Mr Robot: eps1.7_wh1ter0se.m4v R3v1ew

Elliot Alderson freaking out on the subway

Mr Robot could be called the ultimate thinking person’s television series. It could even be classified as Geek TV masquerading as thriller/psychological drama. What it is not, however, is facile or shallow. In the latest episode, “whiterose” the theme is twofold, melting down, or freaking out, and discovering who one really is aka, the big reveal(s). Both these things happen to Elliot and to Tyrell.

The big question throughout the series thus far has been all about who Mr Robot really is. The theory was that he was part of Elliot’s schizophrenia, a manifestation of his mind, or a another personality. This last episode proved that particular theory to be wrong…apparently.

By the end of the show, Elliot learns who he really is, or at least who those closest to him are, thereby putting him in a place where Elliot knows he belongs. The big reveal of Mr Robot (Christian Slater) as his dead dad and Darlene (Carly Chaikin) as his heretofore unmentioned sister, most likely unmentioned since he regularly forgets her, “Elliot, have you forgotten who I am again,” Darlene asks before forcing him to tell her who she is.

So the first two reveals are that Elliot and the fsociety are all “fam” and this may be just what the ‘f’ in society stands for; family. Darlene is sis, Mr Robot is pop and all that’s missing is mom…could she be the one who Evil Corp “murdered.” Sorry, thinking out loud here, but Mother Alderson is the only one not mentioned, even if, in an earlier episode, she was mentioned either in past-tense or not, the existence of Daddy walking around and pushing his kid off the pier, means all bets are off.

Leaving Elliot alone for the moment, Tyrell and his story, even without the reveal that he has been working with Alderson’s pop, aka Mr. Robot, was educational to say the least, although not nearly as surprising as Elliot’s. Wellick has been going through major meltdown since choking the life out of Scott Knowles’ wife Sharon.

The reveal that Mrs. Wellick wears the trousers in the family and also provides the real brainwork in his climb to the top of the executive heap is no real surprise. The clues have been there all along.

*Sidenote.* Her character has leapt forward in importance, just look at IMDb, she has gone from being listed as Tyrell’s wife to having her Christian name listed (which is Joanna). A big leap for the little lady who is willing and able to stab herself with an escargot fork to fake a pregnancy emergency.

Those that doubt who really is the boss of whom should look at Wellick’s hesitation to tell his wife what really happened on that roof. After learning that it was Joanna’s plan to have sex with and photograph Sharon in her compromising positions it is clear that Tyrell is worried less about the murder and more about disappointing his wife.

We, as viewers learn where Elliot and Tyrell both fit in and who they really are. Wellick is just as fascinating as Elliot. His rages are obviously less about the stress of his journey to be the next CTO of Evil Corp, but more about his controlling mastermind of a wife and his paranoia about disappointing her. This explains so much, especially the murder of Sharon, was Tyrell killing his wife by proxy?

Looks like.

This information also removes Tyrell from the category of shark and makes him more of a trained Doberman. Wifey is the brains and the strategist behind his move up.

Of course apart from the themes of “discovery” there was the follow-on of the Whiterose meeting plot thread. Elliot does meet the legendary leader of the Dark Army. BD Wong (who voiced the heroic love interest of Mulan in the Disney film) played the elusive hacker as an apparent transgender character, or considering Whiterose’s paranoia, not just about time, of discovery, it could just be another version of smoke and mirrors.

The beauty of this show is that even if nothing else of consequence had occurred in this episode, the scene of Whiterose and Elliot meeting alone would have been more interesting than anything else out there at the moment. Thankfully there was a lot more going on.

For example:

Tyrell telling Mr. Robot, while they talked collusion between fsociety and Evil Corp (and the viewer picked their jaw up off the floor) that his (Robot’s) dirty little secret is something that Tyrell knows about. “There are people close to you who would not be happy to know what I know,” says Wellick, the implication is that Elliot, will not be happy. Mr. Robot is not fazed, no real surprise there.

Ollie sending Elliot to the Whiterose meeting, Alderson learning that the hack that Gideon learned about during his meeting with Tyrell, is pretty inconsequential and obviously a distraction.

Back to Tyrell and his wife Joanna. How revealing is the coffee stain removal scene? Mrs. Wellick is clearly a hands on person. Her pregnancy has obviously forced her to take the role of backseat driver, so to speak, and her choosing to remove the coffee stains herself rather than to send the shirt out or to toss it in the bin shows a lot about her and the Wellick’s status.

Scott Knowles hit a nerve the last time he and Tyrell verbally sparred. Zeroing in on the fact that the Wellick’s still lived in “that tiny two-bedroomed” place. The mention of the couple’s financial status, or lack thereof, brought Wellick to his metaphorical knees and he lost that match against the new CTO. Joanna opting to remove the stain herself speaks volumes about her, the couples status and their relationship. Most revealing of all? Watch the way she removes the stain, the anger and frustration behind her actions and movements…

Pertinent point, Elliot becomes overly aware of time after his meeting with Whiterose, his fixation, which the Dark Army legend points out, is people, has become the passing of time. As Alderson mentions in the episode, “we are all living in each other’s paranoia.”

Random amusing moment: Elliot asks Darlene to provide a distraction so he can hack Gideon’s phone. She hacks the company’s Smart TV and does an fsociety broadcast. In it, the “mask” calls the company by name as well s takes them to task, and one of the cyber security team, in a tone of wonder that one could associate with a child learning that Santa knows who they are, says “Holy sh*t, fsociety knows us.”

All of Allsafe are transfixed by the message and Elliot hacks his boss’s phone. When the transmission ends, Gordon expresses that he is not pleased that Alderson was not with the rest of the group. His tone and implication make it seem that Elliot’s time at the company may be coming to an end. Elliot himself may circumvent that action. He tells us that looking in Gideon’s files, he found a good man and that he, Alderson, does not belong there.

Later, after remembering who Darlene really is, Elliot goes through a combination of memory surge and meltdown. On the subway he yells at his imaginary friend and when he gets home he smashes a mirror. Heading to the computer he searches for himself online and finds nothing.

Going through the CD-R storage book he finds an unlabeled disc. It has pictures…of Mr. Robot (Dad) and Elliot. Mostly, however, there are photographs of Mr. Robot. Elliot goes over to a shelf and finds a picture with the whole family, Dad, sis, Elliot and his mother, who looks an awful lot like Darlene in a floppy hat.

There is a knock on the door and it is Mr. Robot and he tells Elliot, “I think we should talk.”


This episode is a jaw dropper and game changer. The power of this series, apart from dynamite performances from Malek, Slater, Wallström, Chaikin and newcomer Stephanie Corneliussen, is the writing and the intricate plot threads that all interweave like some giant spider web. The show has a lot going on apart from the hacker baseline.

Mr. Robot is addictive and mind blowing. USA has put one of the best shows on television on its network lineup and that there are only two more episodes left this season is agonizing. The series airs Wednesdays on USA. This is exquisite television that sticks with you long after the end credits roll.

Author: Mike's Film Talk

Former Actor, Former Writer, Former Journalist, USAF Veteran, Former Member Nevada Film Critics Society

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