Have you caught your breath from the, to undersell it slightly, very extremely incredibly intense season 2 finale of the mostest intensest show on television?
No. Neither have I. And now, already, here is the season 3 trailer for Mr Robot and folks …. break out the red thread, paper pegs and the war room because we are going deep.
The entire thing is narrated over by a voice that might be familiar, reciting cherry picked lyrics from Leonard Cohen’s ‘Democracy’;
It’s coming from the sorrow and the street
The holy places where the races meet
From the homicidal bitchin’
that goes down in every kitchen
To determine who will serve and who will eat
It’s comin for America first
The cradle of the best and the worst
It’s here they got the range and the machinery of change
And it’s here they got the spiritual thirst
I’m sentimental, if you know what I mean
I love the country but I cant stand the scene
And I’m neither left or right
I just stayin home tonight
Getting lost in that hopeless little screen
From the wars against disorder
From the sirens night and day
Democracy is comin’
To the USA
So first things first; Elliot’s … body survived getting gut shot by Tyrell at the end of season 2, but Elliot? It looks like he’s up and around, but notice we don’t get too many shots of the show’s signature black hooded figure from the front. ‘Elliot’, or the person/personality who is dressing like him, is only portrayed from behind with the hood up. We see Elliot from the front once in some kind of a library, hood down and looking confused about the nature of his own face. Look at that gif above? It reminds me of the scenes in body swap movies from the 80’s, when the main characters are realising they have a new face It’s as if this is the first time That Personality has worn the Elliot Suit.
And when we do see a black hooded figure from the front … it looks like Angela. More on her in a second.
I know Esmail has said he doesn’t want there to always be a mystery, and always be some ‘AHA!’ moment for audiences. Then, he releases mindtwister trailers that may or may not suggest someone other than Elliot is wearing his hoodie around town. Why do you do this to me, Sam?
This shot of a weeping Darlene doesn’t help. We know Darlene struggles with panic and profound anxiety. This doesn’t look like that. This looks like Darlene grieving. It could be latent shock. Her boyfriend was killed, she learned the FBI is way more onto her than she ever thought, Elliot has been shot, and this all happened in the space of about 24 hours.
She may just, ya know, need a minute. It could be grief. It could be that whatever of Elliot has survived is no longer the brother she knows. I don’t like to see Darlene cry. She needs all the hugs. You stop this, Esmail!
There are lots of curiously similar shots of key figures walking; Darlene through a Hoovertown-esque camp is likely one of many springing up on the streets of NYC. We see MaybeElliot passing through what looks like a subway terminal repurposed as indoor housing, Darlene and MaybeElliot entering a bouncing nightclub, and of course, the blonde that must be Angela, wearing an F Society mask and Elliot’s signature hoodie, stalking through a corridor.
Dom gets to advance menancingly, if cautiously, gun drawn and Minister Zheng, also known as the mercurial Whiterose, looks broody and intense as they’re chauffered through a dark city street.
Already, it seems like after season 2’s carefully paced game that mirrored Elliot and Robot’s all important chess match, season 3 moves us firmly into Check territory.
Look at that gif of Angela. What do you see? Chaos around her, as if she’s torn through the place like a storm. And behind her, screens, a computer terminal. Angela was training up to become a hacker last year, and then found herself … recruited, or maybe it was press-ganged by the mysterious group who used an old cassette PC game to learn .. something … from her. Later, she was purposeful and in control as she spoke to someone about Elliot’s shooting. Angela’s journey has quietly been the most interesting on the show, as she’s changed the most since it started. I am thrilled to see that continue.
And Dominique seems like she’s in the same place, right? Like she’s arrived after Angela has committed some sort of raid or been part of an attack.
There’s another shot I feel comes from the same location, maybe the same incident;
Someone, MaybeElliot, drags themselves up from the ground after some kind of happening. There’s something about how that body moves that’s deeply creepy to me, and I love it.
There’s no one else around to have hurt MaybeElliot but we know that for Elliot, that doesn’t mean much. Robot could have done this to him — which is to say, Elliot could have hurt himself. Doesn’t that tunnel feel linked to Angela and Dominique’s location? Some kind of basement or underground facility. Perhaps they’ve had to infiltrate the building they mean to blow to high heaven. Perhaps it’s White Rose mysterious factory, the one which can never, ever be closed for Some Reason.
But, what else do we have?;
Robot looks spent, like he just got done hurting somebody. Or does he look … guys, I dare to say afraid? Unsure? He could be upset if Elliot is hurt, if they’re both in the same basement somewhere.
Or he could be mad because he can’t get out of whereever he is. We know now that Elliot can create complex mental spaces. He crafted his home around his time in prison. His ability or capacity to be mentally flexible is growing, especially as he comes more and more to terms with his condition. Could he have finally made the leap to creating mental prisons to keep Robot under control?
Mr. Robot could be in trouble if he is locked up. Season 2 teased us constantly with what may or may not be happening in Elliot’s head. Either a worse fracturing of his psyche –which may have led to the creation of a Tyrell personality. Or, we were seeing some sort of … organic reintregration of Robot back into Elliot’s own mind?
The strange reappearance of Tyrell fuelled the fire that Elliot’s mind was still changing. All of Tyrell’s scenes were played like only Elliot may be seeing him. His appearance seemed to, briefly, chase away Robot, leading to the idea Elliot can only manifest one of them at a time.
But then, Robot came back and we were left wondering.
The trailer doesn’t clear much up regarding Tyrell. We see this;
More curiously there is a shot of Tyrell with Phillip Price, Evil Corp CEO, The Actual Living Devil, Abaddon, in which they seem to share a weighted look. But Price may just as easily be looking through Tyrell. It depends what, or who they are reacting to out of frame — it could be Elliot addressing a Tyrell that Price cannot see. Notice that Tyrell’s clothes don’t change in any shots of him, which so far is something only Elliot and, by necessity, Mr. Robot do. That said, are Price and Tyrell in Tyrell’s old house? I’m confident I remember that entryway from when Elliot was brought there to meet Johanna.
On that note, notably absent from any clear shots that I could make out is Mr. Robot’s most genuinely terrifying character. We last saw Johanna unfurling the most insane revenge against Scott Knowles after learning he had been behind all the clues Tyrel was alive, and trying to contact her and their newborn child. She appeared to be contemplating escape of some kind with her dumb but goodhearted DJ lover. And as we remain uncertain on whether Tyrellis actually the real Tyrell, it’s hard to predict where that will leave Johanna.
Also missing are Trenton and Mobley, last seen as they were approached by (my favourite), the strange and wonderful Leon, former prison buddy turned bodyguard to Elliot.
Trenton and Mobley were theoretically in hiding, theoretically so far away and off the grid as to be untraceable. I don’t know about anyone else, but how and why Leon tracked them down is promising to be my latest obsession. Leon was introduced to Elliot as a kind of spiritual mentor, before being revealed as an actual guardian angel, sent by Whiterose to keep Elliot alive.
Tyrell was similarly absent from trailers for season 2 but look how that turned out. The question is, will they survive? And if they do, will they be loyal to Elliot, or prepared to turn against him if the Feds get too close?
Interspersed are more frames and shots. There is Angela walking through … her apartment? Or an office space? There are cops, and it looks vandalised, spray-painted. I wonder if she’s really targeted or if it’s an effort to frame her as a victim of some kind, while secretly she’s part of the Hack.
There is a glimpse of Robot at a computer, Tyrell over his right shoulder while behind them, what could be Angela in a white gown, and what I’m confident is new character ‘Irving’ portrayed by the amazing Bobby Cannavale. Irving appears in another shot, flanked by a couple of goons in Dark Army masks and even in a single frame where he remains silent, his Sinister Accountant look combined with a certain still confidence makes him incredibly unsettling. I am afraid of him and I think I’m right to be.
If Leon might represent a protective streak within Whiterose as a person, or Dark Army as a group, Irving screams to me of being their Enforcer. Or perhaps he has bigger intentions. Could he be challenging the pensive looking Whiterose for leadership? And what would that mean for Elliot? On that note, who are the black clad gunmen who raid Elliot’s apartment? Dark Army soldiers? Chinese intelligence agents pursuing Elliot? Since Minister Zheng/Whiterose could be behind either possiblity, what does that mean for Elliot’s international support?
I’ll leave you to ponder, just as I shall.
And finally, because of course, who was that voice reciting Cohen lyrics? It goes without saying it’s a great choice for the trailer, because Esmail is a damned genius, and I am as always eager to see what other music and media plays in to his narrative.
But who was speaking? It’s a shoddy recording, like the speaker was just sitting in a room talking into a microphone, like it’s a digital radio station being beamed out by someone isolated and far away. And it’s compressed and crackly and the weird mild echo warps the voice. It has some of that low growl that Price has, and some of his vowels, but it lacks the same powerful and magnetic vocal resonance that make all his dialogue so thrilling.
It’s far too low to be Elliot, Robot, Tyrell or Whiterose who all have relatively soft speaking voices. It…could actually be Irving. It sounds a little like Cannavale with some distortion.
In case you’re wondering if it even matters who is speaking….of course it does. This is Sam Esmail. Everything matters.
Mr. Robot returns on 11th of October on the USA Network and, of course, to Oohlo.