Can I just start off by saying: what?!?!
We (savvy television watchers that we are) all knew that there was some sort of twist coming down the pipeline on Mr. Robot. Many predicted a Fight Club-esque twist revealing that Mr. Robot and Elliot were two parts of the same man.
But I challenge anyone to truthfully tell me that they predicted both parts of that double-whammy of a reveal in the final few minutes of Mr. Robot Season 1 Episode 8.
If you did, you should probably go play the lotto, like, yesterday.
I'm certain that there will be detractors coming at this twist every which way, but I for one wholeheartedly enjoyed the dual revelations that Darlene is Elliot's sister and Mr. Robot is (or looks identical to?) Elliot's supposedly deceased father. Madness!
It is rare that a television show pulls off a twist this well. The majority of the time, the shocker will either seem like a stretch, coming out of left field and only kinda-sorta fitting into the existing plot, or will have somehow been predictable, having left too many prefatory breadcrumbs scattered in its wake. This was neither.
Darlene: Oh my god, Elliot... did you forget again? Did you forget who I am?
Elliot: What do you mean? Forget what?
Darlene: Elliot, I need you to tell me who you think I am.
Elliot: What are you talking about?
Darlene: Tell me right now.
Elliot: What are you saying?
Elliot: Of course I didn't forget. You're Darlene... You're Darlene.
Elliot: You're Darlene. [internally] (I know. I know what she's going to say.)
Darlene: I'm your--
Elliot: Sister. You're my sister.
The reveal that Darlene was actually Elliot's sister snapped everything into place for me and had me dying to go back and re-watch the first seven episodes of the series as soon as humanly possible, with an eye out for any potential clues.
I jumped around in the second episode of the season, for one, just because I remembered several exceedingly odd Darlene moments, and as it turns out, they all fit, knowing what we know.
Darlene's bizarre, overly comfortable behavior around Elliot makes perfect sense now.
They are siblings – of course she would let herself into his apartment when he's not there and take his clothes, of course she would brazenly address Shayla, who she seemed to not even know at the time, and of course she would over share about her love life with him.
What once seemed like quirky, slightly obnoxious, hacker-girl behavior now seems perfectly reasonable.
I particularly loved the huge clue that was dropped on us in the beginning of the episode, when Darlene met up with Angela at ballet class and they chatted like old friends.
The fact that this scene and the reveal scenes book-ended the hour proved a fantastic parallel; by the time the sister-reveal happened, I had all but pushed aside the weirdness of that opening ballet scene from my mind.
If there was ever any doubt, let it be banished once and for all: Sam Esmail knows exactly what he's doing, and he's doing it so well.
The performances by Carly Chaikin and Rami Malek in that reveal scene were superb. Malek is always fantastic in the role and I can think of any number of stand-out amazing scenes off hand, but this was really the first serious showcase moment for Chaikin.
The reveal could easily have come across as soapy and melodramatic but she played the distress, horror, disgust, and worry of Darlene to perfection.
The second part of the reveal, that Mr. Robot appears in pictures with young Elliot, is the more baffling one of the two and doesn't fit as cleanly into the bigger picture.
To start, this reveal only leaves more questions. Is Elliot hallucinating his father as Mr. Robot? That would certainly add an extra layer of crazy to having forgotten who his own father was.
Though would it be more or less crazy for Elliot to be hallucinating his father while not realizing it's his father OR for Elliot to be going around town telling people that his not-dead father died of cancer and have no one correct him for inexplicable reasons?
Assuming Mr. Robot/Elliot's dad is a figment of Elliot's imagination, and that his father had actually died as stated, this begs several fundamental, important questions.
For starters, how have certain individuals been interacting with Mr. Robot? Is this dad twist just layered on top of the suspected Fight Club twist, with Elliot's alternate persona simply taking the face of his father?
We can't forget about the bonus surprise thrown into this jam-packed hour, again in the last third. As it turns out, Tyrell knows Mr. Robot and stated that he thought they were allies.
Tyrell threatened Mr. Robot with the notion that people close to him would not be happy to discover the "dirty little secret" that Tyrell knows about Mr. Robot. So I guess there are more reveals yet to come, then, and they'll probably hit us out of left field when we're just finally coming to terms with and digesting the most recent twists.
The Wellicks' parts of Whiterose, while by no means bad, were the weaker parts of this week.
It became clear that killing Sharon Knowles was not a part of the Wellicks' plan. Joanna pulled it off, not revealing anything in front of the detectives, but it was incredibly obvious that she had no idea Tyrell had killed Sharon. This just confirms that Tyrell is going way off the deep end (as if there was any doubt). That, and his rambling, crazy-eyed speech.
Tyrell: We've been blinded by a myopic focus on the wrong players. A couple of months ago, I saw a tech, someone you would never suspect, take advantage of an opportunity others created as a short cut.
Joanna: A short cut to what?
Tyrell: That's the thing; I thought at first it was merely a small act of revenge. But no, it was a short cut to something bigger. Something grander. Something beautiful. We've been focused on what's in front of us. But we haven't been looking at what's above us.
Joanna: And what's above us?
Tyrell's speech to his wife about how they were looking in all the wrong places and should look to God was incredibly confusing. Nothing was made clear in that very mysterious conversation, either to us (the audience) or to Joanna. The whole thing just screamed of a nervous breakdown. Tyrell is losing what mind he has left.
His wife, though – Joanna is just straight up crazy. She stabbed herself with a fork to simulate child birth! She is seriously dedicated to this Tyrell-the-CTO plot and apparently is willing to endanger their own unborn child to protect Tyrell. She also didn't even waver for a moment when the cops arrived; there was never any chance that she would rat Tyrell out or turn on him.
Their relationship continues to be fascinating and befuddling. As I've mentioned in the past, I really enjoy the character of Joanna. The show took what could easily have been a one-dimensional cuckolded wife figure and turned her into something so much more complicated and interesting.
Every hacker has her fixation. You hack people; I hack time. So you should know that when I set a timeline there is a reason. You have 50 hours and 23 minutes, at that point, when all parties are ready, we will initiate the hack.Whiterose
BD Wong guesting as Whiterose was such a pleasant, bizarre surprise and I enjoyed his performance. His airy, emotive voice, and unimpressed manner of speaking were perfect in that role.
I don't really think that there was any sort of underlying importance to the fact that the role was a woman being played by a man; it wasn't addressed by Elliot whether the character was transgendered.
Supposedly we are never seeing Whiterose again (though I dislike that!) so this is something of a moot point if that holds true, but I'd be lying if I said I wasn't curious as to the whys.
- I love the meta techniques that this show employs. The first example was Elliot commenting on how it would be easier to skip over the details and just arrive t the conclusion, asking the audience if that's what they do, shortly after he has literally skipped over the scene setting up the Allsafe distraction with a purposefully jagged scene cut.
- The second great example took place in the last moments, when a distressed Elliot turned to look directly into the camera, asking if the audience was in on it and knew that Darlene was his sister all along before manually taking the camera in his hands and shoving it to the floor.
- My heart breaks for Gideon. He is just getting screwed over left and right. The sad icing on the sad cake was hearing Elliot recount how, when he hacked Gideon, it just confirmed that his boss is a good, honest man. It would somehow be more palatable if Gideon had his own demons. As it stands, he's just a good guy getting bulldozed over due to no fault of his own.
- This is a minor point, but I really like how the character of Joanna almost exclusively speaks to Tyrell in Swedish and yet has no discernible trace of an accent when speaking with others. It seems to contribute to her overall put-on persona as the doting, average, American wife of the CEO.
- Martin Wallstrom's emotive crazy eyes/facial expressions rival Nicolas Cages' which is... really saying something. Bravo! I am honestly unsettled every time Tyrell goes all bulgy-eyed on screen.
What did you all think of the twists this episode? Did you see any part of them coming? Is Mr. Robot a real, separate person from Elliot, or a visual hallucination/projection of some kind? Will any of this be clarified when Elliot and Mr. Robot have that long overdue talk in Mr. Robot Season 1 Episode 9? Sound off in the comments below and remember that you can watch Mr. Robot online right here on TV Fanatic.
Caralynn Lippo is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.