Editor’s note: We’re almost to the end of season 1 of Mr.Robot, USA Network’s hit hacker stress drama. It should go without saying, then that this article may contain some spoilers, depending on how current you are. While we don’t spell everything out, if you are not up to date on the series there is a good chance some of what is contained below may be news to you. Read on at your own risk, and for the love of good TV, get current! You are on the internet, it’s not like you live under a rock without streaming service. Glad that’s settled. Read on, and enjoy. -Ed.
MR ROBOT Episode 9-Eps1.8_M1RR0R1NG.QT pulls out all the stops, acting as a launching pad to the season finale. Empty words, I know, but they needed to be said.. er, written (for SEO if nothing else).
The episode begins with a look into the past. Mr.Robot is a consumer electronic shop in 1984, being run by, you guessed it, none other than our own Mr.Robot. This is potentially the most honest scene you will see between Mr. Robot and Elliot; it does not seem to come from Elliot’s point of view, and thus contains none of his unique filters that cover the rest of his existence. While no actual date is given for the time, clever viewers will pick up on the subtle hints regarding this little jaunt through personal history forgotten. The scene provides an excellent foundation for Elliot’s relationship with Mr.Robot, as well as giving him the structure needed to support his own current morale compass. A strange bit of of advice can be taken as a pretext for many of the shows themes. “Even though what you did was wrong, you are still a good kid,” quips Mr. Robot, “And that guy was a prick…sometimes that matters more.”
As we flash forward to modern day, we watch the evolution of this little bit of Elliot’s past. From electronics shop, to dry cleaning, to Washington Township florist, and ending in an ironic status as a branch of Evil Corp’s banking arm. It seems nothing from the Alderson’s life is able to escape the crushing march that is Evil Corp.
M1RR0R1NG.QT begins in this thoughtful manner, bubbling dark secrets to the surface as the depths of Elliot’s cognitive issues begin to show themselves. This episode focuses heavily on Elliot’s past, and bridges some gaps between the young man he was, and the awkward adult he has become. There are allusions to his psychiatric history and treatment, and we begin to understand how a focused and smart individual like Elliot can somehow misplace his memories, his former life.
Darlene and Angela act in tandem to help support Elliot as the scope of his hidden origins begin to see daylight. They are tasked with not only supporting Elliot, but also tracking him down as he lurches clumsily forward to uncover the truth of his past. The two leading ladies share some screen time and human moments together, and we start to get a picture of their past and happier times, albeit somewhat tattered and obscured. Angela also gets some extra air time as she attempts to find a place to belong after her dealings with Terry Colby. A new offer comes to her from an unexpected source.
Gideon Goddard has a crisis of faith as he watches the events around him unfold. He speculates that AllSafe is crumbling under the weight of numerous high-profile hacks. The pressure is getting to him. He receives some calming advice from his significant other before heading out to once again make sense of the messy cybersecurity industry. His fate this episode is to be disappointed, it seems, as each action he takes is ultimately stymied for a myriad of surprising reasons.
Goddard is not the only one having a hard time this week. Tyrell Wellick’s desperate gambit to throw current CTO Scott Knowles off balance does not bear fruit, and we soon see the dire consequences of his actions. Not to be outdone by corporate politics, his wife Joanna kicks him while he’s down, delivering an ultimatum and once again using her newly born baby as leverage. Tyrell’s grip on the situation is tentative at best right now, and his current course of action has him reaching out to ally himself with a surprising resource. The episode as a whole is a major setback for Tyrell, but not without its own opportunities. His situation is summed up nicely by Evil Corp management: “There was a moment, a choice, a mistake that led you to this point. Find that moment. Understand it.”
The episode closes with enemies becoming uncertain allies, and with many questions answered, but even more created. Both sides divulge their darkest secrets, clandestine confessions that show their zealous commitment to their causes, and chain them together through mutual guilt. We begin to see origins, pathways blazed to the present time, previously obscured thanks to Big Pharma bludgeoning mental health into compliance. Even as plot threads are quietly tucked away, many still continue to unwind. Crony Capitalism even pulls back the mask a bit, giving us a peek at the true evil underneath as they reveal how much they know about the depth of their depravity, about the far reaching impact of their profiteering, and how little they care about that. Will we get a happy ending? I doubt it, but we will know shortly. MR ROBOT season finale debuts Wednesday, 9/2 at 10pm. Bring a stress ball; I think you’re going to need it.
Catch MR ROBOT on USA Network Wednesdays at 10/9c, or stream full episodes at their site.