Chess has been a theme throughout much of Mr. Robot Season 2. If we're thinking in chess terms, Mr. Robot Season 2 Episode 10 is the act of getting all of your chess pieces in order for your final, game-winning (or losing) move.
In a word, it was epic.
I definitely preferred the later, tension-filled half of "Hidden Process," though there was no lack of great moments in the earlier half, which functioned mostly to set things up for the eventual madness of that final scene.
Seriously, the entire last 10-ish minutes were almost unbearably tense. Just when I thought things couldn't get any more nail-bitingly suspenseful, they upped the ante in the craziest way.
Let's start with the Elliot/Joanna plot, which I particularly enjoyed because (as I've said about a hundred times already) I completely adore Rami Malek's and Stephanie Corneliussen's acting and their chemistry together.
Joanna got glammed up to meet with "Ollie" (aka, Elliot), having pieced together that he was involved with her husband's disappearance (and, ostensibly, the fsociety hack that Tyrell is being blamed for).
She really knows how to operate on all cylinders – she was both terrifying and sexually alluring, all at once, as she threatened-without-quite-threatening Elliot to track down her missing husband.
Joanna's motivations are complex. On some level, she seems to want her husband home soley so that she can get her hands on that Evil Corp. severance money. On the other hand, her speech to Elliot about Tyrell "always doing what needed to be done" did betray a sort of fondness for her possibly-dead husband.
These are the cheapest things I own, yet they're my favorite. Tyrell would always do what was necessary... and at the end of that, I would receive a gift. That's why I know he's alive. That's why he's been calling me. That's why he sent me this phone. Because he's doing what's necessary.Joanna
The relationship between Joanna and Tyrell is so delightfully unlike any other marriage I've ever seen on TV. It's a sexual (and emotional) dynamic not often explored on shows.
Elliot gave in to Joanna's demands and successfully traced the call and pinpointed the current location of the phone used to make the call, using a convoluted hack that he made appear hilariously simple.
First, he used hardware to make it appear that he was both using a neighbor's wifi and faxing from an NYPD station. Then, he called up pretending to be a cop and had the call traced, getting exact coordinates of the phone's current location by pretending that the phone had been used to make a suicide threat.
Say what you will about Elliot's mental state, but the dude's a genius.
The address was somewhere on the Upper East Side – and the Wellicks' bodyguard (does this dude have a name?) appeared to recognize the address. He certainly had a strong reaction to it.
According to the bodyguard, wherever the phone was is not somewhere that Tyrell would be. He rushed off (presumably to that address) before we could get answers about that, but it was just one of many WTF/crazy intense cliffhangers that contributed to the masterpiece of a closing sequence.
Elliot also asked the audience to take a look around his apartment, which Mr. Robot had been so keen to get back to, wondering whether we saw any clues about why his hallucination had vanished. For a half a second, I honestly expected to see Tyrell's corpse hanging out of the closet or something ridiculous.
But why has Mr. Robot vanished? A few commenters here at TV Fanatic have voiced the great theory that a third personality might be emerging.
Here's a follow up to that theory: perhaps Elliot/Mr. Robot did kill Tyrell. But Martin Wallstrom is too great of a talent to cast off like that – so perhaps a hallucination of Tyrell will be Elliot's newest split personality, to keep him around.
Meanwhile, Darlene and Cisco were dealing with an unexpected encounter of their own. Their first scene revealed that the person who showed up at the door of Cisco's apartment at the end of Mr. Robot Season 2 Episode 9 was actually Cisco himself – bringing back the wheezing, injured person he found at Susan Jacobs' apartment.
The injured man wasn't Mobley, as I'd guessed/hoped, but Vincent, the guy that Darlene had commandeer the bull-ball-dropping incident in Washington DC. The "teabaggers" (laughing forever at that name) were all caught, except Vincent, who escaped and made it to Susan Jacobs' place with severe injuries, later being found by Cisco.
I'm not special. It's Elliot. He's the one with the plan, the one they're taking seriously. You know, I always thought it was crazy we got away with this. Thought there was something special about me that made it happen. But it wasn't me, Mobley, Trenton, or Romero. It was him. It's always been him.Darlene
Cisco and Darlene debated whether to take Vincent to the hospital. Cisco was all for it but Darlene seemed willing to let Vincent die to protect herself, fearing that Vincent would identify her to authorities.
In the end, Cisco effectively yelled some sense into her and convinced her that she didn't really want to let Vincent die.
It would have been predictable for Darlene to continue down a callous, murder-y road after killing Susan, so I'm thrilled that the show chose to subvert that expectation and have Darlene come to her senses (so to speak).
Unfortunately, that choice may have actually gotten both Darlene and Cisco killed.
Clearly, Darlene wasn't too great about vetting the loyalty of some of her fsociety minions. Apparently, the "teabaggers" who were caught immediately gave up information about the rendezvous point (Susan Jacobs' apartment) to the FBI, who made a beeline there, just missing Cisco/Vincent but discovering that Susan has suspiciously disappeared.
Not only is the FBI one step closer to finding out that Darlene killed Susan – they also put the Dark Army target squarely on Cisco's back, in releasing his sketch (after he was sighted by a neighbor) to the media.
Dom, ever the weirdly omniscient and apparently bulletproof FBI agent, knew immediately that releasing Cisco's sketch was a bad idea.
Despite the brevity of her experience with the Dark Army, she knows that these people are willing to kill to protect themselves and cover their tracks – after all, she watched the assassin shoot himself rather than be taken prisoner back in China after her meeting with Minister Zhang.
Too bad for Cisco and Darlene, Dom's boss didn't heed her warnings. The sketch went out and in no time at all, a nurse at the hospital they took Vincent to called in a Cisco sighting.
Dom, again knowing EVERYTHING EVER AT ALL TIMES, figured out that Darlene and Cisco had not, in fact, seen the sketch on the news and so hadn't probably fled.
She successfully tracked them to a restaurant blocks away, but just as she called for back-up and went in solo (kind of a silly move, to be honest), two shooters (presumably Dark Army assassins) shot up the place with some serious firearms.
Dom was just fine (again, she's virtually indestructible), one shooter escaped via motorcycle, and the other, injured one again killed himself to prevent being traced back to the Dark Army.
Cisco's and Darlene's fates are unknown as of yet, but on the bright side, if they are dead (which I hope not), Carly Chaikin gave one of her all-time best performances to date in that hospital scene.
In it, Darlene confessed to Cisco that she was briefly kidnapped at Coney Island as a child – and let it happen. She was happy to be taken away from her messed up family, but knew that if she'd stayed with her kidnapper, she wouldn't have Elliot.
It was such a striking, intense, complex story, delivered perfectly by Chaikin in a stunning monologue intercut with scenes of Elliot hacking Joanna's burner phone. Just phenomenal.
Finally, that other big moment: Angela and Elliot said goodbye and then KISSED.
I don't want to leave her.Elliot [about Angela]
I don't usually fangirl out about this show, but man, that kiss was a long time coming and played out perfectly.
Portia Doubleday and Rami Malek have great chemistry and a very believable bond as longtime friends. It's always been clear that Elliot adores Angela on every level. In their meeting on the subway where Angela told him she planned to confess but wouldn't implicate him or Darlene, it was obvious that he was shaken that he'd involved her and effectively torched her life.
Angela, for her part, had no anger at Elliot. She was just sad to say goodbye to him and sad that they couldn't outwit the FBI or Evil Corp.
Unfortunately, intercut with the restaurant shooting, we saw Angela confronted by two figures on the subway, shortly after saying goodbye to Elliot. Based on the promo for next week, it appears that she's been picked up by the feds, just as Dom promised. Poor Angela.
- Are Trenton and Mobley alive? Somehow, I doubt we will find that out this season. There is already so much to do and only two installments left.
- Phillip Price didn't play as big a part as he has recently, but his scene with Terry Colby – who, unsurprisingly, is no longer in jail and had time to write a book – was an incredible one. I've often wondered about Price's motivations. And, if we're to take his speech to Colby at face value, his motivations are quite simple and straightforward – he wants to be the most powerful man in any given room. Fair enough.
- On that note: Price wanted Colby to encourage his government contact to encourage Obama to allow China to gain control in central Africa. I literally have no idea where they're going with this or how the Congo plays a part.
- For the briefest of moments, I actually thought that Angela might be wearing a wire during her meeting with Elliot on the train – intending to elicit a confession in exchange for leniency or immunity. Given how "Hidden Process" ended and the finale's promo, that now seems unlikely. I hope, anyway.
- I am growing weary of Dom, whose indestructibility and all-knowing brain power increasingly seem like a plot device. No human FBI agent can be this effective. I don't buy it. Maybe she's a robot (twist!). Just kidding.
What did you think of "Hidden Process"? Leave me a comment below, and watch Mr. Robot online here at TV Fanatic anytime!
Caralynn Lippo is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.