We gave it a B
For all the different players that have come and gone in this game, it’s always been about Elliot and the Dark Army. Their history is a shared one that stretches back years. Mr. Robot apparently died for the Dark Army — presumably he didn’t have much say in the matter — and now Elliot may be next. The Aldersons and the Dark Army are seemingly forever intertwined, and that state of constant chaos and dependence is infecting everyone around them.
“Eps3.8_stage3.torrent” begins by taking us back, but not all the way back to when Elliot was a kid like last week’s episode. Rather, we’re transported back to a time before the 5/9 hack, when Allsafe was pitching its cyber-security bonafides to E Corp. Gideon is making his best case for the contract, but then-CTO Terry Colby is having none of it. It seems like Allsafe doesn’t have all that much to offer, which makes it all the more surprising when Phillip Price instructs Terry to make the deal and hire Allsafe.
Tyrell Wellick, still a young up-and-comer at that point, expresses his hesitancy about the deal as well. “I just hope it doesn’t come back to haunt us,” he says before Price shuts him down, humiliating him into silence. It’s not the only time Price will do that this episode. So why does “Eps3.8_stage3.torrent” flash back? Why take us to this moment? To illustrate what I mentioned above: that the Dark Army has had a plan in place for a long time. There’s seemingly no reason for E Corp to hire Allsafe, except for the fact that Angela and Elliot work there. Price catches a glimpse of Angela in the office and his eyes momentarily light up, the look of a man who knows a plan is falling into place.
That flashback also acts as a way of summarizing just how far everyone has come. Or rather, how far everyone has fallen. Wellick, enthusiastic and ambitious in that opening scene, is nothing but an empty shell now. He’s back at home after being cleared of all charges by the FBI, but there’s nothing to go back to. He clutches Joanna’s purse, runs his hand across a blanket, and stares at the empty bassinet in the corner. He’s lost everything, and for what? For some vague sense of revolution?
So much of this season has been about exploring the fallout of the 5/9 hack and then Stage 2, and at the heart of that exploration is the emotional, human toll it’s taken on many of these characters. Mr. Robot isn’t telling you who to feel bad for, but rather poking at the various motivations of each character. Angela did what she did because she’s never recovered after losing her mom. Tyrell did what he did because he wanted some semblance of power. Now though? They each have nothing. They can only drift.
Angela in particular is a mess. She’s talking to herself, and a late-episode trip to her apartment provides a shattering look at her current state. Garbage and dishes are piled up in the apartment, and photos of what we can assume are the cyber bombing victims are plastered all over the walls. She mutters to herself that Whiterose will surely protect her, that she’ll be picking her up soon.
Wellick and Mr. Robot are coming to the understanding that they’re pawns in this game, and that Whiterose has been using them since the beginning. Angela, on the other hand, can’t accept that reality. She still thinks there’s some sort of noble end that will justify the horrific means. It’s her coping mechanism, and it sends her out into the streets. She runs into a man who reminds her of Cisco — she refuses his CD this time around — underlining her delusions. Then, two men in suits pick her up in a van. Angela wants to believe this is the Dark Army sent to protect her. We know better. We should be worried. Angela should be worried. (Recap continues on next page)