TV Recap: Mr. Robot: Season 3, Episode 6
Oh boy, if you thought last week’s episode was intense, you haven’t seen anything yet. Episode five was a technical marvel and a successful slow invasive exercise, but episode six is a nonstop thrill ride. It starts with a crushingly sad, human moment and ends with the prolonged launch of Stage 2. Peppered in between is a pulse-pounding race against the clock for all of our characters. This is what we’ve been waiting a season and a half to see, and I’ll be damned if it didn’t live up to the hype.
The episode kicks off with the most cathartic, tear jerking scene of the show’s run. A young Angela is glued to the TV screen watching cartoons during a gathering at her home. The get-together is a small family event, a going away party of sorts, to celebrate the life of Angela’s mother. She has given up on her fight with cancer and is resigned to spending her remaining days with her family, refusing money from an unknown benefactor (perhaps a semi-regretful Terry Colby?). Elliot’s father is there, and goes over to Angela to try to convince her to leave the TV and go by her mother’s side. Angela is understandably upset and has a tough time getting up the courage, but he convinces her by creating a parallel to Back to the Future, saying that Marty had to help George build up the courage to ask Lorraine to the dance to correct the future. Angela goes and talks to her mother for a while, unable to accept her impending death. Her mother believes that they will see each other again in another place, and asks Angela to believe it, too.
Suddenly, Angela (Portia Doubleday) snaps to where we last saw her in the previous episode, confronted by Elliot. He chews her out for lying to him for all this time, for abandoning her morals to service Whiterose. Angela maintains her stance, saying that all of this is necessary, echoing her previous statements that nobody will die, and everybody will be saved, including her mother and Elliot’s father. Elliot still isn’t buying it, and demands to know where Tyrell and the base of operations are. She pushes him away and coldly pretends to not know him. Before he leaves, Elliot remembers the Red Wheelbarrow.
Darlene is speaking with the FBI agents Dom DiPierro (Grace Gummer) and Norm (Rizwan Manji). They grill her about her meeting with Elliot, but she doesn’t have anything to say. That is, until Elliot calls her and gives her the location of the Red Wheelbarrow where he’s confident Tyrell is. Although Dom is sure Darlene is still hiding something, they leave to investigate. At HQ, the agents inform Agent Santiago (Omar Metwally), who we know to be working with the Dark Army. He tells them to take this slow, while under the table texting Irving that the place has been exposed.
At a particularly bourgeois party, Phillip Price (Michael Cristofer) pointedly congratulates Minister Zhang/Whiterose (BD Wong) on the UN vote, and is reassured that China will sign the economic accord promised. Spoiler: it won’t happen. From here on out the episode kicks into high gear and bounces back and forth between four concurrent pulse-pounding scenes. I’ll break them down individually to save space, just know that they take place at the same time and are presented as an extended montage, so some things may line up weirdly as follows.
First, Tyrell gets a talking to from Irving. He lets him know that the trip to the Ukraine isn’t going to happen, and he hands Tyrell a bag and a set of instructions to follow. Tyrell reads them and sets up a scene, leaving a handcuff attached to his bed and setting the instructions ablaze along with some other precious evidence in a trash can.
Fed up with the slow approach, agents Dom and Norm decide to go to the Red Wheelbarrow themselves. Dom scouts, looking for anybody or anything suspicious. She isn’t getting anywhere until she sneaks into the kitchen and smells the smoke from the fire created by Tyrell. She follows it to a secret backroom where she finds the abandoned hideout and discovers a series of tunnels leading out. The full force shows up and set up a crime scene, and later, Tyrell is arrested, running in the streets, screaming to stop the attack.
Angela rides the subway home. In the middle of the ride, a shifty passenger wearing an fsociety mask pulls out a gun and robs the two older ladies sitting across from her. He then aims his gun at her and demands her money. Angela stares straight down the barrel and refuses. Whether she was calling a bluff or still caught up in believing that her death would be undone doesn’t matter, as the guy runs off as soon as the car comes to a stop. When she gets home, Darlene attempts to intimidate her and make her feel remorse her connections to the Dark Army. Angela doesn’t care, though. She’s seeing their plan through, after all. The two go at it but stop after getting disturbing phone notifications.
The most thrilling thread involves Elliot racing against time to stop the bomb from going off. His called in threat didn’t work for long, as the police searched for a real bomb and found nothing and are sending the workers back in. Elliot nicks a security guard’s ID card and heads inside. He sets up his computer and begins hacking to halt the attack. Mr. Robot isn’t having it, however, and takes over and gets him on a taxi headed home. Elliot has lost a whole fifteen minutes, and rushes back inside knowing that it could be ready to blow at any second. His equipment’s gone, so he jacks another computer to try again, but blacks out again and wakes up five minutes later in the elevator. Time is ticking, and Elliot’s last chance is to get to the batteries rigged to blow and manually stop them, but Mr. Robot won’t make it easy. Elliot runs down the stairs, and Mr. Robot takes over, marked by a small technical glitch on screen, for a split second to throw himself down them. Elliot keeps moving, every few seconds being stopped by finding himself throwing himself into the wall or smashing his head on some pipes. The physical abuse isn’t enough, and Elliot makes it to the main room where he contacts Mr. Robot by showing the shipping manifests, proving that the documents are not there. He gives up, and lets Elliot take over to pull the fire alarm and douse the batteries.
Elliot makes his way down the street, waxing on whether Mr. Robot will take out his rage on him or the Dark Army who lied to him. Before he can pat himself on the back for too long, he notices all of the people around him in a frenzy, crying while staring at their phones. He hops across the street and watches some TVs in a store window along with a crowd of shocked faces. 71 E Corp buildings have blown up across the country. “I fought so hard to protect the New York facility that I couldn’t see the bigger picture. It wasn’t a single point of failure. I was.”
We’ve finally seen it. Stage 2 was not just one blown up building, it was a terrorist attack of unrivaled proportions. Thousands are dead, and the weight of that is pinned on our hero’s shoulders. Despite being an insanely stressful hour, this episode is also notable for being a much-needed reminder that Rami Malek is the fucking man. The image of a single man pummeling his body against a wall could be laughable, but Malek is convincing, just as he is when experiencing his best friend’s betrayal, or displaying shock. I’m more curious than ever as to what Whiterose’s final intentions are, and if she does indeed have access to a time machine of some kind. That’s a shark I’d be happy to watch the show gleefully jump at this point.