Mr. Robot: eps1.8_m1rr0r1ng.qt

“You knew all along, didn’t you?”

Nine down, one to go.

So did anyone else already figure out that Mr. Robot was Elliot’s split personality? I feel like, as much as “M1rr0r1ng” and past episodes tried to mislead us into thinking otherwise, that it was pretty obvious. For one thing, how does he look exactly like he did when Elliot was a kid twenty years after he supposedly died of leukemia? The biggest indicator for me was “Da3m0ns”, where Elliot suffered withdrawal; it was practically telegraphing a lot of the coming revelations: the fact that Elliot is Mr. Robot (“find your monster”), that Darlene is his sister, Tyrell invading his apartment, possibly even Angela joining Evil Corp. And Mr. Robot emerging out of the shadows in the end when Elliot is having his cradle of loneliness was also a bit of a giveaway. Like the children's book, Elliot's monster turns out to be himself.

Well anyway, the illusion that is Mr. Robot convinces Elliot that he is really his father, who somehow survived years ago, and that they are being hunted by the ever-present men in black. For some vague reason, he feels they need to go on a little journey for everything to make sense to Elliot.

Though not much happened, we do see a more emotional side of Elliot when he realizes he’s looking at his dad. And through their new interactions, we know a bit more about the Alderson family past. It appears Elliot and Darlene’s mother was an abusive psycho of some sort for a long time, even when their father was still alive.

Of course, it turns out Mr. Robot was just leading Elliot to the grave of his actual father, Edward Alderson. Confirming that, yes, Mr. Robot is just Elliot’s alter ego, a ghost in his mind. Fsociety was Elliot’s baby from the beginning, with Darlene as his main partner-in-crime. He just didn’t know it.

We probably get a greater sense of Elliot’s past than any previous episode as he and Mr. Robot are basically walking down memory lane, a place he desperately needs to be. Angela and Darlene teaming up to search for him also helps in this regard. The reveal at the graveyard, though you could see it coming, was really well done. Perfectly shot and acted.

While Elliot’s off losing his mind, Gideon Goddard is close to losing his as well, with all of his efforts to salvage his company’s situation falling apart as fast as he can think of them. Now that Elliot’s plans are just a click away from completion, it looks like he and quite a few other people are going to be in for a rough year. Well, more like a rough future, in general.

Diving deeper into the pit, we have Tyrell Wellick, who has pretty much lost his marbles already, probably a long time ago. Though now, he appears to be losing everything else as well. Now that her baby is born, Joanna seems to have a change of heart about keeping Tyrell with her. She tells him he’s no longer part of their family unless he can fix the mess he made by murdering Sharon Knowles. Ever the obedient spouse, Tyrell gets right on it… only to immediately be fired by his boss, Price, whom he proceeds to humiliate himself in front of when he has one of his tantrums. This is all on top of the fact that he is the prime suspect in a murder.

Now fsociety is Tyrell’s only option. So, in the end, he shows up at Elliot’s apartment and threatens to kill him if he doesn’t let him in on the grand scheme he’s been cooking. It’s a really cool scene at the end there, and so weird seeing Tyrell standing in the fsociety arcade. Tyrell seems to like the plan, especially now that he and Elliot are co-conspirators.

The fact that the last shot is Elliot gazing at the popcorn machine — where Darlene hid that stolen gun last episode — tells me that Tyrell may not have the upper hand after all. And the Mr. Robot side of Elliot made it clear last episode that he is not keen on working with Tyrell.

Now onto the season finale.

Bits and Pieces:

* The opening scene showing the real Edward Alderson was really good. In fact, it might be one of Christian Slater’s best acting moments. The way he handled that jerk — he was right to be mad, but still a total jerk — was a nice moment that sort of establishes Elliot (and I guess, the show's) sense of morality. Also, he took his kid to see Pulp Fiction in theater, so he’s automatically a cool dad.

* Edward Alderson had a bad cough in 1994. Mr. Robot is a cool chain smoker. This was another early indicator in the episode, telling me he was just in Elliot’s head.

* Now that we know Mr. Robot isn't real, I'm fairly certain that the men in black that Elliot is always seeing are imaginary as well. Most of them, at least. They are always very obvious in their "spying", and they usually only show up when Mr. Robot is around.

* We get a little glimpse into Joanna Wellick’s past as she marvels at her newborn child. She recalls a child she had in the past but had to give up to another family, which she seems to deeply regret.

* This marks the first time where Evil Corp’s CEO, Philip Price, shows his true colors. Until now he’s been a benign and obsequious figure. Here he drops all of that, and admits to looking forward to Tyrell reacting to being fired, and really does not put up with his awkward evasiveness for a moment. That scene lets you know why he’s CEO, and why men beneath him like Tyrell, Scott Knowles, or Terry Colby are the way they are.

* Speaking of Terry Colby, the dude drops by Angela’s dad’’s house offering her a "lucrative gig"… at Evil Corp. She is appropriately disgusted at the offer and the cold logic with which he presents it. Colby suggests that real change only comes from those who work inside the system. Of course, men like Colby aren’t interested in changing the system, meaning he was just trying to appeal to her heroic nature. Let’s be clear, though, the only real incentive Angela has to join Evil Corp is money.

* The song that plays at the end of the episode with Elliot and Tyrell in the arcade is a piano version of Pixies’s “Where is My Mind”, the song that played at the end of Fight Club. This whole season has been a really nice homage to Fight Club in a lot of ways. Not that I mind, because it’s one of my favorite movies.

Quotes:

Edward: Timecop or Stargate?
Young Elliot: …
Edward: What? Twenty bucks, that oughta cover both of us.
Young Elliot: (points at newspaper)
Edward: Pulp Fiction? Never heard of it. You sure I can take you to that? Alright, get your jacket.
I wonder if Edward saw True Romance the year before?

Elliot: It’s really you.
Mr. Robot/Edward: Never been to your apartment before. It’s nice. A little messy, but that’s not earth-shattering news. You never really did like cleaning your room.
Elliot: Jesus-fucking-Christ. I can’t believe it’s really you.

Tyrell: Philip… you can’t do this. You can’t do this. YOU CAN’T! I’VE KILLED MYSELF FOR THIS COMPANY! I’VE BEEN PROMOTED FASTER THAN ANYONE ELSE!
Philip Price: … You know, I can’t deny I tried picturing your reaction. I seldom have time for such imaginings. But for you I was curious. It could have gone any number of ways, and I found all the different versions quite interesting, I must admit. But now… confronted with the reality, I have to say I’m disappointed.

Angela: Elliot… who have you been talking to?
Elliot: (narrating) You’re gonna make me say it, aren’t you? I am Mr. Robot.

Angela: You’re gonna be okay.
Elliot: Yeah, I think I’m pretty fuckin’ far from okay.
I think Marcellus Wallace would agree.

Tyrell: I thought I’d feel guilt for being a murderer. But I don’t. I feel wonder.
That's just what you want to hear a murderer say when they're standing inches away from you, right?

Tyrell: You really thought of everything. Who else was involved?
Elliot: Just me.
Tyrell: Well, now it’s you and me. I always told you we’d end up working together, Elliot. But still I have to know: Why did you do it? What did you hope to accomplish by doing all of this?
Elliot: I don’t know… I wanted to save the world.

A lot of great moments, but the episode was circling around a bit of an obvious plot device. Three out of four imaginary friends.

2 comments:

hekates said...

Darlene as the sister wasn't obvious to me.
Its interesting that what stood out to you in Joanna's revelation that she had a child before was that she regretted it. I thought it was strange she hadn't told her husband. and now I'm wondering if she was even telling the truth?
For Angela, the reason to join Evil is not only because of the money but also because of the power. And Evil wants Angela to get to F Society.

Heather said...

Logan, another great review -- thank you. Pulp Fiction = Cool dad. Yes! :) I haven't rewatched the season to see how the scenes with Mr Robot play once the audience has this new knowledge. My guess is that it's brilliant. There's one scene with Mr Robot and Romero that sticks out to me as problematic but I might have missed something that makes it work. Anyway, I went to a panel a few weeks ago and Esmail was there representing his show. He's as frenetic and awesome as one would expect.