The eighth episode of Mr. Robot dropped a bomb on us, in the form of a sister-kissing revelation and a dad-appearing cliffhanger. It was great television, and it set the stage for this week’s episode, which promised even more answers as to what the hell has been happening in the first season. But, as we’ve seen repeatedly from Mr. Robot, anything resembling an answer usually comes packaged with a few more questions. Let’s attempt to unpack things as we head into the finale, shall we?
ANSWER: Mr. Robot was Elliot’s dead father.
Yup, there it is. Things were pretty clearly leaning in this direction at the end of last week’s episode (and they were making subtle nods and glances toward this general area for a while), but now we have our confirmation. I mean, to the extent anything on Mr. Robot can ever be confirmed. This show, man. But a headstone with a name on it and a confrontation at the cemetery with two people we can reasonably assume to be sane(-ish?) and a dramatic realization that ended with Elliot saying “I am Mr. Robot” sure seems to wrap that mystery up and put a bow on it.
Shoutouts to following people regarding this development:
- Rami Malek, whose acting has been terrific all season, but was on another level altogether last night. The slide from cussing rage to dead-eyed shock to total confusion was vital to pull off the reveal we all kind of saw coming. With a lesser actor or lesser performance, it could have careened into schlock. If I’m in charge of choosing an episode for Malek’s Emmy submission, I have this packaged and ready to go out this morning. (It’s this kind of commitment and ambition that got me the job in the first place.)
- Showrunner Sam Esmail, because, again, this could have broken bad if it wasn’t handled properly. But dropping the reveal about 20 minutes from the end both muted it a bit (“You’re going to make me say it, aren’t you?”) and allowed for some fallout afterward. It would have been very easy to close on the reveal and cut to black like it they were saying “TADA!” but doing it this way was more of a tip of the cap to the audience, which was kind of cool.
- Christian Slater, who was good all season, and might not be back anymore(?). Honestly, who knows? If this turns out to be it for him, it was a solid run. I retract all those things I said.