Mr Robot Season 3, Episode 1 “power-saver-mode.h” review
Domo arigato, Mr Roboto.
Allow us a few seconds to hack your brain and upload a (spoiler-filled) recap of Mr Robot's last two seasons. We know your time and bandwidth are limited, so we'll try to compress this file as much as possible. Transferring: now...
In Season 1 we were introduced to Elliot Alderson (Rami Malek), an introverted cyber-security engineer by day, but in his own time he's a hacker with a hatred of Evil Corp (actual business name: E Corp). After pooling his skills with a local netizen collective known as fsociety, a “Dark Army” Chinese hacker group, and a mysterious older hacker named Mr Robot (Christian Slater), Elliot plans to pull down the pants of a multinational conglomerate. What should be a straightforward spanking becomes very complicated very fast. First of all, Angela Moss (Portia Doubleday), Elliot's longtime friend (and secret crush) is increasingly disillusioned with her career at E Corp but is still very much tied to it.
Secondly, Elliot's fate soon becomes intertwined with Tyrell Wellick (Martin Wallström), a sociopathic exec who's trying to turn this hacker crisis into personal opportunity. Thirdly, and most important of all, it's clear that we have an unreliable narrator here – Elliott's grasp on reality is spotty at best. Case in point: when Season 2 booted up, Elliot had reason to suspect his trusted and constant confidant, Mr Robot, was an imaginary friend. Worse, the lulz-worthy Five/Nine hack of Season 1 became an international disaster that devastated E Corp and the global economy at large. Elliot does some prison time in this season (relax though, it was for dog-theft, not hacking the planet) and he meets some interesting characters in the slammer. An enemy is made in a darknet-running warden named Ray, however, an ally is found in the form of Leon (Joey Bada$$), an incarcerated associate of Dark Army boss Whiterose (B.D. Wong). It's also worth mentioning that Whiterose is a two-faced Chinese bureaucrat who seems to be in cahoots with E Corp. He – sometimes she (Whiterose is transgendered) – has a curious interest in a Washington nuclear plant. Said site is an unsafe, somewhat irradiated concern that gave Elliot's father cancer when he was in the employ of E Corp some decades ago.
Speaking of toxic-relationships turned lethal: though he was absent for most of this season, a disgraced and APB-dodging Tyrell reappears to lead Elliott to a Dark Army safe house. He's keen on erasing his E Corp paper trail via a malware virus that will cause a records building to explode... and, yeah, kill some onsite employees, too. Omelette and eggs, right? Unimpressed, Elliot makes a move to delete the virus and Tyrell pulls a gun. Convinced the psycho is a figment of his imagination, just like Mr Robot, Elliot smacks the kill code and a shot rings out.
Thus begins Season 3. Elliot quickly discovers three things: Mr Robot is indeed his mentally-projected Tyler Durden other half, but Tyrell is very real and so are his bullets. Our hero is bleeding out from a gunshot wound, and a repentant Tyrell doing an awful job rendering medical aid. Enter: Irving (Bobby Cannavale), a fixer/used-car salesman type who Winston Wolfs the situation and basically teleports Elliot back to his apartment. Stitched up, but missing about a week of his life due to blood-loss-induced unconsciousness, Elliot desperately tries to get back in the loop.
Basically – and as the kids would say – he gets woke. The world is in a shambles. In his words: he “didn't get rid of the invisible hand” he “turned it into a fist that punched us in the dick”. The Happy Hacker Pals made society docile enough for a slaughtering by the one-percent. The solution to this mess – if there is any solution at all – will require help from Angela. Slight problem: the heretofore faction-less Angela reveals that she is in cahoots with the Dark Army and Elliot's still-active alter ego, Mr Robot. It's a weird situation where she's both for and against her best friend. Fascinating stuff to watch, folks.
In other events, Elliot's sister, Darlene (and current head of fsociety) freaks about them having to come out clean to the authorities. And, more worryingly, Whiterose is contemplating how to harness parallel universes at E Corp's Washington Township power plant. She praises the “great engineering work” of Elliot’s father “that led early successes”. She cryptically explains to an underling that Elliot is crucial to her agenda. Apparently, his “unadulterated, focused rage” will be a key ingredient in the mind-bending season that is about to unfold. I can't wait to see where this is going to go next.
Verdict: So many questions remain unanswered. What happened to the largely absent Wellick last season? How did the 5/9 hack actually go down? Can I grow a moustache as porno as Irving's? Finding out is going to be a hoot.