BY KENNY HERZOG
As Mr. Robot begins its third season with “eps3.0_power-saver-mode.h,” the power is out across New York City, Angela Moss has a political awakening, Elliot Alderson contemplates whether he or his alter ego is in control, Darlene lurks around the edges with suspicious intentions, and Bobby Cannavale appears as a horribly coiffed Dark Army fixer who’s keeping Tyrell Wellick in quarantine until he and Elliot make good. Easy enough to understand, right? Of course not — when it comes to Mr. Robot, nothing is ever that easy. If you’re perplexed about what happened in the season premiere, we took our best stab at decrypting it below.
What is Whiterose doing at the Washington Township plant?
Whiterose, in Minister Zhang mode, makes her way to a special observation area at E Corp’s controversial power plant, waxing poetic to his assistant Grant (Tony Cheng) about how Edward Alderson’s brilliant engineering helped kick off the greater mission that Elliot is bringing to fruition. We zoom out for a 3-D tour of the plant’s machinery, suggesting the possibility that China is covertly developing nuclear armaments or some such hostile capability right under our noses, hence the urgency in persuading Angela to join Dark Army’s cause rather than work with the FBI to destroy E Corp. Or maybe Whiterose has been coopting the space as a factory to manufacture her collection of exotic grandfather clocks. Time will tell.
How much does Angela know?
Forget Elliot and his grasp on reality. Is Angela truly unaware that Whiterose and the Dark Army are directly implicated in her mother’s death? Is she stringing them along until she can sabotage both them and E Corp? Her little speech to Mr. Robot at episode’s end felt as genuinely naïve as impassioned, and it’s uncomfortable watching her mix it up with shady characters like Tyrell and Cannavale’s Irving. Still, she’s the only person who can anticipate what Elliot might do or say next.
What is Irving’s role in the Dark Army?
Is he a Dark Army sympathizer who peddles used cars as a cover? A Chinese resident of American origin who started spying for Whiterose? Or is he just a con artist who excels in swapping cars? (Irving’s Auto Square is a real location, FYI.) Also, does it matter whether Irving or Tyrell left that Red Wheelbarrow menu for Elliot last season? At the moment, not nearly as much as how a fast-food restaurant honors punch-card rewards.
What are the FBI’s plans for Darlene?
It’s as yet inscrutable. Perhaps the Bureau wants her to flip on Elliot and coax him into admissions about Stage 2 and the extent of Tyrell’s involvement. Or she could be operating White Collar–style as a tightly monitored asset who assists Elliot’s attempts to close the back door and undermine the Dark Army’s violent sabotage. Both Elliot and Mr. Robot seem to suspect she isn’t entirely untrustworthy, although she may be pushing the former more toward the solution he actually wants.
Is Whiterose’s sidekick gonna be a problem?
We’ve seen how this plays out: A loyal, jealous foot soldier thinks he’s being passed over for opportunities in favor of some prodigal son. Mr. Grumpypants better watch out, though. As the In Memoriam wall in Elliot’s mind made clear, his rage often results in sudden death.
Can Elliot just hang up on 911 like that?
Probably not. He’d get a call back or possibly even find an officer dispatched to his location. But given the high volume of calls during the blackout, as mentioned in the recorded message when Elliot dials, they might be willing to just let this one go.
Are “capture the flag” tournaments actually a thing?
Who’s afraid of Mr. Robot?
Tyrell Wellick. He is very, very afraid. And it’s adorable.
What’s the significance of Elliot’s inner monologue?
Amid Elliot’s dissertation about how his desire to subvert the system only further fueled discontent among the masses and enabled the ascent of even more nefarious actors than E Corp (cue the Donald Trump footage), it’s jarring that his signature voice-over becomes more fully embodied as he speechifies straight to us. But then, we see that this, too, is an illusion. He’s still sitting alone in Red Wheelbarrow, stunned and silent, fantasizing about self-possession but faced with the prospect of being even further from stopping what he started.
Where will Elliot’s desk at E Corp be?
Corner office? Bench seat on an open floor so Phillip Price can keep a close eye? Will he be working in accounts, IT, or the mail room? We’ve come full circle, and Elliot will again have to confront the drudgery of day-to-day white-collar toil. The irony that he’ll be using his privileged access to protect Evil Corp from calamity is probably not lost on him. The real, hidden task — keeping Mr. Robot in line and on duty when Elliot is out of focus — is for Angela to manage. It’s a responsibility that will surely have her working overtime.