The divide between Elliot and Mr. Robot was deeper than ever, as various characters are now working with each of the dueling personalities for dominance and control.
Overall, this was an extremely strong season opener and set up the upcoming season brilliantly.
On a purely visual basis, "Power Saver Mode" was stunning. After waking up post-shooting and six days spent unconscious, Elliot was informed that the entire city had been without power for that week.
The powerless New York of the premiere was dark, creepy, and almost post-apocalyptic. This set-up provided great lighting opportunities, and numerous scenes were incredibly striking for that reason. I'm thinking, in particular, of the Angela/Mr. Robot candle-lit scene near the premiere's end.
The chaos induced by the lack of power also provided the perfect backdrop for Elliot's increasing sense of urgency to halt "Stage 2" and undo all of the damage he'd caused.
The premiere was largely an engine propelling the plot forward but did allow for one extended moment of pure Mr. Robot self-indulgence. Namely, Elliot's epic, Trump-referencing monologue.
What if instead of fighting back, we cave? Give away our privacy for security. Exchange dignity for safety. Trade in revolution for repression. What if we choose weakness over strength? They'll even have us build our own prison. This is what they wanted all along, for us to buy in on our worst selves. And I just made it easier for them. I didn't start a revolution. I just made us docile enough for their slaughtering.Elliot
Of course, it's still 2015 in Mr. Robot Season 3. The reality of a Trump presidency isn't a thing yet (and never will be, according to Sam Esmail's assurances that the show will never catch up to our current time).
That said, it's easy to draw the line from Elliot's frantic inner monologue turned outward soliloquy to the outcome of the 2016 election.
Rather than set people free from the confines of capitalism, redistributing wealth between the rich and the poor, Elliot screwed everybody. He made it possible for corporations like Evil Corp to take advantage of the lost and rudderless society that Elliot had inadvertently fucked over, in his efforts to punish the conglomerate for killing his dad and Angela's mom.
It's been a great and clear progression over the past two seasons, as we've seen Elliot realize more and more that his 5/9 Hack (which was technically initiated by Mr. Robot, not Elliot, if you recall) was a bad idea. Now, he's determined to fix what he broke.
First, he took care of halting Dark Army's "Stage 2" – or so he thought – with help from Darlene.
Hardly even pausing to consider that he'd almost died (courtesy of Tyrell's badly-aimed shot), Elliot rushed home only to find Darlene waiting for him there.
Speaking of Darlene: can we all agree it's pretty damn clear she's an FBI informant now?
Elliot's sister has always been twitchy and nervous, but the pained, frantic look on her face was plastered throughout her entire appearance in the premiere.
We didn't see anything more of Darlene's reaction to Agent Dom revealing the FBI's huge and comprehensive web of 5/9 Hack players (beyond Darlene's "Oh shit" moment). But it's not exactly hard to believe that Dom's bid to "turn" Darlene worked.
What else could Darlene have possibly done when confronted with the decisive evidence the FBI had against every single one of them?
Darlene's phone call, begging for help as Dark Army stalked her and Elliot through the Hacker Hack-off (or whatever it was) that they'd attended in order to close the backdoor to Evil Corp, was almost definitely to Dom at the FBI.
It certainly wasn't to Irving, because Darlene looked just as confused and floored to meet him as Elliot did.
When we lose our principles, we invite chaos.Irving
Bobby Cannavale's Irving is a great addition to the cast. Right off the bat, I'm much more interested in him as a character than I ever was about Mr. Robot Season 2's major new addition Agent Dom, who I was vocally shaky about all throughout the second season.
Irving is quirky, sinister, and mysterious all at once. That trick he pulled to slow down the FBI car trailing them was a great moment.
It appeared that Irving was working directly with Whiterose to further the Dark Army's agenda. At this juncture, that put the majority of main characters on Team Dark Army: Mr. Robot, Tyrell, Angela, and Irving are all working together to counteract Elliot's attempts to sabotage the organization's plan.
Easily the biggest "twist" of the premiere was the reveal that Angela is working both sides now. The premiere had an overall fantastic performance by Portia Doubleday, who was easily the MVP of the hour.
Elliot: I need you to keep an eye on me. I need you to tell me if I'm ever him. If anyone can tell, it's you.
Angela: Why do you think I can tell?
Elliot: You know me better than anyone. Right now, you're the only person I can trust.
In a sweet but ultimately heartbreaking scene, Elliot begged his oldest friend to look out for him and to get him a job at Evil Corp. His aim was to undo the damage he'd done to society and for Angela to make sure he doesn't turn into Mr. Robot again.
He also kissed her again, though she quickly shut him down. Elliot read that as Angela's self-preservation mechanism (refusing to love those who love her, so she doesn't get hurt). In reality, it was likely Angela's guilt that she was actively betraying Elliot that led her to pull away from the kiss.
Because, in fact, Elliot was right – Angela can tell the difference between him and his deranged alter ego. Except Angela is working with Mr. Robot now.
Between Angela's vague suggestion to Elliot that the past could be changed to make it so their parents never died and her closing scene speech to Mr. Robot that "a new world" could be created after Evil Corp's destruction, it seems like Mr. Robot is about to dive headfirst into some Donnie Darko territory.
Evil Corp killed my mom. And my whole life, I've always wanted justice for her death. But how do you bring justice to a conglomerate as untouchable as Evil Corp? I thought I would never win. Even after I found out about your crazy plan, I still didn't believe it was possible. Not until I met Whiterose. It wasn't until she opened my eyes that I could see how all of the damage that they've caused could finally be... undone. When we succeed, a whole new world will be born.Angela
The show has, as of yet, always been firmly rooted in reality, no matter how delirious the visuals or wacky Elliot's hallucinations. But are we about to go full sci-fi, with alternate realities, time travel, or parallel universes?
I don't know if I buy it, but Angela sure does. And, of course, she didn't come up with this idea all by herself – she got it from Whiterose, during their cryptic and enigmatic first meeting back in Mr. Robot Season 2.
Either way, I'm interested to see how that aspect of the storyline will play out – whether Angela/Whiterose will succeed in manipulating time, or whether it will be revealed that the two were just fooling themselves to think that could ever work.
- Whiterose revealed that Elliot's dad used to work for the Dark Army on this project – unbeknownst to Elliot's dad, of course. She also plans on allowing Elliot to die for their cause, much as Edward did, once he completes his work for them.
- Laughed out loud at Elliot leaving Angela's in her "Property of Josh Groban" shirt. What a great gag.
- Was the apartment with the Notice of Eviction sign supposed to Shayla's? How long has it been since she "vanished"? Does anyone besides Elliot know she's dead?
- Tyrell looked like he was about a half a second away from pooping his pants when he saw Elliot in Mr. Robot mode walk into the bunker. For a half a second, I thought Mr. Robot would actually kill Tyrell.
- Trenton and Mobley were nowhere to be seen. Fingers crossed we don't find out next week that they were killed by Dark Army agent Leon (as vaguely suggested by the last we saw of them back in Season 2).
- Similarly, Joanna Wellick is a no-show. She was likely busy continuing to plot against Scott Knowles.
What did you think of the season premiere?
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Caralynn Lippo is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.