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OK, Let's Figure Out This 'Mr. Robot' Mindfuck

By Dustin Rowles | Mr. Robot | August 13, 2015 |

By Dustin Rowles | Mr. Robot | August 13, 2015 |

Last night’s mindfuck on Mr. Robot was one of the rare instances in television where — despite the fact that breadcrumbs have been laid all season long — the reveal still came as a complete and total mind-exploding surprise.

Mr. Robot is Elliot’s Dad.

Darlene is Elliot’s sister.

We’ve been misdirected into believing that Mr. Robot is a Fight Club-like split personality for so long that it never occurred to most — except for a fleeting moment here and there — that Christian Slater’s character might be his Dad. In episode three, I believe, I briefly considered this while the two were in a subway station discussing their fathers but it quickly slipped from my mind because — at the time — I was so determined to discover whether Mr. Robot was actually another version of Elliot (the Darlene reveal, on the other hand, never even crossed my mind).

But that reveal didn’t solve the mystery of Elliot. Far from it, in fact, because though we now know that Mr. Robot is Elliot’s Dad, we still don’t know if Mr. Robot is actually real. Just because his identity has been revealed doesn’t necessarily he’s not an alternate identity of Elliot.

The way I see it, there’s two trains of thought.

In the first, Elliot’s father somehow faked his death and changed his name. In changing his own name or attempting to cope with his father’s fake death, Elliot — who clearly suffers from delusions and other mental and psychological difficulties that date back to his childhood — had a kind of psychic break from his old self. It might explain why he erased every trace of himself on the Internet. What if it was actually Mr. Robot’s wife died at the hands of Evil Corp and Mr. Robot has been using/manipulating his son to orchestrate the takedown of Evil Corp as revenge for his wife’s death? What if he brainwashed his son into forgetting who he was? Or exploited Elliot’s selective amnesia?

Truly, trying to wrap my brain around it is next to impossible.

But then, the other possibility still remains that Mr. Robot doesn’t exist. That Elliot is actually Mr. Robot. I mean, consider the fact that no one else besides Elliot interacted with him for several episodes. Consider also the fact that, in the last couple of episodes when they did interact with Mr. Robot, they weren’t interacting with Elliot at the same time. Consider the fact that Mr. Robot hasn’t aged since those photographs. Consider, also, the fact that Mr. Robot has a tendency to show up at very convenient times in very inconvenient places, like stairwells or the office place (and if he were really there, why wouldn’t Elliot’s childhood friend Angela have recognized him?). Mr. Robot conveniently shows up when Elliot needs him most; for example, at the end of the episode. Most crucially, I think, is the fact that Tyrell — in a conversation with his wife — referred to a low-level tech guy he had met who he believed was out for some small revenge: That low-level tech guy was Elliot, not Mr. Robot.

Isn’t it possible that Elliot created Mr. Robot to help him navigate the takedown of Evil Corps? Because he needed an outlet, someone to rely upon and provide feedback. Notwithstanding a few key scenes that could probably be explained away, I’m strongly leaning toward the fact that Mr. Robot is a figment of Elliot’s imagination created as a coping mechanism, but I’m not ruling out the possibility that Mr. Robot is still alive.

Or what if — and this is a stretch — but what if Elliot died, and Mr. Robot is the one who is still alive attempting to avenge the death of his son. Maybe that’s why Elliot doesn’t exist on the Internet? Because he’s dead. Or what if Elliot’s father — in a rage — killed his son for outing his cancer, spent some time in jail, and now he’s back, completely insane, and holds Evil Corp responsible?

There’s no way, right?

Honestly, as revelatory as those final five minutes felt in last night’s episode, I still feel as confused as before. The simplest explanation is that Mr. Robot is dead and that Elliot conjured him up to cope with the stress, but this show scoffs at Occam’s Razor. Mr. Robot kicks William of Ockham in the fucking teeth.

Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here, follow him on Twitter, or listen to his weekly TV podcast, Podjiba.

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