“We live in a kingdom of bullshit!”
Mr. Robot’s big monologue near the end of the episode is essentially this show in a nutshell. Throughout these ten episodes, Sam Esmail and co. explore the idea of reality in both an individual and societal context, using unique visual cues to convey Elliot’s mindset as he navigates the world around him. It’s certainly an interesting ride, one filled with burning questions about who’s “real” and who isn’t, about who might just be a part of our main character’s mind. In the end, though, the finale monologue hits the nail on the head when it comes to reality in this show. “Is any of it real?” Mr. Robot asks. “I mean, look at this. Look at it! A world built on fantasy.”
This show plays like an infectious disease and a fantasy at the same time, slowly burrowing into our minds as we attempt to figure out what’s going on. Part of Mr. Robot’s bit in Times Square includes telling Elliot that they were all part of him this whole time, that they’re all in this together now. It’s extremely important that Elliot starts to understand his role in kicking all of this off; the audience suspected it from the beginning, but the show finds its strongest impact in the reveal to the character, not in the reveal to us. Elliot’s seeing the ramifications of fsociety’s actions all around him, and it’s like his influence has found its way into the collective mind of society. Darlene and Mr. Robot may use similar language–the former’s “this isn’t about what we’ll do tomorrow, but about what we did” and the latter’s “the world is a better place because of what we did”–but the truth of the matter is that the future is hanging in the balance now. Did Elliot really save the world? Are the people really free?
Based on the post-credits scene, it seems like things at the top are still the same, and that’s the ugly truth about change in this country: the richest will still have the control. Even Angela’s being drawn in and manipulated by Phillip Price, and whatever’s going on with Price and White Rose is sure to influence the events of season two. The episode deals with the ripple effect of sweeping change, but it also examines the seeming futility of certain efforts, the stagnancy that can result when certain people remain in power. And as Price tells Angela, “people did this…whoever’s behind this, they’re just people like you and me.” Mr. Robot is very much focused on the complexity of the human mind in this regard, and its fascination with and criticism of people is what helps it maintain its high quality. People have the power to change the world, but they also have the capability to bring it crashing down.
SEASON GRADE: B+
– “I was only supposed to be your prophet. You were supposed to be my God.” Any thoughts on the meaning behind this line?
-The Joanna-Elliot scene is absolutely fantastic. Every second that Joanna is on the screen, I am incredibly terrified by and attracted to her. I’m looking forward to what the show has in store for her next year.
-Yeah, I understand why they postponed this episode. It’s certainly a powerful scene, and the lingering shot of the camera is probably the most powerful moment. Still, though, I keep wondering why this country allows networks to show graphic shooting scenes…while “fuck” is apparently so bad it has to be censored.
-Some fantastic music in this one, particularly Alabama Shakes’s “Sound & Color” being used to close out the episode. Also, brilliant title card, as always.
-Finally, one more shout out to this brilliant cast. Rami Malek delivered one of the best performances of the year for sure.
-That’s it for season one! I had no idea going in that I was going to enjoy this show as much as I did, but this will without a doubt make it onto my year end television list. If USA is willing to show this type of show on its network, then that will open up a whole new world of possibilities moving forward. See you all next year.
Photo credit: USA Network, Mr. Robot