BY NATE SCOTT
The premiere season of USA Network’s Mr. Robot is so good that we had to start writing about it. This will be our weekly recap of the series. The post below is chock full of spoilers, so if you haven’t seen episode 9 of the first season, “m1rr0r1ng,” it’s probably a good idea to hold off on this post. Here’s a photo of Angela.
1. ANSWERING QUESTIONS IS NEVER AS FUN AS ASKING THEM
A big central mystery of the show is answered this episode: Mr. Robot is indeed Elliot. Many of us suspected that in episode one, only to have our idea of that twisted around and manipulated. Heading into last week, I was fully convinced that Mr. Robot was indeed real, then had my head flipped by the end of the episode. This week, it was made concrete.
I imagine I won’t be the only one slightly, slightly disappointed by the reveal, though it was artfully done with a painful and hurried goodbye in the cemetery. You can sense showrunner and writer Sam Esmail was apologetic about answering the mystery as well — it’s no accident Elliot says “You’re going to make me say it, aren’t you?” before revealing that Mr. Robot was a figment of his imagination.
The good thing is, and why I’m still 100% in on this show, is that Esmail knew the reveal was always going to be disappointing, and he didn’t drag it out. Lesser shows would have played up the reveal over multiple episodes, dragging us out with red herrings until finally, in the season finale, hitting us with the big shebang.
Esmail didn’t do that. He gave it to us in episode 9, an understated and sad moment, and then moved on. There are bigger things to be done here. We’ve known Elliot was a little crazy since episode one, but we always thought he was in control. It’s clear that he isn’t in control. Now what happens?
2. WE MIGHT HAVE LOST CHRISTIAN SLATER
Perhaps even more disappointing than losing Mr. Robot is losing Christian Slater, who’s been wonderful this entire series. I’m sure he will make more appearances in flashbacks and dreams and delusions, but for week in and week out, we probably won’t be getting as much Slater.
What a drag.
3. DARLENE AND ANGELA ARE A FUN TEAM
Darlene and Angela’s old friendship it struck up again (even after ballet class) to go out and search for Elliot. They first meet at the Queens museum, Angela and Elliot’s old place to run away, then head back to their childhood home, where Elliot had just thrown himself out a window (for the second time … Well, third time if you count the pier.)
While the two aren’t given much to do other than worry about Elliot, you do get to see just how protective of Elliot that Angela is. We learn that Darlene was never close with Elliot. His mother was awful to him. His dad was dead. Angela and Elliot only had each other for years, and now that he’s breaking down again, Angela can’t help but protect him … even if she doesn’t really know who he is anymore.
Which makes it all the more interesting when Terry Colby offers her a job at the end of the episode. You know he’s got an angle here, and so does she, but she can’t see it yet. And what other options does she have?
4. TYRELL AND ELLIOT HAVE NOTHING TO LOSE
Tyrell spends the start of the episode with a tender moment with his new child and wife, who then tells him she gave a child away before to adoption. The admission makes you realize how distant these two people are, and how the murder of the CTO’s wife has only split them apart farther. She has come too far, been through too much, to get hooked up to another loser, and she tells him the only way they can be together as a family is if he fixes this.
That’s more added pressure for Tyrell, who now has to not only beat a murder rap but keep his wife and child … and then he goes and gets fired from his job. The firing scene is absolutely devastating, as the CEO who seemed so benevolent in earlier episodes is revealed as the monster he is. For all the nefarious hackers and drug dealers we’ve seen in this series so far, it’s the men in the board rooms who are the most evil, the most horrifying. It boggles my brain how this show still has advertisers.
Left out of options, Tyrell goes to Elliot’s apartment. He has no one left. He knows Elliot is behind everything, so he latches on to the one bit of power left. His motives? Unclear. Revenge maybe. Or else he’s been with fsociety all along. It’s hard to tell.
What isn’t hard to tell is that he threatens Elliot’s life, and Elliot has to bring him to the arcade. They get there, and Maxence Cyrin’s cover of “Where Is My Mind?” by the Pixies comes on, a not-so-subtle homage to the final scene in Fight Club. Like that scene, the main character has been disconnected from the fictitious person he invented. Like that scene, it isn’t clear what happens next.
5. I’M STUPIDLY EXCITED FOR THE SEASON FINALE
With the big reveal in this episode, Esmail and his team can head into the finale building for next season. It appears that Elliot and Tyrell will be forming some uneasy alliance to accomplish something, with Darlene still there and Angela perhaps going to work for Evil Corp. I’m not sure who else will stick around — Gideon’s breakfast scene with his husband felt like a goodbye. (In which case, losing actor Michael Gill will be almost as tough as losing Slater.)
From an email from someone with knowledge, I can say that everyone should stick around through the end of the credits next week. There’s some sort of surprise in store.