As usual, Elliot isn’t doing so well.

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“You know when you #### something up and you wish you had the power to hit “undo”?”

Where We Stand at the Start of This Episode

 

Elliot and fsociety are now at odds, disagreeing on whether fsociety should blow up a records building to bring E Corp down once and for all and prevent a recovery of all the data lost in The 5/9 Hack

Elliot doesn’t “feel” Mr. Robot, so he thinks Mr. Robot may be gone. Mr. Robot is not gone, but when he manifests, Elliot is completely unaware.

Last time we saw Joanna Wellick (Tyrell’s wife), she had been beaten badly by Scott Knowles, the husband of the Sharon Knowles, who Tyrell killed. Joanna orchestrated pinning the murder on Scott with the help of her boyfriend, Derek, who had been the bartender at the party where Sharon Knowles was murdered. Derek agreed to give false testimony about what he saw at the party to implicate Scott in the murder.

Darlene is working with the FBI against her will to bring down all the perpetrators of The 5/9 Hack, Elliot included.

Angela got Elliot a job at E Corp after she turned down his romantic advance.

Elliot is suddenly obsessed with the idea of “fixing what he did”, and the unlikely path he’s chosen is through E Corp itself.

 

Full Recap

 

There is now definitive proof that the world of Mr. Robot is not our world, and may be a Matrix of some kind or an alternate reality. Scroll to the very bottom to see my thoughts on this. 

 

Elliot Gets a Job at E Corp

Weird.

 

At the start of this episode, we see that Elliot’s plea to Angela has been fruitful, and that she did get him the job he asked her for at E Corp. Ironically, he is on the 5/9 Hack “Recovery Team”.

Elliot’s whole plan is this: Many of the financial records that were lost in The 5/9 Hack were “backed up” in the form of printed paper records. All those paper records are being shipped to a single facility. Tyrell has already let Elliot know that fsociety (which Tyrell is now heavily a part of), at Mr Robot’s direction, plans to blow up the building once all the paper records arrive there.

As we see Elliot sit down on his first day, he internally begins doubting whether he was completely right about E corp, thinking:

“…maybe they’re a necessary evil that just needs to be kept in check.”

He frames this new attitude by saying that he’s simply “grown up”.

“I’m gonna fix the world I broke, and put it back together better than it was before.”

Elliot appears to be re-writing history as well, saying that the plan was never to destroy E Corp, it was to make them better.

 

All About That Paper: Elliot’s Plan to Stop Stage 2 Gets Traction

 The E Corp machine, confused by Elliot’s endless shipping circle

 

Elliot knows if the paper records get to their single destination, fsociety will use their malware to turn the batteries from the UPS (uninterrupted power supply) into bombs, and blow up the building. Elliot’s new mission is to stop this by internally monkeying with E Corp.

Elliot starts by trying to convince his boss that digitizing all of E Corp’s paper records would be a good idea. This predictably fails, so Elliot, with his typically terrifying efficiency, hacks into his boss’ data and finds that said boss was doing something illegal. Elliot notifies the FBI, who arrest his boss, and then moves on to attempt to convince the next person.

At the same time, Elliot has messed with the paper-record shipments and is having them shipped where he wants them to go, in a perpetual circle, never arriving at the building targeted by fsociety. He is betting on himself convincing one of his bosses to digitize the records before they learn of his shipping sabotage so they’ll have a head start on digitizing them.

 

Elliot gets his next boss fired the same way as the first. Through a hack, he learns that his boss is helping E Corp fake emissions tests (a callback to the Volkswagen emissions cheating a few years ago), calls the FBI, and gets his boss arrested.

Finally, Elliot is successful at convincing boss #3, and while Elliot waits for Upper Management to get on board with digitizing the paper documents, he spends his time in the way you’d expect, doling out internal justice to E Corp employees.

 

Elliot Returns to His Vigilante Hacker Roots

The FBI arresting one of Elliot’s bosses

 

We see a montage of a parade of employees being fired and arrested one by one by the FBI, pointed by Elliot’s invisible finger of judgement:

“You know, your typical subprime mortgage scammers, Ponzi schemers, Pension embezzlers, and sexual harassers. That way, when Evil Corp gets back on its feet, they’ll no longer be evil. Because changing the world was never about tearing E Corp down. It’s about making them better.

Elliot making eye contact with us during this monologue

Maybe I —-ed up an already —-ed-up world, but I’m fixing it now, hitting “undo.” And, friend, it feels great.”

We see “EvilCorp” change to “E corp” on our screen during this internal monologue, showing us that Elliot has entirely changed his perspective. As we know from his past actions, however, this is liekly to be a short-lived change.

As usual, Elliot ignores the fact that stirring up trouble on such a large scale could easily prompt an investigation and get him in trouble. We see reddit posts about the firings during the montage, so we know that people have noticed the oddly large number of E Corp employees in that one building being arrested by the FBI. Apparently, Elliot still sees himself as invisible and invincible when implementing his vigilante hacker justice, even though a random guy (Lenny) took him down and got him an 18-month prison sentence in Season 2.

As the intro ends, we see a trashcan fire on the street from above, and a massive explosion of fire shoots at us from inside it, highlighting Elliot’s anxiety about the potential upcoming act of terrorism perpetrated by fsociety, and reminding us, yet again, that we are sometimes seeing thing from Elliot’s perspective without being able to distinquish reality from hallucination or imagination. 

 

Elliot Weeps While Watching Dancing With The Stars

Poor Elliot. 🙁

 

This optimistic intro comes to a hard crashing halt, as Elliot tells us that his depression is back, “worse than he remembers”, and he weeps alone in his apartment while watching Dancing With the Stars, at one point with a crying emoji replacing his head.

Elliot is taking Zoloft, but it’s not helping, so he goes back to therapy.

Elliot thinks that Mr. Robot might be gone, though we know this is not the case. He thinks that avoiding Darlene is helping keep Mr. Robot away, which we also know isn’t true.

Elliot thinks that he is depressed because he misses having a purpose, which is an odd thing to think, because of his clear purpose to stop Stage 2. He’s not sure why he feels this way, and neither do we, but I suspect the reason why Elliot doesn’t feel good doing what he calls “the right thing”, is because Mr. Robot is a more dominant force in him than he admits.

 

Elliot is Back in Therapy

“Nice rug,”

 

Surprisingly, Elliot’s old therapist Krista will still see him after their messy past with the whole Lenny situation.

After Krista reminds Elliot that today is his birthday, it seems to spark a memory, and hetells Krista about how he and Darlene made a Home Alone-inspired snowman when they were kids and were very excited to take a picture of it, until their dad pushed Elliot out of the window.

Elliot causally mentions the window incident to Krista, but according to her, this is the first time she’s heard about it. Elliot is confused. He was sure he told her about this in the past.

When Krista asks Elliot what made him think of this story, there is a long pause, then Elliot says:

“I don’t know.”

Neither do we, but we can be sure that this scene is yet another of the many clues into the true nature of Elliot’s world.

 

Joanna Wellick is Back

Scott Knowles, literally framed

 

Joanna Wellick, Tyrell Wellick’s wife, is back, and her face has healed completely since she was savagely beaten by former E corp CTO Scott Knowles. Tyrell, as you probably remember (who could forget), murdered Sharon Knowles at a party in Season 1.

Joanna’s plan to implicate Scott in his wife’s murder has worked wonderfully. She utilized Derek, who was bar-tending the party where the murder occurred, to give false testimony against Scott Knowles.

Joanna is on a political-style talkshow called “Let’s be Frank with Frank Cody”, convincingly proclaiming her husband Tyrell’s innocence and Scott Knowles’ guilt.

It’s obvious that Scott made a huge mistake in messing with Joanna at all, and beating her badly was him essentially painting a target on his own back. We know from almost the first moment of watching Joanna that she is immensely intelligent, calculation and Machiovellian, but apparently Scott missed them memo on that.

 

A New fsociety Video is Released, The FBI Question Darlene

Same old, same old

 

New fsociety video comes out, promising a second attack that will “make your eardrums explode, literally”

Darlene is still “working” with the FBI, who are getting impatient at the lack of useful information that Darlene has given them. She doesn’t know where the fsociety video came from, or who made it.

Darlene tells the FBI “get woke” to the fact that Elliot is definitely not talking to Tyrell and has never had a relationship with him. The FBI responds by playing back a tape of the “bonsoir, Elliot” phonecall. Elliot was of course not consciously plotting anything with Tyrell, but Mr. Robot was, a fact that got him shot by Tyrell at the end of Season 2.

 

Someone Follows Joanna, and it Doesn’t End Well

“You’ve been looking in the mirror the whole drive home.” RIP, Joanna.


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Someone is following Joanna as her driver and bodyguard, Mr. Sutherland, takes her home from her “Let’s be Frank” studio taping. Surprise! As Mr. Sutherland drags the stalker from the car, we see it’s her boyfriend, Derek. The guy she used to implicate Scott Knowles in the murder Tyrell actually committed.

He’s upset because Joanna just said on live TV that Tyrell “is the only man I’ve ever loved and the only man I ever will love.” Of course, she also said she’s always been faithful to Tyrell, and the fact that she has a boyfriend obviously undermines the credibility of that statement along with everything else she says. I’d take everything she says with a pile of salt, but Derek apparently trusted her, and he’s not happy his trust has been violated.

 

Victim becomes perpetrator

 

“She —-ing lied to me. She went on national television and she said she still loves him. You love me! I know you do! You told me we were gonna be together. That’s the only reason I agreed to testify! You made me lie to the police to get Tyrell off! But now I’m gonna tell them the truth!”

Uh oh.

We mentioned previously that messing with Joanna is a bad idea, and Derek should know this because he’s involved directly in a plot against one of her enemies (Knowles).

The fact that this guy is still alive after being the linchpin in a conspiracy is surprising to begin with, and he doesn’t get that. I guess Joanna still needs him around to testify, and him going missing at this point would be incredibly suspicious. Still, he is extremely vulnerable to the likes of Joanna, who is ruthless, powerful, and would have no problem making his life a study in suffering if it suited her needs.

Mr. Sutherland punches Derek and tells him in no uncertain terms that his life will come to an end if he retracts his testimony. Mr. Sutherland also mentions that they (Joanna included) do not care about his life, at all.

“Forget this night ever happened, move on. Marry a nice, young lady who actually finds whatever you are charming. But understand one thing: as certain as the pain you’re feeling right now, there is no option where you and Joanna ever see each other again.”

Okay, that should get the message across, right? It does, but not in the way I expected.

Mr. Sutherland gets back in the car, and Joanna says:

“Is everything under control?”

To which he responds

“Yes, ma’am. He just needed a little clarity.”

Looks like they aren’t taking Derek seriously, and I confess I didn’t either, at this point

Derek then slinks into view outside Mr. Sutherland’s window with a gun in his hand. He takes aim and fires a single shot at Mr. Sutherland, breaking his window.

 

Bang. Derek shooting Mr. Sutherland

 

Mr. Sutherland slumps over, and Joanna, in the backseat with her baby (she has a baby, remember?), desperately reaches forward to get Mr. Sutherland’s gun from his holster to defend herself.

A second shot is fired, and Joanna falls backward into her seat, dead, shot in the head. Her little baby is screaming, splattered by Joanna’s blood. Yikes.

Roxette’s “Listen to Your Heart” continues to play through the car’s speakers for a moment of relative silence (and a ringing pervades in our ears for a few moents after the shots), and we think Derek has successfully committed a double-murder and gotten away with it, but no. Mr. Sutherland is still alive, and shoots Derek through the windshield, killing him.

 

Bang. Mr. Sutherland shooting Derek.

 

Next, the creators of Mr. Robot make sure we know that Joanna is really dead, so we see a very graphic autopsy of her body happening while FBI Agents Santiago and DiPierro discuss what just happened. Tyrell is apparently “the most wanted man in the world”, according to an Santiago, so they can’t let anyone know Joanna is dead, and her baby has to go to Social Services instead of the standard next-of-kin scenario.

 

Mr. Robot Attacks Darlene

Mr. Robot has no chill

 

Elliot meets with Darlene, where he shares his theory with Darlene that she is “his trigger” for Mr. Robot’s emergence.

Darlene, starkly contrasting Mr. Robot with the form he appears in to Elliot, says she wishes their father were there, because he’d know what to do about the mess they’re in.

Darlene also says she didn’t care about The 5/9 Hack, and that she only really participated because she wanted to be closer to Elliot. This is of debatable credibility, seeing the zest for chaos she exhibited in Season 2 that resulted in her murdering an E Corp executive. Elliot asks Darlene to stay at his apartment for the night because he’s lonely, and she agrees.

Elliot wakes in the early morning and demands to know why Darlene is there, and what she was doing behind “his” computer monitor, grabbing her roughly and slamming her into a wall while screaming in her face. Darlene realizes it’s Mr. Robot (“You’re him!”), and we immediately see Elliot as Mr. Robot as well. Darlene gets away from him and rushes out of the apartment, clearly very disturbed, calling him a “—-ing psycho!” as she leaves.

I’m assuming Darlene was planting a surveillance device for the FBI on Elliot’s computer. It’s interesting that Mr. Robot refers to Elliot’s computer as “his” computer here.

 

Phillip Price Bashes Bitcoin and China, Minister Zhang isn’t Happy

Price, afraid of Minister Zhang

 

Phillip Price speaks at an event where Minister Zhang (White Rose) is present, and rails against Bitcoin and the fact that the Chinese economy is now relying on it. Price wants E-coin to be the standard for the new world currency, and believes that China needs to get with the program and adopt E-coin already, geez.

Minister Zhang does not like this, and responds to Price’s defiance by telling him (in a very sinister manner) that he met with his “pet employee” Angela, making it sound like something unspecified (and bad) happened between them.

This freaks Price out, which is odd, considering his usual unflappability, and makes me wonder if the relationship between Price and Angela is more than it seemed from the start.

 

Mr. Robot and Krista Meet for the First Time

Mr. Robot, being creepy, as usual.

 

We then see Elliot in therapy with Krista again, requesting that she bring out Mr. Robot for some unspecified purpose. I’m assuming Elliot found out about Mr. Robot attacking Darlene that morning, and decided enough was enough and that he should try whatever he can to combat Mr. Robot.

When they start the process, Mr. Robot almost immediately appears. Initially we see him as Elliot, speaking in both Mr. Robot’s and Elliot’s voices simultaneously:

“You should know that nothing’s gonna come from this. We were doing just fine.”

The show is very creative at showing the Elliot-to-Mr. Robot transition and the creators are keeping it fresh by varying what we see and hear each time.

Mr. Robot immediately rises from his chair and begins flirting with Krista, or at least trying to. He is incredibly abrasive and unfocused, looking at books on her bookshelf, quoting Freud, going back to compliments, then insults, then accidentally reveals something:

“Because of her, we’ve been compromised. She compromised us, and Elliot didn’t see it.”

Why Krista asks what he means by this, he suddenly realizes that he has revealed something and is not pleased. He gets in Krista’s face, leans over, and says:

“I’m done talking to you.”

He goes back to his seat off-screen, and we see Elliot again, completely unaware of what just happened, asking:

“Krista? When are we gonna start?”

We then immediately see Elliot walking quickly down the street, his inner-monologue going full-blast about what just happened. He addresses us (don’t forget, we are “Friend”, what’s up with that?):

“What happened? Were you there? Did you go with me or stay with him? What did you see? What did Mr.
Robot mean, “We’ve been compromised”? You were there, you heard it along with her, right? What was Mr.
Robot talking about?”

Who compromised us? Who’s even us? Him and me? Or him and Tyrell? No, he couldn’t still be working with Tyrell. Could he? Is Stage 2 still on? No, I would know. That’s impossible. Stage 2 is down. I made sure of it. Who compromised me? And why do I suddenly feel so alive?”

Why do the experiences of Elliot and Mr. Robot’s experiences suddenly feel so separate to them? In Season 2, Elliot and Mr. Robot communicated directly, but for the most part, Elliot could not remember what he did when Mr. Robot was in control. I don’t know what’s going on here.


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Who are “we” in the context of the show, why are we called “friend” by Elliot? Why does he trust us more than he trusts himself, or anyone else? What is Mr. Robot’s real name, and why does he look like Elliot’s dad if he acts so different?

Elliot is just as much in the dark as we are about what is going on here, except he presumably knows who “we” are in the context of the story, and we still don’t.

Elliot clearly misses Mr. Robot and the mayhem he causes, which must be why he “feels so alive” after this exchange with Krista.

 

Elliot Gets “His” Dog Back

 “Even when the world’s going to ####, you’re sitting pretty.”

 

Elliot gets to his apartment only to be confronted outside his door by that dog guy from the Pilot episode. Remember the guy who was dating Krista, but who Elliot didn’t like because he was cheating on his wife, lying to Krista (who Dog Guy was dating), and being mean to his own dog? Remember, that guy also got Elliot thrown in prison for a 18-month sentence last season. Yeah, that guy. His name is Lenny, in case you forgot (I did).

Lenny brought his dog (“Flipper”) and wants Elliot to take it because it’s sick and has been defecating all over his apartment. Lenny also berates Elliot (again) and wonders aloud about how Elliot seems to be “sitting pretty” amid all the chaos.

I’m not sure what he’s talking about, because Elliot’s apartment isn’t exactly a luxury penthouse, and his life has never been something enviable from my perspective, with all the substance abuse, amnesia, and multiple personality problems.

Maybe I’m over-analyzing, but this could very well be another clue that is later revealed to show that Elliot is not where he seems to be at all, again.

Elliot doesn’t say a word to Lenny, but takes Flipper and goes inside, giving him a bowl of water.

 

Elliot Uses His Superpower Against the FBI

Elliot activates.

 

Elliot then sits down at his computer, and tense electronic music begins to play. This lets us know that Elliot is about to use his superpower.

He almost touches the keyboard, but pauses for a few moments, then turns his computer off and on again booting with a USB thumbdrive into a different (less friendly looking) version of Linux, with a desktop background that reads “KALI LINUX, the quieter you become, the more you are able to hear” He then opens a console and mounts something and does something I don’t understand. I’m sure it’s something intelligent and accurately portrayed.

I suspect that Elliot has become Mr. Robot in this moment, because he seems to realize the FBI is watching him, which could easily have been deduced when Mr. Robot spotted Darlene messing with his computer.

Either we are seeing Mr. Robot here, or Elliot just guessed that the FBI was watching him without knowing about Darlene’s sabotage. The third possibility, of course, is that Mr. Robot and Elliot may not be so separate afrer all, and he just remembers what Mr. Robot saw.

The camera zooms out to reveal that the FBI are watching everything Elliot is doing on his computer on their own computers, and they appear to be set up in an apartment somewhere in the city. Darlene is there and abruptly leaves after one Agent DiPierro congratulates Norm the FBI tech guy with a “Good job” for setting up all the surveillance on Elliot.

They have other camera feeds on their monitors as well, but they appear to be showing entrances and exits of unknown locations in the city. Maybe their own location, who knows. None of the cameras seem to be on Elliot, which makes sense, as everything he does that they care about is on his computer anyway.

 

Minister Zhang Wants to Hurt Phillip Price

Zhang, planning to slap Price

 

We then see Minister Zhang in a dark limo with curtained windows, telling his assistant (consigliere? disciple? lackey? We don’t know.) that he wants Stage 2 (blowing up the paper records building) to happen regardless of whether the UN vote Phillip Price got for him goes the way he wants it to.

Basically, he was going to hold off on Stage 2 if Price (E Corp CEO) backed him on the UN vote, but apparently Price made Minister Zhang mad by disrespecting China and Bitcoin, so now he’s going to blow up the E Corp building no matter what. The assistant is not cool with this, citing “serious implications” but Minister Zhang doesn’t care. He’s the boss, and with his customary mean-grandmother-delivery, he decares that he wants Price’s “hand slapped”.

 

The FBI Fall for the Oldest Trick in the Book

Elliot’s humorous trap

 

Elliot hilariously fools the FBI by using an old trick in a slightly different way. He somehow deduces the FBI are watching him, or maybe just in case they are, he sets a trap by sending a URL via email with instructions to download a file.

The email he sends is to  “Eugene Belford”, a character from the movie Hackers, a very unrealistic film previously derided by Elliot’s hacker colleagues. The email reads exactly as an email containing a virus would, baiting the reader to download a file by saying that the receiver has “requested” it from the sender.

Norm, very foolishly, follows the URL and downloads the file there, leading Elliot straight to their location.

Agents DiPierro and Norm figure out what their mistake way too late, as Elliot is already seen breaking into the FBI safehouse on their camera feed. The episode ends with Elliot, on camera, looking around the empty room menacingly.

 

My Favorite Parts of This Episode

Music

 

I love the use of music in this episode.

The tense electronic music when Elliot begins setting his FBI trap, along with the tense electronic music during the Mr. Robot/Krista meeting is really good, and very effective at boosting the tension.

Roxette’s “Listen to Your Heart” playing over the Joanna shootout scene was very poingant and effective for some reason.

 

Flipper

 


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I’m happy that Elliot got Flipper (the dog) back.

 

Joanna Insanity

 

The Joanna Wellick murder was brutal, and shows me that anything could happen in this show at any time. I like that, though I’m a little sorry to see her go. She was scary.

 

Agent Santiago

 

Special Agent Santiago is laying on the scared-straight routine pretty thick when he’s talking to Darlene. His delivery of the line “STINK ON THAT STILL HASN’T WASHED OFF” was pretty funny.

 

“Let’s be Frank with Frank Cody”

 

This fictional talkshow’s set and mood is spot-on with similar talkshows that exist in reality. We’ve seen brief clips of it in Mr. Robot before, so I suspect Frank Cody will take on a bigger role in the story as the show continues.

 

 Dystopia Rising

 

The creeping dystopia creeps further along. In this episode, we see trash littering the streets, with a great shot of a single-file line of children roll along the sidewalk on hoverboards.

We also see this when Agent DiPierro talks about the terrible exchange rate of the US Dollar to Ecoin and when a prostitute asks to scan Elliot’s QR code as he walks past a group of them on the street.

Krista now works from home because her landlord is no longer paying utility bills due to the financial problems caused by the 5/9 Hack.

 

Theories and Thoughts

 

The FBI Still Have No Idea of Elliot’s Involvement in the 5/9 Hack

 

The FBI are only really interested in Elliot because of his connection to Tyrell, who they believe perpetrated the 5/9 Hack. They have no idea who he really is or why he is working at E Corp. Ha.

 

Elliot Misses Mr. Robot

 

I believe that Elliot misses Mr. Robot and the mayhem he causes, and wants to engage in Mr. Robot shenanigans himself.

 

Snowman Story

 

Something weird is going on with that Snowman story. Elliot keeps bringing it up but he doesn’t know why. I suspect there is some inconsistency in his memory of that day due to something (aside from the window and snowman events) that changed at that time. Perhaps when Elliot was pushed out of the window he was put into a coma and still remains there, or maybe he was hooked up to a prototype Matrix his father was working on because he was paralyzed by the fall? Who knows.

 

What is Mr. Robot’s Name?

 

Mr. Robot asks “What does he call me?” when talking to Krista about Elliot, and she tells him that Elliot calls him, as we know “Mr. Robot”. Mr. Robot laughs and says “talk about labels!”

I believe the “labels” comment may be referring to the fact that the name “Mr. Robot” is descriptive of the nature of Mr. Robot. In other words, he is a program, like Agent Smith in The Matrix. More on that below.

I believe Elliot’s father used his own likeness on the prototype Mr. Robot program when he was working for White Rose.

 

They’re in a Matrix

 

After Season 2 when Angela was in White Rose’s game, I now doubt that this reality we see is even real at all. I think maybe the characters are in a Matrix of some kind. Angela’s statements about fixing everything, including the death of her mother and Elliot’s father support this theory. How can you rewind history and bring people back to life unless they were never really dead in the first place?

A theory that goes along with this is that maybe Mr. Robot and Elliot are actually two distinct entities that were somehow combined in whatever computer program they’re in.

White Rose and Minister Zhang could also easily be two separate entities in the same form as well, both vying for time (remember White Rose’s obsession with time). Zhang’s reaction to being asked whose clothes were in his closet last season was odd and made it sound like he is dissasociating from the actions of White Rose.

The talk of alternate realities in the season premiere also points to some kind of subjective reality, or at least multiple ones that can be traversed.

I can’t explain Elliot’s mental illness as a mental illness because his symptoms do not fit anything that actually exists. I don’t think this is an oversight by the creators of the show. I think it’s all pointing to something.

 

I’ve saved the best for last, because in second-to-final scene of the episode, Minister Zhang’s assistant tells us what the UN vote is really about: The annexation of the Congo. IRL, this already happened in 1908. This definitively confirms that we are not viewing our reality at all in the world of Mr. Robot. Is it a Matrix or an alternate reality? We don’t know yet, so stay tuned.

 

See our other Mr. Robot Season 3 Recaps and Analyses here

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