Zero Day, the tenth episode and season finale, capped off an incredible freshman run for the summer hit Mr. Robot. The writers managed to pull off expected plot developments in interesting, unexpected ways, and leave the door open for a plethora of exciting possibilities for season two storylines.
Mr. Robot Season 1 Episode 10 primarily dealt with the fall out from Elliot's hack of Evil Corp and, to a lesser extent, with Angela's experience dealing with the hack fall-out from her new position within Evil Corp.
Since it's a season closer, I'm going to go character-by-character to address everyone's status by the end.
To start with the Angela thing – I still don't know that I fully buy that she would agree to go work for Evil Corp, given her very reasonable hatred of the company, of Terry Colby and of what they represent.
Angela's conversation with the bizarrely nosey shoe salesman, following her witnessing the E Corp EVP of Technology's on-air suicide, seemed to directly anticipate and address this criticism.
Shoe Salesman: You sound just like them. Have some moral fiber and leave their asses. Their practices are well-documented and it's all despicable. Listen, this isn't my business, but don't drink their Kool-Aid.
Angela: Look I just needed a job.
Shoe Salesman: What kind of an excuse is that?
Angela: You don't understand.
Shoe Salesman: You should hear yourself...
Angela: I don't know who you think you're talking to, but I'll try the Prada's next.
On the one hand, the shoe salesman had no right to attack Angela in that way, and it was odd to watch him do it. On the other hand, as a plot device, the conversation did allow us entry into Angela's thought process in regards to accepting Colby's offer.
Portia Doubleday cycles through so many different emotions during that very brief scene, and it was incredibly revealing as a result: she is, in turn, ashamed, guilty, defensive, angry, and purposefully intimidating.
In the beginning of this season, way back on Mr. Robot Season 1 Episode 1, I voiced my doubts about Angela as a character.
To be fair, at the time, it wasn't clear to me (or anyone, I think!) just how masterfully and carefully Sam Esmail would be able to control his characters and his plot. So to me, early on, it seemed as though Angela might very well have fallen into a stock "best friend and unrequited love interest of the protagonist" role.
It's clear, now, that she is so much more than that. The reveal of Elliot's mental illness(es) and disclosure of the fact that he and Angela have in turn saved one another really deepened their relationship, and clarified the strength of their bond (which seemed really murky and unclear in the earlier episodes). The way she turned the tables around on Ollie, taking control of the CD hacker situation and the manner in which she brought suit against Evil Corp were all really impressive.
She's complex; she wasn't able to defend herself to the shoe salesman because, really, there was no defense. There was no rational reason for her to take that job. I hope that season two delves more into her reasoning and larger plans for working within Evil Corp – I expect that this will somehow put her at odds with Elliot and/or Darlene, but I hope the eventual reveal has her working from the inside to further dismantle Evil Corp (which, surprise: is not as easily dismantled after all, according to CEO Phillip Price).
But I do hope that she stays on at Evil Corp for a decent chunk of time next year. As much as I loved Angela interacting with Terry Colby, there is something so much more deeply sinister about Phillip Price and I really enjoyed all of their interactions (particularly Price's creepy admission that he was happy the EVP killed himself).
Speaking of Evil Corp: Tyrell is MIA for the entirety of the finale. Elliot seems to be under the impression that he (in Mr. Robot mode) killed or harmed Tyrell in some way, after the events of Mr. Robot Season 1 Episode 9.
This was one of several doors that Esmail & Co. opened and very specifically left opened in this finale. There is no resolution to the Where Is Tyrell/Is Tyrell Alive mystery, which is definitely a cliffhanger that's pulling me along to wait anxiously on season two's premiere.
I was sad to get none of Martin Wallstrom this week, but Tyrell's absence did give us the amazing opportunity to see a new interaction at play when Elliot met Joanna Wellick.
Joanna is easily the most terrifying person on the show right now. She's calculating, cold, and willing to do literally whatever it takes (pickle-forking herself to induce labor!) to protect her family and help Tyrell advance. Her freaky blank stare as she subtly grilled Elliot on Tyrell's whereabouts was really unnerving – not just for the audience, but for Elliot, who wondered to himself whether she could actually read his mind.
She put him totally off-kilter and I liked it. I absolutely can't wait to see more of Joanna in season two, particularly if Tyrell remains absent for a bit into the sophomore run.
Gideon also made an appearance, again to just sort of be a sad sack as his CTO told him in no uncertain terms that Allsafe would need to be closed, given the recent E Corp catastrophe. I have no idea what the writers have in store for us with Gideon, but I feel confident that there is definitely some larger purpose for the character. Otherwise, why would we still be seeing him at all?
The balance of fsociety (Mobley, Romero, Trenton and Darlene) acted as the clean-up crew this week, tidying up the scene of the hack-crime methodically, carefully, ingeniously.
Seriously, there is no word other than ingenious to describe that plan to throw a party in order to obscure their own fingerprints amid the mass of new fingerprints.
Mobley: What do we all do now?
Darlene: Guys, this isn't about what we'll do tomorrow. This is about what we did. I mean, look at all these people. They're free because of us. Because of what we did in this room. We're finally awake. We're finally alive.
I was surprised by the amount of focus on fsociety in Elliot's absence. I expected to see them once or twice, but there were several scenes (all of which seemed to be headed by Darlene, who had nominated herself president of the pep club, apparently). Darlene was doing her darndest to get everyone's spirits up following the successful hack, but I'm not quite sure whether I fully believe her enthusiasm/lack of concern about the situation.
There was something very morose about the way she delivered her "finally alive" lines.
Krista also surprisingly made an appearance. This was perhaps my one real criticism for this episode: in a season of some really wonderful opening scenes, the Krista-Lenny scene was very... not-wonderful. It was by no means bad, it was just very mediocre.
I understand the idea behind re-introducing Lenny, in showing us an outside perspective on Elliot and the hacker situation, but it was not terribly interesting and I'll admit I don't fully understand why it was necessary at all. Krista herself just makes me sad at this point. I hope they continue to develop her, because right now she's the female equivalent of Gideon to this show (female sad-sack).
Finally, the man (men) of the hour: Elliot/Mr. Robot. I'll first say that there were so many things that I loved about Elliot and his story in this episode. For one, the decision to skip entirely over the actual initiation of the hack was very smart. It reminded me of the earlier episode where Elliot discussed skipping directly to the point of something, so it was character-consistent (at least in terms of his shaky mental state).
As much as it hurt, I also loved the way they demonstrated how Mr. Robot and Elliot overlapped – namely, the scene in which Mr. Robot goads a man into punching him (resulting in Elliot getting knocked out flat).
There was also an earlier small moment where Mr. Robot pointed out to Elliot how stupid he looked while Elliot was pinning Mr. Robot to a wall, and we immediately cut to the "real world" visual of Elliot with his own hand around his own throat, making choking sounds. These two moments clarified the way Mr. Robot was able to interact with various other characters in past installments.
Is any of it real? I mean, look at this. Look at it! A world built on fantasy. Synthetic emotions in the form of pills. Psychological warfare in the form of advertising. Mind-altering chemicals in the form of... food! Brainwashing seminars in the form of media. Controlled isolated bubbles in the form of social networks. Real? You want to talk about reality? We haven't lived in anything remotely close to it since the turn of the century. We turned it off, took out the batteries, snacked on a bag of GMOs while we tossed the remnants in the ever-expanding Dumpster of the human condition. We live in branded houses trademarked by corporations built on bipolar numbers jumping up and down on digital displays, hypnotizing us into the biggest slumber mankind has ever seen. You have to dig pretty deep, kiddo, before you can find anything real. We live in a kingdom of bullshit. A kingdom you've lived in for far too long. So don't tell me about not being real. I'm no less real than the fucking beef patty in your Big Mac.Mr. Robot
Mr. Robot's speech to Elliot at Times Square was absolutely mesmerizing. I've mentioned before that Christian Slater was the perfect choice for this role – his manic behavior is done so well.
He sounded totally unhinged, and the whole speech had a sort of rambling, stream of consciousness element that really underscored how mentally ill and paranoid Elliot is.
The first major cliffhanger: who was at the door when Elliot went to answer? At this point, it could have been anyone who's appeared on the show – Krista, looking to confront him over his hacking, Angela, looking for help dealing with E Corp, Darlene, checking in on him, Tyrell reappearing suddenly.
I really have no guess, myself. It could even be Gideon, wanting to confront Elliot about his suspicions, now that he has literally nothing to lose.
Finally, the huge, multi-part reveal: White Rose, renowned Asian hacker and lover of watch alarms, now presenting as male, is somehow affiliated with Phillip Price of Evil Corp. What is White Rose's allegiance? This is the really big questions resulting from this scene. And I honestly have no idea what the answer is. The Nero line seems to imply that White Rose is on the side of anarchy, but I guess it could go either way (just like White Rose's gender presentation!)
What did you all think of this week's Zero Day, and of the first season overall? Where do you think Tyrell is? Who was at Elliot's door? Whose side (if any side) is White Rose even on?
Remember that you can watch Mr. Robot online to catch up on any episodes you may have missed this season!
Caralynn Lippo is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.