NOTE: If you aren’t up to date on USA’s Mr. Robot, do not, I repeat, DO NOT continue reading this post if you wish to avoid serious spoilers. Okay, you’ve been warned. If you’re still here, proceed.
Since the pilot episode aired, the question on everyone’s mind has been: is Mr. Robot real? While others have been referencing Chuck Palahniuk’s Fight Club left and right (for good reason), I couldn’t help but wonder what Elliot’s disillusionment and possible dissociation from reality meant for the lone hacker. It’s clear his hatred for E Corp stems from the trauma of losing his father at the company’s hands, but it remains to be seen how much of what’s going on is real. The good thing is that the veil was finally lifted on Mr. Robot’s identity, but we’re left with even more perplexing questions this week and a burning desire to know what’s to come in the final two episodes.
So far, we’ve gathered that E. Corp is responsible for both the death of Elliot’s father and Angela’s mother which has resulted in the duo going down separate paths to take down the conglomerate. Along the way, Elliot has joined Mr. Robot’s underground hacker group FSociety to bring down Evil Corporation, as well as seen the repercussions of his vendetta with the death of his girlfriend Shayla. Angela on the other hand has been working her way through clues, which has led to lying about breaking custody with the file that could very well set Terry Colby free, but will in turn (hopefully) prosecute the executives who are responsible for the deaths of tons of employees (including her mom). As we get closer to the finale, the characters’ stories have begun to converge in curious ways.
During this week’s episode, we discovered that Angela and FSociety hacker Darlene actually know each other. It isn’t specified how close the two are, but apparently they frequently hang out at ballet class and discuss Elliot. We already knew Angela was a childhood friend of Elliot’s but now it looks like Darlene has a similar connection. It isn’t until the very end of the episode that we find out that she’s actually Elliot’s sister. Wait a minute, how did he completely erase her from his memory? He selectively forgot about her and several other puzzle pieces that make up his traumatic childhood. Upon realizing their relation, Elliot second guesses himself and comes to a striking revelation that we’ll get to in a minute.
Darlene and Angela aren’t the only two Mr. Robot characters who’ve been secretly connected all along. In the midst of his unsuccessful climb to the top of Evil Corp, it’s revealed that Tyrell Wellick has been working with Mr. Robot all along. He believes that the fact that they’re “meant to be allies” means he has a right to know what the crew has planned. Earlier in the episode, Allsafe boss Gideon brings it to his attention that one of his employees (Angela) has confessed to the crime former CTO Colby went to prison for. With Tyrell vying for control of the company, Colby’s release doesn’t bode well for him. After brutally murdering Scott Knowles’ wife last week, he was so close to obtaining all that he’s worked for and he’s not coping well.
The cops are already questioning him about Sharon’s death, eventually showing up at his home. When the spotlight of guilt shines a little brighter on Tyrell, Joanna uses her pregnancy to get her husband out of the pickle he’s in. This is the last we see of him this episode, but we’re assuming the investigators will get a hold of him again as soon as they get the chance. Connecting him to Mr. Robot was interesting and a relief after wondering why he was in the show at all. That isn’t a criticism of his performance as an actor, but it was unclear how his jagged edges were going to fit into the overarching puzzle.
The other thing that Gideon mentioned to Tyrell regarded The Dark Army’s hack of Allsafe. Remember when Angela’s ex-boyfriend Ollie (aka scumbag) inserted what he thought was a music CD into his laptop, but then ended up getting hacked and blackmailed in the process? When Angela found out all they had to do to keep their private info private was to use the disc to infect Allsafe’s network, she acted without hesitation, letting the Dark Army infiltrate the company’s network. The result? White Rose and The Dark Army found out that Gideon was on to Elliot, and that he’d installed a honeypot in the network to ensure that the hackers didn’t do any serious damage.
With Ollie still afraid of the hacker group, he hands his hard drive over to Elliot, forcing him to attend a 2:00 meeting to get it wiped. On his way, Elliot comes to the conclusion that this is the meeting with White Rose, which was scheduled to get The Dark Army back in their court. Finally coming face to face with the infamous White Rose, Elliot learns that he has only 50 hours and 23 minutes to disable the honeypot, thus enabling the huge hack to finally go down.
With his new goal and the clock ticking, Elliot realizes he needs to get a hold of Gideon’s phone. After wandering around musing about paranoia and the fourth wall that separates him from the audience, Elliot makes it back to Allsafe and distracts the office inhabitants with a special message from Mr. Robot. He uses it as a diversion to rig Gideon’s phone so he could hack it and stop the honeypot.
Despite nearly getting caught and definitely raising suspicion, Elliot was successful, eliciting a screeching howl of excitement from Darlene. She also tells Elliot that he’s her favorite person and that she loves him, which–as you can only imagine–confuses him and prompts an awkward kiss. To this she pushes him away in disgust and asks if he remembers who she is. In an unsure tone he states “Darlene?” but quickly remembers that they’re actually siblings. WHAT?!
Elliot has a hard time coping with this information and frantically realizes that he erased his own sister from his mind. Thoughts racing, he tries to remember her and figure out if he’s crazy. At the peak of his paranoia, he breaks the fourth wall by demanding to know whether the audience was in on this the whole time via internal monologue, then, for the first time ever, he speaks aloud to viewers, and proceeds to grab the camera and slam it down in the process.
This chilling moment is not only the best scene in the entire season, but one of the most visceral interpretations of paranoia I’ve ever seen. The director’s dedication to viewer immersion is an impressive way to keep fans guessing about what’s coming next and a fascinating way to tackle the “unreliable narrator” trope. There’s another moment earlier on in the episode in which Elliot states, “We’re all living in each other’s paranoia. Is that why we avoid each other? I wish I could be an observer like you.” The camera then switches to his perspective for a moment. As soothing music plays, he dissociates and takes a vacation from his dilemma for a moment.
Anyways, things get real when he gets home, as Elliot stands in front of the mirror, staring at his reflection stating, “I avoid myself, why? I’m afraid, okay. Afraid of what? Finding too much, too little, nothing at all? Do I even exist? See me, Elliot Alderson. I am here.” He then smashes the mirror and says, “now I’m gone.” While he’s talking, his appearance in the mirror flickers between hooded versions of himself, Mr. Robot, Angela, Tyrell, and Darlene.
Confused about his identity, he does an internet search of his own name. When nothing comes up, he worries that he’s erased his own identity from the web and grabs his album of hacks. The very first one in the book is blank and it belongs to him. After putting the disc in his PC and waiting a nailbiting few minutes as the files load up, he discovers the disc is full of images of Mr. Robot, and himself as a child. Mr. Robot is his father! Cue the pounding on the door. It’s Mr. Robot and he tells him that it’s time they have a talk.
WHAT?! How? Who? My heart. It’s beating so fast you guys! What does this mean?
Leave your theories in the comments below. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go rewatch every episode and look for clues.