Do You Like Pancakes?: “Who Is Mr. Robot’s Landlord?” Eps3.9Shutdown -r
"Who Is Mr. Robot's Landlord?" Eps3.9Shutdown -r
Warning, this is, the most negative recap I have ever written about a Mr. Robot episode (which probably isn't saying much as most of my writing to date has been an unbroken love letter to the show). Obviously, meant with love and concern.
In case you missed last week’s “Who Is Mr. Robot’s Landlord?” here is my recap of Eps3.8stage3.torrent
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If you have not watched every episode of Mr. Robot or read Red Wheelbarrow this could contain spoilers *Spoiler Alert*
I have never been wrong this much in my three years of writing about Mr. Robot.
First things first, I have had an argument running for over two years with many Redditors about the question of if Edward pushed Elliot out of a window or if Elliot pushed himself.
Apparently, I was really wrong,
I was wrong and my Redditor friends were right.
I still have some real reservations about Elliot pushing himself out the window.
Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) happens when someone (usually at a young age) experiences serious trauma.
DID is a protective device where instead of a person facing down all of life's stressors as a unified being the parts of that person best able to handle each new problem take over to face down and handle whatever are the most pressing and troubling new events.
A dissociative person is a fragmented whole (not a set of independent personalities fighting for control of a single body).
Mr.Robot is a show based on puzzles and reveals (or it has been until now).
It has always been presented like it were a puzzle (all of the pieces are in the box but you have to figure out how to assemble them correctly). Sure, in the Mr. Robot puzzle the pieces themselves might try to convince you that they belong somewhere else and you might need to use the box itself to complete the puzzle...But you could be sure that all of the pieces were there if you just concentrated hard enough.
Our job has been to figure the clues out correctly and to put everything in the right order while Sam’s job is to make the pieces seem ill-fitting, shake the box up over and over again, and constantly try to make us forget that our job is putting together the puzzle.
My worst nightmare has been a Mr. Robot that “makes things up as it goes along” (in the style of Benioff and Weiss, the showrunner’s behind Game of Thrones).
But here we find ourselves. To date, the only trauma we have ever been presented with that could fully explain Elliot's dissociative break was Edward pushing him out of a window and now that foundational piece has been erased from the puzzle entirely.
I would be fine with this if they had pointed to a piece of information, another puzzle piece, that had been sitting there in plain sight since the beginning which explained Elliot’s dissociative break, but they did not.
They just erased the piece and started fresh...That really worries me in the worst possible way.
Don’t get me wrong, the clues that Edward did not push Elliot out the window were there and were lovingly and almost forensically assembled by adherents to this theory (there was a series of screenshots that I remember broken down to Elliot’s trajectory and landing position etc.).
What I am talking about Sam and the writer’s not giving us any information that explains an alternative narrative for what trauma Elliot experienced that created the Dissociative break and inflamed Elliot’s rage (there is also the question of why Edward felt the need to apologize to Elliot at the movie theater, but that could have been
I am not even saying that they won’t provide an alternative explanation. I am saying that either that information was hiding in plain sight or it will represent the worst kind of writer’s cheat and a sign that Mr. Robot is heading in a new direction unbound by all of the rules that it has previously followed.
Frankly, I don’t care about if Edward was good or bad (in fact, I prefer the “good Edward” narrative). All I care about is that the pieces are all put in front of us and they aren’t changed just to allow the writer’s the flexibility to write themselves out of corners that they painted themselves into.
All I am saying is that when the rules of the universe have been established and then those rules are violated, everything starts unraveling and what was an enjoyable puzzle turns from a legitimate and well-constructed mystery into Mr. Robot’s “magic hour.”
One other thing, this could seem like whining, but this is the central foundational motivation for the protagonist of the entire freaking show. Now we have no idea why Elliot is so angry, no idea why he was so angry at E-Corp, and no idea why he has dissociative identity disorder.
When Sam said it wouldn't be cool to inject time-travel into S3 of a show, it is also uncool to unmoor the motivation for your main character out of the blue in S3 (meant with respect).
Now, It could easily turn out that the answer was hiding in plain sight and If that turns out to be the case I will go back to being happy as a clam.
Unfortunately, it will be another year (and maybe more) before we can see if there were clues left out in the open explaining Elliot’s trauma (why in the world wouldn’t you reveal the alternative narrative at the same time you reveal the “truth” about Elliot’s backstory?).l
It is one thing to have an end of season reveal but it is quite another to pretend that resolves any of the underlying questions that might make that reveal release years of curiosity and anticipatory tension.
One possible fly in the ointment, Darlene could have been lying (she says that she is “here to remember for Elliot” which seems a bit ominous).
All of that said, I was wrong, and several Redditors that I argued with for years were right, and I admit it. (I doubt very seriously that this is the case, but it is a possibility).
Odd that the only real reveals in this finale were about parentage.
I was originally right about Phillip Price’s paternity of Angela Moss but then talked myself out of it because the writer’s kept throwing Lolita in my face (twice with Darlene and twice with Angela). So, ultimately, I was wrong about that too (well, technically I said there were several options and that Lolita and Paternity were two of them).
So, I guess I was not “wrong” per se as much as not as resolute as I could have been, but this just leaves another loose end that needs to be tied up in future seasons.
Why are Darlene (Dolores Haze screenname and Lolita glasses) and Angela (multiple appearances with the Nabokov book itself) connected to Lolita?
In the past, no loose end or clue on Mr. Robot was ever random and they were ALWAYS called back at a later date. Again, I am very concerned that we are moving into an era of false flags and information that is purposefully misleading and away from a universe with rules that govern both show and audience.
Some readers might suggest that Mr. Robot has always been purposefully misleading but I entirely disagree. Mr. Robot has always used misdirection and directing tricks to hide the ball, but that ball was always there...the information was always already present and always meant something important.
The entire reason I figured out that “Ray’s Computer” was the S2 tell was that it was the only clue that didn’t fit the “Elliot at Home” narrative.
The only reason I figured out that the Dark Army was going to take down the “71 Buildings” was because they kept mentioning that it was 71 buildings.
These were clues hiding in plain sight. I suspect that is how the ARG works too (all the Easter Eggs are there, you just have to crack each one and use them correctly to solve the puzzles).
If this sounds like sour grapes, maybe it is (a bit) but I have been wrong plenty of times before and it has never bothered me this much.
I will still love the show either way, but it will be less amazing to me if the story starts eclipsing and erasing the clues. The true art of the show has been that Sam’s misdirection and sleight of hand have been so good that we have to work incredibly hard to put the always existing clues in the proper order (to correctly figure things out).
Angela decides that she wants to get revenge on the Dark Army but Phillip Price (aka Daddy) says that it is not possible and that she should just let it go, accept that she has been scammed, and move on with her life.
I suspect she will take none of this advice.
I was right about Angela being trapped between her guilt about complicity in the 71 Buildings debacle and her faith in 'whiterose' plan. She was covering up her complicity with faith.
Once again, both of our protagonists are working towards the same goal in different ways (taking down the Dark Army).
Wheel Of Fortune
As I mentioned above (and probably 1000 other times) Dissociatives are fragmented whole people not a bunch of separate personalities fighting over control of a single body.
The dominant personality, in this case, Elliot, was and is always in control of the whole show.
Mr. Robot explained this better than I have when he said:
“You were right, there is a part of you in me, I never wanted to tell you that, it's not why I exist...Only you know why I am here.”
The reunion between Elliot and Mr. Robot is a beautiful one, it is emotionally pleasing that Elliot and Mr. Robot are starting to work together and it is cool to be able to see Edward as the kind and good Father again.
And it might feel momentarily satisfying to feel like 5/9 has been undone and everyone is back to square one.
Except that is total bullshit (even Darlene’s new prostitute friend knows it is BS and she has been around for like five seconds).
Accounts may go back to normal but millions of lives were still ruined and tens of thousands of people probably died.
For many, it will be the worst of both worlds, having what little people had only to come back without property or employment but saddled with the same massive debt again and even less of a means to pay it back or hope for the future.
For some, access to their original funds will certainly help. I am sure having accounts restored will be a blessing to huge numbers of people but that won’t change everything they experienced since 5/9.
Also, what Dom said to Darlene and Elliot wasn’t wrong, Darlene and Elliot have ruined her life (and millions of others) and no amount of computer wizardry or wishing will change that.
At the very beginning of the episode, Elliot opines:
“I should have never done this I should have left this alone, I'll never learn, I brought this on myself, I'll never learn, this is on me, this is on me.”
It is “on him” and “on Darlene.”
I am happy he is finally taking responsibility for all the damage he has caused and he might never be able to set things right but at least he is trying to rectify his mistakes now.
One other thing, near as I can tell, it barely took Darlene three minutes to shrug off Dom’s well-deserved curse and head out to party.
That doesn’t exactly say much good about Darlene.
I guess it also feels just a little unsatisfying that neither Darlene or Dom didn’t personally get to extract revenge on Santiago for what he did (in China or in getting Cisco killed).
On the other hand, he did get literally ax-murdered by Irving.
Handful Of Psychos
<at least until ‘whiterose’ figures out how to find him again in time>.
Sad we had to lose such a wonderful character but I can’t say that it was entirely a surprise (the actor who plays Grant (also named Grant) has been incredibly gracious, often in character, and cool Tweep for the entire season too).
So what happened?
Grant went on a hunt to find and kill Elliot while Irving told Santiago to take Darlene to the farm where they were hiding Tyrell (when he was on the run).
Grant barely misses Elliot, but Irving finds him and takes him to the farm too.
Santiago was leaving FBI headquarters to take Darlene to the farm when Dom intercedes only to get tricked and punched in the face by Santiago.
Unfortunately for Santiago, he wasn’t wrong about the cameras being on in the parking lot when he punched and kidnapped Dom.
Later Irving, after he understands the situation entirely, kills Santiago (with Tyrell’s beloved ax).
If you are wondering why (aside from the fact that Irving thinks Santiago is/was a dickhead), because Santiago was on tape punching and removing Dom there is only one way for the Dark Army to keep an FBI mole and provide political cover for that mole:
Irving had to kill Santiago (who has now been exposed as corrupt) to allow his replacement (Dom) appear to be even more beyond reproach for surviving her abduction by a rogue FBI executive.
So Irving kills Santiago.
He also informs Dom, he only asks to get confirmation that she understands her plight, that she is now a mole for the Dark Army and that if she doesn’t play along, that he will have every member of her family killed (some right in front of her).
This really sucks because Dom has never been anything but an aboveboard totally honest and even truly caring person. I am truly sad to see her forced into corruption.I hope she will find a way to turn this against the Dark Army (there is no way she plays along with the DA honestly, it is just not who she is).
If you think about it, events have aligned so that Elliot (Darlene), Angela, and Dom will all be working towards one purpose for the first time since 5/9 only this time it is to take down the Dark Army (instead of E-Corp).
Anyway, after killing Santiago and extorting Dom, Irving tells Grant that he is going on vacation and Grant tries to tell him no. In the process, we find out that Grant doesn’t have the authority to kill or restrain Irving (and that Irving was a former lover of ‘whiterose’ too).
Anyway, I guess I can no longer wish good luck to Irving in finishing his book (“Beach Towel”) after all the ugliness he was involved in tonight and after what he did to Dom.
One last Irving thing, I wanted to share the tweet I sent out right after Irving chopped up Santiago:
I Love You
After Irving leaves, Grant walks back into the barn totally committed to killing Elliot and Darlene.
Knowing ‘whiterose’ was watching (via a camera attached to the barn roof) Elliot makes a case for not being killed:
Revealing that his death will cause the release of all the Dark Army’s information (he hacked the Dark Army network last week) and when that didn’t work he suggested that he could fix the problems that ‘whiterose’ was having getting all of her materials from the Washington Township Facility to the DR Congo.
None of this inspired Grant to change direction, but apparently, ‘whiterose’ liked what she was hearing because, at the very last minute, Leon (who was wearing an earpiece) kills the Dark Army soldiers and she tells Grant he is done and that she will find him in the future.
So, Grant kills himself, (because that is what Dark Army soldiers do when ordered by 'whiterose') and Elliot fixes the DR Congo problem (quickly) at Leon’s command and Leon lets Darlene, Leon, and Dom go on their merry way.
I guess it was nice that ‘whiterose’ said “I love you” before Grant killed himself?
If I had to guess, I would suggest that Grant should have been less worried about Elliot and more worried about fixing the DR Congo problem for 'whiterose.'
Dom gives Elliot access to the FBI “Sentinel” program and Elliot finds out that Romero never had access to the encryption keys leading Elliot back to Mr. Robot (who had the keys the entire time).
Elliot figures it all out and reverses 5/9 after telling Mr. Robot that his new goal was to take down the Dark Army (now that they have exposed themselves). This, of course. begs the main question from last week, “why would the Dark Army leave Elliot alive.”
Actually, all of the questions from the last several seasons are still totally unanswered:
What is ‘whiterose’ doing (Price calls it a crazy and impossible dream about time travel)?
Why do the Dark Army soldiers believe in it so much that they will all commit suicide on command to keep the project moving forward (even a Dark Army General like Grant)?
Why in the H E Double Hockey Sticks would ‘whiterose’ leave a guy who had the talent to capture the entire Dark Army network and clear up in seconds what an army of Dark Army hackers could not in weeks and months (clearing up the problems of getting the WTF stuff to the DR Congo).
Now, I fully expect to get some responses about how ‘whiterose’ believes in mystical cosmic stuff and her interpretation of that mystical cosmic stuff means that Elliot has to stay alive. I guess that is true, but irrational to the strategic point of absurdity.
I also have to mention that it takes some real guts for a showrunner to tease a time travel reveal in the first episode of a season and refuse to pay it off (at all) by the last episode of the season (especially given that we have been teased about the ‘whiterose’ plan for three full seasons now).
So what did we get in place of a meaningful insight into the outstanding Dark Army issues?
We got the return of Fernando Vera…
For those who don’t remember Mr. Vera, he was a gang leader and drug dealer back in Season 1 and the cause of Shayla’s death.
Well, okay, I guess Fernando Vera is back in New York City now.
I should probably also mention that the (Vietnamese?) song above seems to be a version of Nancy Sinatra's "Bang Bang" which featured prominently in Quintin Tarantino's Kill Bill Vol. 1 (Nancy Sinatra mostly did not perform original material, so I don't know which was the original).
Obviously, this wasn’t my favorite episode of Mr. Robot ever and that probably will make the next year a little harder to handle.
I feel like this finale was much sound and fury signifying nothing.
Most everyone already knew that Phillip Price was probably Angela’s Dad (or something worse).
The one real reveal, that Edward Alderson didn’t push Elliot out of the window, left me with more questions than it did answers (and not in a good way).
We were given ZERO new information about what the Dark Army is up to and little idea of what will be happening next season (aside from that Elliot (Mr. Robot/Darlene), Angela, and Dom will all be aligned against the Dark Army.
I absolutely believe that future events could assuage my fears and make me feel better about this finale in retrospect but it still seems unfortunate that we were not left with much to look forward to or theorize about (that we were had not already been theorizing about for, in some cases, years).
A good finale doesn’t just wrap up a few things, it builds anticipation for future episodes and I am not sure, at all, what is on the horizon for Season 4.
I really am not upset as much as wary of what seems to me to be a shift in storytelling style and one that I am afraid might betray some of the core of what makes Mr. Robot so great.
On the whole, this was a really strong season including some incredibly strong episodes. I will particularly remember both the ‘one-take episode’ and the episode where Elliot traveled around NYC with Trenton’s brother Mohammed for a long time.
I hope you have enjoyed S3 of “Who Is Mr. Robot’s Landlord?” I work really hard on these recaps and care passionately about the show. I hope that comes through in my writing.
Next up “Reflections From a Black Mirror” my Black Mirror recap (coming at the end of the month). I hope you will join me then.
In other news, it is Last Jedi day :)