Mr. Robot (S03E07) "eps3.6_fredrick+tanya.chk"

America in flames

Note: This post contains spoilers

At the end of the previous episode, “”, I think most viewers recoiled in horror at what had just unfolded – it was a moment of pathos, as we and our protagonists all realized our tunnel-vision concerning the true nature of Stage 2.

In retrospect, it kind of seems foolish that we thought the New York facility blowing up would make-or-break Whiterose’s Stage 2 plans. In fact, the same technology flaw used to compromise the building, and the same virus used to trigger it, could be used in any building of its kind; and we knew that there were multiple other storage facilities across the U.S. – so the destruction of the 71 other buildings should have been kind of obvious, but there’s a reason why no one suspected this outcome (which I’ll get to later). I’ll bet that Whiterose foresaw Elliot trying to send the backup records to the other facilities, and realized that keeping him focused on the New York facility would keep him in the dark about the reality of Stage 2. It was never just about the records though, it was also about crippling E Corp, and sending Price a message.

So that’s where we start off in episode 7, with the whole world gasping at and digesting America’s latest tragedy. The destruction of these E Corp buildings is a calamity far beyond that of 9/11, with well over 4000 deaths – and the episode largely deals with the main cast trying to process what’s just happened, while Whiterose makes his next move; among other things. So before I get on to the meat of the episode, I’ll update you on some key movements:

  • Elliot can’t really believe what’s just happened, so he makes a desperate attempt at meeting with Krista, but it’s not long until Mr. Robot takes over, giving a monologue about his revolution and how it was stolen by the puppet-masters. He then tries to confront Irving but is kidnapped – only to be dropped off while Irving joins a party of elitists celebrating a disaster that is sure to bring in lucrative profits in one way or another.
  • Just as when we left off, Darlene is with Angela, who spends the day watching news stories and rewinding disaster-footage, asserting that the fact that she can rewind the television is proof that Whiterose will bring back the lives of all those who died that day. I kind of expected this episode to be the one where Angela realizes she’s been screwed over and finally rejoins the good-guys, but it seems that she’s still obsessed over Whiterose’s grand-scheme, and has absolute faith in it. I’d still really like to see what Whiterose said to her in Season 2, because it must have been pretty damn convincing…
  • Tyrell (now under police custody), helps identify the two leaders of fsociety (read on to hear about that) and finally hears the news about his wife and son. What starts as disbelief soon turns into absolute rage. He’s completely shattered, and I’m certainly interested to see what stunts he pulls throughout the rest of the season. This is kind of on another tangent, but I really do hope that Tyrell is going to be the wild-card of the show, and I hope that the death of his wife triggers more of the old him. He was a serious threat in Season 1 – cold, calculated, ambitious – but the past few episodes have portrayed him as a rather pathetic character, who laments Elliot’s failure to live up to his expectations, and spends his as a puppet of the Dark Army. I hope that he pulls his sh*t together and does something significant.
  • Price (still in the cheeky setting of Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort) hears the news and confronts Whiterose (or minister Zhang). What follows is completely unprofessional, and involves a good deal of swearing, but essentially Price is pissed that while Whiterose gets everything, he’s lost everything. Most importantly, he wants to know why, and Whiterose gives him an answer that he can’t accept – “you made me ask twice”. This refers to how Whiterose tasked Price with handling Angela when she was still investigating the Washington plant, and how, because he chose to take her under his wing, Whiterose had to deal with her himself. Price is shocked that Whiterose would dish out such a punishment for a relatively minor thing, but it emphasises a lot about Whiterose’s character – the thing about which he is most mindful is time, and he surrounds himself with reminders of his limited time, and consequently, any time wasted becomes a very big deal. Whiterose shouldn’t have to ask anything twice. Also, the Washington plant is to be moved to the Congo (which China is soon to annex), so Whiterose certainly has large plans for his special project.

Moving on, however, it’s important to discuss the major plot thread of the episode, which brings us to its title, “Fredrick + Tanya”. For those of you who didn’t see or don’t remember the post-credits scene of last season’s finale, Mobley and Trenton are hiding out in New Mexico (under the names Fredrick and Tanya, as you may have guessed), and in that final scene they were approached by Leon, played by the perpetually stylish rapper Joey Bada$$. Most would have thought that this all happened in last season’s timeframe, but now we are told that this is happening in real-time i.e. the day Stage 2 is carried out.

Before I move on I have to once again commend Joey’s incredible performance – he dominates every scene he’s in, and I was delighted to hear that since we last caught up with him he’s occupied himself with watching Knight Rider and Frasier. As much as he’s a savage killer, he’s so likable that you can’t really stay mad at him when he slits someone’s throat, and besides, last time they were all neo-nazis. It was a treat to have him back.

Anyway, the episode leads us to believe that Leon wants to recruit the two into the Dark Army, and a masterfully executed scene at the end makes us think that the two are going to be held hostage while they work on the next terrorist attack, but in actuality, they’re brutally murdered in a way that looks like they’ve committed suicide. Turns out, the two names given out by Tyrell were theirs, and a SWAT team is sent out to capture them, only to find their ‘post-suicide’ bodies in a garage. The episode ends with the FBI believing they’ve caught the last two members of fsociety, that there will be no more attacks, and that the culprits behind the 5/9 attack have finally been stopped. Dominique is skeptical of this, and while planning her next move,  pins the name Whiterose – and contemplates the true orchestrator of these events.

That’s it for the recap, and if you chose to skip all of that for my analysis and thoughts, here’s a summary of the entire episode – two that were lost are found, and everyone digests America’s latest tragedy.

Thoughts and Analysis
Before getting into some real stuff, I just wanted to make another pointer to the name of the episode. The extension to the title, ‘.chk’, actually refers to a file extension found in windows, and files in CHK format are usually placed in a system directory labeled “Found”. This is particularly contextual, as Fredrick and Tanya are quite literally found at the beginning and end of the episode (first by Leon, then by the SWAT team). It’s small, but I still love how they reference actual computing terms and items in episode titles. As a result, I’m pretty amped about the next episode, titled, “eps3.7_dont-delete-me.ko”, and I’ll spend the next few days thinking about what might go down. Feel free to speculate in the comments section. Now for my two cents:

Myopia, or near-sightedness, is a condition where one’s sight can only focus on what is in front of it, and (primarily because of Sam Esmail’s impeccable ability to tell Elliot’s story) we’ve all suffered from this condition throughout Season 3. When we watch any movie or series, we experience viewer-myopia – we believe that the quests of our protagonists are the most important of quests and that everything they experience is the most crucial of affairs. We think that when they’ve tried to stop a building from exploding for half a season, this is the only matter of concern and that whether they save this building or not will determine whether or not the antagonist claims victory – then, 71 other buildings blow up, and we realize that we’ve been mistaken.

Whiterose, someone who is freakily obsessed with time management, highly organized, and is backed by a network of hackers and loads of capital, would never have hinged his entire plan on the destruction of one storage facility; but because every scene of the season has in some way or another led us to believe that Stage 2 is just about that one storage facility, and because whenever Elliot rerouted some deliveries the musical score and narration made us believe that he was halting the efforts of the bad-guys, we became invested in and focused on the prevention of one building being compromised. It’s ironic really, that Elliot lambasted Tyrell for only seeing what was in front of him, because his tunnel-vision also prevented him from knowing what was really going on. He believed that his immediate involvement in Stage 2 was so important that if he dismantled the damage he had caused, he could prevent disaster – he thought that he was important enough to be able to stop the enemy, and we believed he was important enough too.

This, my friends, is why we all suffer from viewer-myopia, and why Mr. Robot is brilliant.

Best Scene
Every time we see Joey Bada$$ on-screen. Seriously, he’s dynamite. If he and Irving had to share a scene and compete for our attention, I feel like the universe would explode.

Worst Scene
As much as it was nice to see Mr. Robot’s monologue in Krista’s office, I’m unconvinced that Elliot would go to his therapist straight after he’s realized he was complicit in yet another national crisis. As much as she’s vital in helping him understand Mr. Robot and sort of serves as an intermediary between them, I expected him to get straight to finding answers and tracking the culprits or at least going back to Angela’s to shout at her for being a pawn.