Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Geeky TV commentary - Mr Robot season 1 finale

Mr Robot aired, until tonight, on USA, Wednesday nights at 10pm.



That episode was somehow simultaneously the most straightforward we've seen in weeks--and the most confusing. But confusing in what it means, rather than what it is, like usual. Let's see if we can figure it out:

Elliot wakes up in Tyrell's car three days after we last saw him taking Tyrell to the hideout. Tyrell is nowhere to be found and Ellliot has no memory of what happened there at all. He goes looking for clues and for Mr Robot--because he's got to have been the one in control, and therefore the one who remembers what happens. Darlene tells him that he set off the program on his own and it was a roaring success, and now the banks are all down and everything is different. He finds a flashdrive that just shows a video of him pushing himself off the pier.

Mr Robot doesn't show until he calls the cops and threatens to turn himself in, and then most of his plot is an ongoing argument with his delusions about whether he'll finally start listening to them and stop fighting it or not. It seems like he finally breaks down because he goes home when they tell him to, and watches the news footage when they tell him to, and then someone knocks on the door and BAM, cliffhanger!

We know how I don't like cliffhangers. That one would've been SO MUCH WORSE if they hadn't announced the second season before the first even aired.

Man. What.

Meanwhile, Angela has accepted the job at Evil Corp, at least partly, I would guess, because Elliot won't talk to her and tell her anything of value in the matter. But the guy she's assisting, who is supposed to calm the populace about the threat of the hack goes wildly off script and kills himself on the air. Which would be why they didn't show this episode last week. She's told to get over it and get some new shoes that don't have blood all over them, and finally stands up for herself when the shoe salesman tries to tell her off about working for them--which is great, but is also why on their behalf?

She goes to the dude's funeral, but her new old rich guy mentor says he's glad the guy killed himself and won't lose any sleep over it because the guy was terrible--and then gets terrible himself when he says he can't stand weakness. Angela is the only woman  in the room through the whole scene, and it looks like she's fallen into the Illuminati or something; he says she's there because she's refreshing and bold and different, and that's what they need. He almost definitely knows more than he's saying.

Darlene and the other hackers of fSociety get rid of the evidence at an animal shelter's incinerator and free all the dogs (and hopefully keep them, though we never see them again), and then have a huge party at the secret base to get lots of strangers' fingerprints all over whatever other evidence might be there. She's thrilled about the whole thing--to her, they've done exactly as they should have, no matter how much Elliot disagrees.

Ellliot's psychiatrist's cheating boyfriend contacts her with the lie that he's dying so that she'll talk to him, and says that the dog Elliot took from his abusive self was chipped, and when he took her to the vet for that thing she ate the other week, they scanned the chip and notified him. He's been looking for him and he doesn't think that he should be allowed to invade people's privacy like he does, and he wants her help to take him down. She doesn't want to hear it.

Gideon knows he's going down with the security company that let this happen, and he's not pleased about it.

Mrs Wellig and the baby are creepy, and she sounds perfectly polite as she asks Elliot when he last saw Tyrell, but somehow makes it sound like a threat. Elliot is sure she's lying to him and not saying what she knows about what happened to him.

And through the whole thing, there are riots in the streets, protests all over the place, news footage of cops in swat gear and riot gear, soundbites from politicians and CEOs--the whole system is rocking, and the poor and indebted are happy, and the rich are very upset. After the credits, BD Wong, as we're more used to seeing him, talks to Angela's new mentor about some problem in the Congo that he knows the cause of, and about Nero playing as Rome burns.

What does any of this mean?

It was a bold choice, having the virus's execution happen off screen, but that winds up working out so that they can feed that mystery into the next season without continually withholding it--it happened, and the after-effects are very interesting, but it happened while Elliot was in a fugue state or something, and he doesn't remember it. A lot can happen in three days; what creepy mysteries will unfold as he figures out what happened?

So here's the questions we're left with:

  • What will that cheating creep do about knowing who Elliot is?
  • Will Angela get free of the sort-of-Illuminati she's fallen into, or will she be set up as the opposite of Elliot or their sacrificial lamb or their new queen?
  • What happened to Tyrell? Did Elliot kill him or did he take the chance to run off--or did they come up with some other plan that he's away enacting?
  • Will actual-fSociety break up, or will they start expanding and keep altering how the world works?
  • Will people start claiming they're in fSociety when they're really just freelance loons?
  • Was that Elliot in the fSociety TV hack-cast?
  • If Mr Robot is a now-sentient semi-independent entity, and he's fed up with Elliot's BS, what will happen to Elliot? To him? To the flashback-family? And how much of the rest of the world is also a hallucination?
  • Is that mentor the new baddie they need to take down?
It was an amazing season. It was like a ten hour long movie, with an amazing soundtrack and gorgeous cinematography and makes not sense but somehow still told a cohesive and intelligent story that is addictive and sort of unnerving and deserves all sorts of awards that it probably won't get because they like to give Emmys to much more ordinary shows. 

Maybe the rest of TV will take a few hints about the quality and artisticality and trusting that your audience is smart enough to keep up.

What did you think of the finale? What do you think happened in those three days, and what do you think any of it means?

Comment below, or come talk to me on Twitter!

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