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.
ANSWER: Creator Sam Esmail has a sense of humor.
Why yes, that was a cover of “Where Is My Mind?” by The Pixies playing in the background at the end. Hmmm, where have we seen that before?
ANSWER: Darlene and Elliot started fsociety together.
So, this one is kind of obvious given the first thing, but it brings us, conveniently, to this next part.
QUESTION: What the hell was going on up until now?
If Elliot started fsociety with Darlene, then what was going on in the first episode with the hack with the hidden message to him? Did he put that in there himself, for himself? Please feel free to point out if I’m missing something obvious here (a distinct possibility, because so many things have happened this season that I feel like I need a spreadsheet), but seriously. Think about everything that happened in the first episode given what we know now. Like, was Elliot sitting on that Ferris wheel by himself mumbling about global financial anarchy? Imagine the ride operator while that was going on. Imagine his face.
Other questions arising from this news: What was up with the thing where Mr. Robot met with Tyrell, and where he busted into the one fsociety member’s weed room and threatened him? Was that really Elliot doing that? Or was… something… else happening? I have no idea. And what does all of this mean for the whole thing about Shayla and the jail break? Can we even be fully confident that happened? Because “hack a drug lord out of prison and find your dead girlfriend in the trunk” sure does sound like something a crazy person would conjure up. Nothing is off the table at this point.
QUESTION: What kind of business plan did the original Mr. Robot have?
My man was selling unboxed used Super Nintendo games in 1994. And the weirdest part is that it wasn’t even all that crazy at the time. That was a thing! People did that! And it was only 20 years ago! Now you could probably fit all the information stored on all the cartridges, disks, and CDs in that store on your smartphone. Technology is crazy.
QUESTION: What’s going on with Elliot and Tyrell?
So, yeah. This one’s the biggie now. Because, with Tyrell going full-on Patrick Bateman and Elliot going full-on, uh, Elliot, putting them together in a room is a powder keg. They both have an ax to grind against Evil Corp., and they’re both totally insane, and they’ve both had what one could very conservatively describe as “odd weeks.” I mean…
ELLIOT: How was your week?
TYRELL: I strangled my boss’s wife after my devious power play went sideways, and when the cops came to question me about it, my pregnant wife kind of induced labor with a knife or something and then kicked me out of the family at the hospital. And then I got fired. You?
ELLIOT: You know, been seein’ my dead dad around. Forgot my sister was my sister and kissed her on the lips.
TYRELL: Good chat. Time to hack or I will murder you.
And here’s the other thing, and it’s admittedly a thing I haven’t fully baked yet: Are we even sure Tyrell is real? I think we are, because he’s interacted with lots of people, including Evil Corp. executives and the police and now-deceased women who were using the restroom, but it’s just that he’s so weird. Sooooooo weird. It’s like the prison break plot. When you know you have a narrator who is not only unreliable, but also completely delusional, you almost have to look at crazy plot points with a quizzical eyeball. Or two. Both of your eyeballs should be quizzical, is my point.
QUESTION: Where do we go from here?
Man, I do not know. The show is doing a pretty remarkable tightrope walk right now, where we think we know some things, and we know we don’t know others, and some of the things we do know could all be the paranoid fantasies of a troubled hacker. It could honestly go anywhere in the season finale, and they seem to insist on making things harder for themselves with each episode. But that’s kind of the fun, though, right?
You have my attention, Mr. Robot.