MR. ROBOT: SEASON 3, EPISODE 4: eps3.3_m3tadata.par2
You stole from me, but I stole from you first. – Darlene
Whatever he does, it’s not me. – Elliot
I know. – Darlene
This week, we got 75 minutes of content packed into a 45 minute package, which can sometimes work, and sometimes not. I’d call it a mixed bag for Mr. Robot, because some things were rushed that could have been drawn out and fully explained better, but this show isn’t concerned with you understanding all the various machinations of its plot. If you’re not at least somewhat confused, Sam Esmail would likely tell you he’s failed at his objective.
Also failing in a goal has been Mr. Robot (the character), who hasn’t been able to maintain control of Elliot as Tyrell Wellick and the Dark Army had ordered. As he puts it late in the episode, “That’s not how it works. There’s no on/off switch.” Again, the rules change whenever the show wants them to, and no one in the series knows what’s really happening either. I hope I’m not alone when I say much of the Whiterose storyline is completely in the clouds as far as I’m concerned, and I’m just going to watch it and attempt to interpret after the fact.
This episode, when focused, was largely about Elliot and Darlene as human beings and siblings. Both ended up inside something deep and dark, and both would like to get out of it, but there are numerous complications. As Elliot moves his sis into the vacant apartment next to him, hoping that when he inevitably morphs into Mr. Hyde at night, she can track him to the location of Tyrell and the Dark Army.
This gets to the title of the episode, which Elliot also explains in a narrative sequence as we watch him locate the safehouse due to successful phishing. Metadata can be just as important as the information itself, because it can give away the where and often the who. The example is of posting photos to social media, which provides that service the make and model of the phone as well as its location. Privacy vs. Security has been a constant theme of Mr. Robot, but also of society in a post-9/11 world.
Once Darlene trusts Elliot again, she’s completely on board to help try to stop Stage Two. The two have a nice moment that ends in an embrace, when Elliot apologizes to her for not believing her when he should have and overall for treating her like trash in recent weeks. She’s forgiving, because the one thing she actually does care about is people. She misses Cisco, but the importance of the Polaroid, which is all she wants from the pickpocket that jacked her wallet, reveals how much she wishes she could have her family back the way it once was.
Before everything went to hell and she became a domestic cyberterrorist.
The big reveal of the episode was not one for us as viewers, but for Darlene, when she sees with her own eyes Angela Moss speaking with and moving with Mr. Robot. At that point in time, she realizes Angela is in with Whiterose and is working with Wellick. The idea of Elliot’s job, which we know is about to come to an end, has to terrify Darlene down to her bones. She knows everything is compromised, and a childhood friend is not at all what she thought. That’s the event that leads her to fill her backpack, leave the photo in front of the drive on the shelf, and presumably disappear.
Elliot waking up and glitching back out of Mr. Robot at the wrong time is another key component of the early season, because Angela has to knock him out, but not before he saw both her and Wellick together. He was even able to ask a few questions beforehand, so even if there’s amnesia, which there likely well be, some part of that metadata may have imprinted and will bubble up at the wrong time for the plan.
Dom and Darlene share a beverage together and talk a bit more personally, but it doesn’t take us anywhere that really matters. In fact, Dom remains the only intelligent one willing to believe Whiterose is something that exists, rather than a “Dark Army boogeyman,” but outside of her job, she’s positively boring as a character. I would love to see that change, as Grace Gummer is stacked with talent, but at least the professional side has been well-crafted. The interrogation scene gave us the best line of the episode:
“When I get bored, I get very teed off, and this silent treatment of yours is a straight up sedative.”
Angela asks Philip Price to fire Elliot, cutting off his access to make sure the new timeline is doable. He agrees, without forcing her to reveal her reasons, which she repeatedly tells him demand discretion. We haven’t seen Alderson pink slipped just yet, so that’s likely to be a major part of next week’s episode. Portia Doubleday plays a great soulless monster, doesn’t she? She’s the single scariest part of every episode she’s in, positively frigid as she stares with black eyes through the soul of those she encounters, including the audience.
Tyrell has had it with Elliot not being who he hoped he would be, namely a god. He thought Mr. Robot could control the saboteur, but once he finds out that’s not possible, he goes to Irving and tells him point blank he can’t work with the guy anymore. And then, in a somber sequence, Irving keeps him on board, but Tyrell makes him promise to get him, his wife, and his child out of the country as soon as the operation is completed. He then asks to meet Whiterose in person, and requests the full force of the Dark Army.
As he tells Irving to check in on his wife and make sure she’s okay, we know what Irving knows that Tyrell doesn’t. Joanna is dead, and his personal life is in shambles. Wellick’s tunnel vision on the plan has led to the end of his marriage, in the single most painful and permanent way imaginable. At first, I thought this might have been some kind of flashback, but considering the timing and what had preceded it, it instead just means Tyrell had no clue what happened to his family. That would explain how he’s been able to process it and compartmentalize it while continuing with Stage Two preparation. Ignorance is bliss.
So much has not been laid out for us four episodes into the season, and I’ve grown to appreciate how lost I can find myself at varying times during a Mr. Robot episode. That’s true right up until I start writing about it, because I keep waiting for an email or a message from a reader telling me what I missed. That’s never fun, although I learn from you guys all the time. I’m human. I’m fallible. And I take criticism well. That said, I hate it when I miss something obvious, and this show has me so off-kilter most of the time that I’m constantly in fear I’ve blown it.
But, after last week’s Tyrell-heavy diversion, it was great to get back to the main story right where we left off two Wednesdays ago. It was a solid hour, with excellent chemistry from Rami Malek and Carly Chaikin, and we again saw Portia Doubleday at her best. Season 3 has been very good, and I’m completely stumped as to how it will all end.
I’m @JMartOutkick. Banish me from any and all E Corp branches and subsidiaries.