Mr. Robot Finale Thoughts (Spoilers)

Off Topic discussion goes here.

Moderators: Annie, BookhouseBoyBob, Jerry Horne

Forum rules
Friendly off-topic discussions are welcome.
User avatar
Mr. Reindeer
Posts: 2550
Joined: Mon Jan 26, 2015 4:09 pm

Mr. Robot Finale Thoughts (Spoilers)

Postby Mr. Reindeer » Tue Dec 24, 2019 7:25 am

I found the finale an emotional rollercoaster while watching it, but I’m a little ambivalent looking back. There are two things I’m trying to keep in mind:

(1) Sam Esmail originally planned Mr. Robot as a feature film, and has said the finale and the ending we got were always part of the plan, back to the feature film days.

(2) Going back to season 1, Esmail has always said he doesn’t care if the fandom sees “twists” coming, because he was more interested in hiding information from Elliot than from the audience.

I can appreciate that, but the fact remains that the format Esmail used to explore dissociative identity disorder is a puzzle-box show that wears its adoration of Fight Club like a badge of honor, and literally copies the Lost season 6 “flashsideways” gimmick in the final episodes. Given all the build-up, the final reveal seems a little underwhelming. Esmail can say all the twists and turns were for Elliot’s benefit, but let’s be real. He wanted us speculating from week to week about “the other one.” What we got certainly makes a lot more sense than the zany Reddit theories (Tyrell is the other one! Whiterose is the other one! One guy made a compilation of every single time Mr. Robot is seen with his hat on and without his hat, arguing that it signified separate personalities). And looking back, the final “twist” was certainly telegraphed, going back to the earliest days of season 1, which should make a rewatch a fun experience. I’m just not sure how much it adds to the final experience of the show or Elliot’s character. Perhaps someone who suffers from dissociative identity disorder will feel like this is a really powerful capper to the show (I saw one or two people on Reddit expressing this). My emotional reaction is similar to what I felt earlier in the season when it was revealed that Elliot’s father sexually abused him. While that episode, and particularly Malek’s performance, were incredibly powerful, the reveal itself felt so obvious after all the build-up that it kind of felt like a letdown. This is the danger of engaging with the puzzle box format: when you slow-drip three seasons of hype and hints, you create unrealistic expectations. Obviously, childhood sexual abuse is one of the most prevalent causes of adult trauma. So the question becomes, why hide the ball? Because Elliot can’t know until he does know, and we’re locked into Elliot’s POV (except when we’re not). The problem is, we can’t really be going through the moment of revelation with Elliot, because it’s not really a shock to us. (The problem is also that the show then immediately moved past the reveal in the following episodes, going right back to hacking power plants and whatnot, never actually addressing the complex emotional fallout, which felt cheap. But that’s a different complaint.)

The finale revelation that “our” Elliot is the “mastermind” is satisfying in that, over the course of the show, we’ve essentially watched the “life” of this character, this personality, from birth to death between March and December 2015. That’s kind of cool and fun from a meta perspective. But what does this reveal teach us about Elliot’s character overall? We sort of have no idea who he is now. We’ve seen fragments (including “Elliot Prime”/Host Elliot trapped in a fictional world living a happy-preppie life that probably doesn’t reflect who he actually is). But what does he want? Having lived out his hacktivist fantasy, what’s left for him? “Mastermind” managed to thoroughly blow up his life, getting the love of Elliot’s life killed, destroying his employer, and getting him involved in all sorts of criminal activity the FBI is at least partly aware of. (He was found trespassing in a nuclear power plant in the midst of a meltdown with the corpse of a fugitive world leader, and there’s no police guard on his hospital room?!) So what was actually accomplished? Sure, the Deus Group is gone, but the 5/9 hack proved that you can never really defeat the system. Or can you?

The Deus Group felt like one of the biggest missteps. While it’s a cool conspiracy-fantasy (and I’d watch a whole show about Price and Whiterose’s machinations), it vastly oversimplifies the geopolitical realities we’re living with by creating an easy scapegoat. Esmail’s fiction that Trump was elected as a result of the Deus Group’s manipulation is the most damaging kind of liberal fantasy, villainizing a disliked political figure without actually engaging with the failures of our political system on both sides of the aisle that led to his presidency. It’s exactly the sort of thing conservatives can point to to show how closed-minded and awful liberals are, and it’s damaging to everyone.

Anyway. My larger point being...I guess Esmail’s position is that in this fictional world, by giving Elliot a large enough bullseye to shoot at, Esmail actually did allow him to fix the world? So even though Elliot’s personal life is WAY more fucked up than when Mastermind took the wheel, Elliot will be happy that he magically fixed the socio-economic geopolitical landscape (and also let everyone in the world win the lotto, which, to paraphrase The Incredibles, would be the equivalent of no one winning the lotto).

I don’t know. This show has consistently been one of the coolest, most stylistically compelling shows ever, and it clearly had a lot to say about mental illness and economic inequality and lots of other things, but at the end, I’m not quite sure what it all adds up to.

And seriously, Elliot has to be getting arrested, right?!
ManBehindWinkies
Posts: 57
Joined: Mon Jul 03, 2017 11:08 pm

Re: Mr. Robot Finale Thoughts (Spoilers)

Postby ManBehindWinkies » Tue Dec 24, 2019 7:25 pm

I also noticed the nearly identical structure of the end games of Lost and Mr. Robot (using a sci-fi plot mechanism to create a red herring theory to explain a possible alternate timeline). It's interesting to me that I found it worked much better with Mr. Robot. One reason is just the fact that my disappointment over the endings of Battlestar Galactica and Lost changed how I manage expectations with these kinds of long running, serialized dramas, especially anything that has a mystery/puzzle box element to it. Initially I felt the ending of Lost nullified the value of the journey leading up to the end, but after reflecting on it, I don't think it made the series high points any less great (the end of Season 3, the episode "The Constant"). I guess I came away with a sense that the emotional journey is one of the most valuable parts of the experience of these kinds of shows. That's really the strength of a serialized television show, and airtight plotting may be a near impossible task for a story that is created over an extended period of time.

A few simple reasons why the end game gimmick of Mr Robot worked better for me: One the alternate reality was only explored for essentially three episodes, all of which aired within a week of each other. With Lost it was the basis for the entire final season. Two, the sci fi gimmick had far less narrative focus in Mr. Robot. White Rose's machine was never the driving force of the story, where as time travel and changing history was the driving force of season 5 of Lost, and they essentially spent two seasons building up this arch to create a red herring explanation for why we were seeing an alternate timeline in Season 6. While White Rose's machine started to have more focus by the end, the mystery of the "other" personality still carried more weight. Three, the actual explanation makes more sense, that the psyche of a single character created a false reality, where as in Lost it was a shared construct of an ensemble of characters in the afterlife.

I also had ambivalent feelings about the abuse revelation for similar reasons to you, but the end made a revelation of that sort a necessity. There had to be some kind of intense trauma to create this fractured state of mind in Elliot. Sexual abuse may be one of the most obvious things, but one of the most obvious things because it's all too real. I think in this case, something that is grounded in reality and a trauma that many can relate to is better than something that might have been more surprising.

I thought the explanation of "the other" worked for the reasons you described: in hindsight it does seem to be something that was part of the plan from the start, and as far as plot twists go that's all you can hope for. And it does tie in to the abuse revelation well. As far as it not addressing the emotional fallout, given we never really meet "prime" Elliot as a whole personality and the series ends with him waking up, I feel satisfied with the emotional fallout happening after Elliot wakes up. In some ways the entire series was a depiction of him coping with the emotional fallout, and that's not really something any of the fragmented personalities could or should deal with.. they are the result of it. What happens next for Elliot is up for interpretation. But in my interpretation the emotional fallout is something he is only now going to be able to really deal with, which works for me.

There's no doubt some messiness and loose ends in all the of plot machinations and socio-political commentary. I don't know if I agree with your criticism of the political implications of the Deus group, but that's a whole can of worms to open up. It seemed to be a depiction of one aspect of the socio-political landscape that led to Trump, and I'm not sure it was ever intended to be a complete commentary, and I didn't feel like it had to be. While the Deus group is fiction, they can serve as a fictional stand in for the influence of the billionaire class and Russia without negating the significance of actions by both political parties, voter suppression, the state of American society, etc. in general as factors that led to Trump. I think the political stuff was more of an accent than the focus, and in large part I appreciated that part of the show, especially since few shows will dare to address these specific political issues.

I did feel like, whatever flaws there were, the series' journey with Elliot's fragmented personalities was an emotionally rewarding one, and this was a show that featured plenty of bravura cinematic moments... it's high points were very high. It was an up and down journey for sure... I had my doubts that it would be worth it in the end. Specifically I questioned whether some of the brutality would end up being worth it... the series had hard moments. It's been less than a week since seeing the finale but overall the finale did make me feel that it was a worthwhile journey, and I'm inclined to hold it up there with some of the best series of all time, though I probably need to sit with it a while before I definitively make such a declaration.
User avatar
Mr. Reindeer
Posts: 2550
Joined: Mon Jan 26, 2015 4:09 pm

Re: Mr. Robot Finale Thoughts (Spoilers)

Postby Mr. Reindeer » Tue Dec 24, 2019 8:13 pm

I 100% agree that an obvious, natural revelation is often preferable to something that’s crazy for the sheer shake of shocking the audience, and that’s why I said I’m trying to keep in mind that Mr. Robot was initially a movie with this planned ending, and that Esmail was more interested in surprising Elliot than in surprising the audience. I think my issue is that Mr. Robot the series spent so much time teasing out these two reveals amidst many other convoluted, messy threads, that they ended up not quite fitting the aesthetic of all the other craziness Mr. Robot did regularly serve up. I could see the reveals about the childhood abuse and “our” Elliot being an alter being much more effective in the film version Esmail originally planned, where they could truly be the focus (or maybe in a ten-hour miniseries, because there’s no way even a three-hour film could do justice to this story). At the end of the day, I’m glad we got 45 episodes to spend in this world, and I loved almost every minute of it. But it feels like Esmail’s real point that he wanted to make in the initial film conception got diluted in the Whiterose of it all. In a similar vein, I agree with you that Mr. Robot’s “flash sideways” works better than Lost’s, primarily because it gets to the point faster. Lost spent all of season 6 hiding the ball, and finally revealed the flash sideways world to be something that I find to be rewarding and interesting and emotionally resonant, but all the buildup and teasing was largely a waste of time that frustrated the audience. Likewise, Mr. Robot’s two big season 4 reveals felt so obvious in retrospect that it seems a little silly to have hid them for 40+ episodes just to present them as revelations at the very end. In particular, I really wish the childhood abuse trauma had been explored in a more meaningful way for more than one episode.

In terms of the Deus Group, I get what you’re saying, but I think just blaming billionaires and autocrats for the state of the world is vastly oversimplifying. As you said, this is a can of worms we probably shouldn’t get into here, but it’s worth noting that Trump’s entire platform that got him elected was that he presented himself as a political outsider, and a vast disenfranchised group of Americans who felt like they had no political voice put their faith in him, for better or worse. To present him as an insider who only got into office through some vast international conspiracy IMO does a complete injustice to the subtleties of where our country is, on both the macro and the micro, and does no favors to either side of the political divide. In any event, specifics aside, I just think the idea that you can fix the wrongs of the world by taking down one group of people is absurd. But maybe that was Esmail’s point. Just as we kept hearing E Corp. as “Evil Corp.” because we were in Elliot’s head, perhaps the whole show was a fairy tale seen from Elliot’s perspective, with a nice easy scapegoat he could take down. Realistically, though, I can’t imagine that Host Elliot is going to find himself in utopia. Just as 5/9 ultimately failed, the wrong people will quickly find their way back into power, corruption will prevail, and life will go on as it always has....except that Elliot’s life is now a complete mess and he’s almost certainly going to jail. It’s very tough for me to find optimism in that ending, even though the show clearly wants me to.
User avatar
Soolsma
Posts: 1186
Joined: Tue Oct 13, 2015 12:28 pm
Location: Netherlands

Re: Mr. Robot Finale Thoughts (Spoilers)

Postby Soolsma » Thu Dec 26, 2019 4:00 am

Mr. Reindeer wrote:without actually engaging with the failures of our political system on both sides of the aisle that led to his presidency.


I think the show actually does a hell of a job engaging with a multitude of facets that flaw the contemporary political system. A main theme (if not the main theme) of the show is control, and with that as a weapon it tackles a whole lot of issues such as religion, capitalism, hierarchy and individualization. Though Esmail has made clear that he opposes Trump, I think the inclusion of him in the DEUS group was more of a gimmick of sorts. The show, presenting itself as an alternate reality of ours, has included Obama in early season two as well. I think the Esmail's critique of society reaches far beyond just republicans, Trump or democrats for that. And yes, the idea of taking down a single elitist group to ''save'' the world is idiotic, but I think the mayhem after 5/9 and the will to reverse it show both Esmail's and Elliot's awareness of that. I'll agree to the fact that the show has it ways of oversimplifying certain matters. But yeah, it's a drama TV show.

I'm keeping my commentary on the political matter short because of the board policy.

Wow. The finale was such a thrill ride. I have to say, the only time I've felt myself gasping for air like that were during the TP S2 and S3 finales. I seriously had constant doubts of what was going on. Though a lot of things were pointing to the sci-fi, quantum, alternate reality twist being true, there were a lot of odd tells that made the dream seem a fantasy. Such as F corp, Dom being a cop and not to mention the heaps of exposition that was crammed in to the little amounts of time. Then, the scene with Darlene in the hospital touched me like very few have. It took me back to that very early moment when Darlene was revealed to be his sister. After all this time, I still had doubts about her nature, whether she was real or not, exactly like Elliot did. All in all, I think there are very few shows that succeed so well in matching the viewers perception to the protagonist's, but to recreate that so well with a DID struck person was a true master's work.

Furthermore, I'd like to add that I think that Esmail delivers some of the greatest, imaginative, compelling cinematography of recent times. I think he and Kubrick would have gotten along great.

Mr. Reindeer wrote:And seriously, Elliot has to be getting arrested, right?!


I've thought this many times, the FBI knew he was involved in a multitude of crimes. It shouldn't have been that hard to connect a lot of the dots. At the very least he should be thoroughly questioned. But in the end, he did prevent a meltdown saving millions of lives.

Same for Tyrell btw, I still can't believe how easy he got off the hook just by pretending he was kidnapped.

Mr. Reindeer wrote:I really wish the childhood abuse trauma had been explored in a more meaningful way for more than one episode.


It has, throughout the entire of the series it has. Esmail knew this all along. It's the foremost cause of his DID. In fact, the entirety of everything that happens with Elliot through the entire show can be seen as one big coping mechanism of what went wrong so early on. Neurologically speaking, it's trauma -big or small- that causes the phenomenon of dissociation. The revisitation of the window moment in a variety of ways very well represents this.
From the very start there have been hints that point to Elliot's abuse. In one of the very scenes of Mr Robot, Elliot tells a co-worker to not ever touch him, a typical response of one suffering from childhood abuse. Darlene's username is DoloresHaze from s2 onwards, who is the protagonist of Lolita. When Edward Alderson takes Elliot to the cinema in a flashback he tells him: (paraphrased) "Let's keep what I said earlier between us.". Though one at first might have thought this pertains to the cancer the family was at that point unaware of, the reveal shines a very different light upon it. So yes, it has indeed been slowly dripping in, maybe spoiling the ''surprise'' a bit, but in that sense, hasn't all that came before been the emotional fall out the story craves?
Last edited by Soolsma on Sun Dec 29, 2019 11:59 am, edited 6 times in total.
Carrie Page: "It's a long way... In those days, I was too young to know any better."
User avatar
Soolsma
Posts: 1186
Joined: Tue Oct 13, 2015 12:28 pm
Location: Netherlands

Re: Mr. Robot Finale Thoughts (Spoilers)

Postby Soolsma » Thu Dec 26, 2019 4:13 am

Some notable complaints:

As a computer geek, and hobbyist hacker in teen years. One of my complaints is that during season 1, there was a load of computer technicalities embedded in to the show. From early S2 onwards the show steers away from this to be more drama focused. This reaches a high point in S4, during which there is a multitude of episodes following up on each other were characters find themselves in a kidnapping, life or death kind of situation. Elliot getting killed then saved in his apartment, the Janice shenanigans, the wild goose chase of the van, Vera. Those felt like cheap, rehashed plot devices and kind of filler to me. I'm sure there could have more meaningful ways of pulling the story forward.

Some notable praise:

This is one of the best TV shows I have ever seen.

It is indeed VERY re-watch worthy. I've been on the Mr Robot reddit as much as I've been on Dugpa. The amount of detail that's embedded in to the show is beyond belief.

Did you know almost every single clock in the show is turned to 11:16?
Carrie Page: "It's a long way... In those days, I was too young to know any better."
User avatar
Mr. Reindeer
Posts: 2550
Joined: Mon Jan 26, 2015 4:09 pm

Re: Mr. Robot Finale Thoughts (Spoilers)

Postby Mr. Reindeer » Thu Dec 26, 2019 6:20 am

Soolsma wrote:All in all, I think there are very few shows that succeed so well in matching the viewers perception to the protagonist's, but to recreate that so well with a DID struck person was a true master's work.

Furthermore, I'd like to add that I think that Esmail delivers some of the greatest, imaginative, compelling cinematography of recent times.


I wholeheartedly agree. It’s incredible that he just came out of nowhere, having only ever done one feature prior that very few people saw.

Mr. Reindeer wrote:I really wish the childhood abuse trauma had been explored in a more meaningful way for more than one episode.


It has, throughout the entire of the series it has. Esmail knew this all along. It's the foremost cause of his DID. In fact, the entirety of everything that happens with Elliot through the entire show can be seen as one big coping mechanism of what went wrong so early on.[/quote]

I understand all of that, but my (poorly-expressed) point was, I wish the show had more thoroughly explored the aftermath of him coming to the realization AFTER the coping mechanism was stripped away and he was forced to confront the reality. It seemed like a cheat that within minutes, he seemed to be fine and the show just dives back into Deus Group shenanigans for several episodes and really never allows Elliot to address the abuse in any meaningful way.

I wonder if Darlene was also abused. Seemingly not, given what she says in the finale about not knowing how to deal with Elliot’s trauma. But maybe she was and he just took it way worse, whereas she came to terms with it (hence her defiant/ironic “Dolores Haze” persona?). I also wonder how much Angela did or didn’t know.

I did know about the 11:16 thing! I have no clue what it means though. Do you have a theory?
User avatar
Soolsma
Posts: 1186
Joined: Tue Oct 13, 2015 12:28 pm
Location: Netherlands

Re: Mr. Robot Finale Thoughts (Spoilers)

Postby Soolsma » Thu Dec 26, 2019 7:26 am

Mr. Reindeer wrote:I did know about the 11:16 thing! I have no clue what it means though. Do you have a theory?


My best bet is that it was part of Esmail's scheme to lure those who pay close attention in to buying into the sci-fi twist. Just like the Back To The Future references were. Heck, even when he posed for photos for interviews he'd make sure the clocks were turned to 11:16.

Image

If you're ever doing a full re-watch, I'd recommend reading the post-episode discussions on reddit, that are all neatly archived. Though a lot on reddit is also pulp internet babbling and memeing. There is a community there that has done incredible dissecting detective work. The amount of details riddled throughout the show is beyond incredible. It's so densely packed cultural references, ARG's, and foreshadowing hints. Almost every detail in the show is given a lot of thought. It's also incredible to read the divide in variety of fan theories that Esmail birthed with his frequent red herrings.

If the Mastermind was truly mostly Elliot's rage, maybe this was his way of dealing with the confrontation of the abuse: giving another full throttle boost to deal with the remaining baddie.

Burning questions:
-what the hell was Whiterose's machine supposed to do? There have been quantum mechanic equations seen written in some of her conference room, and we've seen footage of a particle accelerator, probably the LHC. What did he show Angela? Probably more than just the machine and telling her it was a time machine and it will save everyone. Seems like she's smart enough not to buy that, even if she's in shock.
-Does Dom live? Seeing Irving at the airport seemed a little too coincidental.
-What happened during the 3 days after 5/9? Did real Elliot take over because the world was ''saved''?
-Will real Elliot be in an utter state of confusion, not remembering what happened all this time?
-Did the real Elliot know about the abuse?
-What happened to Tyrell and what did he find in the woods?
Carrie Page: "It's a long way... In those days, I was too young to know any better."
User avatar
Mr. Reindeer
Posts: 2550
Joined: Mon Jan 26, 2015 4:09 pm

Re: Mr. Robot Finale Thoughts (Spoilers)

Postby Mr. Reindeer » Thu Dec 26, 2019 8:14 am

Soolsma wrote:
Burning questions:
-what the hell was Whiterose's machine supposed to do? There have been quantum mechanic equations seen written in some of her conference room, and we've seen footage of a particle accelerator, probably the LHC. What did he show Angela? Probably more than just the machine and telling her it was a time machine and it will save everyone. Seems like she's smart enough not to buy that, even if she's in shock.
-Does Dom live? Seeing Irving at the airport seemed a little too coincidental.
-What happened during the 3 days after 5/9? Did real Elliot take over because the world was ''saved''?
-Will real Elliot be in an utter state of confusion, not remembering what happened all this time?
-Did the real Elliot know about the abuse?
-What happened to Tyrell and what did he find in the woods?


I hadn’t really looked at the Reddit much until this season. I’ve been lurking after each episode this season, and it is truly impressive how layered the show is and how much people picked up on.

I guess it doesn’t particularly matter if the machine worked or not. Whiterose clearly believed it would, and now that it’s destroyed, there’s no way to know if she was right. It is a little weird that we never learn what she showed Angela. There’s also the odd detail that the little girl who gives Angela the psych test is played by the same actress who played Angela as a child, yet Angela doesn’t react...so was this significant or not? Maybe it was just a surreal touch to throw viewers who noticed off-balance, or to keep people focused on the red herring of Whiterose’s machine (literally the biggest MacGuffin in history). Honestly, Angela always struck me as the least well-written character on the show. Her motivations and level of intelligence always felt more motivated by what the plot needed them to be than by any natural/consistent character development.

One also has to wonder what the significance of moving the machine to the Congo was. In any event, I am glad the show didn’t go full-tilt sci-fi and left the machine ambiguous.

I like to imagine Dom lives in peace. She was one of my absolute favorite characters, largely through the strength of the performance (did you know Grace Gummer’s mother is Meryl Streep? Imagine trying to live up to that!). I thought the way she conveyed trauma this season was amazing, and I was thoroughly invested in all her scenes even though she was tangential to the main story for most of the season. I think if the show let her survive near-death, it was because Esmail wants us to believe she gets a much-deserved happy ending (and the show ended up being thoroughly optimistic overall in the endgame). How great was that faux-rom com airport sequence? I was so glad to see Irving again, and to see that his book is a bestseller! I choose to take what he said at face value, and view it as just Esmail giving a curtain call to a brilliant character (although obviously it was supposed to make Dom and the viewer feel worried in the moment).

The three days after 5/9 are another of those things that feel weirdly unresolved, and that was my first question after the finale. The show made such a big deal about it. I guess the only two options are that it was Mr. Robot (I can’t remember if he ever actually denied that he took control?), or that Host Elliot woke up/regained control for some reason. I think Stage 2 was already planned at that point, right? So would Elliot have truly believed that the world was saved after 5/9?

It seems like Host Elliot wouldn’t recall the last nine months while Mastermind was in control, but of course we’ll never know for sure. Not to keep rehashing the same points, but Mastermind’s monologue about how he was the one who “showed up” and made the world safe for Elliot was uncharacteristically sentimental for the show and doesn’t make a ton of sense to me, because it seems like Elliot’s personal life is a whole lot worse now and he’s got even more shit to deal with than he did before. The only improvement is that he has Darlene back in his life, albeit despite Mastermind’s nonstop efforts to push her away!

My guess is Host Elliot knew about the abuse but Mastermind hid this info from both Host Elliot and himself. It seems like Host Elliot told Krista about it at some point in the past, and Fake-Krista in this episode tells Mastermind he rewrote the history of what went down with the window to protect Elliot.

The Tyrell stuff was clearly left deliberately ambiguous/abstract, and I’m fine with that. I’m sure you saw some people on Reddit theorizing that it was a metaphorical “blue screen of death,” which I like. It was an odd ending for the character (and sort of whitewashes what a terrible person he was in season 1), but it felt right. That was a great moody hour.
LateReg
Posts: 962
Joined: Sun May 10, 2015 5:19 pm

Re: Mr. Robot Finale Thoughts (Spoilers)

Postby LateReg » Thu Dec 26, 2019 11:10 am

I largely agree with Reindeer's take on all this, but I appreciate everyone's comments on this complex series.

For me, the series is not exactly one of the greats. Stylistically, yes, it is one of the all time greats. And as you all have pointed out, the way that style can reflect and enhance the character's mental state is a huge plus. But I often feel the show losing itself in its very complicated plot. It's a joy for me to watch for the style alone, but it's one of those things that - regardless of how many well-laid details there are - has always been more pleasurable on the surface, to me.

Did you know that Esmail himself has recently said that he is post-plot? "Fuck plot" he said in a recent podcast wherein he named The Return the decades best show "by a mile." He doesn't care about plot. And yet Mr. Robot is one of the most heavily plotted shows I've ever seen. Esmail cares about the experience of watching something, such as HBO's Euphoria or Fincher's Mindhunter, rather than what's going on in the plot. And that's kind of the disconnect that I've felt all along in Mr. Robot, and why it doesn't surprise me that after such an acclaimed first season, the rest of the series simultaneously remained just as acclaimed (on metacritic) but was nowhere near as acclaimed/talked about (on year-end lists) at the same time. (TV critics, as a whole, are a fickle, lower strata, easily contented, resistant to being challenged bunch who are always looking for the next great first season, but that's another story of mine.) But, Esmail certainly offers you the experience of watching in Mr. Robot in a way few series do. He succeeds best where he wants to, but I'm not sure how well that jives with such a complicated plot. While all of Mr. Robot is stylistically top-notch, and certain episodes are astounding in their craft and in their production of experience, I think that Homecoming is a more refined use of Esmail's skills. Which is telling, because he didn't have a hand in writing Homecoming at all, to my knowledge. Anyway, I think all of this goes along with Esmail's comments that he doesn't care if people guess the twists...but also sort of works against that notion at the same time.

So, the finale. The first half floored me. The second half didn't as much, perhaps because as more information came in, the more I knew where it was going, and the less it seemed to matter, and somehow the more it seemed to matter! That's basically my experience with the series in a nutshell. The series wears influences on its sleeve, and once you understand that that's intentional, that's all fine and good. So since it's primarily the last two episodes that focus on this possibly alternate world, I was immediately reminded of Leftovers and The Return's finales. That's what it felt like to me, and I know that Esmail greatly admires those series. Then, as more information came in, I of course pondered how similar it was to the final season of Lost. And then at the very end, I thought, oh, this really is like Lost! Because what I learned from the very, very end of Mr. Robot was that it definitely wasn't the mysteries that mattered, but the people. That whole thing. Elliot is truly what mattered all along. It's not that Elliot was given short shrift at any point in the series - it was always clearly about his mental state. But the series was so overloaded with plot and conspiracy and hacking that I could easily get lost in that mystery and forget that it's really all about Elliot. The end proved that, but like my first time viewing the finale of Lost, I wasn't sure that I felt the conclusion to be totally organic with the rest of the series. Or at least, I felt the series was jumping back and forth and landing in a place that seemed almost abrupt despite the whole thing clearly taking place, to some degree, in Elliot's own head. I greatly look forward to revisiting the series soon to rewatch in its entirety and see how it all feels.

Some stray thoughts:

So, everything we saw really happened, but through the skewed lens of the Mastermind? So everything really happened, but we also don't know the real Elliot, even though it was the real Elliot at the end of the day who physically did everything we saw? Am I correct in this?

As soon as they all sat down in that theater, I envisioned the projector as an eye, and the visual presentation of that, when fully revealed, was very nice.

Perhaps Elliot won't be arrested because, as was pointed out by someone else, the DEUS group has moved on. Maybe in that way, other authorities also don't care. I did not get the impression that Elliot would be arrested because of that brief line of dialogue. I do get the impression that Esmail wants us to believe that Elliot can now regain control of his true self and move beyond his trauma. That the defense mechanisms are being allowed to take a backseat so that the real man can finally grow.

When Elliot briefly died on the floor early in the season, isn't it Esmail himself who both gives him the dose and brings him back to life? That has to have some storytelling significance.

I've seen many Christmas episodes of TV, and I've seen many seasons that are wintry, but are there any other full seasons of TV that play entirely like they're a Christmas movie? This season begins on December 21, and most of the first 8 episodes have various Christmas references, songs or vibes. I just think that's really great. Almost how you'd watch Die Hard or Eyes Wide Shut as an alternative to Miracle on 34th Street or whatever, the fourth season of Mr. Robot strikes me as the first equivalent season of TV.
User avatar
Mr. Reindeer
Posts: 2550
Joined: Mon Jan 26, 2015 4:09 pm

Re: Mr. Robot Finale Thoughts (Spoilers)

Postby Mr. Reindeer » Thu Dec 26, 2019 12:00 pm

LateReg wrote:
So, everything we saw really happened, but through the skewed lens of the Mastermind? So everything really happened, but we also don't know the real Elliot, even though it was the real Elliot at the end of the day who physically did everything we saw? Am I correct in this?


I believe this is exactly right.

I agree with your thoughts, re: the Lost-esque disconnect between “the mysteries didn’t matter, the people did” and the way the series presented itself and the themes it focused on for large stretches.

I didn’t realize the guy who brought Eliot back was Esmail! I found this Reddit thread on Esmail’s cameos throughout the series: https://www.reddit.com/r/MrRobot/commen ... =post_body

I've seen many Christmas episodes of TV, and I've seen many seasons that are wintry, but are there any other full seasons of TV that play entirely like they're a Christmas movie? This season begins on December 21, and most of the first 8 episodes have various Christmas references, songs or vibes. I just think that's really great. Almost how you'd watch Die Hard or Eyes Wide Shut as an alternative to Miracle on 34th Street or whatever, the fourth season of Mr. Robot strikes me as the first equivalent season of TV.


I loved this as well. Esmail said he was inspired by the British television concept of doing a Christmas episode between seasons, or sometimes as a series-ender. He decided to do a season-long Christmas episode! It worked great thematically (although Elliot goes a LOT of days without sleeping!).
User avatar
Soolsma
Posts: 1186
Joined: Tue Oct 13, 2015 12:28 pm
Location: Netherlands

Re: Mr. Robot Finale Thoughts (Spoilers)

Postby Soolsma » Fri Dec 27, 2019 3:49 am

Mr. Reindeer wrote: Maybe it was just a surreal touch to throw viewers who noticed off-balance


I believe at one point Esmail stated that specific scene was Twin Peaks, and more specifically Red Room, inspired. I'll have to look that up later though.

LateReg wrote:As soon as they all sat down in that theater, I envisioned the projector as an eye, and the visual presentation of that, when fully revealed, was very nice.


A hint of 2001 there I believe. Or perhaps the Return pt 8. :)

BTW. Next up: Esmail and Malek will re-collaborate on bringing the book American Radical: Inside the World of an Undercover Muslim FBI Agent to film.
Carrie Page: "It's a long way... In those days, I was too young to know any better."
User avatar
Soolsma
Posts: 1186
Joined: Tue Oct 13, 2015 12:28 pm
Location: Netherlands

Re: Mr. Robot Finale Thoughts (Spoilers)

Postby Soolsma » Sun Dec 29, 2019 11:36 am

By the way, @Mr Reindeer and @LateReg. I'd love to hear your musings about Parasite. So far, it's recieved nothing but universal acclaim. Maybe another thread? And, go see it, if you didn't yet.
Carrie Page: "It's a long way... In those days, I was too young to know any better."
User avatar
Mr. Reindeer
Posts: 2550
Joined: Mon Jan 26, 2015 4:09 pm

Re: Mr. Robot Finale Thoughts (Spoilers)

Postby Mr. Reindeer » Wed Jan 01, 2020 10:30 am

Soolsma wrote:By the way, @Mr Reindeer and @LateReg. I'd love to hear your musings about Parasite. So far, it's recieved nothing but universal acclaim. Maybe another thread? And, go see it, if you didn't yet.


I’m embarrassed to say I haven’t seen it yet due to my hectic schedule. Everyone whose opinion I respect has recommended it, and it’s definitely on my very short list!
User avatar
Mr. Reindeer
Posts: 2550
Joined: Mon Jan 26, 2015 4:09 pm

Re: Mr. Robot Finale Thoughts (Spoilers)

Postby Mr. Reindeer » Sun Jan 26, 2020 7:47 pm

Soolsma wrote:By the way, @Mr Reindeer and @LateReg. I'd love to hear your musings about Parasite. So far, it's recieved nothing but universal acclaim. Maybe another thread? And, go see it, if you didn't yet.


Wanted to circle back and let you know I finally watched Parasite! I managed to come in pretty much cold, as several people advised me to avoid spoilers or even reading a synopsis. I’m glad I did so. That was a really fun film. Terry Gilliam once made a comment (I think on the Brazil audio commentary IIRC) where he bemoans the fact that most directors, and certainly most producers, are afraid to let a film change genres from scene to scene, even though real life shifts “genres” all the time. While I was enjoying Parasite, I wasn’t quite sure what to make of the film (or, rather, not quite sure what all the hype was about) until that terrific scene where the family are all drinking during the thunderstorm, which seemed to switch genres almost with every line. It was a charming family bonding scene with an oddly ominous air that felt like it was inevitably going to end up sliding into horror. After that, the movie was just all over the place, in the best possible way.

Question about the ending:
Spoiler:
Do you believe Ki-woo actually purchases the house at the end, or is that just a fantasy/dream? I viewed it as being somewhat ambiguous, since the film ends in the present with Ki-woo writing his letter, and thought that the “flashfoward” was just him envisioning the potential future as he wrote about it.
User avatar
Soolsma
Posts: 1186
Joined: Tue Oct 13, 2015 12:28 pm
Location: Netherlands

Re: Mr. Robot Finale Thoughts (Spoilers)

Postby Soolsma » Mon Jan 27, 2020 6:05 pm

Definitely intentionally ambiguous. I'm leaning towards the latter. The film makes a strong statement on wealth class separation and I think it tells us the sad truth that he will probably never get there.

Wow. I never realized who Terry Gilliam was and that all those cool movies were made by the same director. A friend of mine once stated Time Bandits was his favorite film of all time, haven't got around to watching it though. Is Brazil worth the while?
Carrie Page: "It's a long way... In those days, I was too young to know any better."

Return to “Hap's Diner”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 3 guests