BY SUNDI ROSE-HOLT
The Mr. Robot finale may not have answered any of the big questions I wanted it to, but it certainly didn’t disappoint. Even though we’re still left wondering over a lot of the lingering plotlines (and some new ones, thanks to the disappearance of Tyrell), there were still some major WTF moments to behold.
Here’s a breakdown and analysis of the five biggest moments of the finale:
1. Evil Corps’ spokesman shoots himself on national TV
This scene would have been disturbing even if the camera had panned away and only shown blood splatter, but Mr. Robot doesn’t flinch in the slightest. Viewers saw the man put the gun in his mouth and pull the trigger, and the bloody gore explode behind him and oozed out the front.
Mr. Robot elects the Evil Corp spokesperson as a representative of the corporate dependence on the capitalist system. His suicide symbolizes how deeply interconnected the American capitalist system is to the American identity. Without his pension, this man has nothing to live for … suggesting the cultural addiction to the accrual of wealth and status.
This moment also served as a moment of crisis and transition for Angela. Witnessing the suicide hardened her, but it also initiated her into the Evil Corp fold. But more on that later.
2. Mr. Robot’s speech in Times Square
Mr. Robot isn’t usually as heavy-handed in promoting its own agenda, but this minute or so of writing is some of the best cultural scolding out there. Christian Slater’s delivery is smart and nuanced, and what could have come off as cliched is deft and pointed. It kind of makes me want to cut up my credit cards immediately.
Here’s a bit of the major truth bombs he dropped on us tonight:
We’ve turned it off, took out the batteries, snacked on a bag of GMOs while we tossed the remnants in the ever-expanding dumpster of the human condition. We live in branded houses, trademarked by corporations, built on bipolar numbers jumping up and down on digital displays, hypnotizing us into the biggest slumber mankind has ever seen.
You’ll have to dig pretty deep, kiddo, to find anything real.
3. White Rose turns up at an Evil Corp party
If you followed instructions from last week’s recap, you knew to stick around after the credits for a big reveal. It turns out that White Rose, when she isn’t conspiring to hack the world’s biggest conglomerates or cultivating her nail game, is actually socializing with the CEO of Evil Corp.
Dressed in a dapper suit and donning a close-cropped haircut, White Rose is apparently playing double agent. Both men make some cryptic references to knowing “the person responsible” for all of this, but only the Evil Corp CEO makes any promises about what’s to come to the responsible party—presumably Elliot. (But who knows at this point?)
White Rose invokes the image of the Roman emperor Nero, who burned Rome to the ground in order to make room for his grand palace. This metaphor is more meaningful to viewers because we know his double identity, and we’ve witnessed him orchestrate the fsociety overturn of the current financial system.
The comparison to Nero suggests he’s got something bigger for the ashes of society. We’ll just have to wait until season two to see what he’s trying to make room for.
4. Elliot chokes himself in public
The finale marks the first time we’ve seen Elliot interacting with Mr. Robot from another point of view besides his own. We are able to see Elliot as an objective observers does: muttering to himself, tortured and twitchy, trying to make sense of something no one else is privy to.
Although Elliot’s awareness of his own condition is growing, he is still powerless to control it. Mr. Robot leans over an unconscious Elliot and tells him, “I’m only supposed to be the prophet. You’re supposed to be my god.” This implies that the Mr. Robot part of Elliot is in service to the actual Elliot, yet when we see Elliot from the onlookers’ perspective, it’s Elliot against the wall. This implies that Elliot is subordinate to the Mr. Robot part.
Mr. Robot is asking us to contemplate what really rules our decisions, and how our intrinsic motivations are informed by our own demons. We are Elliot.
When the camera shifts to reveal Elliot, back against the wall, with his own hand around his throat, it’s a jarring experience. All along we’ve only seen things through his eyes, and that has allowed a certain amount of understanding on our part. But, just as Darlene says later, “We’re finally awake. We’re finally alive.”
5. Angela buys pair of Prada pumps
Only hours after she witnesses the Evil Corp spokesman kill himself a few feet away, and with his blood still smudged on her shoes, she’s in a store buying a new pair of Prada pumps with money the CEO gave her.
This signals an abrupt shift in Angela’s character and a growing darkness in her. Two episodes ago, she was asking for a job at the dingy law offices handling her Evil Corp lawsuit, and tonight she is buying black Prada pumps with Evil Corp money. She’s hardening after only a short time at Evil Corp, and she is finding it easier than she thought to fit in.
The sales clerk in the shoe store speaks to Angela as a representative of the 99 percent, as he works from his knees in front of her. He scolds her, and at first she demurs. He dumps a truck load of judgment on her, and her transformation manifests right before our eyes. She tells him, “I don’t know who you think you’re talking to, but I’ll take the Pradas.”
She’s officially one of them now.
6. Joanna and Elliot meet on the street
I can’t really put my finger on why this exchange is so creepy, but it bears mentioning that Elliot is no match for Joanna’s interpersonal manipulations. As I watched, the sense of dread in the scene was palpable—the music, Joanna’s creepy smile, Elliot’s fight-or-flight posture—and I think it will prove to be pivotal in solving Tyrell’s disappearance.
Any moments that I left out? What are your predictions for season two?