Fans of Mr. Robot with a shred of common sense will take anything from Elliot — our protagonist and one of television's most unreliable narrators — with a heavy grain of salt. Elliot's suspect storytelling is further affirmed in the opening sequence of the second season's ninth episode, revealing the illusory world he created for himself, the knock on his door from the season one finale, and the monotonous routine he built for himself to cope with prison.
"That's how it happened," Elliot tells the audience. "That's all you missed. That's everything."
But Elliot's not giving viewers the whole picture, whether he's cognizant of the deception or not. This is best encapsulated at the end of the episode, when Darlene discovers that "Stage 2" of the Dark Army's plan was Elliot's brainchild all along.
Of course, this isn't the first time Elliot has deceived the audience (and almost certainly not the last). Mr. Robot's signature twist, back in season one, was its homage to Fight Club, when viewers learn that Elliot and Mr. Robot are the same person, with the latter being a figment of Elliot's imagination in the form of his dead father.
However, it appears Mr. Robot is doubling down on one of the show's biggest influences. If the alter ego reveal was its Tyler Durden equivalent — the alter ego to Fight Club's narrator with an intense anti-corporation agenda — then Stage 2 is our "Project Mayhem."
A quick Fight Club recap: The Tyler Durden reveal is followed by the unnamed narrator learning Tyler's true intentions: Project Mayhem. As the name suggests, it's a group that seeks to bring down modern civilization; and part of this is wiping out massive debt.
It's more archaic than Mr. Robot's fsociety (there are literal explosions in Fight Club), but that's where the puzzling Stage 2 comes into play. The show has given us succinct backstories into the motivations of fsociety's other members, but Stage 2 makes it clear we know a lot less about Elliot's true intentions.
Mr. Robot has promised Elliot that he's not keeping anything from him; they're supposedly turning over a new leaf together. But their coexistence is becoming increasingly unstable, as evidenced by Elliot glitching in and out of reality intermittently throughout the episode.
This could prove problematic for Elliot in the long run. Again, look at it through the lens of its Fight Club influences: The narrator's solution to an internal struggle was to shoot himself through the cheek. Elliot's tempted fate before, most memorably overdosing on Adderall before promptly vomiting them on the floor before putting them back in his mouth (cute!). But once he learns more about Stage 2 — and whatever that entails — all bets are off.
There's still plenty of loose ends for Mr. Robot to tie up by the culmination of this season, but the biggest predicaments — who murdered Romero, whatever happened to Trenton and Mobley, the true purpose of Stage 2, as well as Tyrell Wellick's fate — could hinge on Elliot.
Whether he wants to face the reality of his actions or not, he might not have much of a choice after a familiar, black SUV pulls up to his apartment. Joanna Wellick — who has had a minor role for most of this season as her husband's disappearance looms over the narrative — is meeting with "Ollie," per their intense season one encounter outside Tyrell's house.
Series creator Sam Esmail has made it clear that Joanna has an important role in season two. Perhaps, for a change, we'll be getting some answers, instead of more questions as season two comes to its conclusion. After all, even Fight Club gave its audience the whole picture — eventually.