Spoilers ahead, obviously!
The afternoon before Wednesday’s new episode of Mr. Robot, series creator Sam Esmail tweeted some pretty lofty promises, claiming that the episode was the “best one to date,” featured his favorite guest star, and that streaming viewers would want to watch the episode live with the commercials, “trust him on this.” We’ll have Brian’s full recap up shortly, but with the chess pieces set in place from last week’s episode — the Chinese shootout! Elliot hacking the FBI and possibly getting murdered by Darryl from The Office! Joanna being even more terrifying than usual! — the wheels were set in motion for a particularly explosive episode.
Well, we know what Esmail meant now about not skipping the commercials, anyway. Although much of the episode revolved around the riveting plot of Darlene and Angela attempting to infiltrate the FBI, it was the insanely bonkers TGIF-style opening that had everyone talking. Following Wednesday’s episode, Esmail chatted with Entertainment Weekly to give some insight into Elliot’s “happy place” and how they pulled the whole thing off:
“The notion was that we wanted Mr. Robot to actually show the good attributes of having an alter ego,” Esmail said. “Here’s the plus. You’ve seen the negative. You can’t get rid of me, even if you want to. You can’t control me, but here’s a huge plus of having me around.” And according to Esmail, this technique is born out of fact, as an experience of people suffering from dissociative identity disorder.
So the question for the writers became: What would Elliot’s safe space look like? For the answer, Esmail mined his own childhood memories of TGIF, ABC’s now-defunct programming block of Friday night sitcoms that included Perfect Strangers, Full House, and Family Matters. “I remember being envious of the families on those sitcoms, because even if they had their minor conflict every week, they always resolved it,” Esmail said. “Everyone always loved each other. Life was a lot simpler. Every house looked totally nice, and you had everything you needed. So Elliot goes to that place.”
But replicating the “sitcom style” of the sequence was another story all together, as the cinematic style was obviously in sharp contrast to how Mr. Robot is usually filmed. Horace and Pete executive producer Blair Breard stepped in to help, as Louis C.K.’s series is filmed using a three-camera set up. Production used a green screen for the scenes filmed in the car and threw together the fake-looking set for the scenes shot in the gas station.
Speaking of which, that hyped guest star really was Paul Fusco, the original puppeteer and actor who voiced ALF:
“ALF is amazing,” Esmail joked. “He’s a little insulting sometimes. He can be a little needy, but it’s all worth it for the great performance he delivers.”
Hopefully no cats were harmed in the making of this episode.
(Via Entertainment Weekly)