Mr. Robot: "whoami" / "Hello, Elliot"
December 23, 2019 1:58 PM - Season 4, Episode 12 - Subscribe

the two-part series finale.

Collected reviews/analyses:

Rolling Stone: The groundbreaking hacktivist drama bids farewell by telling a much smaller story than when it started—and that’s exactly what it needed to do

A.V. Club: Mr. Robot ends with hope, heartache, peace—and one final twist
This wasn’t a story about hacking, or revolution, or giant sci-fi machines that may or may not have been capable of transporting people to alternate dimensions. This was the small, intimate story of a troubled man trying his best to get back to some semblance of meaning in his life.
Vulture Recap/Review
It’s arguably the best plot move the series has made since the OG Mr. Robot–isn’t-real twist in the first season because it’s entirely obvious in retrospect and yet has never called attention to itself during the series’ four-season run. I suspect many Redditors have guessed it ahead of time, but its potential predictability doesn’t detract from its power. In fact, it only underscores its necessity and amplifies its core optimism.


It’s why that final scene, inspired by the famous Stargate sequence from 2001: A Space Odyssey, crests the profound emotional heights that Esmail always aspired to reach. Elliot enters an empty movie theater and sits next to the other personalities. He insists that “we” let go as well, as it’s the only way it’ll work. The camera slowly pans up and moves into the flickering projection light. As M83’s “Outro” rises to its crescendo, we watch flashes of Our Elliot’s life over the past year, but they’re only glimpses of that time, and we’re moving too quickly to grab a real look. While these moments were important and profound for a time, they pale in comparison to the real work that’s about to begin, the act of being a fully present human being moving through the world, always struggling, but never backing down.
posted by Kybard (20 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
no time at present to process and describe my feelings, but I thought this was a beautiful ending to the series that kept its focus in the right place and was, as the show always has been, stunningly made and performed. Malek's vulnerability has always been his greatest asset as this character, and it was placed front and center here to incredible effect. the final conversation between Darlene and "Our" Elliot had me in tears.
posted by Kybard at 2:00 PM on December 23, 2019 [3 favorites]

Well, that was pretty good. More than just an anticlimax; I liked that they provided development for Eliot and it all made sense. I particularly appreciated they just lined up The Four for us at one point and explained each one and what his or her role was. Maybe a little pedantic but I felt it important to be that clear.

The part that troubles me is that really the only part of this show I ever loved was Mastermind Eliot. The plotting scheming hacker, the capers, the saving the world. I feel almost complicit in Eliot's fractured personality, something the show reinforces with its fourth wall breaking asides to the audience.

I also like that Esmail told a deeper story than the capers, about the pain of abuse. I did not like the escalation of Eliot's abuse / trauma this season, it felt like too much to me. But I see why it's there now, because it gives a strong edge to the story Esmail was trying to tell about just how badly broken Eliot was by the pain he experienced. I particularly felt sad at the start of the two parter, before the reveal of the Mastermind, where it seems that Eliot just can't find a place for himself in a happy world where he gets everything he wants. And then that moment of brutality, of him murdering his own double, it was really painful. But that pain felt earned and intentional, a story of trauma.

Back to mundane plot stuff.. so what was the end result of Whiter0se's machine? And her whole plot, for that matter? I think absolutely nothing. It just was a coincidence that the Mastermind's last main target for hacktivism included a complexly-gendered Chinese minister who was building a time machine and making a sport of torturing Eliot's friends. The machine was a MacGuffin, it never was going to work, it never did a thing. And Whiter0se's suicide, her seeming affinity for Eliot? Just rhetorical flourish? I still enjoyed all this second plot for its themes and echoes of Eliot's own experience. But I guess from a nuts-and-bolts point of view it was all a red herring?
posted by Nelson at 2:21 PM on December 23, 2019 [1 favorite]

I don't mind not knowing what the machine could have done (presumably whiterose thought it would work and not, y'know, explode), but there is one plot mechanic that bugs me a bit: what exactly DID she show Angela to turn her? I understand what Angela wanted emotionally out of that arrangement (wr was preying on her loneliness and increasingly desperate regret) but like what demonstration happened to make her such an instant acolyte?
posted by Kybard at 2:49 PM on December 23, 2019 [4 favorites]

" The machine was a MacGuffin, it never was going to work, it never did a thing."

What? It did do something, that's how fiction-Elliot got into the "real" world.
posted by GoblinHoney at 3:21 PM on December 23, 2019

This series finale was the counterpoint to Star Wars Rise of the Skywalker I didn't know I needed. A great story, well presented. Zero polar bears or smoke monsters. There were so many WTF moments in S04, but it all come together in one glorious, coherent whole.
posted by mikelieman at 4:34 PM on December 23, 2019 [3 favorites]

The whole series comes together as a glorious coherent whole. I just did a rewatch across the week timed to get me in line for the finale, and I feel so glad I've done it. It's a novel in four parts, an entirety in and of itself. It doesn't feel improvised or meandering. Once the arrow is fired, it moves toward its destination on a single path.

This is one of the best television series I've ever seen, truly.

Esmail has a 10 episode special series coming out next year sometime, it was heavily promoted during the broadcast of this series. I'll probably look for that for my DVR to collect.
posted by hippybear at 4:53 PM on December 23, 2019 [2 favorites]

What? It did do something, that's how fiction-Elliot got into the "real" world.

Only tangentially? My understanding is in the real world the power plant exploded (but didn't melt down). Eliot survived because he was in the special control room that was protected. He got knocked on the head or something and went unconscious, which is why he eventually wakes up in the hospital. Meanwhile, in his head he's sorting out his personalities in the fantasy F-Corp world.

There was definitely no teleportation / multiple worlds / payoff on the Berenstein Bears.
posted by Nelson at 5:27 PM on December 23, 2019 [4 favorites]

I got a kind of well executed homage to the movie Revolver vibe from the finale. I don't get what whiteroses machine was supposed to do/actually did?
posted by onya at 5:41 PM on December 23, 2019

we're the part that always showed up.
we're the part that stayed.

And then the "Hello Elliott" at the, I'm fine, it's just really dusty in here right now...
posted by mabelstreet at 11:28 PM on December 23, 2019 [4 favorites]

I needed a well landed finish after The Rise of Skywalker. The more I think about the finale, the more satisfied I am with following fake Elliot's journey for 4 seasons. We even got one more therapy session and one more Darlene and Elliot bonding moment. It's odd that this show ended up being about how difficult it is to heal from trauma, but that was definitely the more important story to tell and appropriate for the times.
posted by Become A Silhouette at 8:43 AM on December 24, 2019 [2 favorites]

This shows how endings don’t need to be rushed, and I was generally pretty pleased how it came together, even if it felt a little heavy handed at times. I can even forgive the lack of explanation for Whiterose’s machine since much of this season has been so entertaining and interesting. I guess I was hung up on it in S2 and S3 because I didn’t love the rest of the story.
posted by adrianhon at 12:29 PM on December 24, 2019

Since it was included in most other episode posts, here's Vice's "hackers discuss Mr. Robot" installment for the finale.

Regarding Whiterose's machine, personally, I'm willing to take it at face value: that is, it really was a time machine or parallel-universe-switcher or whatever, and the fact that it ultimately failed serves to underscore the theme that there's no quick fix for trauma.
posted by zztzed at 4:00 PM on December 24, 2019 [6 favorites]

I think these episodes really tied up the series nicely. I cried at the last scene when real Elliot wakes up. I knew that the other world was fake when I noticed that literally all the cars except Elliot's were white. It was pointed out on reddit last week that all the clocks showed 11:16 in the fake world and I couldn't not notice that for these last episodes.

Poor real Elliot though, he's going to have alot of shit to go through when he realizes that where he's been living is a fake world and the real world is a total shit show where Angela is dead, his mother was terrible, his father molested him, and he's hurt so many people to get what he wanted.

Still wondering about Tyrell and that blue box though...
posted by LizBoBiz at 6:12 AM on December 27, 2019 [1 favorite]

Still wondering about Tyrell and that blue box though...

my read on that scene, which to be fair I don't remember super clearly anymore, is that he's coming upon the child of the deer that the Dark Army van killed. (hence the crying/wailing sound they're hearing) it's a nice, sad parallel to his own life and lost child, and/or to his own loneliness and sadness.

it still sort of stuns me that this show was able to turn Elliot's trauma and mental health into a source of plot twists without ever violating or disrespecting those conditions or his basic humanity. as ever with the show, reading his interactions with Mr. Robot / head-Krista / etc. as interactions with himself work perfectly and powerfully as a man wrestling with who he is and what has made him, culminating in some of the most beautiful expressions of self-love and self-acceptance I think I've ever seen on television.

and whiterose's machine isn't a red herring, exactly, even as we never learn what it actually does and aren't really meant to know. what it might do, the way whiterose speaks of it, has powerful emotional and metaphorical resonance for Elliot, whose past traumas and regrets so directly inform the maelstrom of his brain.

and whiterose herself is, in the end, a fascinating exploration of the powerful as attempting to disrupt reality itself to conquer their own trauma. I would not have expected in 2019 that a show could depict a member of the super-elite in a way that would elicit my genuine sympathy and understanding, but there it is: narcissism and sadism for sure, but in such utterly genuine service of the self-made-person myth that you buy that she really thinks she'll be reborn in her Built Paradise after she pulls the trigger.

(incidentally, it's very clever how her inclusion in Elliot's fantasy/prison world works both as a tease before we understand what's going on and as a logical inclusion in and of itself: it's one of many markers to real-Elliot that the terrible things in the world that caused him to create Our-Elliot are fine, really, the bad guys are actually all Super Great and there's no larger cause that should force you out of this comfortable, repetitive shell.)

I watched the watchmen season in whole in the space between the previous episode of this and the finale, and having them both in my head simultaneously has led to some interesting connections. both shows investigate inherited trauma; mr. robot does it more individualistically, while watchmen is more about systemic trauma, but it's such a powerful thing to really dig into how much of who we are is both beyond our control and part of our conscious rationalization.

I can't wait to rewatch this show in the future; I feel like it's the most complete and compelling kaleidoscope into a protagonist's mind that I've ever seen outside of a novel, and rewatches seem likely to reinforce that feeling.
posted by Kybard at 7:02 AM on December 27, 2019 [2 favorites]

Filming the empty subway car scene. Nice demonstration of practical work in film-making. Particularly love the civilians walking in front of the camera, fortunately at moments that didn't matter.
posted by Nelson at 6:57 AM on December 28, 2019 [3 favorites]

That dash Slater makes from one car to the other is pretty great. I love that kind of thing -- it looks like magic when you watch it, but the real explanation is actually so simple.
posted by hippybear at 3:57 PM on January 1, 2020 [2 favorites]

So I initially loved this finale a whole lot... because I had only watched Part 1. I get the point of Part 2 and I like that it might be helpful to many viewers, but I was really much more excited about it finishing with fiction-Elliot doppelganger taking over his creator's life. Th real finale left me with more questions than my mistaken finale.
posted by GoblinHoney at 2:13 PM on January 2, 2020

It's been about a week since I watched this, and, while I still have reservations about the previous episode (especially Whiterose's cackling breakdown and abrupt suicide in which she handed her agency over to Elliot), I really do think it came together well in the end. In particular, the reveal at the end was so organic and natural that I felt like I had been thinking about it for a while but rejected it as "the twist" because it was too simple and natural. After all, we all have different personas for dealing with different situations and it becomes a matter of degree.

Also, especially with Kybard's comment above, I am starting to appreciate more the overall role that Whiterose played in the series as a foil to Elliot. Their roles are antagonistic but also parallel. Whiterose's color is obviously white, while Elliot's is black. Elliot commits to working through his trauma as best he can, while Whiterose represents a magical solution, a fantasy world. Whiterose is like a secret sibling to Elliot, in that she plays a contrasting role to Darlene as well. Darlene, who usually wears black like Elliot, represents support for Elliot's strategy of struggling through. (On the other hand, Angela, who usually wears white, is, at least by the end, more aligned with Whiterose and the fantasy of abolishing pain. Presumably she played a role more like Darlene's when they were younger but at the end she represented a rejection of the idea that we can make ourselves whole through the perfect complementary lover.)

There's something in here about the 1% versus the 99% but it is a more minor theme than it seemed like it would be at the start. Or rather it got complicated and perhaps distorted as it was refracted through the other themes. For what it is worth, the money was redistributed, Elliot and Darlene won. But the way Elliot and Darlene's hack worked, a certain amount of wealth was redistributed without empowerment, without changing the structures of power. We are put in the position of rejecting Whiterose's attempt to create a better world and even moralizing that she must accept and find a way to live with the pain and injustice of this world–or opt out as she chose? Similarly, is the intended message that redistribution of wealth is a utopian fantasy that will not substantially improve life for the 99%?
posted by nequalsone at 10:59 PM on January 2, 2020 [2 favorites]

I think at the core, the idea of stealing the wealth was also stealing the power. That's a great deal of what the whole previous episode was about, the confrontation in the museum... The power is derived from the wealth. It isn't a political power shuffle, it's an economic one, and at its core, it's as democratic as possible. Everyone who has E-Coin gets the same amount of the split of this gigantic wealth. They get to make it do whatever they want in their lives. This is bound to do things to local economies in various ways (as well as line box-store shareholder pockets), but the ripples won't be seen by us. Our story, being shared with us, has come to and end. Elliot isn't talking to his invisible friend anymore.
posted by hippybear at 8:05 PM on January 6, 2020 [1 favorite]

I'm on my fourth time through the series at this point, and this episode is a thing I start looking forward to early on in Season 4. I know what the ride is, I don't remember all the speed bumps (Season 2, my goodness!), but this ultimate ending... it is a thing I remember. And the scene in the rest area where Darlene throws all the money to the public. It's beautiful. They both are.

Literature for television, truly.
posted by hippybear at 11:04 PM on July 16, 2020 [4 favorites]

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