Mr. Robot season 3 review: eps3.8_stage3.torrent


Mr. Robot season 3 continues with a season finale set-up episode in which past is more than prologue.

The penultimate episode of Mr. Robot season 3 is predominantly interested in putting the pieces in place for the finale next week, but “eps3.8_stage3.torrent” also spends an awful lot of time looking backward, drawing increasingly complicated lines between events in the past and present. To what end? It’s not exactly clear.

Over the course of the episode, the Alderson siblings return to Coney Island, a stranger tries to sell his mix CD to Angela, Tyrell Wellick finally gets the job he wanted so badly back in season 1. To Angela, who appears to be struggling to maintain the barest grip on her sanity, these echoes of the past indicate that the world around her is somehow being remade — as it once was, as it ought to be. To everyone else, the echoes of their old lives merely underline how sharply the world around them has trended downward, a feeling given additional resonance by the rapidly deteriorating New York City setting in the background.

For a Mr. Robot episode, “eps3.8_stage3.torrent” is awfully straightforward, helpfully explaining timeline shifts and dropping narrative reminders along the way. This is likely meant to help us prepare for whatever big twist is headed our way next. Something big is coming, that much seems clear. However, the relatively clear (for once) narrative structure also gives us a glimpse at where this show might go beyond the season 3 finale, and what the next iteration of Elliot Alderson as a character might look like.

"Even if we do this do you really think it’ll make a difference?"

 Much of Mr. Robot season 3 explored the divide between Elliot and his Mr. Robot alter ego. Initially, the two were positioned more as Jekyll and Hyde figures this year, regularly working at cross purposes and openly sabotaging one another. As season 3 progressed, however, Elliot seems to have stopped viewing Mr. Robot as something totally separate from himself. Earlier in the season, Elliot stridently insists that he’s not the one who hurt Darlene, he never wanted Stage 2 to happen, he doesn’t miss the empty place inside himself where Mr. Robot used to be.

Now, though, after witnessing so much destruction and death, it appears that Elliot’s finally reached a place where he can admit that “Even if it was him, it was me.” This is a particular kind of self-awareness that’s been absent from Elliot’s character the past season or so, as Mr. Robot has been frequently positioned as a separate enemy to fight and not a part of Elliot’s psyche that he can’t bring himself to face. No matter how much he might wish otherwise, Mr. Robot doesn’t exist in a vacuum. He is Elliot. Which means that on some level, Elliot tacitly approves of the things he’s done, even if he didn’t know it at the time.

“eps3.8_stage3.torrent” finally takes the step of openly bringing Elliot and Mr. Robot onto the same page. In weaving together two narratives that end in the same place — Mr. Robot’s trip to Tyrell Wellick’s house and Elliot’s plan to enact a “Stage 3” — Mr. Robot pulls off an elegant effort to bring both sides of Elliot together in a way that copious drugs or trips to Krista’s office haven’t managed. And for the first time in a long time, possibly ever, it creates an uneasy alliance between the two that may well point the way forward for Elliot’s character as the series continues. (It seems clear that an Elliot/Mr. Robot alliance is not only a necessary evolution for Mr. Robot’s larger narrative, but for Elliot himself, too. It’s not reintegration or anything, yet, but it’s a start.)

Both Elliot and Mr. Robot now both know and agree that the Dark Army is the enemy. They’re sharing information, including the fact that the FBI is compromised. Neither of them is directly antagonizing the other. However, now that both sides of Elliot have finally come together — sort of — was it worth it? Will it be too late to fix what they started?

"All we can do now is rebuild. At least that’s a start."

Most of “eps3.8_stage3.torrent” is table setting for the season finale next week, as various plot pieces are moved around the board. On some level, this requires a certain amount of suspension of disbelief, as several plot elements are … well, let’s just call them a little bit on the lazy side. To be fair, if the season finale sticks the landing, we probably won’t really care that much that some of the set-up was extremely clunky. But, that said, it really is.

Ellliot hacks the Dark Army with what is possibly the dumbest and most obvious plot of all time. (Really, guys? We’re supposed to believe the most dangerous hacker army in the world fell for that?) Darlene has a spiffy device that can steal FBI badge codes (what?) but of course it goes on the fritz right when she needs it most. Dom, an agent who has pretty much known what’s up all season, doesn’t think it’s at all weird when a source she knows has a history of extreme deception suddenly wants to sleep with her. (This bit, at least, makes some level of sense. Dom’s loneliness and general alienation due to her job is at least an ongoing theme for her character.)

Yet, these twists move everything into dramatic position for the finale. Whiterose’s assistant Grant is dumb enough to get hacked by Elliot, but smart enough to put a kill order out on him. Darlene gets caught trying to steal Dom’s badge after their hookup, but confesses everything to the FBI about their plans to undo the original 5/9 hack, leaving her in an extremely vulnerable position since Santiago is a Dark Army double agent. Dom looks suspicious of her traitorous boss, but not suspicious enough. Angela, wandering the streets with a shopping cart full of crazy, gets picked up by a mysterious van that may or may not be full of Dark Army agents.

Then there’s Elliot. Even though he’s ostensibly joined forces with Mr. Robot, he’s as alone as he’s ever been. He’s a lone wolf in truth now, leading a revolution that no longer has any followers. Is that enough to save the world?

It looks like we’re going to find out.

Next: Mr. Robot season 3 review: eps3.7_dont-delete-me.ko

Mr. Robot continues next Wednesday on USA Network.