Three seasons in, I've yet to encounter an episode of Mr. Robot that can truly be considered "bad," but Mr. Robot Season 3 Episode 9 was about as underwhelming as the show can get.
Largely predictable and a bit of a drag, I wasn't too fond of "Stage 3." I suppose I spoke slightly too soon when I called Mr. Robot Season 3 Episode 8 my least favorite of the season!
It's admittedly weird that I'm calling an hour which leaves three of our main characters in jeopardy "underwhelming," but there it is.
Perhaps the most interesting aspect is the way that Elliot and Mr. Robot behave as two totally separate characters.
By splitting the narrative into the time Mr. Robot was in control and the time after, when Elliot is in control, the show allows them to have two completely separate missions. Mr. Robot's mission involved convincing Tyrell that the both of them, and everyone else, had simply been pawns in the Dark Army's larger and more nefarious game.
Of course, Tyrell is egomaniacal and selfish, so that took some doing. At first, he had convinced himself (and was trying to convince Mr. Robot) that the Dark Army was going to leave him alone and grant him his freedom, a "reward" for having followed all their orders.
It made sense for Tyrell to stubbornly stick to that mentality, because otherwise, how could he possibly bear it all?
He returned home to an empty house, reminders of his dead wife and absent baby boy everywhere. And he essentially allowed that all to happen because he was too preoccupied following the Dark Army's plan.
Mr. Robot correctly called that out as bullshit, but it wasn't until Price showed up that Tyrell truly got it.
World catastrophes like this, they aren’t caused by lone wolves like you. They occur because men like me allow them. You just happened to stumble into one.Philip Price
"Stage 3" gave us the gratifying, but also sort of underwhelming, moment where Mr. Robot and Tyrell find out that E Corp's leader was in on the Dark Army's plan all along.
While it was a relief that this is finally known, three seasons in, it was also kind of "okay, whatever," because the audience has known about this for a really long time now.
That said, the scene where they spoke with Price was easily one of my favorites of the hour. Always love to see Price deliver a withering takedown, and he essentially verbally bitch-slapped Tyrell, leaving him with no false ideas about the new CTO title being anything but a title.
Obedience will be your only task at my company.Philip Price
I do also love the dramatic irony of Tyrell having gotten everything he ever wanted, but in name only and with literally nothing else left in his life. It's a great, tragic outcome.
Price's visit also set the stage for what I'm guessing will be Mr. Robot and Tyrell working together to take down the Dark Army.
Tyrell has obviously accepted the truth about his pawn role in the Dark Army's game, given that he spills the beans about a Dark Army mole in the FBI (without naming Santiago directly, though).
The day after Mr. Robot met with Tyrell, Elliot discovered his alter ego's scrawled message on the mirror, informing him that the Dark Army is controlling the FBI. From there, he and Darlene work to take down the Dark Army the only way they know how: reversing the Five-Nine Hack and returning all of E Corp's erased financial files.
They can do this because Romero's key logs were taken by the FBI, so they still exist inside something called "Sentinel" (again, pardon my shaky understanding of the more technical aspects).
The siblings split up to enact their plan, and I didn't particularly care for either strand.
Darlene's mission was to find them a way to hack into Sentinel, which required an FBI badge. Predictably, she decided to seduce Dom to pull this off.
Don't overthink this.Darlene
While the two have great chemistry, I sort of hated everything about this plot "twist."
For one, I saw it coming ever since the two discussed Dom's personal life and Dom officially confirmed she was a lesbian earlier this season.
For another, I've lost so much respect for Dom since she fell for such an obvious ploy. And allowed Darlene to see the code to her safe! Girl, what?
Obviously, the hook-up and Dom catching Darlene in the act trying to steal her badge all needed to happen to set the stage for the finale. I get that.
Dom now knows that there's a way to undo the hack. She also sees that Santiago is being sketchy as hell and purposely avoiding allowing Darlene to try undoing the hack. Maybe this will finally be the push she needs to be suspicious of Santiago and find out his allegiances lie elsewhere.
Perhaps most importantly, Darlene is a sitting duck in the FBI interrogation room. The Dark Army knows she is there, and they know she claims to have a way to undo Five-Nine.
Preemptive RIP, Darlene!
But the hook-up felt like an easy and inelegant way to accomplish these things that, again, felt predictable and rather out-of-character for Dom.
Back over with Elliot, he also worked on a predictable aspect of the plan: hacking the Dark Army, which he successfully did by feigning a "Stage 3" of the plan to take down E Corp by destroying E Coin.
Whiterose's assistant Grant correctly sussed out that Elliot had turned on them and was outliving his usefulness. Right before hooking up with Whiterose (scandalous, but also kinda hot), Grant suggested they kill Elliot as they'd killed his father before him.
But at the end of the day, Elliot's hack still worked.
Now I own the Dark Army.Elliot
It led me to wonder why Grant fell for such an obvious trick. Clearly, he has underestimated Elliot and that will (probably/hopefully) what saves Elliot's and Darlene's skins in the end.
Hopefully, this underwhelming hour was simply setting the stage for an explosive, game-changing finale.
- Tyrell's extremely not-subtle Trump reference ("No puppet, no puppet, you're the puppet!") was so painfully awkward and shoehorned-in. I physically cringed.
- Overall, I haven't particularly enjoyed any of the show's attempts at writing Trump into their circa 2015 narrative. It all just feels so forced and edgy for the sake of being edgy.
- I understand, in theory, why the opening flashback was included. But of the many flashbacks we've seen so far, this was probably the weakest.
- Poor Angela's paranoia is now in full swing. She's gone full crazy cart lady. But who were the men in the van who came to collect her? I'm assuming they were Whiterose's men. Angela, like Darlene and Elliot, is also probably in danger of being offed.
- Speaking of Angela: I don't understand why the show is continuing to have her be so cryptic about her who reversing-time and undoing the past thing. It's starting to get annoying. Like, we all know what she's talking about – why can't she just come out and say it already? What's the big secret?
- Is there a particular reason that Tyrell can't retrieve his baby from Denmark that I missed?
What did you think of "Stage 3"?
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Caralynn Lippo is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.