Mr. Robot has unequivocally been the breakout hit of the summer, and I’m willing to say the entire year. Sam Esmail’s smart, provocative, cinematic, haunting series has rejuvenated USA’s scripted game, and provided the best reason to get immersed in off-the-wall theories since True Detective’s first season. Rami Malek has been beyond fantastic in his role as Elliot (he won my Performer of the Week once, but he could have gotten it for every episode), but he’s also encased in such a complex storyline with characters who, given the episode, we can’t even be sure are real. (Or as Christian Slater’s Mr. Robot, as part of a fantastic Heathers-esque speech says, “I’m no less real than the f—ing meat patty in your Big Mac.”)
The show’s Season 1 finale (delayed a week, which made sense given its graphic scene of on-camera violence) left us with a lot of questions, the most pressing ones I’ve collected below. But let us know your theories in the comments as well, because we have a long wait until Season 2.
Where Is Tyrell Wellick?
Mr. Robot’s penultimate episode brought Tyrell (Martin Wallström, another Performer of the Week) and Elliot together at the arcade, where Tyrell basically falls down to worship Elliot, and anticipates his plan to bring down E Corps. It seemed like the two could become wary allies, but “Zero Day” threw a huge wrench in that when Elliot woke up after three days in Tyrell’s car … with no Tyrell.
One of the greatest conflicts of the show is when Elliot is battling himself and his memory loss. When trying to piece together what’s real (his struggles with his Robot self), he also loses major blocks of time (like when he forgot Darlene, played by Carly Chaikin, was his sister). So did he kill Tyrell, or is he just in hiding? His increasingly manic fervor over the possibility of murder was a leading tension in the episode, especially regarding some smaller mysteries like the USB sunglasses in the car with the “boardwalk fail” video.
But things truly came to a head when Elliot went looking for Tyrell and ran into Joanna (Stephanie Corneliussen) instead. Has any woman ever been so beautiful and so incredibly creepy at the same time? (Though she’s helped along by the show’s outstanding score, as well). Joanna at first acts like she doesn’t know Elliot, but it seems later that she might. Did he forget their connection? Did she perhaps last see Tyrell with Elliot? According to Reddit, her whispering “Hvis du har gjort ham noget, så slår jeg dig ihjel” meant “If you have done something to him (implying harm), I will kill you”. But the meaning is really less important than the fact that she said it at all, expecting to be understood, and seeming upset when she wasn’t. Why would Elliot understand her?
I’m not a fan of the Elliot = Tyrell theory, but there does seem to be some connection here with Joanna. So how does that fit in with Elliot, as well as Tyrell’s disappearance? And if Tyrell is really dead, sort of what was the point of him to begin with? This all brings us to …
Who’s at the Door?
Mr. Robot did a great end-scene fake-out where Elliot (after surveying the fruits of his hack), goes to answer his door with a small smile, but we don’t see who it is. Curse this show! Was it Tyrell? Kendra? The police that Lenny called? Mr. Robot? Darlene? Elliot’s smile seems to suggest that he knows — or has an inkling — who it might be. But a smile from Elliot doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s a friendly face, just perhaps that he’s solved the mystery (of Tyrell, the knock, something). Or maybe it’s just residual from knowing that he and fsociety actually accomplished what they set out to do. (As a side note, I find it fascinating that we skipped that time in the finale, as far as them executing the hack, etc. I wonder if that will lead Season 2?)
Is Whiterose a Friend or Foe?
So in the actual final scene, we saw the return of Whiterose (BD Wong), but as a man, and part of the 1% of the 1%, schmoozing around in a castle with the E Corps CEO Mr. Price (Michael Cristofer). Whose side is Whiterose on? He asks Price if he knows who initiated the hack and he says “of course,” but does he think it’s Tyrell? And if so, did some E Corps goons take Tyrell out?
Basically there are two ways this could go (and probably a third way that this crazy show has devised that I can’t even imagine). One, Whiterose could be working from the inside to foster revolution. Two, he could be running a complex scheme where the economic collapse is just a way to make even more money (with stock prices so low) before the debt data is suddenly “found” in those Chinese offsite servers that he was supposed to destroy.
Clearly, it’s going to be an important point moving forward, and it reminds me of Homeland’s penultimate Season 4 episode (which should have been its finale), when the main character discovers a major terrorist is actually in league with the U.S. government (or at least, strategically partnered with them). Mr. Robot plays heavily on illusions, so is this revolution that Elliot thinks fsociety has made happen real, or did E Corps just let it happen, or orchestrate it even, for their own gain?
Also … did his watch beep at the end? Was it a reminder about something?
Is Angela Evil(Corps) Now?
Angela (Portia Doubleday) has gone through a whirlwind transformation in these last few episodes. From meek girlfriend to start the series, to an ass-kicking Sherlock Jr. (finding dirt on E Corps and Terry Colby), to then being crushed by E Corps, to actually working for them. Not just working for them, but buying new shoes and attending a press conference after watching a man she worked for kill himself in front of her.
The scene between Angela and Price was, to me, akin to Elliot and Joanna. Both had an agenda, and were trying to get something out of the other person. If Angela’s plan is to take down E Corps from the inside, she would need to cozy up to Price, even if that means setting her own well-being aside and doing what he expects (to buy new shoes, show up to the press conference). Price of course is testing her, knowing (as she mentions) who she is and why she’s with the company. Or is he just using her to get to Elliot? Do they know that connection yet?
Fsociety asks this question of themselves during their “wipe the prints” party after the hack. Darlene tells them to just bask in what they’e done, and it’s sound advice for fans of this series as well. Let’s be honest — we don’t even know what’s real yet on this show, so it’s hard to know where things will go from here. This is an episode where we saw Elliot strangle himself at a coffee shop, for goodness sake, and a man commit suicide on TV. The words “Big Mac” were even bleeped out — was that an advertiser call, or because Elliot can no longer hear brands?
Season 2 has a lot of questions to answer, sure, and Season 1 laid them out on a tantalizing platter. But let’s also go back and look at where Season 1 took us, and how Mr. Robot as a series changed so much (and yet so organically) throughout this inaugural run. Wherever it goes next, what it’s already given us on the TV landscape has been truly revolutionary.