BY NATHAN MATTISE
Warning: This piece contains spoilers for the recent season finale of Mr. Robot as well as the show's entire second season.
Continuing the trend of S2 at large, Mr. Robot's recent season finale may have provided more questions than answers for the series moving forward. However, this latest episode did include one extremely satisfying pay-off: the calculating Joanna Wellick finally revealed her long game.
Wellick's season-spanning arc full of security henchmen, younger DJs, and odd encounters with Elliot finally made sense after her latest encounter with E-Corp CTO Scott Knowles. If you recall, Wellick's husband (Tyrell) killed Knowles' wife (Sharon) towards the end of S1 before disappearing after the 5/9 hacks. And to clear her husband of all charges, Wellick essentially identified the DJ from that night, seduced him over several months, confronted Knowles and coaxed him into attacking her, and then used her bruises as leverage with the DJ to request that he testify to the cops about seeing Knowles fleeing the crime scene.
If that level of manipulation, foresight, and execution isn't mindblowing enough, Wellick also likely uttered the most memorable line of the Mr. Robot finale... which perhaps doubles as one of the meanest lines you'll ever hear on TV. (It's not exactly fit to print, but you can hear it at the 2:55 mark in the audio above.)
"When we got to the place in the script where I was saying those lines, I read them internally before I said it out loud," actor Stephanie Corneliussen (Wellick) told Ars during our latest podcast. "As I was preparing to utter the first part of the sentence, I just stopped. I looked up, and I looked across the table at Sam Esmail and gave him that kind of 'What did you do? I can’t say this' look. And he just gives me one of those famous Sam scowls that’s like 'go ahead, do it.' Then I said it. Everyone is reading along, but hearing it out loud... we just burst out laughing because it’s so over the limit, so over the top.”
Corneliussen joined as a special guest on our season finale for Decrypted, Ars' Mr. Robot podcast. And in addition to reliving her villainous peak, she gladly touched on a number of subjects including Joanna, S2 as a whole, and the series going forward.
On seeing Joanna's plan finally come into focus:
“Finding out she has this master plan really going back to what we saw in S1—she’s a master; an incredible manipulator.
I was especially happy because when I read the scripts originally, I only got the first five [episodes]. There was a lot of Joanna's story involving this new boyfriend. Being part of Joanna—it’s a team effort between me, Sam, and the writers—I couldn’t see her fall in love with some bartender. I was physically upset, tears in my eyes. I told Sam, 'You have to explain this to me because this is not Joanna.' He said don’t worry, there’s a plan. So I was happy that everyone eventually knew he was just a pawn in her game."
On her favorite non-Joanna characters this season (and if they should cross paths on the show):
"Angela has such an interesting story this season. Of all the character evolutions we see this season, she has the most extreme one. She becomes almost a completely different person—to me it’s a Darth Vader and Anakin Skywalker thing, she literally just joins the Dark Side. And I would love to see, wherever Angela is going, if she could become friends with Joanna. I think they’re becoming even more alike.
I also think Whiterose and Joanna… it’s funny, BD [Wong] hit me up on Twitter the night of the finale and was like, 'What do you think—Whiterose and Joanna? Should we get some Bloody Marys?'"
On what surprised her in S2:
"With that whole process of us discovering Elliot was in jail—not that in particular, which by the way, a lot of people figured out, though not me—there's a moment where Joey Bada$$ comes up and Elliot is about to get attacked by these other inmates. All of a sudden, he just shows up like this ninja warrior out of nowhere. He slices and dices left and right, then turns around to tell Elliot, 'Tell Whiterose I did you good.' That’s when I was like 'Whoa, what just happened?'
And the very last scene in the finale where he shows up and asks Trenton and Mobley a question, I just want to know what’s going on, what’s his role. I almost feel like he’s got the same kind of introduction that I had in S1 where everyone was left wondering, 'Who is this character, what is their deal?'"
Her S3 hopes for Joanna:
"There are so many fun things I think you could do with her character. She’s been acting sort of like the Gray Eminence, ruling behind the scenes. I would love to see her actually gain some more power.
But what I’m looking forward to the most is hopefully a reunion between her and Tyrell. I know for a fact, because I know her intimately, that she’s missed him quite a bit. I would love to see what happens when and if Tyrell is reunited, and all of a sudden he schleps Elliot through the door and goes 'By the way, have you met?' 'Yep.'”