Image: Michael Parmelee/USA Network

This week’s episode of Mr. Robot hinted at what really happened to those missing characters, brought the FBI that much closer to the truth, and had an explosive ending... at least for one character’s head.

Hitchcock was the master of suspense. He could control a scene in such a way that it controlled the audience too, building up our terror and worry, again and again, until a moment of violence (or even just a scream) felt cathartic. Show creator and director Sam Esmail manages to pull off such a feat in last night’s episode of Mr. Robot. The last 10 minutes are scored by the same thrumming beat of a synthesizer, neatly building the tension as so many of the disparate threads of the season are finally tied together.

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Dom tracks down Cisco and Darlene to a diner, Darlene comes to terms with her role in Fsociety and accepts that she’s not the nefarious mastermind she’s spent the entire season trying to be, and Elliot and Angela sit on a train and are finally honest with one another for the very first time since this show began. All three sequences are moments that these characters have been careening towards all season (and in Elliot and Angela’s case, since the pilot).

Image: Michael Parmelee/USA Network

Esmail weaves them all together, so instead of three small, individual moments, they create a slow build-up and a nagging sense of doom. In a show like Mr. Robot characters don’t usually get to have satisfying moments like the three awarded to us in quick succession. Those moments come with a price, and it’s clear someone on screen—someone we care about—is going to have to pay it.

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I watched the walls of the subway flicker past in the background of Elliot and Angela’s scene and was filled with dread. Any moment, I told myself, a gun would appear and Angela’s head would disappear. Dom darted across traffic, growing closer and closer to some of the truths she’s spent the season searching for and I winced at the flash of every headlight. And poor Darlene smiled at Cisco while sitting in a corner booth of a restaurant, surrounded by windows.

When the gunman rode up on a motorcycle, Esmail kept the camera on him, indulgently settling it across the street from the action and forcing us to watch everything happen—reminding us that as much as Elliot has invited us into his world we’re still just an audience, hapless riders on Sam Esmail’s rollercoaster, watching death stalk characters we like for 10 minutes straight.

Death almost certainly found Cisco, whose blood coats Dom’s face as she races out into the street to confront a Dark Army assassin. But Darlene seemed to go down as well. She disappeared under the booth, either dragged by Dom or caught in the focused spray of gunfire.

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Elliot’s safe, as is Dom herself, the white knight hero a show like this should abhor. But Angela appears to be... in some trouble. Last week she tried to go whistleblower, rightfully panicked, and fled. This week she doesn’t appear onscreen until that 10-minute descent into nail-biting tension. Her moment of decisiveness happens off screen, but she immediately tells Elliot her decision. She’s turning herself in and she’s going to protect him and Darlene as much as she can.

Image: Michael Parmelee/USA Network

It’s totally a romantic choice on her part. She knows exactly what Elliot and Darlene did and she’s fully aware of how much their actions have screwed up her own life. But she still cares about them—Elliot in particular. This is her childhood best friend. A guy she’s stuck with and supported through psychotic breaks and jail and an Fsociety-induced apocalypse. She might not care about Elliot like he cares about her, but her feelings are profound and deep-rooted.

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And Elliot loves Angela. He has from the first episode, when the chemistry between the two of them made for one of the most memorable moments of the pilot. They’ve been separated for an entire season, their few encounters warped by Elliot’s muddled brain. But that tension between them flares the moment they step into the camera frame together. It’s the first time in eons they’ve shared the frame and the camera itself seems to want them to kiss, to realize a fantasy only know that Elliot has harbored.

And maybe Angela harbored it too. She closes her eyes. She cups his cheek. She cries when he leaves.

But whatever Angela’s feelings are they disappear as soon as two faceless characters appear in the frame. Angela’s been found, and her first kiss with Elliot might be her last.

Assorted Musings:

  • Such a good damn episode.
  • Michael Cristofer should have a monologue every episode. Casually saying he wants to be God on earth was kind of a showstopper.
  • Bruce Altman returned as Colby, the shamed former CTO of Evil Corp. He was there so Cristofer’s Phillip Price could talk about being God, and mention a plan to deed the Congo to China.
  • Which is absolutely horrific 19th-century colonialism happily at play in the 21st century.
  • Darlene was once kidnapped as a child and is still mad about being rescued.
  • That was a good monologue too, though it highlighted how petty and utterly naive Darlene is.
  • The wheezing body Cisco found is revealed to be one of FSociety’s new recruits. He might live. I will not hold my breath.
  • Mr. Robot and Elliot are still convinced Tyrell is dead, but can’t tell his very scary wife.
  • If he is dead, then I think we know who Elliot’s emerging third personality is.
  • If he isn’t dead, then Elliot’s emerging third personality is the one that saved him.
  • The creepy crank caller stalking Joanna Wellick is hiding out on the Upper East Side. While Elliot doesn’t recognize the address, Joanna’s security guy immediately does.
  • Elliot accomplishes his hack to track Tyrell down with a Pringles cantenna and an MSI laptop rocking Linux.