“It’s time to finally take back control. Real control.”
Just like that, reality hits. This entire season has revolved around the question of what’s real, around the blurred lines between the mind and the surrounding world. While it has definitely run into some roadblocks of its own making as a result, this series always has the ability to deliver striking images even in its weakest plots. It all comes to a head in this finale, a simultaneously frustrating and fascinating hour of television that ends with a brutal wake-up call. It’s cruel that Elliot’s perceived moment of true control ends the way it does, but it fits with the nihilistic foundation that the show is built upon. Try to live in an illusion all you want, and reality will still shatter the glass you’re holding up around you. Try to take control, and you’ll be sucked up into an illusion. It’s a vicious cycle.
We do get some answers in this finale–Scott Knowles was sending Joanna the packages, Stage 2 involves a bomb blowing up E Corp’s paper banking records, Cisco is dead, etc.–but the mileage you get out of it all probably depends on your ability to tolerate dissatisfaction. The episode still feels quite anticlimactic, especially coming at the end of a season of treading water. However, I feel more confident knowing that the series has an end date, and it’s still intriguing to watch everything fall into place in the finale.
For instance, I love watching these characters grapple with their place in the world, whether it be Phillip Price expressing his god complex in a lengthy monologue or Darlene bitterly telling Dom that neither of them is special. It’s an interesting thought: they’re less part of something huge and more just cogs in the machine, trying to fight for position and find some purpose in a world that sucks the life out of everything. As Elliot lies on the ground, Mr. Robot flickering and Tyrell kneeling next to him, everything has been thrown askew. We know that he’s alive, but does he ever have a hope of living a normal life?
SEASON GRADE: B/B+
-How meta: “You’re not on a tv show. This isn’t Burn Notice. Characters like you aren’t welcome here.” USA, I love you for letting that line go through, but I’m also over here rolling my eyes.
-Fitting that Tyrell recites “The Red Wheelbarrow” in the opening sequence. That, after all, was the name on the front of Elliot’s journal.
-USA’s censoring decisions still baffle me.
-Angela’s involved now?
-Interesting post-credits scene. Also interesting how the episode ends well before the hour.
-I don’t really know how necessary Joanna’s storyline is, but I will continue to welcome Stephanie Corneliussen doing her thing. She’s awesome, and her scenes in this episode are heartbreaking and terrifying all at once.
-Cool music choices with a cover of Aimee Mann’s “The Moth” and the Kenny Rogers-Sheena Easton “We’ve Got Tonight” duet.
-Thanks for reading! I’ve enjoyed having this as my summer show, and I plan on covering it till it ends (several years from now). Next up, a review of at least the pilot of Westworld, as well as complete coverage of both the final season of Rectify and the new season of Black Mirror.
Photo credit: USA Network, Mr. Robot