USA’s Mr. Robot
Season 4, Episode 12: “Series Finale Part 1”
Directed & Written
by Sam Esmail
* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “eXit” – click here
* For a recap & review of Part 2, click here.
“Hello, friend,” Elliot says— the Elliot still with all that emotional baggage, not the surreal one we witnessed last episode post-explosion. He’s sure they’re dead after the explosion at the power plant. He doesn’t know where Mr. Robot has gone. Then, he wakes on asphalt as an earthquake rocks the ground. He’s actually alive. He’s standing where the power plant should be, only it’s nowhere to be seen. There’s a billboard nearby stating a community centre will soon be built there. Elliot isn’t quite yet willing to believe Whiterose’s machine actually worked. So he hoofs it out to the road and further back into the township.
Soundtrack: Styx’s “Mr. Roboto” plays here
And then Elliot sees the shop Mr. Robot, like it never went anywhere.
He goes inside and hears his father’s voice call out from the back of the store. He sees a phone on the counter and picks it up, looking at a family photo of his own family. Dad’s out back making plans for lunch with the other Elliot. It’s all too horrifyingly surreal for the hacker: “My monster‘s still alive.” He rushes off before dad gets a glimpse of him. But he keeps an eye on his father from afar.
In the old neighbourhood, Elliot sees his dad drop by their old house. He runs into a young girl who recognises him and only he makes the whole encounter awkward. He asks about Darlene, prompting a strange reaction. Because in this reality, he doesn’t have a sister. That’s the moment his mother walks outside to greet him.
More surreal terror for him, to be embraced by a loving mother who talks about his loving father, to exist in a world where those closest to him didn’t devastate him and his innocence. And he sees more evidence of “no Darlene,” too. This also probably means none of his trauma ever happened, either. When Elliot confronts his mother about it he discovers Angela’s alive in this reality.
Off he goes again, though he’s unconvinced any of this is actually real.
Will seeing Angela again do him any good? Or will it only be more confusion?
Elliot finds Phillip Price at Angela’s door, along with Angela’s mom Emily. He’s stunned to find them there, unconnected to the other life he knows so well. He tries to play along with his current reality. He winds up seeing a surprise wedding gift from his wife-to-be: a collage of photos of them together, shaped in a heart. A strange moment occurs when the other Elliot calls Emily, so the real Elliot picks up, hearing his own voice. This scene also explains the broken glass and bloody tissues the other Elliot finds at the apartment later, after an earthquake rumbles the place and Emily slices her finger trying to pick up the mess.
This sends the hacker off in another surreal mess.
“True love prevails”
Now, Elliot goes back to his apartment. He’s worried that maybe this isn’t HIS reality, but that of somebody else: “But whose is it?” He goes into his apartment, immediately seeing the change and recognising it isn’t him who decorated the place. Something’s gone seriously wrong along the way somewhere. He looks through the apartment and stumbles on more evidence of a life without Darlene. He starts digging through the other Elliot’s computer, finding all the differences between the life he knows and this new reality. The new Elliot seems perfect, but the real Elliot wonders if it’s simply a facade. He finds a “hidden partition” filled with secret files— in it are pictures of the real Elliot’s life, the people he’s known from Darlene to the various supporting characters throughout the series.
What does it mean? Did this other Elliot “hack” the real one’s reality?
A moment later other Elliot comes through the door. Damn.
Other Elliot wants to call the cops, but the real one talks him into sitting down for a chat by spilling out all the true details of their shared existence. Real Elliot asks the other about those hidden sketches. It’s a lot for other Elliot to take, though he eventually sits across the table to talk. He says the sketches are basically his fantasy escape, imagining someone with a much more exciting life than himself. His dream world is the real world in which Elliot’s been living. Then real Elliot realises the other one can hear his internal monologue. It trips the hacker out. Before he can get out of there another quake happens, and the other Elliot cracks his temple off the radiator when he falls to the floor.
After that, other Elliot’s phone rings. The real Elliot picks up and hears Angela go on about how happy she is with his pre-wedding gift. He starts to ramble about his other reality, in which he “lost” Angela. Maybe he could slip right into this identity, become someone new, a happier version of himself, now that the other Elliot’s just about dead. He chooses to put his other self out of his misery. This is getting very existentially ugly.
“Everyone has a monster”
A truly wild ride leading us to the end. A strange, wonderful, and eerie episode at once.
The Series Finale Part 2 is next.