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MR. ROBOT Season Finale Recap: Zero Day

NOTE: This post contains spoilers for the television show Mr. Robot. Read at your own risk.

Season finales tend to be a bittersweet phenomenon, especially when it comes to shows that are as gripping as USA’s Mr. Robot. Over the course of 10 episodes, we’ve seen our withdrawn protagonist Elliot Alderson join the underground hacking group FSociety, find someone to connect with, break a man out of prison, lose his girlfriend, struggle with addiction, and deal with a serious mental illness that’s made him forget his sister as well as hallucinate/act as his dead father—among a multitude of other things. Though his illness was apparent from the pilot, we didn’t find out just how deeply he was affected by it until the final three episodes in which we discovered what had been going on all this time at the exact same moment Elliot realized it himself.

Despite believing we knew what was going on, it was episode 9 in particular that really began to lay the groundwork for the season finale. In “m1rr0r1ng.qt” Elliot was led on a wild goose chase of sorts by his father, who at this point had an uncertain mortality status. As suspected, however, we discovered that Edward Alderson has actually been dead since 1995, as indicated by the gravestone in the place where Mr. Robot was sitting before Darlene and Angela showed up. After coming to the realization that he was actually Mr. Robot all along, our anguished protagonist took a plunging dive off the deep end, brought home by his sister Darlene, before he upended the lot of it and ushered Tyrell Wellick to FSociety’s arcade hangout, welcoming him to the team. Suddenly, Tyrell’s importance made a lot more sense. His insanity—which paralleled Elliot’s—pushed the former hacker to join FSociety’s quest to take down the company he’d tried so hard to  climb atop, to only get violently shoved off of thanks mostly to his own fatal wrong-doings.

Mr Robot Elliot

As season finales typically do, episode 10 “zer0-day.avi” tied up several loose ends while simultaneously leaving some open or splitting others we thought we’d seen the end of, in advance of season two. As Sam Esmail has stated before, the debut season of Mr. Robot was more of a precursor for what’s to come next season. I don’t even consider what we’re doing this season to be that huge. It was just the setup for the real story which really begins next season, which would have been Act 2 of our film,” he said in an interview with Huffington Post.

After watching the finale, it’s evident what Esmail meant when he said it was a setup for the real story. Though he’s finally been woken up, Elliot remains delusional, disappearing for a few days only to wake up in Tyrell Wellick’s car not knowing what happened. With Tyrell nowhere in sight the entire episode, Elliot is unsure what happened—afraid he may have killed him. Seeing the paranoia creep up on him later on when he visits Tyrell’s apartment, but is instead greeted by Joanna, is enough to give you chills. He’s afraid she can read his thoughts, and I can’t help but feel the same. There’s an edge to her that I can’t quite figure out. I doubt she has any paranormal abilities, but she was definitely keeping stuff close to the vest. I hope to see more of her next season.

It remains unclear what happened to Tyrell, but I highly doubt he is dead. Based on the final few moments of the episode in which high level E Corp exec Phillip Price is seen chatting with an out-of-drag White Rose (played by BD Wong), I’m guessing Tyrell was abducted because they believe he was responsible for the hack. The meeting was brief, but it suggests that there are higher powers at play here.

Speaking of the hack: it happened, and the results are earth-shattering. News reports detail economic collapse that stems from the massive hack which they believe stems from Estonia. With debt erased, protestors walk the streets wearing FSociety masks, praising the underground group of hackers for “waking them up.” Unable to find Elliot, Darlene and the rest of the team are angered that their leader proceeded with the hack without them, then left them to clean up the mess.

Mr Robot Angela

Over the course of the episode, we saw the crew take their computer hard drives to the pound, where they’re able to use the pet-cremation oven to melt the evidence. Before leaving, the group lets all of the dogs out—which effectively ties into the “freedom” theme—and makes a meaningful statement about the morals of companies who do that to pets in the first place. For the final step of erasing their part in the hack, they throw an End of the World party in the arcade, ensuring their prints were covered up. I thought this was a really cool way to show the world’s reaction to their new freedom while at the same time washing their hands of the crime.

Amidst the chaos, Gideon is told by Allsafe’s (Elliot and Angela’s former employer) CFO that he has to shut down the company, and find out how to tell his employees so they have time to search for other jobs. Angela has already left Allsafe, and is out of the line of fire thanks to the new job she accepted at E Corp despite her hatred for the corporation.

With the hack already over and done, and her new employer at the center of it, Angela has escaped one dilemma and landed in an even worse position. After being ordered around by a higher up who seemed a bit attached to his bag, she witnessed that same man tragically shooting himself on live television, after telling the public that the results of the hack are impossible to fix and their money’s gone. Like the fictional viewers who watched it live, I couldn’t unsee the traumatic event: it was a cruel, but visceral depiction of the effect that a hack of that severity could have on those involved. The creators of Mr. Robot continue to sharpen what was already becoming one of the edgiest shows on television.

Mr Robot Elliot Yell

While all of this was going on, Elliot tried to piece together what happened during the preceding three days that have since vanished from his memory. Now that he’s aware of his frequent dissociations as Mr. Robot, he figures reaching out to the hallucination will grant him answers. It was chilling to see Elliot frustratingly screaming at himself in the car. As someone who’s seen this type of behavior in person, I can’t even begin to express enough how accurately it was protrayed. Rami Malek continues to impress with his stellar portrayal of Elliot Alderson. My hat (or rather, hood) goes off to him.

After finding his first clue—a flash drive—he heads to a café to find out what’s on it. Turns out it’s a video of him throwing himself off a railing at the boardwalk. This offers another perspective to that scene in episode 2 when Mr. Robot pushes Elliot over mid-conversation. Seeing as this was in Tyrell’s possession, the assumption is that this is what he was referring to when he told Elliot he knew his secret. Since nothing about this show is obvious, I also wouldn’t be at all surprised if it was planted there by whoever abducted Tyrell.

Following this discovery, Elliot figured the only way to pull Mr. Robot from the deep recesses of his mind was to turn himself into the authorities. As he began to make the call, his hallucination manifested and stopped him, just as he expected. With emotions at an all-time high, the two get into an altercation which makes it appear like Elliot is choking himself. This is taken a bit further when Robot tells an unsuspecting bystander that he slept with his mom and gets punched (obviously) for saying it. As it happens, Elliot is seen getting punched by an unseen force. Sam Esmail has a cool style, and I absolutely, 100% love it.

Mr Robot Season Finale Elliot

Elliot’s internal struggle continues outside, through the protestor-filled street. After Mr. Robot throws him up against the wall, Elliot tells him that he knows he killed Tyrell, and proceeds to beg the viewers to do something to help him. When Mr. Robot tells him to stop talking to the audience, Elliot’s younger self and mother join the delusion, informing Elliot they’ll always be a part of him whether he likes it or not, and that he’ll realize one way or another that the world is a better place when he listens to them.

The episode ends with Mr. Robot telling Elliot, to “walk to subway, get on your train, get off at your stop, go home, sit at your computer watch and enjoy the beautiful carnage we have created together.” As he stares at his computer screen, somebody knocks on his apartment door and the credits roll.

At this point, it could be anybody at the door. Maybe it’s Mr. Robot, here to suggest a new scheme? It could also be Angela or Darlene checking on their loved one. Or, maybe it’s Tyrell, the people who may have abducted him, or a combination of the two? Whatever the case, it’s going to be an excruciatingly long time before we find out.


What do you think is going to happen? Did you like the season finale? Let us know in the comments below.

Image Credit: USA Network

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