TV Review – Mr. Robot S01E08: Whiterose

BY KALI O'ROURKE

USA Network’s Mr. Robot has been a consistently good show, even though it hasn’t been blowing me away the way it has other people. But now that episode 8, titled “Whiterose” has aired, consider me among the very, very impressed. There isn’t a single moment of the episode that doesn’t ultimately work, and we’ve got to factor in the giant twists too.

As a television writer, I know that ideas can come in pieces. In some episodes during this season of Mr. Robot, it’s felt like a show that was pieced together in retrospect. The writers knew where they wanted to get, but they had to move the characters into place to get there. This leaves episodes that have been designed to push the characters a little bit farther toward a set goal. “Whiterose” is clearly a huge piece that we’ve been building to, and that build-up pays off.

While there are only a few plotlines covered in “Whiterose”, the tension and movement are high throughout because we’re literally watching people’s lives fall apart.

                      USA Network

                      USA Network

It’s harder to see this in Elliot’s (Rami Malek) plot because it’s so action-driven. Elliot moves from one crisis to the next: from F Society’s meeting with hacker White Rose (BD Wong) to Allsafe’s network being hacked, crises that are intrinsically linked. Apparently, the Dark Army has wanted to meet Elliot for a while since they were the ones who gave Angela (Portia Doubleday) and her boyfriend the corrupted CD in the first place and they also used the boyfriend to contact Elliot again.

                      USA Network

                      USA Network

Even though Angela tell him she feels distant from him, by the end of the episode, Elliot is ready to celebrate since the Dark Army is primed to come through on a new Steel Mountain-esque plan. Evil Corp will be brought to its knees in less than two days. (I assume there will be more complications.) Or at least he’s ready to celebrate until he talks to Darlene (Carly Chaikin).

That’s not to say Darlene ends up being a buzzkill or anything. As always in Mr. Robot, it’s more complicated than that. Darlene is more than willing to celebrate, even telling Elliot she loves him. Naturally – based on what we’ve seen so far – Elliot tries to kiss her, but that’s not what Darlene wants. She asks him, “Did you forget again? Did you forget who I am?”

                      USA Network

                      USA Network

And just like that, everything turns. A few moments later, we learn Darlene is Elliot’s sister, and nothing is as it seemed. But at least that explains how Darlene and Angela knew each other in the ballet class scene at the start of “Whiterose.”

Of course, this revelation freaks Elliot out too. Probably even more than it does us. Elliot accuses us: “Are you freaking out? Tell me the truth. Were you in on this the whole time?” What’s most disconcerting here is that he’s kind of right. We’ve known something has been up for most of the season, which essentially makes us in on it.

Then, Elliot’s solution in true Elliot fashion is to hack himself. Only, there’s nothing to find online. Is Elliot Alderson a pseudonym or does Elliot just not have any social media or digital records at all? Even after Elliot finds some information, I’m still not sure. Considering that final information reveal was both mind-blowing and very confusing (at least for me), I’m surprised I can even talk about it coherently.

Basically, Elliot sees a bunch of pictures of Mr. Robot (Christian Slater) and a young boy, then pictures with a family which includes another woman and a young girl. Every source I’ve seen indicates that these pictures definitely prove that Mr. Robot is Elliot’s father, and though I have a hard time believing that for unknown reasons, I guess that’s what makes the most logical sense. Plus, that might have been the kid who played young Elliot before.

                      USA Network

                      USA Network

“Whiterose” ends before we get any real answers, but presumably, the next episode will start by addressing a few of the lingering questions since Mr. Robot showed up at Elliot’s door for a talk.

The world/life that is definitely crumbling before our very eyes in “Whiterose” is actually Tyrell Wellick’s (Martin Wellström), which is fascinating. I suppose it makes sense that someone who wants to keep everything under control the way Tyrell does would unravel quickly when everything is out of his control, but I couldn’t have predicted this when we first met him way back in the pilot episode.

During “Whiterose,” Tyrell is barely keeping himself together. That frantic entrance to the office, the first time we see him in the episode, says it all. We’re super tight on Tyrell’s face, in a way that we’ve only seen on Elliot – here, we’re getting Tyrell’s perspective. He’s clearly jittery, looking all around himself, then yells at a coworker and tries to cancel all his meetings. But my absolute favorite moment was when his secretary attempts to discreetly bring up the new coffee stain on his shirt, and Tyrell only laughs and replies, “Oh yes, I’d love some coffee.”

                      USA Network

                      USA Network

But luckily for him, his wife, Joanna (Stephanie Corneliussen), is still perfectly and ruthlessly in control – so much so that she (possibly) induces labor at risk to the baby’s health in order to keep the police from asking them questions about the murder she learned about approximately one minute ago.

While Joanna is clearly taking the most drastic action, the women of Mr. Robot continuously are the ones who are the most willing to take risks in order to get what they want. Angela put the CD in the computer, Shayla took that job as a waitress, and Darlene “forced” a meeting with White Rose. For more on the gender politics of Mr. Robot than I can say here, check out this article about the show’s portrayal of masculinity.

With only two episodes left in Mr. Robot’s first season, it seems likely that the Elliot’s family connections will be its final big reveal and that the last two episodes will deal with this fallout as well as continue the Steel Mountain job and murder investigation. But Mr. Robot is consistently a surprise, so that may well not be the case. Regardless, I know that I am whole-heartedly looking forward to the answers we’ll hopefully get in a week’s time.

Final Thoughts:

  • So… if Mr. Robot is Elliot’s father, is he still dead? Was that a story Elliot made up? Is it really his mother who died? Lots of questions.
  • I clicked on this article from Vanity Fair because they called Rami Malek’s performance the “most intense… of the summer” and because I agree he’s been really, really good. And it’s a super cute interview in which, among other things, I learned he has a twin named Sami.
  • I figured out BD Wong was going to be White Rose as soon as his name appeared in the credits. I was really excited about it, and that scene did not disappoint.
  • My main concern about the gun being stored in the popcorn was that no one could eat that popcorn. But probably, I should be more worried about who that gun is going to shoot since it didn’t get used in this episode.
  • The actor math doesn’t quite add up on Christian Slater playing Rami Malek’s father since Slater is only 46 to Malek’s 34.

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