For all of its aesthetic, tonal, and thematic similarities to the first two seasons, season 3 of Mr. Robot isn’t operating in quite the same way. The biggest change is the fact that there isn’t the looming presence of some sort of twist, and there’s a more coherent story being told. It feels like there’s more information out in the open — Elliot remains largely in the dark, but we see a lot of what he doesn’t — and that’s leading to a show that’s more noir thriller than some sort of paranoid, Fight Club-esque mystery.
What that means is that Mr. Robot can use all of these previously unknown details — about Elliot, about Mr. Robot, about Angela’s involvement with the Dark Army, about Whiterose’s role in all of this — to generate more tension. It’s a much more satisfying way of creating that nerve-wracking feeling; when we’re given a better understanding of how everything ties together, from the FBI’s use of Darlene to the fraught relationship between Elliot and Tyrell, our anxiety is allowed to flourish. We see just enough of the connecting threads to make us worry about what’s to come, but not enough to ruin any potential reveals down the road.
With that said, one mystery has continued to go unrevealed: What exactly happened to Tyrell the night of the 5/9 hack, and how did he and Elliot eventually end up back in a warehouse together after months apart? What did Tyrell do in all that time? Why does he feel so connected to Elliot? Why wasn’t he there for his wife and child? What’s his role in the Dark Army and the execution of Stage 2? “Eps3.2_1egacy.so” answers these questions, and the result is the best episode of the season so far, a self-contained flashback episode like no other that looks at how Tyrell and Elliot got to where they are now.
We begin on the night of 5/9. Elliot has just put his plan in motion, and E Corp is crumbling. Tyrell sits at the computer, staring in awe at his partner’s work. Elliot walks over to the popcorn machine, and we know what’s coming. We know the gun is in there, and the show plays on our expectations. It’s a visceral way to begin the episode, immediately situating us in a scene we’ve been aching to see. “You want answers? Here they are,” says Mr. Robot.
Elliot, as Mr. Robot, aims the gun at Tyrell and pulls the trigger. It jams, and no shot is fired. Mr. Robot clears the chamber, the bullet casing rolling to the spot where it will be found later. He points the gun again, but Tyrell is no longer scared. He’s laughing. “We’re gods!” he says. He sees this as divine intervention. He’s Jules Winnfield in Pulp Fiction, seeing his avoidance of certain death as a message from a higher power. Elliot told Tyrell he always failed to look above him. Not anymore. Tyrell believes he’s received a message. Unlike Jules though, he doesn’t retire from the game to contemplate whether or not he’s the Shepherd.
Jules Winnfield: “There’s this passage I’ve got memorized. Ezekiel 25:17. ‘The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the inequities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men.'” Is Elliot fighting the inequities, shepherding the weak through the valley of darkness, or is he upholding the tyranny of men? Whiterose sees Donald Trump on her screen and understands that he can be used as a puppet, if the right strings are pulled. Perhaps Elliot is unknowingly supporting the tyranny of evil men, or at least a system that allows them to thrive. (Recap continues on next page)