I'm not sure where to begin with "Python Part 1," the ridonkulous first half of Mr. Robot's two-hour Season 2 finale, so let's start off with what we didn't learn. After the nail-biting shooting that ended the previous episode, the fates of Cisco, Darlene and that nice waitress at Lupe's are still unknown, because the episode barely mentioned them at all (however, eagle-eared viewers will notice that Dom said "several" people were killed). C'mon, show, we're dying over here!
It's a trick that Mr. Robot has deployed liberally throughout Season 2, with its effectiveness moving from potent to mediocre and now to somewhat frustrating. There's obviously a question of whether we, the audience, are entitled to those answers and details right away, or if we're just watching a televised piece of art one hour at a time and we should shut up.
What we're left with are dangling threads all over the place even as the current timeline has moved past them, missing answers to old questions fading in the background as the story continues to move on. Even Tyrell's (Martin Wallstrom) grand return was somewhat stunted because we've waited so long for it and it happened without anything to digest from it. Namely, he just reappeared. We don't know where he was or what he's been up to. I find this method of storytelling fascinating if nothing else, a mix of audacious and adventurous behavior on creator Sam Esmail's part as he twists the rules of conventional television through obvious borrowing (or ripping off) of other properties and repetition of his own techniques.
Esmail's love of withholding information continued to the max in "Python Part 1," one of the most confusing episodes of Mr. Robot to date. Stuff happened, but not a lot of it made sense because we don't have all the pieces needed to put this puzzle together. Instead we dove deeper into Philip Price's (Michael Cristofer) E-Coin conspiracy, watched a mini-Angela give full-sized Angela (Portia Doubleday) the worst Buzzfeed quiz ever and saw Elliot (Rami Malek) frustrated to the point of maniacal screaming because he couldn't figure out what was going on. I feel you, bro.
But hear me out, even though this may sound like a far-fetched defense from a fanboy (because it kind of is). Maybe this is all purposeful! Part of Mr. Robot's appeal is its confidence with tone, and that tone combines paranoia with uneasiness, which oozes out of the screen and nestles inside our heads. It's part of how we relate to Elliot. The confusion is intentional, and not a product of aimless showrunning that you see when network sci-fi shows go off the rails because they don't know where they're going to go. Esmail has a plan in place, and that's a big difference.
That said, let's take a closer look at some of these bizarre scenes, starting with the most striking of the bunch: Angela in the aquarium room. Yeah, it felt like Angela walked into an episode of Twin Peaks just like Elliot went into ALF, and maybe questions like "Have you ever cried during sex?" from a well-dressed, no-nonsense pre-teen Angela clone were weird for weird's sake, but things really took off when Whiterose (B.D. Wong) showed up.
Moving us closer to the idea that something odd is going down at the Washington Township Plant, Whiterose brought up the possibility that Angela's mom and Elliot's dad died for a greater purpose, "so humanity could go to the next level." He didn't they say they voluntarily sacrificed themselves, but it does support the idea that Elliot and Angela are somehow special and a result of what happened in the plant, either intentionally or by accident. Whether it's a special microchip in their brains or subtle increased powers (Unbreakable began rather normally before revealing itself to be one of the best superhero films ever), I'm now convinced that Mr. Robot is tip-toeing into science-fiction via human augmentation, bio-enhancing or — my original idea — immortality. Technology is the core of Mr. Robot with computer hacking at its center, why can't hacking people be the next logical step? It all makes sense, people.
There was also an inkling that Whiterose and the Dark Army may start to turn on Philip as he continues to reach for too much power. That would presumably ally her with Elliot and Angela, and I think that's what the meat of Angela and Whiterose's meeting was leading to. Whiterose let Angela in on her little secret of the definition of real, and whatever part of their conversation we missed — there's Esmail withholding information again — had a profound effect on Angela, because the next time we saw her she wore a knowing smile as she told her lawyer to never call her again and keep her nose out of the Washington Township Plant's business. That wasn't a "Hey, I got two pink Starbursts in a row" smile, that was a "I know the secret of the universe" smile.
Tyrell's return is a little harder to unpack. His return is unsurprising though, as I've always thought he was alive. And for the record, I'm certain that Elliot isn't imagining him and that he's very much real. However, it's clear that Mr. Robot has been meeting with Tyrell and making plans about Stage 2, whatever that is. And as long as Elliot doesn't consciously know those plans, we won't either.
With just one hour left in the second season, Mr. Robot has too many questions left to answer them all. What happened to Darlene? Cisco? Where's Mobley and Trenton? Is Leon gone? What is Stage 2? What does Angela know? What's Philip's plan? What's happening at the Washington Township Plant? How does Whiterose fit into all of this? What in the world is going on?
Luckily, Mr. Robot is still intriguing without all the answers, and even when we know we're being toyed with. However, this first part of the finale felt less like a penultimate hour and more like one of the hours that USA added to the season just weeks before the Season 2 premiere. A lot still needs to happen in order to call Season 2 a success.
Mr. Robot airs Wednesday nights at 10/9c on USA.