Mr. Robot: Elliot discovers a series-shaking secret

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Mr. Robot --
Image: Elizabeth Fisher/USA Network

Last week, “Mr. Robot” kicked off its final season with an installment that established the conflict between Elliot and Whiterose. This week’s episode downshifted a bit, dealing with the emotional fallout of a major character’s death. That’s not to say the “402 Payment Required” lacked forward momentum.

Indeed, it featured significant developments in Elliot’s war against Whiterose and the discovery of a shocking secret that will have a significant impact on the rest of the series.

Secret Origin

“402 Payment Required” began with Price detailing the background of the show’s central antagonist to a stunned Elliot. As it turns out, Whiterose has been working on her mysterious Congo project for quite some time. Specifically, the E Corp CEO revealed the Chinese politician established a shadowy global conglomerate called Deus Group in 1989.

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Price also disclosed that E Corp, which Elliot has hated and worked against for decades, has always been a subsidiary of Deus. The hacker said he could gather enough info to take down Deus if they met in the next week, but Price dismissed the idea.

Despite offering up so much new information about Whiterose, this episode kept one card to its chest. It didn’t explain why she has arranged for China to annex the Congo. However, the character isn’t just working for the glory of the Chinese Communist Party. In fact, the sheer scope and opacity of her scheme bring to mind the machinations of a Bond villain.

If the show follows that franchise’s tradition, “Mr. Robot” probably won’t give up her secrets until the series finale. On the other hand, the series’ greatest strength is its utter disinterest in convention.

We Share Our Mothers Health

Although Price declined to join Elliot’s crusade to take down Whiterose, he did offer the hacker a clue. If Elliot could crack the files of E Corp General Counsel Susan Jacobs, he might find a way to access Whiterose’s bank accounts. However, Price also noted the lawyer had gone missing. But before he could investigate the matter, Darlene told him their abusive mother died.

Consequently, he spent most of the episode with his sister, emotionlessly handling his mom’s final arrangements. The two siblings also used their time together to finally talk about Angela’s death. Also, Darlene confessed to killing Susan back in season 2. Although freaked out by his sister’s revelation, Elliot agreed to let her participate in his possibly suicidal run against Whiterose.

Mr. Robot -- "Payment Required" Episode 402 -- Pictured: (l-r) Rami Malek as Elliot Alderson, Carly Chaikin as Darlene.
Image: Elizabeth Fisher/USA Network

While the circumstances of the reconnection were strange, it’s good to see Elliot and Darlene working together again. As she pointed out, he pulled off all of his greatest hacks with her help. She was also correct in noting the Dark Army probably wants her dead too. Although their odds of success in taking down an immensely powerful adversary aren’t good, they are now incrementally better.

Living Hell

Though she was in a bad way last episode, Dom’s situation improbably got worse this week. Her handler, Janice, asked for a status report, and the compromised FBI agent revealed she told her supervisor, Agent Horton, the Dark Army’s cover story. To explain his inexplicable disappearance, the group instructed her to tell the Bureau Agent Santiago was on the payroll of a Mexican drug cartel.

Unfortunately, after Dom told Janice she was 99.9 percent sure her boss bought her story, the operative faked Horton’s suicide. She then texted Dom to “keep it 100” with his replacement.

As “Mr. Robot’s” most moral character, it’s almost painful to watch Dom crack under the Dark Army’s pressure. The weight of participating in so many horrible crimes is pushing her to the breaking point. Hopefully, she can find the courage to reach out to Elliot soon because he’s probably the only person on Earth who could help her.

Kick Over the Table

Despite his initial fatalism, Price ultimately decided to join Elliot’s campaign to honor Angela. He even found a way to gather Deus’ board on short notice; his abrupt retirement from E Corp. Price personally delivered the news to Whiterose, who became furious at the notion that she didn’t plan for something.

Although Whiterose has proven to be an excellent big-picture player, she’s messed up a few key details. Namely, she expected killing Angela would bring Elliot and Price to heel when it had the opposite effect. As such, her dependable tactic of applying violence and intimidation to drive loyalty may have planted the seeds for her undoing. Indeed, the main side effect of crushing a person’s hope is causing them to realize they have nothing to lose.

“The Other One”

Finally, “402 Payment Required” featured the biggest twist in “Mr. Robot” since the show’s first season. While waiting to collect their mother’s ashes, Darlene noted that she mentioned Vera had recently approached her. This news shocked Elliot, but Darlene said she already told him about it, and he didn’t seem concerned. Later, Mr. Robot told Elliot he wasn’t in the driver’s seat when his sister mentioned his old enemy got released from prison.

As it turns out, Elliott has more than one split personality. The close of the episode suggested he has alters representing himself as a child and his mother. Moreover, both of those personalities are subordinate to an unseen fourth persona referred to as “The Other One.”

The revelation that Elliot’s multiple personality disorder is worse than it appeared is fascinating. For one thing, it suggests Elliot and Mr. Robot’s plot to take down Whiterose has a potentially fatal flaw in it. If there’s another personality in the mix with their own agenda, the whole endeavor is at risk.

However, it’s worth noting creator Sam Esmail, and his collaborators didn’t pull this revelation out of thin air. Since the first episode, Elliott has spoken to someone he refers to as “friend.” At first, it appeared as though he was breaking the third wall and addressing the audience. But now it seems he might’ve been talking to his other alter.

Also, last week, “Mr. Robot” subtly teased this week’s big revelation. As he lay dying from a forced overdose, Elliot imagined seeing Mr. Robot, his child self, and his mother. In the vision, his mother said that Elliot’s death would also kill them. At the time, it seemed like he was thinking about how his death would also represent the death of the memory of his family. But that’s not the case.

Now, the series has two big questions driving its final season. One, what will be the outcome of the Whiterose/Elliot conflict? And two, who is “the other one” and what do they want?

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“Mr. Robot” airs on the USA Network at 10 pm ET. Come back to The Burn-In for coverage of the show’s final season.