BY DAVE NEMETZ
Believe it or not, that bullet lodged in Elliot’s gut is actually the least of his problems when Mr. Robot‘s third season (finally!) comes online.
We learn of Elliot’s fate from an unlikely source: Irving, a fast-talking car salesman played by Emmy winner Bobby Cannavale. He’s demanding a free milkshake at Red Wheelbarrow BBQ after filling out his loyalty punch card — and he has a point; what doesqualify as a “visit”? — when he gets an urgent call from Tyrell. He rushes over to the warehouse lair where Elliot lies bleeding, but Irving’s not worried: “He’s kinda still alive.” He tells Tyrell the doctors are on their way, and calls Whiterose, who’s holed up inside the bowels of a nuclear power plant, to brief her on Elliot’s condition. Who is this guy…?
Elliot wakes up in a strange bed, and thinks because he’s alive, “I must’ve been right. None of it was real.” But he’s at Angela’s, who tells him “the people that you’re working with” brought him here — including Tyrell. That, and the bullet wound, confirms that this is all very real. (Oh, and by the way, the power’s been out across the city for a week now.) Elliot rushes to the phone to call the cops, but Angela stops him: “If you tell the police anything, they will kill me.” He’s determined to stop “Stage 2” — aka the plan to blow up the building where E Corp stores their recovery data — so he throws on Angela’s “Property of Josh Groban” sweatshirt (ha!) and heads out into the night.
He arrives at the warehouse lair, but it’s empty; someone “did a full wipe down,” Elliot theorizes. (Mr. Robot isn’t around, either, he notes: “Is it possible the bullet killed him, and not me?”) Back at his apartment, a very paranoid Darlene is waiting for him, pissed that he disappeared on her. She tells him Cisco’s dead, thanks to the Dark Army: “They killed him, and I think I’m next.” She’s scared and crying… but Elliot only wants to know what she told the feds. (Nice brother, huh?) He fills her in on Stage 2, but when she yells at him for planning to kill all those people, he screams back, “It wasn’t me!” He needs to get online to close the E Corp back door and stop Stage 2 before it starts… and Darlene knows just where to go.
She takes him to a secret underground club with throbbing music and young computer nerds enjoying plentiful electricity. Darlene calls it “the only hacker space with a dedicated fiber connection”; the people there are competing in some kind of worldwide “Hacker Olympics.” Elliot needs access to a terminal, so he offers to just win the competition for them. (Easy, right?) But while he’s busy giving a hacker some helpful tips, Darlene spots a pair of Asian guys eyeing her suspiciously. She flees to the bathroom in terror, not able to catch her breath. The good news: Elliot not only wins the competition, he also manages to connect to the E Corp back door. The bad news: The Asian guys, with Darlene in tow, pull the plug on him before he can finish shutting it down. Uh-oh.
They lead Elliot and Darlene out to an alley, where a cab pulls up… and Irving’s the driver! They get in and notice an SUV full of federal agents on their tail, but Irving coolly calls the cops, posing as an officer, and reports the SUV as stolen, getting the cops to initiate a remote slowdown. The SUV helplessly slows to a stop while Irving’s cab speeds away. He takes Elliot and Darlene to Red Wheelbarrow (his favorite place!), where Elliot informs him he’s calling off Stage 2. Irving’s surprisingly OK with this, but when Elliot demands confirmation from Whiterose, he turns nasty: “You know that bullet we took out of you? We can easily put it back in.”
Darlene doesn’t trust them, and Elliot agrees that it was all “too easy.” As he passes by a long line of people waiting for FEMA supplies, he goes off on a narrated rant about the “invisible hand” of capitalism, which “turned into a fist that punched us in the d–k.” Corporate overlords have coopted his revolution — E Corp is now selling its own “E Coin” currency, and NBC even turned the Five/Nine hack into a TV show! — and Elliot worries that what he set in motion could lead to dire consequences. Cut to: President Donald Trump. (Sam Esmail isn’t pulling punches this year, is he?)
Elliot feels a crushing sense of responsibility for all of it, and tells Angela he needs a job at E Corp to “fix what I did.” He also asks her to keep an eye on him, to make sure he’s not slipping into Mr. Robot mode — and kisses her! (Hey, that room full of candles is hella romantic.) She pulls away, though, and calls their kiss last season “a mistake.” She also asks him, “What if I told you we could make it so that this never happened?” And she doesn’t just mean Five/Nine; she means all of it — including their parents’ deaths. (Wha???) He presses her for details, and she tells him to just forget it, but when she wakes up the next morning and calls out for Elliot… Mr. Robot is there instead.
She takes him to meet Irving, who complains that they’re “behind schedule now,” and then to Tyrell, who apologizes for shooting him. Mr. Robot plops down in front of a computer and gets to work finding another route into the E Corp system, so Stage 2 can resume. On the subway ride back, though, Angela reminds him: “You and I, we’re not friends.” Robot asks her why she’s doing this, and she replies, “Evil Corp killed my mom.” She never thought she could get justice, but now Whiterose has offered her a way, and “when we succeed, a whole new world will be born.” And bam! Just like that, the power snaps back on.
Bits and Bytes:
* Bobby Cannavale was pretty great as Irving, wasn’t he? A welcome bit of comic relief — and yet another character with murky motives for us to puzzle over.
* As much as I loved that Josh Groban sweatshirt, it was weirdly thrilling to see Elliot don his signature black hoodie once again, right? Like a superhero putting on his cape.
* There was a nice shot in that final scene, too, with the camera holding on Angela’s face as she explained her motivations. But have we really drilled down on what’s going on with her? Feels like there’s another shoe or two left to drop there.
* We got a cool insight into Elliot’s split personality when Mr. Robot asked Angela: “How do you know you’re talking to me right now?” Your eyes, she said; Mr. Robot never tries to look away.
* I did miss a couple of key characters this week: Where’s Joanna Wellick? Where’s Dom? Where’s Phillip Price? Here’s hoping they’re all back sooner rather than later. (Don’t pull a Tyrell with them this season, Sam Esmail!)
* Is it possible to get a GIF of Elliot saying “Can you please take your hand off me and leave me alone?” made into a T-shirt? And if so, where can I get one?