Farewell, Shayla, we hardly knew you.
There is nothing quite like the feeling of believing your hero to have triumphed over great odds only to find out that it was all for absolutely nothing.
That's what happened tonight on Mr. Robot Season 1 Episode 6 – we spent the whole hour following Elliot as he hacked the unhackable, busting Vera out of prison to save Shayla's life. But Shayla was dead anyway the entire time.
Distressing, am I right?
I can't say that I was surprised that Shayla didn't survive the night. It was the manner and reveal of her death that was shocking. It's horrifying to think that Elliot was being driven around the city all day, looking for ways to save her, while Shayla lay dead in the trunk of the car.
Fernando Vera is unhinged. That much has been clear from his first appearance. But he's also a sadist, clearly. It seems that Shayla was dead from the moment Isaac grabbed her by the neck and pulled her away from Elliot and out of that diner, as Elliot bargained with Vera on the phone in the basement.
Vera: Elliot. "Brave and true." Did you know the origin of "brave" evolved from "savage"?
Elliot: I don't know what you think this is about, but you need to let her go.
Vera: You know, funny thing. My name means something similar. "Brave traveler." "Adventurer." "Savage traveler" becomes "brave traveler." Are we savages, or are we brave? Don't know, bro.
The appearance of Mr. Robot and his ensuing conversation with Elliot was my favorite yet. It was also the most convincing piece of evidence yet that Elliot and Mr. Robot are one and the same.
If Mr. Robot was not a hallucination/manifestation of Elliot's mind, but a real, visible person, how did he get into the building, undetected by Vera's hawk-eyed goons as they babysat Elliot and Darlene?
When Elliot asked Mr. Robot how he knew what was going on, Mr. Robot said that Darlene told him. But how could Darlene have possibly had enough time to fill Mr. Robot in on the whole situation with Vera?
Do we even know that Darlene is fully aware of what's going on throughout the episode? Or of who Vera is? Sure, once she's a fellow hostage I'm sure she gets a clearer picture of what craziness is afoot, but it's uncertain whether she was aware prior to being intercepted by Vera's goon DJ.
And I don't understand how she could have communicated with Mr. Robot once she was in the apartment with Elliot and Vera's goons.
I'm no longer irritated by the idea that Elliot and Mr. Robot are one and the same. It's actually very interesting to consider Mr. Robot's speech to Elliot, attempting to convince him to abandon Shayla to certain death and worry about his own survival, in the context in which Mr. Robot is simply a manifestation of a part of Elliot's own mind.
Elliot is a good person. We've seen that, time and again. Mr. Robot, if he's indeed part of Elliot, is the cruel, selfish, vaguely sociopathic part of him. Elliot is fighting the Mr. Robot part of him now, still attempting to do the right thing (coming up with a plan for Steel Mountain that didn't cost hundreds of innocent lives, risking his life to rescue Shayla) – but for how long will he keep this up?
This is a zero-sum game. Calculate all the outcomes. If you don't pull off this ridiculous miracle (and odds are, you won't) you die, and so does Shayla. That much we know. But assume for a second that you do pull this off, bust Vera out of prison. Who's to say he doesn't kill you, Shayla, Darlene? It would be in his own best interest to do that. Either way, you all end up dead. It's the only way Vera wins. Zero-sum, Elliot. You're playing a game you already lost. You know I'm right.Mr. Robot
Shayla died; Mr. Robot was right, in the end. It was a zero-sum game (a game in which the wins of one participant are exactly balanced by the magnitude of the other's losses) that Elliot couldn't possibly win. Shayla's survival (as a possible win for Elliot) was taken out of the equation before the game even began.
And now, because of Elliot that pseudo-philosophical whackjob, the mesmerizingly mad Fernando Vera, has vanished. He's in the wind, above the law, and we're probably not going to see him again (not for a while, at least).
I liked the twist that Isaac, Vera's brother, wanted Vera dead because he feared for his own life. Elliot's cover story, convincing Isaac not to shoot him, was clever, though I think Isaac was convinced a little too quickly. Elliot defused that situation pretty easily, and it took a lot of the dramatic tension out of that scene.
As soon as Fernando gave the order to kill Isaac, I knew Shayla was gone. We already knew what kind of person Vera was, but seeing him order the death of his own brother so nonchalantly kind of cemented it for me.
Rami Malek's performance as Elliot discovered that Shayla was dead in the trunk of the car, and then actually seeing her violently murdered corpse (trying not to cry, registering shock, disbelief, reaching for her face and pulling away) – it was all incredible. It was understated and heartbreaking.
Elliot's guilt and horror were palpable. In the opening scene of the episode, Shayla, shell-shocked at her own kidnapping, frantically reminded Elliot that he had promised her he wouldn't do anything to Vera. As we know, he did it anyway. That will haunt him for a long while, I'm sure.
Scott Knowles calling Tyrell out on his whole act was amazing. Tyrell clearly thinks himself a master plotter, so to see him off-kilter, confronted by Scott, was a great reversal.
It's also inherently much more interesting for Tyrell to have a worthy opponent to go up against in his fight to the top of E Corp, rather than us just watching him smoothly seduce his way to the top, one gay assistant and one executive's wife at a time.
Tyrell. I want you to accept a hard truth. Right here, right now, in front of me. You are not going to be CTO. I want to see that look wash over your face. It's the only way I know you'll stop playing these silly, silly games.Scott Knowles
Tyrell's wife is a really interesting character. It's slowly become clearer and clearer that she knew of her husband's... interesting machinations in climbing to the top of the evil corporate ladder. Now, we know for certain that not only is she fully aware of his behavior – she's actively encouraging him and helping him strategize!
Angela is on the warpath. She tried to go to Elliot for help, but unfortunately he was way too distracted to help her out or even really hear her out. He ended up blindly agreeing with her plan to take down Evil Corp – hopefully that doesn't backfire on him and lead to more trouble in Elliot's already chaotic life.
How hilarious would it be if Angela winds up being the one to successfully take down Evil Corp, rather than Elliot and the fsociety hacker army? I don't see that actually happening (it's much more likely that Angela will wind up accidentally in way over her head), but the idea is pretty amusing.
My prediction is that Angela will attempt to infiltrate Evil Corp from the inside. Nayar, the lawyer, specifically told her that her best bet is to find a reliable eye witness to the toxic waste leak cover-up – someone on the inside of E Corp willing to flip and turn evidence.
When Angela went to confront Terry Colby, he didn't recognize her at all, so it seems like a viable possibility that she would be able to get in under the radar and mess things up from inside the company. This would also be a great scenario because we'd get to see Angela interacting with, and pitted against, Tyrell, which would be a really interesting combination.
What did you all think of this heartbreaking episode? Did you see Shayla's death coming? How do you think Elliot will deal with this in Mr. Robot Season 1 Episode 7, and how will the events of "Brave Traveler" change him and his goals in the long run? Remember that you can watch Mr. Robot online right here, every week, to catch up on what you've missed!
Caralynn Lippo is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.