The stunning conclusion to MR ROBOT was delayed a week (with good reasons and intentions), and wrapped up on 9/2. Here we are, a week later, and I am still coming to terms with and trying to process the finale by itself, and the season as a whole. If you are looking for closure, you are unlikely to find it here, as more questions than answers remain when the final scene closes.
ZER0-DAY is an exercise in matters of perspective. To wit, we see this theme present in almost every scene from start to finish. It is first presented in the opening scene, as Lenny (also known as Michael Hansen, the adulterer from episodes 1&2) meets up with Krista Gordon (Elliot’s court-mandated shrink). As the scene plays out, we learn that Lenny has contacted the authorities regarding his dealings with Elliot, and has lied to Krista about his health in order to meet with her and get more dirt on Elliot. Krista is disgusted, of course, and refuses to help, although that decision seems difficult for her. Lenny continues to bemoan his existence; his wife left him, following not only his run-in with Elliot, but also the discovery of Lenny’s Ashley Madison account. Lenny also states that Elliot stole his dog (a mercy moment by Elliot, considering Lenny’s treatment of Flipper). All of these items trump his adulterous and dishonest behavior, to his mind at least.
Darlene and Fsociety begin their endgame. Darlene is truly the driving force this round, having given up the anti-social, gloomy behavior to emerge in a tentative role of leadership (as opposed to Elliot and MR ROBOT, both of whom spend the entire episode trying to get their collective **** together). Darlene keeps the group focused, and combats the negative demeanor held by the rest of the group by reminding them of their success against Evil Corp. With Elliot largely absent, they march forward, destroying evidence and covering their tracks, all behind a smokescreen of end of the world celebrations.
Gideon Goddard is confronted with the staggering damage that the Fsociety attack has wrought. Meeting with his friend and AllSafe CFO, we witness the man coming to terms with what will most likely be the death of his company. We had previously seen Gideon reading the writing on the wall regarding this matter; this forethought has done little to soften the blow, it seems, as he struggles to come to grips with his new perception: this is all real, and will have consequences not only for Gideon, but for the entire staff of AllSafe, who are not only out of the job, but likely to see their 401(k)s disappear at opening bell. It’s a sober scene, and unfortunately not one that is unheard of in our society.
Angela Moss also sees the world through new lenses in the finale. Having taken Terry Colby’s offer, she is the newest member of Evil Corp’s Public Relations division. Her first day is unlike even the worst first day of work stories you have ever heard. After being berated for not showing up immediately upon being called in early, she is then the target of unbridled rage from the head of Cybersecurity at Evil Corp prior to giving a televised interview. While the initial rage doesn’t seem to make much sense, it is only moments later that we learn why, in a shocking turn of events. Angela, an innocent bystander and someone who by and large this season has been semi-panicked and given the short straw at almost every turn, ends up polarized by the event. While initially stunned, she soon begins to right herself, and by the close of the episode has gone native in the midst of an Evil Corp social event.
Angela’s change comes through after as she begins to drink deeply from Evil Corp’s kool-aid, having received a heady dose of it in her dealings with Terry Colby. Her turn to the darkside seems to be completed, however, by someone who up until now has been little more than a bit character, window dressing to the Evil Corp scene. CEO Phillip Price, who we have seen many times, but not necessarily had a name or a position for, seems to sense the conflict in Angela, and begins leading her deeper into the dark, capitalistic bowels of the organization. Largely an unknown until this episode, Price has struck out with a larger role, and seems to be becoming a Palaptine-esque dark mentor. His dialogues with Angela are chilling; face and demeanor are almost always friendly, but the speed at which his dialogues change from mentoring to morbid lends him and insidious quality. While we have seen this behavior in Tyrell Wellick, this was often accompanied by a slip in the disguise, as the mask fell away to reveal his true form. Price, by comparison, shows that he is a master in the dark arts of business, capitalism, and public relations, as he expresses similarly dark thoughts, but doing so while maintaining his carefully crafted mask. Hearing him speak bluntly about profits and business while smiling at you like you are his favorite grandchild belies the insidious creature that he truly is.
Speaking of Wellick, he is oddly absent from the finale. Days have passed between episodes 9 and 10, and Tyrell is nowhere to be found. Elliot spends the majority of the episode attempting to find him, sharing the same sorts of fears that veteran viewers likely have. If Tyrell is not here, something bad has likely happened to him. This brings us to Elliot’s change of perception. Having lost his memories of anything that happened since he allowed Tyrell access to Fsociety’s inner sanctum, he spends most of the episode afraid, confused, and enraged. While Fsociety’s plan seems to have gone off without a hitch, Elliot expresses both doubt and anxiety about the results, wondering if he has truly accomplished anything, or just made things worse. These thoughts drive his actions throughout the finally, as he engages in a panicked search for Tyrell. His path eventually brings him into contact with Mr Robot again, and the exchange is less than pleasant. Elliot is left much like his viewers at the end of the episode; stressed, confused, and ultimately unsure of what is real, and what isn’t.
That’s it folks. The whole damn season, 10 articles full of stress and hope, anxiety and triumph, extolling hacktivism and ripping the curtain back on the foul face of big business in our world. It’s been a trip, and not one we’re likely to forget. Season 1, according to Sam Esmail, was just the setup for the true story, beginning next season. Will I and other viewers survive another season? That remains to be seen. I will be marking my calendar for the premiere of Season 2, and hope to find some closure there to the burning questions left unanswered this season.
P.S. Make sure you watch past the credits. It might just change your perception.