Mr. Robot recap: A reckoning with the past
Let me tell you, this final season of Mr. Robot is relentless. It just keeps packing the punches, both in terms of storytelling and stylistic choices. This week’s episode is commercial-free, and is basically a chamber drama that involves Vera, Krista, and Elliot. There are five acts, plenty of dialogue, a few nifty camera shots, and one truly devastating revelation. It’s a trip, to say the least.
Vera is very emotional about finally sitting down with Elliot. What’s the word for it? “Verklempt, that’s it,” he says. He’s been waiting for this moment for a long time, and it’s finally here. “You’re my hero,” he tells Elliot. Elliot is ready to hear him out just to keep Krista safe. Mr. Robot isn’t so patient, worried about the “meth head who thinks he’s Deepak Chopra” and what that might mean for their, you know, continued ability to live. But Elliot has no escape. He’s stuck here, and he listens to Vera. He settles in for a long story about his journey to this moment, and the camera pans to a bird’s eye view. We travel over a wall, and into the adjacent room. There sits Krista, bound and terrified.
Vera’s story boils down to him seeing a shaman, drinking some crazy stuff, and “waking up.” He now knows he’s destined to “come home” to New York and make Elliot his partner in being the King of New York. The scene is beautifully crafted to be both earnest and ridiculous. There’s a score dominated by string swells that’s clearly meant to undercut the speech, but at the same time Elliot Villar, who plays Vera, is so compelling, so into what he’s doing, that it’s hard not to believe that this man had a spiritual rebirth and is ready to make New York his own personal palace.
Elliot tries to be confident. He refuses to be a part of any plan until he knows Krista is safe. He wants to see her, in person, and know that she’s okay. Vera, reluctantly, agrees. But he says he wants an introduction of his own when this is all said and done.
Elliot learns who Vera wants to be introduced to: Mr. Robot. He tries to play coy, but Vera knows too much. He wants to meet Mr. Robot, thinking he’s the brains behind the operation that is Elliot Alderson. He wants to convince him of his plan. When Vera threatens Krista, Mr. Robot emerges, and he’s all bravado. He wastes no time getting in Vera’s face. He listens to his plan to “own this island,” talking about dealing drugs and owning property. Mr. Robot can barely contain his laughter. “You have to be joking?” he says before detailing how Vera doesn’t have anywhere near enough money to compete with the truly powerful in this country, those wealthy few at the top that run everything. This crash course in late capitalism offends Vera because he was so attached to this vision of him truly owning the city, but Elliot has an idea. He says that if Vera truly wants that kind of money, he can have the money they steal from the Deus Group hack.
Vera hands Elliot his backpack and tells him to show him this plan. Elliot logs into Cyprus National, and Vera and his gang start laughing and tearing up at how many zeroes are on the page. This is like nothing they’ve ever seen before, or could have imagined. They’re more than happy to get in on this. But then, Elliot, seeing his gun in his backpack, pulls it out and points it at the men. Vera says he doesn’t have it in him. Elliot pulls the trigger three times, and there’s nothing. Vera starts laughing at Elliot’s hubris, at the idea that Vera wouldn’t check his bag and remove the bullets first. This act pushes Vera to the limit. He’s been betrayed by the man that’s supposed to be his partner. He storms into the other room and threatens Krista again, sticking his hand up her skirt. Vera screams at Elliot to tell him why he shouldn’t kill her. “Because I need her! She helps me!” he yells in order to save her life. Fade out.
Vera is done messing around. He wants Krista to conduct a therapy session to finally break Elliot down. Vera sends his gang out of the room for some semblance of privacy, and despite Krista’s warnings that this could hurt Elliot, she has no choice, and Elliot is begging her to just do what he says. They start by talking about Elliot’s mother passing, and how it hasn’t really affected him. They muse on that for awhile until Vera interjects, telling them to get to the part where Mr. Robot was created. He wants to know why Elliot needed Mr. Robot in the first place.
That seems simple enough for Elliot. It’s the day he jumped out the window. He initially interpreted that day as his father pushing him out the window, therefore creating Mr. Robot as a form of protection. Krista asks him to break down that day. He talks about playing in the room with Darlene. Then, when he hears their father’s footsteps coming up the stairs, he hides Darlene in the closet and grabs a baseball bat. He doesn’t remember much else, other than jumping out the window. Krista pushes him, asking him if he even really remembers anything, or if he’s simply using the details that Darlene told him.
Then, the bombshells start dropping. Mr. Robot is panicking, not wanting Krista to go any further. Krista doesn’t want to go any further either. But Elliot, now on the verge of knowing some sort of truth, wants to know what they’re hiding, what his own brain is hiding. Krista asks him why he had a bat in his hand. “I don’t know.” She asks him what he was scared of. “I don’t know.” “His father,” says Vera. Elliot begins to recoil in horror as Krista pushes further. “Did your father hurt you?” “No, he’d never hurt me. He was my friend. My only friend.” He knows he’s not telling the truth, that he’s constructed some sort of wall. “Did your father sexually molest you?” asks Krista as Elliot’s face warps into pure pain and anguish. “Yes,” he gasps, the release of trauma bursting out of him.
It’s an incredible scene. It’s tense and unbearable, and Malek simply shines. The way he collapses in on himself, allowing his body to shrink into the couch, is just remarkable. His face works wonders, his eyes welling up and flitting about as he scans his memory for the truth, until opening that door he can never close again. “I can’t protect you anymore,” says Mr. Robot, and Elliot’s whole world crumbles.
Vera steps in to rebuild Elliot. He tells him that he’s been there, he knows what it’s like to have this kind of revelation and to see how the world only wants to hurt you. Elliot doesn’t know how to go on. He screams at the window as thunder and lightning strike; pure Gothic imagery. “That’s how you go on. You get it out!” shouts Vera. Elliot sits down and Vera gets close. “You are the storm, and it’s the rest of the world that needs to run for cover.” It’s his final pitch, his final attempt to take control of Elliot. Final because at that moment Krista stabs him in the back with his own knife — he thinks it was his brother’s knife originally, “probably the same one he did Shayla with” — and he collapses to the floor. The power surges and the lights go out.