‘Mr. Robot’ Season 3 Episodes 2 & 3: They All Fall Down

Finally! A conspiracy theory for why Trump was elected that makes sense! Lol.

Yep, on the latest “Mr. Robot” we discover that Trump being elected wasn’t the work of Russia, but instead, the work of none other than Whiterose (BD Wong), who wanted to throw a grenade into American politics to cause general chaos and distract from his – and by extension, Elliot (Rami Malek) and Tyrell’s (Martin Wallström)- nefarious plan to take down E(vil) Corp from within. In other words, it was China- excuse me, ‘Jina, to quote Trump’s wacky pronunciation.

These last two episodes of “Mr. Robot” both helped to propel the plot forward and filled-in-the-blanks about the past in a way that helped things make that much more sense, thus proving that writer/creator Sam Esmail might well have thought all this out beforehand as he claimed after all. Well, save the Trump thing- no one could have predicted THAT. (Okay, maybe “The Simpsons.”)

Even more surprising, Esmail chose to take out some key players early on- or at the very least, one key player and two well-established supporting ones- in a move sure to have serious repercussions on down the line. (Spoilers start in earnest here.) In a great sequence, set to, of all things, Roxette’s “Listen to Your Heart”- loving these music choices this season, BTW- we witnessed poor, lovelorn Derek (Chris Conroy) shoot both Mr. Sutherland (Jeremy Holm), after he threatened Derek and told him to stop stalking Joanna (Stephanie Corneliussen) and then, shockingly, Joanna herself.

Mr. Sutherland subsequently shot Derek, who looked to be about to shoot himself anyway, but it was all too late to save anyone but the baby, who was promptly shipped off to social services. I believe Mr. Sutherland is still hanging in there, though, but I was genuinely shocked they took out Joanna. That is NOT going to go over well with Tyrell, that’s for sure, especially given his reaction to the fact that Joanna was cheating on him in the first place, which we saw in the next episode.

Unfortunately, I’m not sure what he’s going to be able to do about it, what with Derek already dead. But it will likely confirm that, contrary to what Irving (Bobby Cannavale) told him, his wife was indeed cheating on him, as per what the tabloids said. Will this be enough to send Tyrell on a downward spiral? Hard to say, but given how often he checked on his (?) baby, I’d say he isn’t about to let it fall into someone’s else’s hands, either.

I loved how the third episode filled in the blanks on things we didn’t even realize we needed to know. Granted, I think we all wondered about the somewhat literal Chekhov’s gun hidden in the popcorn, but beyond that, I didn’t realize I wanted the other information until I got it, and it made the proceeding events in Season 2 make much more sense, from a logical standpoint.

We saw that Elliot pulled a gun on Tyrell the night of the 5/9 hack and actually pulled the trigger, but the gun jammed, saving Tyrell’s life. In a “Pulp Fiction”-esque moment, Tyrell pleads for his life, telling Elliot to try and shoot him again. If he lives, then their work will continue on together, if not, that’s that.

Elliot- actually Mr. Robot at the time- opts to not do so in the first place, which turns out to be a wise move, as we later find out that the gun would have exploded in his hand, thus potentially crippling him for life, especially in terms of being a hacker, for obvious reasons. From then on, Mr. Robot and Tyrell are partners, but, as we know, shortly thereafter, Elliot gets himself arrested, resulting in Tyrell needing to go underground for a while. Well, that and the fact that the hack was blamed on Tyrell by his former boss because of the “honeypot” he left behind.

Irving, who showed up with some representatives of the Dark Army that night- loved the masks, especially in that shot of them watching anime on TV on the couch- whisks Tyrell away to an isolated home in the country to work on Phase 2 alone, while the Dark Army works to free Elliot in the meantime. At one point, Tyrell tries to escape, but promptly gets caught by a local cop, who is subsequently taken out by none other than Agent Santiago (Omar Metwally), aka Dominique DiPierro’s (Grace Gummer) boss.

You’ll recall that Santiago, along with Dominique, managed to emerge unscathed in the Dark Army attack at the hotel- now we know that was no fluke. It seems he’s been working for the Dark Army all along, helping to cover things up from within. That certainly explains a lot, not in the least how Santiago was able to keep the wily Dominique at bay. But, as he points out, the walls are closing in, and it’s getting harder to cover up everything that the Dark Army is getting up to.

Indeed, as we already know, things are about to get worse, as the Dark Army takes out Cisco (Michael Drayer) in a very public way soon after that. With that, the cat is definitely out of the bag, try as Santiago might to keep Dominique on a short leash. Speaking of which, it was also confirmed that Darlene (Carly Chaikin) was indeed recruited by the FBI as an informant, who are attempting to use her to get info on the Dark Army, but, as they discover, she doesn’t really know that much, including the involvement of Tyrell, which is revealed to her in a recording of a conversation between the two while Elliot was in prison.

Sensing that the walls are closing in, Darlene moves to split town, thus confirming Santiago’s worry that she’s a flight risk. However, Elliot figures out what’s happened soon after, realizing that his computer has been bugged by the FBI. He is able to track down the safehouse that the FBI met Darlene at and shows up there, knowing that they will see him on the cameras installed around the house, which they do indeed.

In addition, Elliot, who is now working at E(vil) Corp, has worked his way up the food chain of executives there, getting people fired as needed until he finally gets someone to listen to him about the need to digitize the company’s records. Obviously, he’s well aware of the nature of Phase 2, in which the plan is to blow up the building in which the company’s paper records are being sent, and has been stalling it as much as he can by re-routing the records so that they don’t arrive at their proper destination, thus putting off the plan for the time being.

Now that he finally has the ear of someone who matters, Elliot might actually be able to thwart what is, after all, his own plan, in a manner of speaking. To that end, for the first time, he allows Mr. Robot (Christian Slater) to reveal himself to someone else on purpose- his therapist, Krista Gordon (Gloria Rueben)- in a chilling scene in which you have to wonder if Krista isn’t about to join the list of the dead her own damn self. Ditto Darlene, who, as Elliot realizes in said session, is his primary trigger for bringing Mr. Robot out to play whether Elliot likes it or not.

Darlene seems to sense this as well, which is yet another good reason for her to get the F(society) out of Dodge. She’s not wrong, as both Elliot and Mr. Robot know they’ve been compromised, and prove it soon after, thus exposing Darlene’s role in it in the process, meaning that they can no longer trust her, as she is clearly working with the FBI. Of course, Darlene all but tipped Elliot off to this without doing it overtly already, particularly in their last meet at the boardwalk.

Also worth a mention is that Phillip Price (Michael Cristofer) is reaching his wits’ end with Whiterose, the leader of the Dark Army, who he knows as Zhang, China’s Minister of State Security. He wants China on board with Ecoin, having already gotten everyone else to sign on for it but them, as China has been going with Bitcoin instead. Price threatens to upend the upcoming vote at the UN for China to be allowed to annex the Congo, but Zhang scoffs at this and reveals his “in” at E(vil)-Corp with Angela (Portia Doubleday).

Also worth a mention is that someone releases another F-Society video, which Darlene genuinely seems to not know who is responsible for. Might it be Tyrell? Or is it Mr. Robot? Or even potentially a third party, given how F-Society is kind of its own thing these days? We shall see, but my money’s on Tyrell.

As punishment for Price’s insubordination, Zhang tells his associate Grant (Grant Chang) to proceed with Phase 2 on the day of the UN vote, whether China wins the vote or not. This does not bode well for Price, but then, he’s always seemed doomed from the start, given how full of himself he’s always been. Count on his dismantling- or outright death- to happen shortly after said vote, mark my words, even if Phase 2 doesn’t succeed.

Oh, and Elliot finally got “his” dog back, aka Flipper, when an exasperated Lenny, aka the guy who got Elliot arrested in the first place for hacking him and stealing said dog, returned it to Elliot because it was sick and pooping all over the place. You know what they say about dogs being a shrewd judge of character…

Oh, and there was an entertaining guest star bit by none other than Wallace Shawn, of “Princess Bride” fame, as Tyrell’s interrogator after Irving absconds with him to the secluded house in the country. Tyrell basically fails the test, until he says that he might not always be loyal to the Dark Army, but he’ll always be loyal to Elliot. He, of course, later proves as much when, as per Elliot’s previous instructions, Tyrell shoots him when he tries to shut down Phase 2.

Angela later fills Tyrell in on the whole “Mr. Robot” thing, thus explaining why Elliot seems to act like two different people at times, which must have answered a lot of his own questions about Elliot’s behavior. Oh, and there was also an amusing cameo by Leon (Joey Bada$$), as Irving visited him in jail to check up on Elliot. I loved the bit where he mistakenly told Irving about his killing a white supremacist even though he was a “pacifist” and how it was “fun” when Irving was actually asking about how things were going with Elliot. Lol. TMI, Leon!

“Mr. Robot” is definitely back on the right track with these first three episodes, which have both streamlined and helped clarify the events of last season, which was a bit too fractured for its own good. Though Esmail couldn’t have predicted the whole Trump thing- who could have? – it was a fortuitous event for the show, as Trump’s chaotic reign is perfectly in keeping with the more controlled chaos of this show and dovetails nicely with the themes at hand. Of course Whiterose would want to throw a grenade into American democracy- it fits in beautifully with his plan to bring down E(vil)-Corp by any means necessary.

I’m also heavily intrigued by the whole alternate universe/quantum physics angle implied in the premiere- can’t wait to see where that all leads. Also, now that we know how close the FBI is to figuring everything out, and that Elliot knows that the FBI is onto him and that the Dark Army has an inside man in the FBI to boot, it should make for some exciting moments moving forward, as Dominique in particular moves in on Elliot. Will it get her killed? Or will it get Santiago killed? Or possibly both?

I think, in killing off three reasonably major characters in one fell swoop so early on, Esmail is letting us know that anything can happen. Granted, I don’t see Elliot getting killed anytime soon, but some of the other main characters? Quite possibly. I don’t know that even Darlene is truly safe. I’d also love to see what the on-the-lamb Trenton (Sunita Mani) and Mobley (Azhar Khan) are up to, and how Leon figures into that. You’ll recall that Trenton said she knew a way to undo the initial hack- will she? Or will Leon put a stop to that? Or them, in general?

Esmail has been as good as his word in terms of simplifying the storyline, but he’s done so without dumbing it down, as well, which is a nice trick. The plot is still complex, to be sure, but it’s much easier to follow this season than in the (purposefully) confusing second season, which tried too hard to repeat the storyline gymnastics of the first season and ended up being somewhat disappointing. I didn’t hate it as much as some, but in retrospect, we did waste an awful lot of time on a twist most people saw coming a mile away, so…

I don’t get the sense that will happen this season. The fact that Esmail was deftly able to tie up many of the loose ends of last season and give us a better sense of who Tyrell was as a character was a smart bit of business- it’s not often you see plot threads wrapped up at the same time as a character is smoothly developed in a way that is satisfying done with such finesse. I feel like, just as we got a much more incisive look at what made Joanna tick last season, we’re finally getting that with Tyrell, just as the former’s story was wrapped up, which can’t be a coincidence.

I think having Esmail control so much of what’s going on with the show was a smart move, and shows the benefit of having someone involved from start to finish with a clear, concise idea of what they want to accomplish and how to do so. Yes, there have been missteps along the way. You’d be hard-pressed to name a show that didn’t have the occasional misfire, least of all one as ambitious in the narrative as this one. But, for all the wayward dead-end alleyways, “Mr. Robot” remains one of the more fascinating shows on TV.

I think a big part of that is consistency of vision- sometimes literally, in the case of those oddball camera angles- and though not everyone has the level of commitment to seeing through the process of writing and executing a show like Esmail, it does show how that can pay off when they do.

Compare this show or something like the “Twin Peaks” revival (which was also entirely directed by one person, who also co-scripted every episode with only one other writer) to one where a large part of the writing and directing workload is split up amongst a bevy of people and you’ll see what I mean.

Say what you will about the show’s wrong turns, it all feels like part of one big sprawling whole story that will fit together perfectly and make perfect sense when all is said and done. The third episode proved that Esmail knows what he’s doing, and the second one showed that he wasn’t afraid of taking risks by eliminating characters once they’d served their purpose.

I will certainly miss the fascinating, complex Joanna- and by extension, the alluring Corneliussen- but I also get why Esmail did it. There’s a time and a reason for everything, and it was quite simply Joanna and company’s time. But count on there being fallout from the event, especially on Tyrell’s end, who has always been as much of a loose cannon as Elliot, in his own way. Drama breeds more drama, especially on a show like this. Can’t wait to see what happens next!

What do you think of the latest developments of “Mr. Robot”? Were you shocked to see Joanna go? Or had her character’s purpose been served? Do you think there’s still more to know about her, and we’ll get a Tyrell-like flashback on down the line? What did you think about the Tyrell-centric episode? Was it redundant or necessary? Were you surprised by the big reveals? (I was genuinely shocked that Joanna was killed, but not that surprised that Santiago was revealed to be dirty, given his squirmy behavior with Dominique in the past.)

Any predictions for what’s next? Will more people bite the bullet before the season’s end? Who do you think it will be, if so? (I think Price is completely doomed.) Are you also curious about Trenton and Mobley? Do you think they’re dead or working on something on the side, with Leon keeping a close eye on them? If the latter, what do you think they’re up to?

Sound off on this and more down below, in the comments section, and see you in a few weeks. Thanks for reading!