Season 3, then, is less about what makes a revolution, and more about how easily it can be co-opted. Now, perhaps Elliot’s ideas were never his to begin with; who knows how far back the Dark Army’s plan goes? But Elliot at least had the intention of dismantling the power structures that allow the rich to get richer while everybody else hands over their personal information and money before falling into a lull of complacency while staring at their phone.
That idealistic shift in power didn’t work though, and with each new episode this season it would seem that such a shift isn’t possible. Later on in “Eps3.6_fredrick&tanya.chk,” Irving takes Mr. Robot on a trip with him. He pulls him out of a car and points to a rooftop party where a number of rich people are enjoying drinks and food while a violinist sets the mood. “Your revolution was only allowed to happen because it was bought and paid for by people like them,” he says. No matter what happens, be it more than 4,000 Americans dying in coordinated attacks, or the mistress of a senator dying in the guest bathroom of said party, these people stay in power and keep going about their day as if nothing’s happened. They thrive on the chaos.
It’s the chaos, after all, that keeps those people in power. Whiterose says as much to Phillip Price. She, in her Minister Zhang role of course, says that nothing is better for lining pockets than consistent fear and conflict. It’s common rhetoric used by the elites to bolster their calls for a more widespread surveillance state. The more people are afraid, the more they’re willing to hand over their personal freedoms in exchange for security. That security is a mirage though. It’s nothing but a front for people like Phillip Price, Whiterose, and Donald Trump to make more money and gain more influence.
A quiet storm is brewing. Mobb Deep plays as Leon gets Trenton and Mobley to dig a grave for their roommate after Trenton fails to escape in Leon’s Caddy. Leon muses on how funny they are, in a “George and Elaine” kind of way. Leon sees everything through the lens of pop culture; perhaps that’s why he’s so cold and unemotional. Cold and unemotional is what these Dark Army people have to be. It’s the only way to keep the storm quiet, to keep it from getting out of hand and hitting too early.
In “Eps3.6_fredrick&tanya.chk,” everything is falling into place as the storm continues to build. More and more connections become clear. Santiago relishes in telling a captive Tyrell Wellick that his wife is dead and that his son is now in the care of Peaceful Acres, a foster home that Santiago is proud to say has a “1-in-5 abuse rate.”
Remember, Santiago isn’t saying all of this because he’s excited the FBI got their guy. He knows Wellick isn’t the mastermind because he’s working for the Dark Army. In fact, he’s integral to their plan. He tells Wellick to make sure he follows through with everything they’ve discussed, otherwise he’ll make sure bad things happen to his son. So, Wellick plays his role. He “admits” that Trenton and Mobley were his associates and that they planned the attack on the 71 E Corp buildings, and that they’re planning another attack sometime in the next 24 hours.
It’s all bogus, of course, but us knowing that is exactly the point. It contributes to the atmosphere I mentioned above. Season 3 is succeeding by going full paranoid thriller, and that means allowing us to reasonably guess ahead about what horrible things might be coming for our protagonists, while also understanding that there’s no way to stop those things from happening.
In most other stories there’s a last-ditch effort that saves the good guys or allows the bad guys to finally get their comeuppance. Mr. Robot isn’t interested in such a rosy outcome. Instead, the shows posits this line of thinking: The word’s elite will sacrifice you for their own gain. They will bleed you dry and exploit your labor in order to line their own pockets. When that isn’t enough, they’ll use you as a pawn in their game and then execute you in the end. There’s no avoiding this. There’s no escape. (Recap continues on next page)