Mr. Robot “Shutdown” review

Adam Mathew 20 December 2017

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A big ol' reunion, down on the farm.

  • SPOILER WARNING: This review may contain plot details that would be considered spoilers. Proceed at your own peril.

Mr. Robot's season finale kicks off in the best possible way: with a bang and some good old fashioned door-hinge destruction. The enigmatic Chang and his Dark Army goons are raiding Elliot's house. Fortunately, he's next door in Shayla's apartment – hiding, listening, possibly soiling himself because he knows these gentlemen have nothing less than execution on their mind. Elliot's thoughts are on his sister, Darlene, who hasn't been in contact in a while. She'll be visited by these hitmen next, surely...

We know better, of course. In last week's ep, Darlene was incredibly sloppy in her attempt to swipe an FBI identification card from her one-time-handler, Dom. (Also worth noting: the ruse involved a tactical girl-on-girl shag.) Ultimately, Darlene wound up the one being screwed. She's in custody, trying to secure immunity in exchange for some new info – in the FBI's files is a means to defuse the 5/9 hack. Santiago, a Dark Army plant, forwards this worrying intel on to his bosses, and (stupidly) takes it upon himself to kidnap the young hacker and move her offsite. Of course, Dom confronts him in the parking garage, mid-abduction, and gets KO'd then stashed in his car also. Because why not? Double prizes.

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With no means to find his sister, Elliot does something remarkable. He purchases a ride on the Coney Island ferris wheel and summons his alter-ego for a face-to-face. Elliot lays it all out to the mental projection of his father, and even admits that they haven't been “speaking” because he's afraid of him. Mr. Robot swaps a confession of his own: he honestly didn't know 5/9 would result in 71 buildings exploding. Whoops. Before either of them can put their heads (head?) together to formulate a plan to locate Darlene, they're captured by Irving.

Elsewhere, Santiago is hilariously trying to convince a trussed-up Dom and Darlene that he's “not a bad guy”. It's a tough sell. He's driving them to their probable execution, but he insists the Dark Army owns him due to some awful, unknown leverage. Before he can explain his piss-weak excuse further, this unlikely group of carpoolers reaches a barn in the middle of nowhere and Irving is very unimpressed to see Dom in attendance. The Dark Army fixer begrudgingly agrees to solve the problem of “one too many Feds in the room” by leading them both away, presumably to off Dom in the woods nearby.

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When their little leg-stretch ends at a stump and a log-splitter's axe, Santiago loses his nerve. Dom can be turned into an asset, he pleads. She was on track to be one of the youngest ASACs ever seen in the bureau! After Santiago does everything short of loading up her LinkedIn page on his phone, Irving is swayed and he decides to bury the axe into this rookie kidnapper's chest. A horrified Dom is told that she's just been promoted to be Dark Army's new man-on-the-inside. She'll play ball, or Irving's employers will turn everybody she knows into small bits of kindling. He then illustrates his point on the still-conscious Santiago.

Elsewhere, in fairyland, crazy Angela has been picked up by nondescript goons and deposited in Phillip Price's stately home. She keeps telling her bemused caretakers that she “needs to see her” (presumably Whiterose) because she “has information”. They just offer Angela pancakes (but no sharp utensils) until Phillip Price grants her an audience and explains why she's here and – more importantly – why he has such a special interest in her. Price had a relationship with her mother, Emily. 32 years ago. He's her father. Furthermore, dear old dad sets Angela straight: she's had her head scrambled by Whiterose's project. It's nothing more than a psychotic denial of reality.

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Back in the sticks, Chang (Whiterose's chief hitman/lover) has tagged in for Irving. Out of options, Elliot demands that Dom and Darlene be let go, or else the Dark Army's dirty laundry gets aired over the Internet. Plus, side bonus: if Whiterose lets him live, he can get her project shipped to the Congo, no sweat. Chang, who thinks he's the better hacker, calls bullshit. Leon receives an SMS, pulls his piece and eliminates every other goon in the room, and then puts his shocked boss in his gun sights. Whiterose calls. She's been watching everything transpire via livestream, from her bath... as you do. She chides Chang for being jealous of Elliot's l33t skillz and says she will always love him. She'll be sure to seek him out again, when her project is complete. Thoroughly down-sized, Chang curses Elliot and blows his own brains out.

After accepting a file download from Elliot (that he insists will facilitate Whiterose's ultimate goal), Leon allows everybody to leave. The very first thing our hero does with his new lease on life is set about undoing the 5/9 hack, thanks to Sentinel access provided by Dom and a secure FBI laptop. The decrypted files reveal something shocking however: it was Mr. Robot who exported the keys that hold E Corp's data under encryption. The revolutionary who wanted to go all-in, no exceptions, left an out. Domo arigato, mister roboto.

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Old anarchism dies hard, though, as Mr. Robot still makes a case for not rolling the world economy back to where it was. Everything they've done, all the collateral damage and death, will have been for nothing. Elliot responds that he can no longer live with what he's had a hand in. Plus, it wasn't all for nothing. The one-percent-of-the-one-percent were forced to reveal themselves. He's seen the puppet masters and their strings. As far as this talented hacker is concerned, they've all been marked for deletion.

But, for now, revenge will have to wait. Redemption is how we'll close out Mr. Robot season 3. Elliot Alderson and Mr. Robot reconcile their differences and the key to reversing the worst hack the world has ever seen gets sent off. Some feelgood music swells as Elliot smacks the enter key to fire out the email. It's an incredibly upbeat way to end a show like this. But, once again, we know better. Mr. Robot has been picked up for a fourth season. The one-percent won't be safe for long. We may yet see the head of a Whiterose be pruned.

VERDICT

A decent tie-off to what has been a stellar third season. Everything feels like a bit of a Breaking Bad season 4 situation, though. You could neatly round things off here at a “win” ...but where's the fun in that? There's so much destruction to answer for. Whiterose's timeline-reversing project has yet to be debunked. Sam Esmail may also finally introduce President Trump into his universe. I don't think I'll be able to resist that.


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