There are big twists, and then there are ones that seismically alter the entire course of a series. “Mr. Robot” gave us one of these at the end of Wednesday night’s episode, and in turn made us feel as though we were careless for not recognizing it beforehand. Think of it: Elliot Alderson is an untrustworthy character with a history of disguising his story, and he is coming off of a psychotic break. He also ate with some of the same characters regularly, suddenly frequented basketball games, and was attending meetings. All of the signs were there other than the prison setting.
There were a few who saw this coming, so kudos to them. For everyone else, we’re off re-watching the tapes and putting together the connective tissue … all the while wondering why. Why go through all of this effort to reveal a twist this late in the season? We do get an explanation as to origin story courtesy of creator Sam Esmail, who stated the following to HitFix:
“[The twist] came from a two-prong approach. We knew exactly what the fate of Elliot was at the end of the last season, and we started breaking this season’s storyline. We’re always trying to stay as authentic to Elliot as possible, what he’s going through. Knowing Elliot, from the very first episode, he definitely has interesting coping mechanisms. Even from the pilot, he has this ability to reprogram his life: E Corp was turned into Evil Corp. When we thought about him being in prison, what would be that coping mechanism, this came to mind. The other approach was his relationship to us — to his “friend” — and how we left him at the end of the first season. He basically didn’t trust us anymore, he felt we were keeping things from him. So we wanted to develop that relationship as well. That was the one approach of, “This is what Elliot would do in this situation, to cope with being in prison,” and then the other of keeping it from us because he felt betrayed by us from the first season.”
In terms of pulling it off, this is brilliant and almost unparalleled that we’re not angry about it. If this was another show, it’d be easy to be infuriated over what is, when the dust settles, a rather cruel trick. The reason it works here is because the groundwork was already there in terms of this show not having the most reliable of voices behind the helm.
In the end this is a story that still needs to be written out for us as viewers. As of right now, the primary concern overriding all others is that this is a twist forged too late, and the show spent too much of its capital having us trust Elliot to make it to this point when there is less than half of the season still to go. It can prove us wrong (it has before), but we need to see where the story takes us.
For now, be sure to head over here if you want to read our most-recent “Mr. Robot” episode review without delay. Meanwhile, sign up over at this link to secure some other TV news on all we cover, sent right over to you via our official CarterMatt Newsletter. (Photo: USA.)