Mr. Robot “eps3.9_shutdown-r” Review- Picking Up the Pieces

Awe. Last night I allowed myself to be awed by a television show. I allowed myself to be awed by the art of storytelling. I allowed myself to be awed by the impact that amazing storytelling could have on us. Over the course of 2017, I have been fortunate to cover some truly terrific television. Shows like Game of Thrones, Rick and Morty, Stranger Things, and Better Call Saul have all been show cases in what makes television such an incredible format for impactful storytelling. Each one of those series has had moments, complete episodes, or full seasons that had me jumping up and down craving more. Think back to the Loot Train dragon attack or the court scene between Jimmy and Chuck or the entirety of The Ricklantis Mixup. These are some of my favorite television moments of the year because when we experience something truly excellent we want to shout from the heavens to those below so they understand too. So they get on board.  As those last twenty-five minutes of the season finale of Mr. Robot danced along my eyeholes I couldn’t help but think that I was witnessing something truly incredible. A show that was, in my humble opinion, on that Breaking Bad level of television. The perfect mesh of story, art, emotion, and writing. Friends, Mr. Robot is something special to behold and provided some of the best television of the year with this season finale.  

The true beauty of season three of Mr. Robot is how it’s made everything before it better. I know there were complaints about the very heavily character-driven season two but in the wake of season three who isn’t curious to go back and see the seeding of this story? Nothing happens by accident on this show, and the genius of Sam Esmail and the rest of his writing team, is how we’ve been looking at some of these answers for a long time but because of the intricate narrative weaved we either don’t notice or don’t believe what our eyes are telling us. Let’s be honest, Elliot isn’t the most reliable narrator and at some points, we, the audience, need to decide if we’re going to trust him or trust what we’re seeing. Mr. Robot allows for us to make this decision because it’s involved us every step of the way. We are as much a part of the fabric of this universe as F Society, Red Wheelbarrow, or the ferris wheel at Coney Island is.  And the show invites that opposed to exploiting. They want us there with Elliot, Darlene, Dom, and the rest of the gang. They want us choosing sides and questioning everything. It not only enhances the narrative but allows us to connect with the show on a deeper level. Everything about Mr. Robot is fully immersive.

Now, does this mean we get all the answers to all the burning questions last night? No, we didn’t but we got enough answers where we should feel somewhat satisfied and even more curious to what the future of this show holds. Mr. Robot has given us an uber tense season that ended on a note of optimism. Not for everyone because life isn’t fair, dear god Dom I’m sorry, but I couldn’t help but feel that season three ended with an emotion that is often scarce in this universe… hope.

All of our main characters are alive. Elliot, Darlene (to my shock), Dom, Mr. Robot, Angela, and even Irving (“glad we did this”) live to fight another day. But it’s not the taking of their lives that’s impactful it’s what happens to their lives. Take Darlene and Dom for example. I explored in last week’s review that I was not a fan of the way Darlene played Dom. Dom is our moral compass and is the only one on the show who doesn’t blur the line between right and wrong. She’s our center and the most uncorrupted character on the show… until last night that is. Darlene’s actions forced Dom in to confronting the crooked Santiago, lead to her being brought to the Dark Army house upstate, and eventually brought her to a new place in life. A place where her moral compass would be flawed and tested. We cannot forget that the Dark Army is moves ahead of everyone. When it seemed that Irving was about to kill Dom he turned his axe on Santiago and went from set up guy to generally scary guy as he threatened Dom’s family and forced her into being the new Dark Army FBI operative. What choice did she have? Her moral compass screams protect her family but we know that she would much rather be dead. The Dark Army doesn’t let people off that easily. Everything in Dom’s life is ripped away because of Darlene, and I want to believe that there’s a general connection between the two women, but I found it hard to argue with Dom who walks off stage telling Darlene that she’s a terrible person and needs to live and die with results of her actions. Something we’ve already seen Darlene struggle with. Heavy stuff that has left our only morally centered character in a bit of a grey area. Can Dom work with the Dark Army? Can she live with herself? Can we forgive Darlene for seemingly destroying our super cop?

What about Angela? Angela has gone insane since the cyber attacks on the 71 as she tries to tackle the reality of her actions while trying to maintain belief in what was shown to her by Whiterose. All season long we have seen hints and glimmers in the distance concerning time travel, and while the finale never addressed the subject by name or head on (more with clips of Superman and Back To the Future), Philip Price was there to inform us that these beliefs were nothing but delusions. That Whiterose found what she believed could be used to manipulate Angela, in this case, the return of her mother, and used that to convince Angela to act in her favor. This was a pretty huge scene for Angela, terrifically acted by Portia Doubleday, as it’s the first time since the cyber attacks that we see her really accept the reality of her actions, and it just so happens to come at a moment where her world is getting flipped further upside down. As many of us have suspected, Philip Price revealed himself to be Angela’s biological father in a total Darth Vader moment, and while Angela seems to be reluctantly acceptant of the news her largest concern is finding an ally to help strike back at Whiterose. Sadly, Price isn’t willing to travel that road as he gives Angela his first true piece of fatherly advice when he tells her to accept what she’s done and try to make peace with it. What does this mean for Angela in the future? I have no idea but I’m willing to bet she’s going to have a tough time making peace with the blood of thousands on her hands.

Yet despite all these revelations, the episode belonged to Elliot who took this episode as an opportunity to start making himself whole. That started with his acceptance of the Mr. Robot personality and understanding that there’s as much of Elliot inside of Mr. Robot as there is Mr. Robot inside of Elliot. That the two are one in the same and can’t exist without another. After an entire season apart the impact of seeing these two together, on the same side, for the first time was immense. We’ve waited three seasons for Mr. Robot and Elliot to truly work together and here we finally look to be heading into season four with the two on the same page.

We leave Elliot in a much different place with the conclusion of this season, as you recall when season two ended he was bleeding out from a bullet wound, here he’s centered and focused. Having used his new knowledge of the Dark Armies network to save Darlene’s life, plus a much-needed assist from Leon, Elliot helps fix the shipping problem keeping the Washington Township project out of the Congo. This is enough to allow Whiterose to let the Alderson siblings live even at the expense of her lover Grant’s life, who she teased seeing again once this was all over, but probably not enough to completely free himself from the grip of the Dark Army. I don’t think either side is done with one another as Elliot still has hopes of bringing them down and Whiterose may have a task or two for Elliot somewhere down the line. What does matter is that Elliot and Darlene are able to go home and pursue fixing the 5/9 Hack through Romero’s encrypted keys. Except, it turns out that Romero didn’t encrypt anything to reverse the hack… Mr. Robot did further displaying that there is more Elliot in him then he’d like to believe.

The two, Elliot and Mr. Robot, have a heart to heart where they decide to work as one moving forward, in a scene that was both heartfelt and super emotional. Elliot having just learned that his father never pushed him out that window, Elliot jumped, has this strange peace around him. While Robot never answers the question, directly, if he knew or not it doesn’t seem to matter. Elliot has resigned himself to take out the 1% of the 1% and Robot seems to want in. The first step is returning things back to normal, something the Dark Army doesn’t care about since 5/9 already served its purpose, and sending the keys to E Corp. Robot stashed the encryptions in old pictures of Elliot and his father almost as if their presence were waiting for a time where Elliot discovered the truth about the window incident. Elliot knows that this reversal might not change anything but he’s doing it for himself. So he can move on with his life and find peace in his actions. 5/9 was not the revolution he thought it would be and in order to move forward, Elliot needed to let go. Sending the keys to E Corp was his way of letting go. The whole thing was beautifully filmed and acted by Rami Malek and Christian Slater. One of my favorite moments of the season.

And from there we say goodbye to Elliot with all the feels coursing through our bodies. Everything seems hopeful and promising. We can forget that Dom’s life is sort of ruined and that Angela’s life is in tatters. Elliot is our narrator and we’re here to make sure he’s safe… and then the post-credit scene has the return of Vera… you remember him? He’s the one who had Elliot break him out of jail and killed Shayla. And he’s right outside Elliot’s apartment building talking to Darlene. Eeeep.

Then, just like that, we were done with season three. I hate that the show is over and how we won’t be meeting here every Tuesday and Wednesday to discuss. Mr. Robot has proven it’s social importance and it’s position in the upper level of television shows with season three. The door seems to be wide open for season four and who knows what’s possible. Can Dom find a way out of the grasp of the Dark Army? Will Darlene atone for her sins? Can Angela make peace and accept Philip Price as her father? Can Elliot’s crusade against the 1% of the 1% find success? And where the hell does Vera fit into all this? Like I said, season four is wide open.

Geeklings, it has been an absolute pleasure meeting with you here every week to discuss Mr. Robot. I just want to extend a very hearty thank you for journeying through season three with me. I hope you enjoyed reading these columns as much as I enjoyed writing.  I’m already anxious to get back to you for season four. I can honestly say that Mr. Robot is hands down one of my favorite shows to review, so, thanks for reading. If you have any thoughts on the finale or theories sound off in the comments below. If you’d like to talk more Mr. Robot with me, please do as I’ll be starting a re-watch next year, you can find me on Twitter @iamgeek32. In the meantime question everything friends… bonsoir.

 

Images from USA Network