‘Mr. Robot’ Season 3, Episode 9: Introducing Stage 3

Elliot was in hero mode throughout, imbued with the determination that emerged at the end of last week’s dark night of the soul. “The only thing we can do now is rebuild,” he told Darlene in the arcade. While such optimism was an abrupt switch from last week’s suicidal depression and bagful o’ pills, it was also a logical response from a man who’s spent this season in search of purpose, and afraid that his lack of it has been fueling Mr. Robot’s misadventures.

As for Mr. Robot himself, well he was still cropping up at inconvenient times and wallowing in the usual cyberanarchist rhetoric. But we also saw signs of a more productive partnership between Elliot’s two halves, as Mr. Robot kicked everything into motion by sharing the Dark Army’s link to the F.B.I. on Elliot’s new mirror.

He arrived at said info thanks to a charged reunion that found Wellick donning his therapeutic beatdown gloves, yet another callback in an episode full of them, to take out some rage on Elliot’s jaw before Price intervened. “Am I interrupting something?” Price asked — no one gives a line-reading like Michael Cristofer — before letting Wellick know that even though he’d finally achieved his dream job of E Corp CTO, he’s still a nobody.

Price’s recognition of Elliot — the fact that Christian Slater and Rami Malek have become totally interchangeable is really something, when you think about it — confirmed that he’s been in on the 5/9 hack, at least, from the beginning, as did the episode opening flashback that found him hiring AllSafe over objections from Wellick and the ever-classy Terry Colby.

So, too, did his advice to Mr. Robot, as he reemphasized a primary theme of the season: That revolutions against capitalism are probably destined to be co-opted by capitalists. “World catastrophes like this, they aren’t caused by lone wolves like you,” he told him. “They occur because men like me allow them.”

That said, there are cracks in the facades of the puppetmasters as they become victims of their own overreach. We know from last week’s tête-à-tête with Whiterose that Price’s position is more precarious than he lets on. Whiterose, in turn, spent this week losing it to an extent we haven’t yet seen, unable to take advantage of her Congo takeover thanks to security measures triggered by her own actions. In our world corporate overlords are too big to fail, but for all its plutocratic fear mongering, “Mr. Robot”…

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