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Mr. Robot: Episode 10 - "zer0_day.avi"

Sean Fennell

Both the world and Elliot fall apart, as the long-awaited E Corp hack finally comes to fruition.

Mr. Robot

Airtime: Wednesdays, 8pm
Cast: Rami Malek, Carly Chaikin, Portia Doubleday, Martin Wallström, Christian Slater
Subtitle: Episode 10 - "zer0_day.avi"
Network: USA
Air date: 2015-09-02

And there you have it. The F Society team has finally, once and for all, sprung several dogs from captivation and saved the world. Oh yeah, and the hack that has been discussed since episode one? That has finally been executed too.

We've seen numerous hacks in season one, usually with Elliot (Rami Malek) walking us through the technicalities as he ruins this life or that one, all in the name of the overall good. The ironic part of Mr. Robot’s finale is that we do not, in fact, see this hack carried out. Instead, we catch up with Elliot two days after the hack, as its effects are starting to truly sink in worldwide. This doesn't mean that Elliot is basking in the glory of his success. In fact, he is just as lost as we are, as he remembers just as much about the operation as the viewer.

He does know one thing for sure, and that is that whatever transpired in the days during his fugue state, they transpired alongside Tyrell Wellick (Martin Wallstrom), in whose car he mysteriously finds himself when he finally comes to. The goal for Elliot in the remainder of the episode (one that ultimately and somewhat frustratingly proves unfulfilled), is to find Tyrell and learn the truth about what happened. But, just as has been the case these last couple months, Mr. Robot’s frustrating moments are intentional and dramatically essential in nature. Creator Sam Esmail enjoys leading us on these trips, and it’s hard to find many who have not enjoyed being taken along for the ride.

As for the Evil Corp hack: it worked. We see a world beginning its downward spiral into chaos as countries across the globe panic at crashing stock markets and financial insecurity. The circus music that plays as Elliot walks throughout the E Corp facility is just another turn of fantastic filmmaking that has made Mr. Robot such a treat. Men in suits running around, rather than cities burning to the ground, was the right way to play this scene. Interspersed background footage of world leaders like President Obama and Chancellor Angela Merkel give the hack the necessary global implications, while keeping the show grounded in reality, something which a show about imaginary friends has done a surprisingly good job.

The uncertainty of the crisis is only heightened when one of the higher ranking Evil Corp officials commits suicide on live television, during an interview meant to calm the markets. This scene was the reason for the two-week break between episode nine and this week’s finale. The network USA decided, rightly so, that this sequence was too reminiscent of the horrific events involving the murder of two reporters in Roanoke, Virgina, which occurred on the morning the finale was meant to be aired. The network made the right decision regarding this rather disturbing scene, both the decision to delay and the decision to not remove the scene from broadcast.

From a narrative perspective, the suicide seems like it would be the nail in the coffin for E Corp. After all, just before pulling the trigger, the executive James Plouffe (Richard Bekins) admits that the company’s team of engineers believe that the hack is “impossible to fix”. Despite this, E Corp’s CEO Phillip Price (Michael Cristofer) is both cool and creepily confident, something Angela (Portia Doubleday) (now on the E Corp PR team) recognizes and confronts him about. Just when I thought that Terry Colby (Bruce Altman) was the best sleazebag on TV, in swaggers Price with his wry smile and smug, all-knowing demeanor. Clearly, he knows something more about Angela then he lets on, and in the episode's after-credit scene, we learn that he even seems to know Elliot is behind the hacks. Ultimately his motives are kept secret, but one thing we can be sure of: they're definitely evil.

Elliot’s search for Tyrell eventually turns into a search for Mr. Robot/Mr. Alderson (Christian Slater). At this point, it is still not entirely clear whether Elliot is aware that Mr. Robot isn't real, or that Eliot himself has been sliding from one personality to the next for months, even years. Eliot does seem sure of one thing: Mr. Robot will know what happened to Tyrell. When he finally does manage to summon Mr. Robot, the figment makes sure to prove to Elliot that they are truly one in the same. First by showing him a video of the boardwalk “push” and then by picking a fight with a man in the internet café, a fight that leads to consequences for only Elliot.

Mr. Robot doesn’t give Eliot answers concerning either Tyrell or anything else going on in Elliot’s psych (does he ever?), but he does say one thing that may be worth remembering as we move into season two. Just after getting Elliot punched, he chastises him by seemingly reminding Elliot that he is, “only supposed to be your prophet, you’re supposed to be my God”. This brings to mind the still-unexplained moment when Tyrell revealed to his wife the belief in some higher Godly power that he had finally recognized.

This isn’t the only question that Esmail and team has left rolling in our collective minds for the next seven or so months. The biggest one: who the hell is behind that door knocking so fervently, just when Elliot finally settles down in his apartment for the first time in what seems like weeks? Is it Tyrell coming back into the picture, bearing information that will fill in Elliot's blank spots? Is it Lenny, the cheating former dog-owner who makes a return in the first moments of the finale claiming he has information about Elliot’s hacking that could land Elliot in legal trouble? Is it Angela? Price? Darlene (Carly Chaikin)? Gideon (Michel Gill)? Or even Mrs. Alderson?

The great part about this show, and one of the reasons I will eagerly wait its return, is that it could believably and conceivably be any of these characters, and even several more. The show has quickly created a universe in which both everything is possible and nothing seems forced. It is a show that is both focused and grand in scale, to the point of which showing Barack Obama meeting with world leaders is not hokey but essential to the narrative. It is also a show I hope gets more attention and viewers as it moves closer to next year’s season premiere; not only because it deserves all the accolades it can get, but because I would love to be able to discuss and theorize with anyone who loves quality television.


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