'Mr. Robot' Recap: Episode 9 'eps1.8_m1rr0r1ng.qt'

 USA Network

USA Network

BY BRAD TILLES

In the ninth episode of the USA Network drama ‘Mr. Robot’, more shocking revelations are revealed as Elliot comes to term with his identity.

In the entire first season of the USA Network tech drama Mr. Robot, we have been witness to the mental unraveling of the quiet and anti-social hacker Elliot Alderson. As he gets more involved with ‘fsociety’ and their mission to hack a major corporation in order to reset the world’s debt, his past has been slowly revealed. After a crazy revelation in the previous episode, the ninth episode eps1.8_m1rr0r1ng.qt proved a long-standing fan theory (more on that later).

For most of his life, Elliot (Rami Malek) has been seeking purpose and happiness for those around him. The often cold and emotionally-distant talented hacker drifted through life with little known about his past. Yet, in last week’s episode of the series, it was revealed the man who recruited and mentored him, Mr. Robot (Christian Slater), was in fact his father who was long thought dead. However, as the first season concludes next week, Elliot’s mental state is exposed in the ninth episode.

Father-Son Bonding

In a flashback to 1994, Mr. Robot is running a computer repair shop. When a customer storms in accusing his son of swiping money from him during a transaction, Mr. Robot rebukes and refuses to give back any money suggesting his son’s innocence. Once the customer leaves, Mr. Robot calls out for his son Elliot who eventually confesses to stealing it. But instead of a punishment, Mr. Robot suggests using the money he stole to go to the movies. “Even though what you did was wrong, you’re still a good kid. That guy was a prick, sometimes that matters more.”

Back in the present in Elliot’s apartment after the fatherly revelation, Mr. Robot is disconcerted that it took this long for his son to recognize him and his sister Darlene (Carly Chaikin). Mr. Robot spots a mysterious car outside across the street. He suggests certain people are going out of their way to prevent Elliot from working with his father. He even suggests Elliot’s years of therapy and pill prescriptions were devised as a distraction.

On a train ride, Elliot’s childhood memories start coming back while his father has put a sense of paranoia in Elliot making him believe they’re being followed. They stop by Elliot’s childhood home and break in while the current occupants are away. Back in his old bedroom, Elliot recreates the time his father pushed him out of a window out of anger by pushing Mr. Robot out the second story window.

Tywell’s World Comes Crashing Down

After inducing labor to get her husband out of questioning from detectives, Joanna Wellick (Stephanie Corneliussen) is in a hospital bed resting with her newborn son. She reveals to her husband Tywell (Martin Wallström) that at the age of 15 she gave birth to a girl who she later gave away for adoption. She tried her best to forget that memory but was reminded by seeing a resemblance to her newborn son. While Tywell was surprised, he is stunned when she immediately says she wants to end their marriage to raise her son on her own.

 USA Network

USA Network

Back at his office, Evil Corp. Board Member Phillip Price (Michael Cristofer) is waiting for Tywell. He expresses concern over Tywell’s previous relationship with the recently deceased Sharon Knowles (Michele Hicks) and being labeled a person of interest in the murder case. He informs Tywell that Scott Knowles (Brian Stokes Mitchell) will remain CTO and dismisses Tywell from the company.

Angela’s New Mission

Angela (Portia Doubleday) stops by her lawyer’s firm while they are deeply busy handling the Colby case and informs her lawyer she quit her job and is looking to help out with the case. Her lawyer rebukes that she’s not cut out for legal work and suggests she find any other type of work she can get. Meanwhile she is hounded by Darlene over concerns for Elliot’s behavior, but Angela dismisses her as she has emotionally cut herself off from him.

Later in the episode, Angela returns home and she finds Terry Colby (Bruce Altman) and some associates awaiting her inside her house with her father. Colby offers her a job at Evil Corp. but Angela instantly refuses and asks him to leave. Colby suggests that if she wants any real justice, she’d work from the inside instead of having lawyers make it rich from the class-action lawsuit.

Elliot Coming To Grips

Angela ultimately changes her mind and finds Darlene at her childhood house. Once they meet up, they quickly escape as the current owners stop by, but not before noticing the broken window on the second story, concluding that Elliot must be nearby.

Elliot and his father are walking through a graveyard and begin to hear Angela and Darlene calling Elliot’s name not far away. Mr. Robot is pleading with his son that he must not let others separate them and promises he would never leave him. As he pledges his love, he begins to collapse against a grave. As Darlene and Angela finally catch up with Elliot, they ask who he is talking to. Then, it’s revealed that he is alone standing next to the grave of his father, Edward Alderson who died in 1995.

Bleeding from pushing himself out of the window, Elliot begins experiencing a psychotic breakdown. “Elliot, who do you think you’ve been talking to?” a worried Angela asks. “You’re going to make me say it, aren’t you? I am Mr. Robot,” Elliot internally says to himself.

   USA Network

  USA Network

At the train stop on the way back to the city, Angela tries to comfort Elliot, saying she wished she could talk to her deceased mother. On the train, Darlene asks if he remembers any part of starting ‘fsociety.’

Back at Elliot’s apartment, Elliot’s world is upside down and he starts questioning his existence and the reason for the hack. In an identity crisis, he is unable to fathom the work he did under the mental guise of Mr. Robot that resembled his father. After Darlene leaves, Tywell quietly enters and admits to Elliot about murdering a woman recently and recounts the emotional rush he experienced: “I thought I’d feel guilty for being a murderer. But I don’t. I feel wonder.”

Elliot takes Tywell to the Coney Island ‘fsociety’ headquarters and lays out the entire hacking plan but asserts he is the only person involved. Tywell proclaims their partnership but asks what Elliot was hoping to accomplish by doing all of this. Elliot simply says he wanted to save the world.

In perhaps one of the best episodes of the first season with one left to go, these recent revelations are making this show more intriguing. The long-standing theory of Mr. Robot being the alter-ego of Elliot’s subconscious turned out to be true (but using his deceased father’s image as an avatar). We’ve seen this plot device before, particularly the 1999 cult film Fight Club.

Now all that’s left is Elliot carrying out the hack with his new partner Tywell. It’s been hinted since the pilot episode that Tywell was aware of Elliot’s talents and had considered partnering with him. Now that he is no longer employed at Evil Corp., his plan for revenge already had Elliot lay out the groundwork.

Stray Observations

  • Well, for someone who has doubted the “Mr. Robot is a figment of Elliot’s imagination” theory, I was kind of disappointed. Grant it, it was another shocking plot twist, but I was hoping his father was in fact alive and had been in hiding in the last 19 years.
  • After the revelation, I couldn’t help but think there would be a Fight Club / Tyler Durden comparison when it comes to the protagonist interacting with his own alter ego. The people behind the show obviously took a tongue-in-cheek approach by intentionally adding a piano-based cover of Where Is My Mind by the Pixies, which played during the climax of Fight Club.
  • In the opening flashback, we are reminded of what was playing at the multiplexes in 1994 including Stargate and Time Cop. Young Elliot points to one of the ads in the newspaper. His father responds, “Pulp Fiction? Never heard of it. You sure I can take you to that?” I personally saw Pulp Fiction at a young age and I turned out alright.

Mr. Robot airs on Wednesdays at 10/9c on the USA Network.

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