incidentally, what Alexa will actually say if a real person asks it that same question.)

And here we are, on the cusp of Mr. Robot's season two finale, being asked to contemplate whether a future technology is going to go very wrong indeed. Let's get the episode's big news out of the way upfront: presuming that Elliot isn't hallucinating—which, to be fair, is not necessarily a safe presumption—Tyrell Wellick is alive and well, having spent the season finalizing the details for the mysterious "Phase 2" scheme he cooked up with the Mr. Robot side of Elliot’s brain. "We have to be careful now," Tyrell warns Elliot. "Our partners have proven to be very influential." What exactly does that mean? As usual, we don't really know yet. (If I had to guess, I'm still going with a mass technological blackout—though it's possible all the brownouts we've seen over the past few episodes are just a red herring.)

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But apart from that climactic cliffhanger, this was yet another Mr. Robot episode that was more thematic and character-driven than concrete or plot-driven. We were once again denied answers to several other lingering cliffhangers: where Trenton and Mobley ended up, whether Darlene and Cisco are dead or alive, and the identity of the mysterious Tyrell Wellick impostor who kept sending Joanna little presents. If this week's episode had aired back-to-back with next week's finale—as originally intended—we would probably have the answers to some of these questions, and the show's balance of intriguing questions and coherent answers wouldn't feel so heavily weighted toward the former.

While this week's episode doesn’t offer clarification on the fates of Darlene and Cisco, we do get a window into how Dom is holding up in the immediate aftermath of the shooting. As a doctor runs her through the routine battery of tests at a nearby hospital, she's all fire and brimstone—impatient to head back to the crime scene and follow the trail left behind by the shooters, who she assumes had been sent by the Dark Army. But in the end, it's not her doctor but her FBI superior who sets up the big roadblock in her investigation: Now that the Chinese government has doled out a $2 trillion bailout to E-Corp, the FBI has no interest in striking out against a hacker group with long-rumored ties to the Chinese government. "We can't let them get away with this, Santiago," she complains. "They're going to get away with this," he replies.

All season, we've seen Dom's unfailingly dogged efforts thwarted by systems she can't fully comprehend, let alone dismantle. So as Dom goes home to recover from the shooting, she turns to the one thing that has repeatedly offered clear, concise answers to her questions: Alexa, whose predictable, pre-programmed answers must be reassuring in the midst of so much chaos. "Alexa, do you have a boyfriend?" Dom asks. "I'm not the dating kind," the computerized voice replies. "Alexa, are you happy?" Dom asks. "I'm happy when I'm helping you," it replies. "Alexa, do you love me?" Dom asks. "That's not the kind of thing I am capable of," it replies.

The "conversation" is weird and painful and heartbreaking—like so many other times in Mr. Robot, a deeply lonely, frustrated person seeks comfort from a machine. But many miles away, Angela is immersed in a very different kind of uber-personal Q&A with a a very different kind of computer—and this time, she's the one who has no choice but to give the answers.

Mr. Robot has done surreal before—but for much of the episode, it's hard to know what to make of the bizarre situation in which Angela finds herself. Having been abducted immediately after her meeting with Elliot in last week's episode, Angela is forcibly escorted out of New York City and into a house in the suburbs. When Angela arrives, she's marched through a series of immaculate black-and-white rooms, past a long series of photographs with the subjects' faces covered up—and, finally, left in a dark, windowless room with a fancy fish tank and a very old computer. It isn't long before Angela is confronted by a preteen girl who could easily be a younger version of herself, and who subjects her to a series of uncomfortable, probing questions in the guise of an old text-based adventure game called Land of Ecodelia—a reference to a relatively obscure scholarly argument that psychedelic drugs should be regarded as a technology that gave rise to the era of computers. The questions presented are sometimes personal, sometimes inscrutable, and sometimes both: "Have you ever cried during sex?" "Have you ever fantasized about murdering your father?" "Are you a giraffe or a seagull?"

Their "conversation" is weird and painful and heartbreaking—like so many other times in Mr. Robot, a lonely, frustrated person seeks comfort from a machine.

Through it all, the purpose of the game doesn't become clear until Angela reaches one last question: "Is the key in the room?" At first, Angela is baffled, insisting that she has no idea. And then she wraps her head around the real purpose of the question, which has nothing to do with a factual answer and everything to do with claiming her personal agency. "Yes. The key was in my fist. My fist was in my pocket," she finally answers—and the next time the door opens, it's Whiterose.

As per usual when Whiterose is around, the ensuing conversation is intensely abstract and philosophical. But in the midst of a rambling reflection on time and doors and fish, Whiterose casually drops a bombshell when she implies—but stops short of confirming—that the "accidental" deaths of Elliot’s father and Angela's mother were actually a deliberate phase of a grander conspiracy to "take humanity to the next level" by setting the stage for the collapse of E-Corp.

Can we really trust what Whiterose is implying? Is it possible that anyone could be so calculating—let alone so accurate—as to arrange the deaths of two adults, knowing that their children would eventually grow up to seek such a specific form of revenge? Or—to put it in a way that Whiterose might prefer—is this entire season of Mr. Robot about order as it collapses into chaos, or chaos being wielded as a weapon in the service of a new order? Whatever the truth, Angela is swayed by Whiterose's pitch; by the end of the episode, she turns up at the doorstep of her lawyer, warning her not to contact her again before disappearing behind the tinted glass of a black SUV.

Did Angela cut a deal with the devil—and if so, on what terms, and at what cost? It's another lingering question pushing Mr. Robot into a space of near-apocalyptic dread as the episode ends. Between the near-constant electrical shudders, the barren New York streets, and the sudden reemergence of a character who had long been written off as dead, it certainly feels like the end is nigh. And if Mr. Robot really is heading toward the end of the world as we know it—well, at least that means we’re on the cusp of a revelation.

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