Oh, I Can Make You Dance, I Can Make You Sing: Mr. Robot, ‘eps3.6_fredrick+tanya.chk’

Last week … well, last week, things got rather more serious than they already are and that is saying something. Elliot thought he had finally made a dent in the Whiterose/Dark Army plot to destroy the tower but, by all appearances, was being fooled.

And last season, the Previously On reminds me, as if I need to be told, mercurial Whiterose agent, Leon (beloved murderchild!) was last seen asking on-the-run Mobley and Trenton if they had the time. How he found them, where they were, and what happened since … hopefully we’re about to find out. A guy, the creepy roommate Trenton mentioned last season, is dead on the floor of a small house, throat slashed while the news on the TV talks about the attack.

Leon … the killer, obviously, sits on the couch, resplendent in some kind of outfit that I’m pretty sure only works because; Leon. He’s not alone. A terrified Mobley and Trenton sit on either side of him. Leon, in his eerily calm way, is talking about watching Frasier in his apparently ongoing trawl through old sitcoms and his confusion about how Frasier Crane scored with beautiful intelligent women as often as he did. Same.

Leon laments that Frasier killed sitcoms for him altogether, so to find a believable protagonist doing incredible shit, he switched … to Night Rider. (Which I’ll go ahead and point out is a show about Artificial Intelligence. And, also an excellent choice). Mobley, shaking violently, offers to work with Leon, rather than the other ‘Leon Kills Urbody’ option they are facing. Leon reassures them they’d be dead already if he was here for that. He’s just here to babysit and keep them safe and sound for some obscure reason …. on today of all days, which as I discussed, is when he just now caught up with them?

Oh SHIT they’re going to take the blame. Oh, noooo. Please let me be wrong.

Leon discusses Night Rider’s prediction of our current dependence on technology. Then he moves the body and hostages to his car, and in a delightfully meta TV type moment, resumes the conversation exactly where he left off once he’s behind the wheel. He talks up the Night Rider theme tune, which is hot fire, and because Esmail loves us, the track kicks in as Leon takes the car off road.

In case you’re confused like I briefly was, because they first met the day of the attack, which we know is a couple of weeks deep into Season 3; when we last saw Mobley and Trenton their conversation clearly indicated they had been in hiding for at least a couple of weeks, so we essentially saw them in the ‘future’, and the events of season 3 have now brought us up to date with that point.

We cut back to Elliot still in front of the TV store and openly weeping at the horrific news. Suddenly paranoid, he pulls up the hoodie and flees. We instantly cut to Krista’s place where Elliot is completely freaking out. He’s trying to admit what he/they did, but he’s so utterly overwhelmed he can barely form whole words, let alone sentences. Rami is just casually working through his Emmy reel, by the by. The sound distorts, like badly compressed audio and Elliot backs into the bookcase and then, Robot is there.

Krista openly suspects Elliot wants Robot to speak to her since he can’t, and asks what Elliot thinks he’s done. Robot actually seems … he’s Robot, so he’s always some level of angry, but he’s not smug and crowing like normal. He says everything that happened was because Elliot ignored ‘their’ responsibilities. He doesn’t admit to the bombing but he talks about ‘everyone’ who is under ‘their’ thumb, the real string pullers. Even he knows it sounds paranoid. Krista surmises he wants to challenge ‘them’, and Robot rages he and Elliot just wanted to give the power back to The People. But, someone took his idea and ran with it for their own agenda.

Then Robot goes ahead and admits to being behind 5/9. Dude. Kryita asks if today’s attacks were linked to Robot’s revolution, and once again Robot goes ahead and admits to the Tower plan.  DUDE. But … Krista doesn’t buy it, calls it delusions of grandeur, because the authorities say they already have the man responsible — Tyrell. Robot claims ‘he’ was working for Robot, but no one will ever know that and they’ll all just buy the narrative they’ve been fed for months. Robot realises Krista doesn’t believe him, is indulging him, and gets close to lay it all out — Elliot worked at Allsafe, Ground Zero for 5/9, he hacked her, her boyfriend, was then arrested for that hacking, and is … you know, he’s legitimately mentally unwell. (Which, it goes without saying that being mentally unwell does not automatically make you dangerous, but with Elliot … we have the context to be concerned.) Mr. Robot asks ‘you still want to doubt me?’.  Krista looks pensive.

A quietly but intensely emotional Dom and a sick looking Santiago are shown the latest fsociety video by Tyrell’s attorney. The video gloats over the horrific attack and promises worse to come. Like I predicted last week, Tyrell is claiming he was abducted and his family threatened. He was forced to work, and chained in a basement. Dom isn’t buying a word, and if you don’t fall in love with the barely contained emotional quaver in her every breath, you are not paying attention. Grace Gummer is every bit her mother’s daughter right here. They have nothing to beat Tyrell with, but he’s willing to cooperate and give them names and locations. Promising hell and worse, Dom and Santiago retreat.

In his office, Dom wants to drag in

but Santiago retorts (reminding the audience of those better days) he’d have to speak to Comey, and then Obama.

Santiago manages not to blurt out ‘Oh and also, dude, I’m SO deep in this shit,’ which is an improvement on last week. Dom finally asks why he keeps ignoring their credible sources, and points out he’s sort of suggesting they hide the truth from Comey and Obama? She emotionally and physically leans waaaaaay the fuck in, and Santiago’s getting upset and when he nervously snaps at Dom she says ‘Something’s not adding up’.

He is literally cowering from her, nailed down by her stare and incapable of making himself just turn or walk away, before he remembers he’s her boss and pulls rank. But, to my mind anyway, it looks like Dom is (finally, finally) starting to see this snake for what he is.

An utterly shocked out Angela is watching the news and remarks the death count is 3000 and climbing. Angela asks if ‘all those people who died’ will be okay, and while this sounds crazy as all get out, enough to send Darlene on a run to get her clothes and come back … or is it? Does she mean okay, in the place Whiterose has told her the dead go? What does Angela know?

To the sound of sad, ambient music, which plays throughout, Tyrell is going through a book of photos to find anyone he knows. He stops, insisting again he be allowed to see Joanna. The agent promises soon, if they just go a little longer. Tyrell turns the page, comes across Elliot’s picture. We don’t see his response.

Santiago is regretting the understandable but incredibly conspicuous call he made to his mother the day of the bombing. He’s angry she told people what he said, because he’s really a very stupid person and now she’s too terrified to leave the house at all. He tosses his phone at the wall, as the agent working with Tyrell comes in with folders, saying Tyrell picked out some names. Hot money, right this second it’s Mobley and Trenton. The agent passes on Tyrell’s request about his family, and Santiago nods. He goes to the interview room and turns off the video camera and with that, the ambient music stops. Santiago sits and assures him he can speak freely. Tyrell, of course, is at once on edge because, you know, this is all fucky.

Santiago takes disgusting and horrific pleasure in telling Tyrell the news about Joanna, and raises the low statistical rate of abuse in Baby Wellick’s new foster home. Do yourself a favour and rewatch Wallstrom’s reaction to it, just … to enjoy someone being so good. Or don’t, because it will break your heart into thousands and thousands of pieces. And this is a character who we know for a fact beats up homeless people and strangled a woman to death. That’s how good Martin Wallstrom is, you cry anyway. Tyrell is of course, shocked, in denial and while his mouth says ‘This can’t be true’ his eyes give away how afraid he is. Santiago twists it into a threat, that if Tyrell gives him in, baby Wellick will become one of those statistics he mentioned.

Seriously, Santiago, I will party when you bite it.

Oh holy shit dude, I wanted you dead already but now I hope you suffer first. Tyrell realises it’s true, and finally just loses it and Santiago turns the camera back on to record the grief, which explodes into screaming the audience mercifully is spared from hearing.

Santiago, I hope Leon  gets to give you yours.

Speaking of, Leon has driven Mobley and Trenton to the middle of nowhere, and the idea they’re going to survive the day seems less and less likely. He’s burying the roommate’s body outside, while in the car Mobley thinks Leon is there because of the email Trenton wanted to send to the FBI. Except she never sent it, she says, and  if Leon does kill them, and Trenton is magically calm about that the email is timed and if she never comes back, it will go to someone she trusts. Since we know so little about these two outside of fsociety … who could that be? While Mobley Mobleys, Trenton is calmly trying to unlock the combination bike locks Leon has tied them up with, and talks about getting home. Like a BOSS, she unlocks herself in about five seconds, but since she can’t drive, their attempted escape is over before it begins. My favourite part is Leon calmly watching this all go down like he knew they had no hope in hell.

A terrified Krista speaks to her own attorney about what Robot told her. He reminds her that unless RobElliot threatened future actions, she can’t tell the authorities and besides, chances are he’s lying. But Krysta knows Elliot and thinks he could be involved.

Angela is watching and rewatching video of the attack when Darlene returns. The dead number over 4000, but Angela has found that Whiterose centre of calm, and talks about how it doesn’t matter how many die as everything will be fine. Darlene asks Angela if there will be any more attacks but Angela doesn’t know anything. She’s watching the same few seconds of a building collapsing and insists Darlene watch to see what she is seeing. Which is that, if she just hits the ‘rewind’ button, everyone comes back and they’re fine. Everyone is okay again. She repeats this like it’s a verbal life jacket while Darlene just looks alone and sad. What does Angela know?

Robot has gone to Irving’s car lot but it’s a trap, and the Dark Army are already there. Robot is knocked out.

Whiterose as Zhang is still at the UN party when a grim faced Price wanders over to lament. Whiterose doesn’t give a single glimmering fuck about him but, regardless, delivers some good news; China will adopt Ecoin as currency. Price ‘pshaws’ at this, what with you know, the enormous terrorist act Whiterose just casually pulled off pretty much directly against Price. Whiterose promises her actions were never to hurt Evil Corp and states the company will survive. Price notices the wording and realises he’s not sitting at the adult’s table any more. He talks through how, yes, he briefly benefited from 5/9 and understood how Whiterose used it to get what she wanted. But now, Price has nothing. He wonders, ‘why him?’. Whiterose pauses and invites Price to think back to the night of 5/9 when they listened to the woman playing a lyre. Whiterose was facing the Washington Township lawsuit, and Price promised to handle the responsible party like he usually did.

But said party, Angela, was allowed to continue with the lawsuit, jeopardising Whiterose’s plan. Price couldn’t manipulate and control her. So Whiterose  (and of course, Price doesn’t know she means ‘as Whiterose’) did. She reminds Price she placed him as CEO to protect her plant, the way his predecessor (the guy she murdered in a plane explosion) couldn’t. Now, Price will step to, including hiring his own replacement.

This is delightfully reminiscent of the Ghost Bar scene from The Shining, when the ghosts order Jack to kill his family. Esmail and his Kubrick.

Price loudly declares ‘Fuck you!’ but Whiterose is reminding him to make sure the project moves to the Congo, and will handle all the logistics. Price snaps, slams a hand on the table and demands answers. ‘What in god’s name can you hope to gain?’. BD Wong, somehow, laces Whiterose’s next quiet gentle words with a rolling thunder;  ‘The opportunity to teach a lesson’.

Price, who can be heard by the whole room, who are now pretending not to listen,  demands again, Why?! and Whiterose, who casually told her aide last week that she risked everything to speed up Stage 2, says literally just to fuck Price over harder? She doubles down ‘Because, Phillip … I had to ask twice’.

And with that, she leaves.

In the desert, Trenton is doing all the digging of Roomie’s grave and points out how it’s still just one person sized grave so maybe they’re being recruited. Leon takes a break from looking like a high fashion model just feeling this desert shoot,

like this

to point out he can hear every word. Heee!

Mobley asks what’s going on and Leon assures them he likes them, and they still have a job to do, with the unspoken being they’ll live at least … some time more. And besides,  Mobley doesn’t want to know where Leon’s knife has been ( Mobes, it’s inside Nazi ass). They keep digging.

Irving wakes Robot from his knock out and … Elliot didn’t wake back up? Where is he?? Irving shows Robot a rooftop party, a bunch of people who are disturbingly happy in spite of the worst terrorist attack in history happening that morning. Robot rages about said attack and confirms again it was not part of his plan, and wants to know whose it was. Irving calls Robot ‘kid’ because he sees Elliot, not Slater, like we do. Irving explains the revolution was bought and paid for by people like those at the party. And even from this distance its clear they’re rich and fancy types. Irving is heading inside, to clean up after the fatal overdose of the mistress of some senator they paid off. Nothing matters, Irving says. He’s not wrong.

Leon has taken the kids home to find Dark Army in their masks, gathering their computers and doing one of their … stagings. Leon is leaving them there but crosses his fingers they’ll be okay.

Leon leaves (come back soon!) and the pair are approached by … Whiterose’s personal assistant, who calmly invites them into the garage.

We cut to a roadside diner and two men watch the news where … yep, Tyrell has ‘identified’ Trenton and Mobley as the leaders of fsociety. The men, who recognise the pair, think to call it in.

In their garage Whiterose’’s assistant makes Trenton and Mobley sit at a pair of desks that are clearly set up to orchestrate a hack on air traffic control and airports. They realise the intention, both quietly weeping.

Then we cut to a SWAT team who must have arrived much later as it’s dark as they approach and enter the home.

We cut back to earlier in the day as Trenton points out the entire hack is all done, but for them hitting enter. Why are they there? The Dark Army agents lay down a gun on the desk.  The aide talks up the Dark Army tendency to die for their cause and after strongly implying the pair should do that, he just outright tells them to kill themselves, or be killed anyway. They will be giving ‘the cause’ everything.

Mobley and Trenton beg for their lives. They are coldly told their skills are useless, they are just here to tell a story. Mobley is grabbed and the gun forced into his hand. He screams, Mobley scream,s but we cut to …

… the present, the SWAT team bust in and find Mobley and Trenton hours dead, and to SWAT’s eye, apparent suicide. Santiago actually looks teary-eyed for a second. The garage is set up to lay the blame for everything at Mobley and Trenton’s feet, complete with Iranian flags, because … of course. People will lap that shit up. I hate this. Poor Trenton and Mobley.

Dom back at the HQ looks far from happy and she’s damned well right to. Her world goes quiet and it she either panics or starts to realise she’s not safe.

Muted and dull, she goes to her Room’O’Theories and crosses Trenton and Mobley off the wall of suspects and adds Whiterose’s name at the centre. Quietly, and devasted, she realises ‘You’re actually gonna get away with this’.

First of all … the time play at the opener, then at the end was an interesting choice. I detailed it more at first as I thought there might be some other point or pay off to it but I guess not. I mean, it’s so obvious the light changes and that SWAT never had a chance at ‘saving’ Mobley or Trenton. Why present it like that? Just an aesthetic choice, just another of Esmail’s ‘just there to make you think’ references to disordered timelines, or could it be a hint at what ever Angela believes in, the idea you can rewind things to save people? Was the editing of the scenes meant to make us speculate ‘What if SWAT DID get there in time? And arrested Minister Zhang’s — Whiterose’s — personal aide, in this house, doing this thing …’.

But, since SWAT was too late. Sigh. Goodbye, Mobley and Trenton. We hardly knew ye. Trenton’s mentiond email has my curiousity piqued.Red Herring that Dark Army have almost certainly already destroyed? Or will Trenton, who Mobley mentions has a genius IQ, who has repeatedly shown herself to be highly capable, adaptable and canny, have been the rare bird who outsmarted Whiterose and Dark Army?

I knew someone had been set up to take the fall but as I discussed a few times, I expected it to be Elliot and it was only when we saw exactly what day Leon caught up to Mobley and Trenton, that it hit me. And I should have guessed it sooner. Whiterose planted the Iran seed back in 3.2, in her meeting with the TV host on her payroll. I thought it was a callback to a real life hack, but Trenton, the character, is Iranian-American. And the show just quietly made me forget she was even on Whiterose’s radar, let alone being escorted around by Whiterose favourite oddball Jack of All Trades But Especially, Murder, Leon. It goes without saying that it’s an extra twist of the knife for the pair to not only be framed, but how it has been set up, what will be their presumed motives. It’s sickening and of course, twisted horrible genius for how easy and obvious a set up it is.

And, narratively, it’s very curious. Because, if Elliot was not being set up to be framed … where does he stand? Robot openly derided the plan, so, bluntly, why is RobElliot still alive? What are Dark Army’s intentions?

We wondered about ‘Why Tyrell?’ and I think the answer now is glaringly obvious; he’s a perfect victim for Americans to embrace; a young, handsome, white yuppie who came to America to follow the American Dream, and was victimised and persecuted for his efforts. And while he was off being a hostage, his wife was murdered. He’s charismatic and likable and yeah, he’s traumatised right now but this is Tyrell. Give him a hot second, and then trot him out on the talk show circuit and watch the magic happen. I’m just waiting for the moment Whiterose ensures Tyrell gets his baby back to really sell the bit.

That leaves the lingering and most important question we still … don’t entirely have an answer for … why Elliot? Why Elliot, still? It’s as clear as day now that he is no longer working towards the same goal as Whiterose, is actively fighting against her plot. So why isn’t he dead? What is left for him to do??

Next week, it appears Elliot is trying to fight back. And this might be me projecting but I feel like my long standing Flipper theory is going to pay off …. somehow. Not sure how yet ,but I swear, it’s all about that dog.

Mr. Robot returns Wednesdays at 9, on USA Network.

PS; I’m so glad to see Leon back and I love the fact his character is played the way it is. He’s either just genuinely as zen as he seems, perhaps for the same reasons Angela is a true believer. Or, since he’s so delightfully weird and this show has me theorising like crazy, here’s a random go nowhere theory just for fun; What ever else is going on, Leon is an interdimensional/intertimeline traveller, is not originally from ‘our’ timeline which is why he just pops up when and where he’s needed and why he seems to have JUST discovered sitcoms, and why he seems to have very acute insights into, of all people, Elliot Alderson.

(I say go nowhere theory, I just talked myself into believing it. This SHOW, man!)

Nadine Morgan

Nadine Morgan

Nadine Morgan is really terrible at the ‘About You’ part of life.
Nadine developed her reviewer skills writing epic facebook rants about the details script supervisors forget and trying to explain why Carol on The Walking Dead broke Lizzie by accident.

Nadine loves TV, film and books but she wishes someone would pay her to be the continuity editor.

She can be found on Facebook and in her forest garden and if she’s not yelling at her TV she’s trying to convince a cat to be an Instagram model and refusing to let 90’s fashion die.

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