BY AMY RATCLIFFE
Note: Full spoilers for the episode follow.
Much of Mr. Robot is about reality. There are the obvious questions about what Elliot's showing us -- is any of it actually happening, are the people we meet more than figments of his delusions? But the series addresses the topic in more subtle ways as well by looking at the way so much of modern day humanity plays out on wifi connections and circuit boards. Elliot's internal monologues and the way he puts on certain behaviors for certain situations highlights whether we truly ever know how genuine people are being. The head-on way Mr. Robot explores reality is part of its success, and though they dropped some big reveals tonight, they've left plenty of wiggle room on the table.
Until recent episodes, I'd gone back and forth about whether Christian Slater's Mr. Robot was a figment of Elliot's imagination. It seemed too obvious to go the Tyler Durden route, so they went another way. Mr. Robot as Elliot's father was one of the popular theories about his identity, but even if you had their relationship figured out, the rest of the surprise? It's the sort of riveting television that makes your jaw literally drop. Knowing Elliot's mental issues are such that he goes through periods where he forgets who is (since Darlene mentioned him forgetting her again, it seems like a regular problem) is terrifying on a few levels.
We've spent enough time with Elliot to care about him and to make assumptions about his mental state. We're invested. It hurts to know this misguided but mostly good guy is this troubled -- you sympathize with him. Rami Malek's brings such a bewildered edge to Elliot with his nuanced and phenomenal performance that you can't help but want to protect the character. In some ways, it feels like a tiny bit of a betrayal too. Despite realizing Elliot's narration isn't one hundred percent reliable, it's been hard not to trust him a little. I rationalized it by reasoning if he was self-aware enough to know he created us, a third party of sorts, he's seeing the world as it is -- to a degree. But now? We have no idea what is what or who is who. Elliot doesn't even know who he is. It's a crazy turn and also a brilliant and bold one.
The depth of Elliot's memory wipe is what made the situation exceptionally disturbing. Is it something he did to himself, like a psychotic break? Or was it something done to him? He was around his father and sister a lot -- he didn't recognize them and they didn't say anything either. Is what Tyrell knows about Mr. Robot relevant to Elliot? There are so many questions on the table now. They spiral outward to affect just about everyone we've met in the story so far.
Other than the huge pulling back of the curtain, there was also the scene with Tyrell and Mr. Robot. What the hell. Tyrell continues to be a hot, entertaining mess with a muddled plan. His wife is much more intriguing. Stephanie Corneliussen's cool and calm delivery of Joanna's lines is so on point, and I look forward to every scene where she isn't impressed by Tyrell's outbursts -- which is basically every scene they share together.
On top of everything going on, the plan to hack Evil Corp is finally moving forward. It's exciting to see progress on that front even though a big part of Elliot's motivation for going after the company no longer applies. And his meeting with White Rose? Beautifully done. BD Wong was simply glorious in the role. The scene had a sterile, precise sort of vibe that was well suited to White Rose's curt behavior. The dialogue -- specifically the comments about time -- was smart and memorable. White Rose made a strong impression for only being on screen for a few minutes.
Mr. Robot continues to prove itself to be the best show of the summer. Malek delivers gripping and ranged performances over and over and does an excellent job of bringing the viewer into Elliot's world. This series doesn't shy away from the unknown, and they've basically wiped the board and made viewers question everything -- again -- with only two more episodes left in the season.