Mr. Robot: eps3.2_legacy.so

"We are gods."

It's been awhile since we had an episode that was all about Tyrell. Now we find out what he was up to all last season.

Tyrell is certainly an interesting character. Introduced as a potential archenemy for Elliot, he quickly revealed himself to be a flailing loon. He behaves like this grand figure, yet spends most of his time pouting, weeping or getting himself into even more trouble. He believes that he and "Elliot" are gods to be worshipped, but is totally out of his depth. The only reason he's even still alive is because Mr. Robot's pistol jammed on the night of the hack and, after a moment's consideration, he decided the delusional schmuck who is lovingly devoted to him might still prove useful.

And it worked out pretty well. After being sequestered on some remote farmhouse by Irving, Tyrell willingly opted to not only take the lion's share of the blame for the Five/Nine hack -- becoming a fugitive on the level of Osama Bin Laden -- but to spend the next couple of months tediously setting the stage for... well, Stage 2.

We also delve a bit deeper into his psyche here. This is seen in his interactions with Irving and the bow-tie wearing, cocaine-snorting Dark Army interrogator (played by Wallace Shawn). Obviously, he's got some daddy issue and a huge inferiority complex. We learn he is truly, obsessively loyal to Elliot, even though he still feels loyalty and devotion toward his wife and child.

It's this devotion, as well as jealousy over news of Joanna's rumored (and very factual) infidelity, that compels him to venture out of the farmhouse safe-zone in an attempt to get back to Joanna and their baby. I love that he immediately encountered a random patrolman, who recognizes him and arrests him right away. What I didn't love was when Tyrell's cop-killing rescuer was revealed to be Special Agent Santiago of the FBI. That's right, Dom's superior is also an agent of the Dark Army. A lot of Santiago's behavior prior to this episode makes a hell of a lot more sense now, in hindsight; for instance, his unwillingness to even humor Dom's theories on the Dark Army.

Even more than Tyrell, this episode further examines the power and influence that Whiterose and the Dark Army possess. Not only do they have high-ranking FBI agents in their pocket and orchestrate mass economic turmoil and terrorism, they apparently have the ability to totally alter the American political landscape on a whim. Frank Cody, that smarmy talking head we've been seeing on TV, also takes orders from Whiterose. She instructs Cody to handle image rehabilitation for Tyrell, make up some story about fsociety originating in Iran, and back Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential election. That's right, we can blame Whiterose for Donald Trump. I guess. I don't really see how Frank Cody alone could have changed the tide in Trump's favor; what little we see of his show doesn't seem very watchable, but then again my inability to tolerate that kind of rabid punditry in reality has never affected their viewership.

This appears to be Esmail's way of getting the point across that America's current state is due to the self-serving actions of people who profit off of the division and turmoil of others (sometimes entire nations), like powerfully corrupt foreign dignitaries such as Whiterose and mercenary media moguls such as Frank Cody. While a bit on the nose, it is a clever way of getting the point across.

Another interesting thing about Whiterose and the Dark Army is the fact that -- aside from a few reluctant accomplices like Cisco and now Santiago -- they are almost entirely composed of people who are mentally unstable. There's Whiterose herself, the random foot soldiers who wear red demon masks and are totally willing to commit suicide to avoid interrogation, Angela, Leon, Irving, Wallace Shawn, the sandwich-eating jumpsuit guy in the elevator. Even Whiterose's right hand man/lover questions his beloved patron's willingness to associate with men who are obviously batshit crazy, such as Elliot Alderson and Tyrell Wellick. Where does she find these weirdos? Do they all get a bizarre interrogation prior to being hired, even the ones who do the interrogating? You'd think with so many disparate, eccentric personalities all jumbled together, there would be more problems. But maybe I'm wrong. Maybe this is the key to her success: a legion of the world's most qualified bunny ears lawyers. You can't say there isn't a method to this brand of madness.

Anyway, as I said, the episode is really about catching us up on what Tyrell's been doing since the Season 1 finale. We get a couple of montages, but mostly he chops wood, does mundane computer hacker stuff and feels sorry for himself. We go all the way up to and beyond the moment Tyrell shoots Elliot at the end of 'Python Part 2'. He is woefully confused by Elliot's strange, contradictory behavior. Luckily, Angela is there to enlighten Tyrell as to Elliot's condition. That's right, Tyrell knows the truth now. That the man he "loves" is actually Mr. Robot, and Elliot is basically his enemy. So now it would appear that Angela and Tyrell both have a vested interest in overwriting Elliot in favor of Mr. Robot. Scary.

The further we progress, the more twisted and insane this story becomes. Aside from brief hints at encroaching alternate realities, I'm not sure where this season is going. I don't mind. This is a show I love being surprised by. It is quite spellbinding.

Ones & Zeroes:

* That little fake puff of smoke special effect when the gun jammed may have been the worst moment of the show. A very minor gripe, indeed. It can be forgiven due to the fact that it was a solid and completely unexpected homage to the "divine intervention" scene from Pulp Fiction.

* When Tyrell mentions "Elliot" telling him to "look above", Mr. Robot wonders what he's talking about. I'm not sure what this means. Was Mr. Robot just saying random nonsense to confuse him, or was someone else talking to Tyrell in that moment? Perhaps another split personality has manifested, one that neither are aware of. A new alter ego, who may have real delusions of godhood that go far past any of Elliot or Mr. Robot's ambitions.

* Even with a scruffy beard, cool sunglasses and a shirtless lumberjack physique, Tyrell still gives off the vibe off an eerie serial killer. The changed look and setting just lends him more of an Amityville Horror appeal, whereas before he was full-on American Psycho.

* Irving goes out of his way to empathize with Tyrell throughout the episode, finally succeeding when relating to Tyrell his own struggles as a father and husband. Then he cheerfully points out to someone else that it's all a trick. Irving knows how to read people, how to gain their confidence so that they buy whatever nuttiness he's selling. And he's very good at it, despite his obvious untrustworthiness. In a season that seems to be reveling in the, frankly, embarrassing wake of the Trump Administration, a character like Irving -- a slick, amoral car salesman with a goofy hairdo who's helping to steadily increase the decay of American society while pretending to be the one elevating others -- is more than fitting with the super-dark satirical nature of this series, no? Plus, he's working on a novel in his spare time. So Irving is automatically my new favorite character.

* "I Ain't Goin' Out Like That" by Cypress Hill. Not a song I would think of for a Tyrell scene. I love how it plays right before he gets himself caught by the police.

Quotes:

Mr. Robot: Okay, Looney Tunes! You're right. There is a second stage to this. After tonight, I don't know what kind of support I'll have. I could use your help.
Tyrell: Thank you, Elliot! I love--
Mr. Robot: Some things are better left unsaid. Subtext, you know?

Frank Cody: (on Trump) Look the country's desperate right now, but you can't be serious. I mean, the guy's a buffoon. He's completely divorced from reality. How would you even control him?
Whiterose: If you pull the right strings, a puppet will dance anyway you desire.
This is the second time Donald Trump has been referred to as a puppet on this show. It's no surprise Philip Price and Whiterose are the ones who see through his rise to power, and waste no time exploiting it for their own ends.

Darlene: What's up? You're acting weird.
Cisco: You ever think about not doing this shit anymore. Just giving it up. I mean, can't we just be a normal couple who complains about the water bill, looks up vacation passes to Budapest.
Darlene: I knew I never should have let you fuck me.
Cisco: Okay. (stands to leave)
Darlene: I'm joking, dickface.

Tyrell: "No one who is emasculated by crushing or cutting may enter the assembly of the lord," Deuteronomy 23:1.
This is basically about castration. For as different and "prime" as Tyrell sees himself, he is still bound by a lot of standard Western male values and customs. He wants to be there for his wife and son, he wants to prove he is worthy by working and providing for them, he is consumed with jealousy over the possibility of his wife cheating despite his own open infidelity. Tyrell sees this classic mold of manhood as a part of his perceived godliness. The feeling of being cut off and unable to affect any of this leads to his feelings of emasculation. Endlessly chopping wood to pass the time probably doesn't help. Speaking of which, how's that for Most Obvious Symbolism?

Santiago: (to Tyrell) Make sure this doesn't happen again! You fucking weirdo.

Irving: What happened? Tell ya what happened: You couldn't relate to him. Take my thermos, for example. (points at #1 Dad thermos)
Car salesman: Yeah, so what? You don't even have kids.
Irving: Point is, people want a connection. Makes you more trustworthy. You walk around with one of these and all of a sudden you're that corny guy who's proud of being a father. Helps them buy what you're selling.

Irving: So how'd it go?
Leon: It was cool. Got to stab up a bunch of Neo-Nazi motherfuckers to death. You know, not that I'm a fan of murdering and shit, 'cause I respect life and all. But when it comes to Neo-Nazis? Well shit, not gonna lie, it was kinda fun.
Irving: ... I mean, how'd it go with Alderson?
Leon: Oh! He got his papers. Should be out soon. By the way, get him laid when he gets out, man. Homeboy is wound tighter than a chinchilla's asshole.

Three out of four mounds of chopped wood.

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