Warning: This contains spoilers for Episode 7. Not seen Episode 6? Read our spoiler-free review of Season 3’s opening episode.
“You’re actually gonna get away with this,” sighs FBI agent Dom, as she looks at her evidence board listing all the faces linked to the Dark Army and its campaign of hacking, disruption and murder. Because yes, what began as a game-changing hack by the well-meaning fsociety has turned into a full-on terror attack, with 71 E Corp storage facilities blown up across the USA. It’s a sobering, horrifying revelation that ended last episode, as Elliot emerged into the cold light of day and understood exactly what he had brought about. He learned long ago that he had been a pawn in a wider game, that those moving the pieces were destined to escape the blame, but even with that knowledge on his shoulders – along with the guilt of opening up society to E Corp and the Dark Army’s plots – the realisation that it’s not just one building being destroyed but dozens still hit hard.
Elliot, naturally, flees to one of the few sympathetic people around him – Krista – to talk to her about what’s happened, but Mr. Robot steps in before he can say it all out loud. That dynamic is nothing new, but what makes Sam Esmail’s series so provocative is that we then go through the same revelation once again, but from Mr. Robot’s perspective. Those who were worried that Christian Slater might end up with little to do, as the show progresses, can rest easy: he’s excellent here, as he responds to the discovery that the Dark Army have been playing him all along not with guilt, but with rage. He’s fuming, as he rails at Krista during their impromptu therapy session, and as Irving takes him on a trip to see how the rich and wealthy in society are living their lives: in exactly the same way as they always have done. For them, nothing’s changed at all. The Darky Army and E Corp? They’re not really different at all.
Except, of course, when it comes to who’s in charge: Philip Price and Zhang, aka. Whiterose, continue to despise each other, and Zhang really twists the knife in, as he lords it over Price. Essentially kicking him out of the company, running his reputation into the ground, and now planning to move the Washington Township plant to the Congo, he’s smirking with a greed and arrogance that makes you want to punch him in the face. Why is he doing this? Simply because he had Price to handle the Angela situation more than once – a slight of disobedience that Zhang cannot let go unpunished. That their exceedingly petty dispute has effectively uprooted the entire world doesn’t even register as a concern to them.
Tyrell Wellick has exactly the same journey to go through, as he is shipped to the FBI by the Dark Army. He plays dumb and claims to be the Dark Army’s manipulated prisoner, with no knowledge of what their plan was. Dom, naturally disbelieves him, but the sad truth of it is that he’s half-right: like Mr. Robot, he thought this was his baby, and now it’s been taken from him, given a different name and turned out to be a koala. Tyrell helps the FBI identify members of fsociety planning another attack, but his attempt to get out where he can is thwarted by the dodgy Agent Santiago, who threatens Tyrell with the death of his son, if he doesn’t follow the Dark Army’s script. (He also informs Tyrell of his wife’s death, a scene that carries a surprisingly weighty emotional impact, given how misjudged that whole subplot was – full credit goes to Martin Wallström for his performance.)
But saddest of all is catching back up with Trenton and Mobley (Sunita Muni and Azhar Khan), who we last saw back in Season 2, when Leon turned up on the West Coast to catch them off guard. We finally learn what happened to them, as they were taken out into the desert – not to be shot, but to bury Trenton’s friend, who is killed by the Dark Army. It’s a grim sequence, made grimmer by the contrast of the nastiness with Leon’s ramblings about Knight Rider (he’s apparently changed TV shows from Seinfeld). And then, the twist comes: that when they return to their flat, they’ve been kept out of the way so it can be set up as the fake HQ for the Dark Army’s next plan: an attack on air traffic control.
The duo were the very first to realise that they had been duped to some degree, fleeing last season to get away from the bigger plan that had engulfed them – and yet, even then, the Dark Army are able to find them and bump them off. As for their upbeat talk at the end of last season about undoing everything and turning back the clock? Any hope of things somehow being reset is rubbed out with them – a sobering thought, especially when we begin the episode with Angela deludedly sitting in front of the TV, watching the collapse of buildings on the news and, much to Darlene’s dismay, rewinding the footage to prove that everything’s going to be alright and everyone will come back in the end.
But despite her bright white clothes and her well-lit apartment, the mood is darker and more ominous than ever, as Mr. Robot completes its arc of showing how a rogue movement can escalate and be co-opted to form the part of a much more sinister movement – a ride that we’ve gone on first-hand, thanks to the ambiguous, sympathetic cast and the way everything has been filtered through Elliot’s shifting perspective. Refusing to draw the line between corporate corruption and terrorism, this is, ultimately, Esmail’s bleak, scathing portrayal of the world and it makes for harsh viewing, as Dom watches the FBI raid Trenton and Mobley’s flat (where they have both been made to look like they committed suicide). She realises that the good guys aren’t going to win now. What makes her final thought doubly powerful, though, is that we can no longer be sure who the good guys are.
Season 3 of Mr. Robot is available to watch exclusively on Amazon Prime Video in the UK, with new episodes arriving every Thursday, within 24 hours of their US premiere. All 10 episodes of Season 1 and 2 are also available to stream, as part of a £5.99 monthly subscription – or, if you would also like free next-day delivery on Amazon products, as part of a £79 annual Amazon Prime membership.