In the ‘Mr. Robot’ recap for the season 3 debut, Elliot tries to wipe away all of his wrongdoing but someone close to him can’t be trusted…
By Damon Martin — Editor/Lead Writer
If ‘Mr. Robot’ season two was all about misdirection, it seems season three may be about bringing things back into focus.
The sophomore season of ‘Mr. Robot’ tore the show into dozens of little pieces with a multitude of storylines, perhaps the most notable was Elliot’s descent into madness as he created an entire world to avoid dealing with his real situation in prison while trying to stamp down his alternate personality as Mr. Robot.
When Elliot was finally released from jail, he found himself in a whirlwind of the online massacre he helped lead with the five/nine hack not to mention the partnership he formed with Tyrell Wellick that he barely ever remembered. That’s because Mr. Robot had been orchestrating those meetings as the real power broker in that split personality.
Then there was Darlene’s involvement as the de facto leader of fsociety in Elliot’s absence, her boyfriend being gunned down in a hail of bullets, and then she was arrested and soon realized that the FBI knows a lot more than they’ve been letting on.
Toss in a side plot involving Tyrell’s abandoned wife, Trenton, Mobley, slaughtered FBI agents in China and ‘Mr. Robot’ had a lot going on without providing many answers and only more questions.
Well if the first episode of season three is any indication, ‘Mr. Robot’ is trying to get back into the focus of main plot from the story unfolding from the very first episode. Hackers are trying to bring down E Corp in an attempt to free the world of their control but killing one monster might just put another in its place.
That’s the simplest way to describe what unfolded in this first episode and with that said, let’s recap the ‘Mr. Robot’ season 3 debut titled ‘eps3.0power-saver-mode.h’…
‘Mr. Robot’ season 3 opens with a look at Red Wheelbarrow BBQ — an establishment teased throughout literature and even Elliot’s personal journal a season ago — and man inside haggling with an employee over a free milkshake that’s been earned by the latest punch on his membership card. The man named Irving (played by Bobby Cannavale) is one of the newest additions to the cast this season.
In mid-argument, Irving answers his Bluetooth headset (those still exist?) and has one of those uncomfortably loud conversations in front of a roomful of people. One line uttered — is he dead? — seemed enough to tell how this was connected to our larger story.
Irving leaves his favorite BBQ establishment without a free milkshake but with a new mission where he rushes to the secret location that Tyrell Wellick was using as a base of operations before kicking ‘Phase 2’ into motion that would end with all of the physical records that E Corp had stored being destroyed. The only problem is Elliot Alderson showed up demanding to stop it from happening and Tyrell shot him for it. With the many call backs to ‘Fight Club’ in this series, this was the Narrator turning himself into the cops because he figured out that he’s actually Tyler Durden and they prepare to take his balls because that’s what he ordered them to do if he ever showed up asking to be arrested.
In this case, Tyrell shot his idol because that’s what Mr. Robot ordered him to do.
Thankfully, Irving notes that Elliot is mostly still alive as he snaps some photos of his bloody body before the scene cuts away to a nuclear E-Corp power plant where a scientist gives a tour complete with a speech about the multi-verse and how there could be carbon copies of all of us living separate lives in different parallels across time and space.
A well dressed pair goes by the tour and that’s when we are reunited with Whiterose for the first time this season except she’s dressed as Minister Zheng — a powerful role she holds within the Chinese government — and an underling who wants to take over ‘Phase 2’ because Elliot can’t be trusted to compelte it.
That’s when Whiterose reminds him how important Elliot is to the cause, especially after his father played a crucial role in engineering this plot behind the scenes for years until his death. Now Elliot’s own personal rage has led him to this point and his genius will get them to the next stage of their plan. When Elliot has finished his part, he will die just like his father and the Dark Army will have everything they need to win this war.
The only problem is we’re still not exactly sure what war they’re fighting or whose side they’re on besides their own. What we do know is that Whiterose looks out over a vast cylinder inside the nuclear power plant that once again calls into question her obsession over time and reality. Whiterose has truly been the wizard behind the curtain this entire series and we’re still not certain what she hopes to gain. What we do know is that she wants to control her own reality and perhaps this monstrous mechanism inside the power plant is one step closer towards obtaining that power. Perhaps that means manipulating time — if this series is dipping into more sci-fi — or maybe she’s just looking to control the nuclear option, something that has been dominating the headlines ever since President Trump was elected.
Elliot wakes up in bed with Angela looking over him.
It’s been six days since Tyrell shot him and Irving delivered him to Angela. She never bothers to tell him that she was on the other end of the phone when Tyrell called in a panic over shooting him. Instead, Angela only tells Elliot that the Dark Army warned her that she would be dead if anybody discovered who she was hiding. It’s just further evidence that Angela is playing a much bigger part than she’s letting on — and we find out even more later in the episode.
Elliot bursts out of bed in a panic after realizing he’s been out too long because work must be done to stop ‘Phase 2’ from being enacted. Thousands of lives will be lost if that E Corp building is leveled and Elliot knows he’s the only person who can stop the hack that will allow the Dark Army in through the back door that will end with the destruction of every paper file backup that the company has made over the years.
Elliot returns to his apartment where he finds Darlene there waiting for him.
She has questions about ‘Phase 2’ and what Elliot has been doing — it almost seems like Darlene is trying to get Elliot to make a confession that could be used in a case by the FBI. Remember, Darlene was brought into the FBI by Agent Dom DiPierro last season and shown the information that the agency has already gathered on the power structure behind fsociety with Elliot as the No. 2 person in charge and Tyrell Wellick as the head of the snake that needs to get cut off.
Is Darlene trying to work her way free of any charges by implicating her own brother?
With no power due to the blackouts that have been plaguing the city for days already, Darlene knows a place where Elliot can get internet access that will allow him to shut the back door in the hack he created that will stop the Dark Army from destroying the E Corp building with all the backup files.
When they arrive, the club is called ‘1984’ — an obvious reference to the George Orwell novel with Big Brother watching over all of us and a dystopian society where an overpowering government crushes the will of the individual. Darlene leads Elliot downstairs to find a computer but they are all taken right now because the hacking team at 1984 is working to win an award against other squads from across the globe as they all try to access the same system in a ‘capture the flag’ type game.
Elliot decides to sit down and win the game by himself so he can finally have access to a computer. Meanwhile, Darlene can’t help but notice two people staring at her and her brother as they suspiciously look like a pair of Dark Army operatives. Darlene rushes to the bathroom in a panic — like a government operative whose wire is showing — and she makes a phone call to tell somebody that the Dark Army is after her. It’s almost too obvious by this point that she’s working with the FBI so perhaps this is all some sort of clever rouse.
Either way, when Darlene emerges the two Dark Army operatives are waiting for her and they take Elliot away from the computer — after he’s already closed the back door to the hack — and they go outside. That’s when they spot an SUV that’s been following them all night long. Elliot seemed to assume it was more Dark Army but the operatives then tell them that it’s FBI and they need to run down an adjacent alley.
That’s where Elliot and Darlene are picked up by a cab driven by Irving.
He makes a quick escape and dumps the FBI tail by calling in to a local police dispatch, disguising himself as an officer and having them disable the vehicle after reporting that it was stolen and driving erratically.
When they finally do stop its back at the Red Wheelbarrow BBQ where Irving is distraught to find out that Elliot has stopped the hack that was the next step in ‘Phase 2’ to bring down E Corp. Elliot says that enough is enough — he’s destroyed enough lives and he won’t destroy anymore — so this plan is null and void. Irving says fair enough and while the boss will be disappointed, if that’s what he wants, then that’s what they’ll do.
Of course, Elliot is stunned that killing ‘Phase 2’ was that easy — which almost certainly means that it’s nowhere near that easy — as he settles back into a level of comfort before leaving the restaurant.
While Elliot isn’t truly convinced that he stopped the Dark Army, he may have at least slowed them down with his latest tactic. Of course, Elliot is also convinced that all of his co-conspirators have already been wiped out including Trenton and Mobley — who were last seen working at a tech store when Leon, the Dark Army operative who protected Elliot in prison, showed up to greet them in the season two finale.
Darlene’s only response to her brother’s best attempt at cognitive thinking — go fuck yourself.
That’s when Elliot takes a stroll down the street — at least in his own mind because in reality he’s just sitting in the Red Wheelbarrow restaurant — but he unleashes a diatribe where he takes the blame for the current status the world is in. In trying to bring down E Corp to free everybody from debt and control, he accidentally left a gaping chasm where fear and hate mongers were able to step in and fill those voids. Donald Trump got elected. People turned against each other. We began living in a frightened, paranoid state.
“Five/Nine didn’t get rid of the invisible hand. It turned it into a fist that punched us in the dick….fuck society. Well, I fucked society all right. I reset it to zero. If I don’t do anything about it, it will continue to grow in this malignant way. And that’s what I’m afraid of most: the future that I set into motion.
“Who knows what could come from this? What if instead of fighting back, we caved? Gave away our privacy for security? Exchanged dignity for safety? Traded in revolution for repression? What if we chose weakness over strength?”
Flashes of Trump’s inauguration show throughout his speech as well as Elliot noting that we’re building our own prison by demanding a wall get built up along the southern border in the United States. It’s unclear if this is always how creator Sam Esmail intended the series to play out — maybe it would be different if Hillary Clinton had been elected — but this reaction seems to fit perfectly in the narrative that he’s been painting ever since the first hack occurred, E Corp didn’t crumble and the world came to depend on them even more.
Lesson in Duality
Elliot eventually ends up back at Angela’s apartment where he attempts to reconnect with her like in the season two finale. They kiss but then Angela pulls away and says that was a mistake the first time and she won’t be doomed to repeat it. Inside Elliot’s head he notes that Angela never loves the people that love her and instead she loves the people who don’t. Angela does bring up an interesting theory to Elliot — what if she could erase history including the death of their parents and make it like none of this ever happened? Is this more of Whiterose’s promise of altering reality? Or maybe just Angela’s attempt at altering Elliot’s reality — he did create an entire world for himself while being in prison.
The only way Elliot knows to fix the wreckage that he’s caused is by working from the inside out so he asks Angela to get him a job at E Corp so he can repair the damage he’s already done. He can’t go back in time but he can fix what he broke.
Angela says she will consider it and then she decides to go to bed and Elliot promises to keep a watchful eye out in case any Dark Army operatives show up ready to kill her.
A few hours later, Angela crawls out of bed and sees Elliot staring out of the window but as he emerges from the shadows, it’s no longer the boy she grew up with ever since they were eight years old. Instead it’s Mr. Robot — alive and well — and she recognizes him immediately.
The two of them leave the apartment they head towards a clandestine meeting with Tyrell and Irving at the new base of operations to enact ‘Phase 2’.
There, Mr. Robot plugs into a database to search for power plants owned and operated by E Corp — it appears this is also part of the next phase in the plan to bring them down. Maybe that’s why Whiterose was at that nuclear facility after all?
On the way back home, Mr. Robot is vexed at how Angela can smile in Elliot’s face and then turn and conspire with his alternate personality later that same day? How can she reconcile that sort of betrayal considering her adoration for Elliot as her best friend?
Angela explains that this is all for the greater good — to get back at E Corp, who is responsible for the deaths of her mother and Elliot’s father. Perhaps that’s why Angela didn’t want to kiss Elliot again — not because it never should have happened but because she can’t stand to look at herself in the mirror knowing what she’s doing to him when he’s not in his own mind. Angela also explains that Elliot started all this and she’s just helping to push him along to finish it — just like Mr. Robot.
As the subway barrels into the station, all the lights come back on again as the blackout is over. It’s a symbolic ending considering the last six days have been shrouded in darkness while Elliot was unconscious and unable to enact ‘Phase 2’ as planned. Now that he’s awake and back on board — in one form or fashion — the lights have returned because the plan to topple E Corp is in motion yet again.
‘Mr. Robot’ returns with a brand new episode next Wednesday night at 10pm ET on the USA Network.