This week’s episode of Mr. Robot did not bring us any closer to understanding who Elliot’s third alter is, but in keeping with the theme of this season, the episode is an easy, simple-to-understand one, as Esmail stays on track in his effort to go from Point A (Angela’s murder) to Point B (revenge on Whiterose).
The episode does, however, take us back to 1982 and fills us in on Whiterose’s origin story. Back then, as Zhi Zhang, she had just secured a deal with IBM for the Chinese and was bragging to her translator/boyfriend that it was the first step to stealing IBM’s intellectual property. The important thing here, though, is the relationship between Zhi Zhang and her translator. After the translator had drinks to celebrate the deal, he returned to find Zhi Zhang wearing her mother’s dress, presenting herself to him as a woman for the first time. They were young, and in love, and for the first time, we see Whiterose as a human person instead of the villainous, calculating leader of the Dark Army that she has become.
It’s what happens next that helps to transform Zhi Zhang into Whiterose. The translator was forced to marry a woman. Zhi Zhang was supposed to rescue her translator from that fate by becoming the Ambassador to the United States and taking him with her to America, where finally they could be themselves. Zhi Zhang did not obtain that appointment, however; she was appointed the Minister of Security, instead.
Her translator didn’t take the news well. On his wedding day, the translator reads the writing on the wall and realizes that he’ll never be able to spend his life with Zhi Zhang and will have to hide his true self forever, so he takes a knife and slits his own throat. The blood spews on the white roses that Zhi Zhang brought for the wedding. Whiterose is born.
In the present, Whiterose senses something is amiss, but she not only barrels forward with her plans, she fast-tracks the replacement of Price for the next day, thinking that the best way to thwart an enemy is to mess with their timeline. She decides to appoint Wellick as the CEO of E Corp and, in the meantime, she puts a tail on Elliot (how does she know that Elliot is alive if the Dark Army orchestrated his death two days prior?).
Elsewhere, Elliot is still trying to gain access to Cypress National Bank, which is apparently the key to stopping Whiterose’s shipment. He and Darlene identify the late Susan Jacobs’ contact at Cypress, Olivia Cortez, and Elliot clumsily picks her up at a bar and takes her back to her place. He manages to snake the passcode he needs to access Cypress National, but he also forms a connection with Olivia over both their shared addiction and self-hatred. It’s kind of a sweet moment, and I’d like to believe that Elliot will make his way back to Olivia at some point, but it seems unlikely given the speed of this season and the lack of remaining episodes.
When Elliot returns to his home base — Allsafe’s old building — he spies a van following him, which he suspects is the Dark Army, so he goes back to his apartment where he finds Wellick blabbing about how he’s going to be named the CEO of E Corp and he can take them down from the inside. Elliot quickly covers his mouth and writes on a notepad, “They’re listening.”
— Vera — the drug dealer who killed Elliot’s girlfriend, Shayla — is real interested in partnering with Elliot, who he sees as the “architect” in Vera’s attempt to become the King of New York. Vera plans to use Elliot’s old therapist, Krista Gordon, as leverage. Krista doesn’t want anything to do with Elliot, so I don’t know how this is going to work or how it will play into the main storyline. It’s possible that it’s not a Dark Army van outside of Elliot’s apartment, but Vera’s van. Vera is definitely this season’s wild card.
— “Anytime you can get the audience to actually root for the villain’s goal is really fascinating,” Sam Esmail told The Hollywood Reporter this week. “Whiterose’s goal — which is to sort of reboot the world in a way, and create a utopic society — there’s nothing wrong with it.”
I have no idea what Whiterose’s goal is, but given that she seems to be motivated by the loss of her lover to a repressive society, and given what she told Angela about seeing her mother again, I am wondering if this utopian society will bear a resemblance to the Black Mirror simulation in “San Junipero,” where folks can visit their deceased loved ones in a simulated reality?
— Maybe this third alter is someone we’ve been seeing all along, but we only see him as “Elliot.” In this episode, Elliot acted like three different people in his interactions with Darlene: Elliot, Mr. Robot, and Aggressive Elliot, who held Darlene’s arm. That same aggressive personality surfaced when Elliot ran outside of the bar to kiss Olivia and take her back to her place.
— In next week’s episode, Wellick and Elliot are on the run, presumably from The Dark Army.
Header Image Source: FX