Holy cow. Everyone take a deep breath, because that had to be the most nail-biting season finale to date in Mr. Robot‘s three-season run.
The biggest sweat of the night involved Bobby Cannavale’s Dark Army gopher/used car salesman Irving. If we ever wondered just how far he could go before he lost it, well, tonight clearly showed that in a scene that rivaled any of Cannavale’s bloodcurdling scenes as Boardwalk Empire don Gyp Rosetti. In a scene where we clearly thought that honest FBI agent Dom DiPierro (Grace Gummer) would finally meet her maker, Irving opts to chop up her double agent associate Santiago (Omar Metwally) outside of a barn in the country, thus selecting her as the next Dark Army hacking group’s inside FBI snitch. Elliot (Rami Malek) and Darlene (Carly Chaikin) look like they’re next with Leon (Joey BadA$$), the Dark Army’s hitman, waiting for his directions to kill from Dark Army mama White Rose (BD Wong). But White Rose opts to take the life of Grant, her lover/associate, sparing Elliot and his sister so that they can continue to do the Dark Army’s bidding. But life is about to get more complicated for Elliot in season 4 when a blast from his past enters: the Brave Traveler (read on).
Meanwhile, Angela (Portia Doubleday), who has just about lost after participating in a terrorist attack against the nefarious company she works for, E-Corp, has a Luke Skywalker-Darth Vader revelation of her own from her E-Corp boss Phillip Price (Michael Cristofer). Looks like father and daughter will revolt against White Rose side-by-side in season 4, which Esmail revealed on Instagram this morning he was already working on. Below is our interview with Mr. Robot creator Sam Esmail about USA’s Mr. Robot season 3 finale “Shutdown R”
What great timing. As Bitcoin hits the futures trading market this past week, it’s Mr. Robot‘s season 3 finale. Did you know this was coming down and timed the show’s end to this point in time?
I didn’t that was happening specifically. I would say that I’m one off the first prognosticators of cryptocurrency, but there are a lot smarter people in the know before I was. One of the reasons why we have it in the plot line is in regards to how it impacts the world’s economy.
I read that Bitcoin is only controlled by 1,000 people currently.
That’s the crazy part of the cryptocurrency in general. It’s that consolidation of power behind the currency and there’s not a lot of transparency necessarily around that. Obviously, the goal is to keep ledgers. It’s a tricky thing given the power around Bitcoin. We’re at the mercy of these people in terms of its value. But we’re trending toward a world to pay bills and buy goods and services with it, and being controlled by these consolidated powers, that’s scary.
You left a great out for Bobby Cannavale’s Irving to return. Is he coming back?
I’ll just say that I loved working with him, he’s one of my favorite characters and favorite people to work with. And if there’s any opportunity to work with him again, I’ll do that.
Let’s talk about what we saw tonight. Elliot is still bent on taking down the 1% of the world, but his dilemma is that he’s now in the pocket of WhiteRose.
The way we are ending the third season is that we’re coming back to the original promise: Elliot’s mission to take down secret organizations who are controlling things behind the scenes. It’s the first time that Elliot has exposed them and seen their true identity in that they’re being led by White Rose and the Dark Army. It’s an interesting predicament: He has leverage of them, but they have leverage over him as well. It’s an interesting Mexican standoff.
Elliot’s decision to reverse the 5/9 hack: Is this just a means to ease his own guilt after blowing up all those E-corp buildings?
Yeah, I think that with the journey of Elliot, we started the series with this guy in an immense amount of pain. Instead of facing that, he blamed it on society and externalized to the world around him what needed to be fixed, when in fact, he was avoiding facing the problem within. That’s what this moment in this season was about: His realization that what he wanted was not co-opted by the very people he was trying to take down; that it was wrong. There are a few internal struggles he also faces in regards to his relationship with Mr. Robot and its evolution.
Angela learning that she was Phillip Price’s daughter. Why was this important to establish and was this something you knew going into the season?
The thing about that revelation is that what I always thought was interesting in regards to the entire chain reaction of things that led to the 5/9 hack and the global catastrophe is that it all started with broken family ties. And really the chain reaction of Price who is estranged from his daughter her whole life, and reaching out in the distance, by hiring this (small) cybersecurity company which has no business representing E-Corp; then because of that, Elliot joins the company to avenge his father’s death — that strategy to attack E-Corp, that spiraling out of control, is in essence about broken family ties. Now (Price and Angela) are trying to heal that tragedy and trauma that comes out of it. We planned this very early on; at the end of the first season Price takes Angela in.
There’s a lot of gore, especially when Bobby Cannavale goes nuts. And it’s a great face off at the barn in the country. What were your cinematic inspirations?
Black Sunday. I always go back to the 1970s. But in general, it’s sort of this classic good guy versus bad guy standoff. I always felt that the show was always building toward that, but never did one before, because that’s the nature of hacking. You don’t have personal standoffs like that. We finally had the opportunity and it made sense to return to the place where Stage 2 was really created and birthed.
Dom and Darlene, where does this leave them now?
Dom is at a crossroads. She’s the most noble character to her cause in the entire series. She’s now in with the Dark Army in this brutal way and we’re going to see the aftereffects of that. In terms of Darlene, she’s going to have to live and process a lot of guilt of what she’s put Dom through. There’s a genuine relationship there: They did care for one another. It’s going to be interesting though because they’re on opposite sides. We’re going to explore that relationship and whether they survive through that.
The Brave Traveler at the end of tonight’s show, that’s the drug kingpin Fernando Vera who double-crossed Elliot in season one and took girlfriend Shayla’s life. What now?
[Editor’s note, check out season 3 finale coda below] Well, he’s a crazy person, an egomaniac and hopefully very entertaining to watch. I’ll leave that as my answer. There’s a personal connection here with Elliot and out of all the global chaos that he’s been experiencing on the show, this one narrows the field a bit on a personal level. Shayla was the only true connection Elliot made when we began the series. We’ll definitely explore the blowback from all of that with her murder and how Elliot assisted in breaking Vera out of prison.
One word description of Mr. Robot‘s season 4?