Content warning: The following contains discussions of drug addiction and suicide.
Mr. Robot is one of the most brilliant shows to ever air on television. The first season was a surprise hit with many audiences. Unfortunately, the second season didn’t resonate with audiences as well, causing the show to lose much of the spotlight it received during the first season.
Yet, fans who stuck around for the fourth and final season were rewarded with an intelligent, satisfying, and bold conclusion to the series. Under Sam Esmail’s unique vision and distinct direction, Mr. Robot ultimately told a cohesive, timely, and emotional narrative, culminating in arguably the best season of television 2019 had to offer. While the show and its final season deserve abundant praise, it wasn’t entirely perfect. Season 4 provided plenty of closure, but not in every respect.
Updated on January 11th, 2022 by Matthew Rudoy: More than 2 years after its series finale, Mr. Robot continues to be heavily discussed by its loyal fans. The plot twists, themes, characters, unique narrative choices, and nuances continue to resonate with fans and make every single episode worth a rewatch. For the most part, the fourth and final season provided a great deal of closure and the series ended on a high note. However, there are still a few elements of the show that did not feel completely satisfying.
Things That Brought Closure
Whiterose’s Motivations & Backstory
Flashbacks at the beginning of season 4, episode 3 revealed key pieces of Whiterose’s backstory and clarified the motivations behind her machine. The flashbacks showed when a young Whiterose first came out as a transgender woman to her partner. Her partner was the first person to truly know her and they wanted to be together and planned to go to the United States where they would no longer have to hide their relationship and identities.
Her partner is forced into a marriage against his will and Whiterose reveals that she has taken a job that will keep her in China, meaning they will have to continue hiding their real selves from the world. This turn of events drives Whiterose’s partner to end their own life. The blood left on the white roses sent as a joke on the wedding day speaks volumes about her transformation as a character. These flashbacks make it clear why Whiterose resents the establishment and the world around her and why she wants a machine that can turn back time and return to her everyone and everything that the world cruelly stole from her.
Dom Defeats Janice
Janice’s job was to keep Dom in line and use her as a Dark Army mole. Janice relished making Dom miserable and making Dom feel like she was powerless. Every chance she could, Janice reminded Dom that if she didn’t do as she was told, her family would die. Janice killed an FBI agent simply because the lies Dom told him weren’t convincing enough.
All of this made it incredibly satisfying to see Dom prove to be one of Mr. Robot‘s most intelligent characters as she got the upper hand over Janice and killed her. When Janice thought she had Darlene, Dom, and Dom’s family kidnapped and at her mercy, Dom outsmarted Janice. Dom made sure her family was safely away before Janice’s people could get to them and even though Dom was on death’s door, she killed Janice herself.
Leon Returns To Help
The quirky and likable Leon was a good friend and ally to Elliot when he was in prison in season 2. Leon genuinely liked Elliot, but he was also following Dark Army orders. In season 3, Leon kidnapped Trenton and Mobley and played a role in their deaths and framing them for the bombing of 71 E Corp buildings. Fans loved Leon and his relationship with Elliot, but it was difficult to overlook some of the things he’d done in service of the Dark Army.
In season 4, he proved to be a freelancer and not a Dark Army loyalist. He stopped working for the Dark Army and chose to help Elliot, Darlene, and Dom. He used his talents and his delightful personality to help the right people in the end.
Mr. Robot’s Origin
Going into the final season, it was still unclear what happened with Elliot going through the window as a young child. Vera was brought back at the end of season 3, but it was unclear what purpose he could serve all this time later. Things also remained somewhat unresolved between Elliot and his therapist Krista.
Season 4 tied all these threads together by revealing the devastating origin of Mr. Robot. It clarified why he was originally created, the true nature of Elliot’s relationship with his father, and what really happened with the window, while also culminating Elliot’s story with Vera and Krista. So many scenes in the show make more sense now given the gut-wrenching truth of how Mr. Robot first manifested and why he stuck around all this time.
The Cyprus National Bank Hack
An integral piece of fsociety’s mission was to make the corrupt, all-powerful 1% of the 1% pay for their crimes and their greed. That was largely the purpose of hacking E Corp in what became known as 5/9, but it backfired and didn’t even touch the wealthy elite.
By now hacking Cyprus National Bank, the Deus Group and Whiterose finally lost all their money and by extension their power. At last, Elliot, Mr. Robot, and Darlene achieved what they originally set out to do in a thrilling and rewarding way. Darlene in particular got a chance to shine as she quickly pulled off a number of clever moves that made the hack successful.
Price Gets The Last Word
Whiterose and Philip Price were the real power players of Mr. Robot, though Whiterose tended to always hold the upper hand. While Price is far from innocent, he suffered greatly under Whiterose, especially when Whiterose ordered the death of Price’s daughter Angela.
That made it enormously satisfying to see Price outsmart Whiterose, keeping his enemy occupied while the Cyprus National Bank hack unfolded and came to fruition. Price avenged Angela, redeemed himself, and managed to get in the last word after his long and contentious relationship with Whiterose.
The Redistribution Of Wealth
Stripping Whiterose and the Deus Group of their wealth was only part of the equation. The original mission of fsociety also had to do with erasing debt and fairly redistributing wealth to the people. Darlene made that happen by redistributing the enormous amount of money acquired from the Cyprus National Bank hack.
Seeing the joyful looks on so many faces after receiving the life-changing sums of money–plus Darlene getting to witness that joy–makes the characters’ often arduous journey feel worthwhile. In the end, Darlene and Elliot actually made the world a better place and got to see it happen.
Dom And Darlene’s Endings
Instead of letting the “Domlene” ship sail, Mr. Robot did what was best for its characters. By getting on the plane, Dom got the fresh start and peace that she didn’t realize she so desperately needed. By getting off the plane, Darlene didn’t follow Cisco’s dream. She finally learned how to live for herself rather than for other people and took control of her anxiety.
It was a bittersweet moment as Dom and Darlene cared deeply for each other and teasing the two of them flying off into the sunset together and then destroying that possibility felt cruel. Yet, it was what both Dom and Darlene needed to grow, providing endings that were fitting for both of their journeys. This is a great example of the closure provided when a show does what’s best for the character instead of doing what they think the fans want.
The Third Personality Reveal
When season 4, episode 2 teased that Elliot had a third personality, some fans were skeptical. How could the series introduce something this significant so late in the game? The final episodes put all skepticism to rest as the third personality was revealed to be the real Elliot Alderson. The Elliot that fans had known all along was the “mastermind” who’d suppressed the real Elliot, channeling all his rage into this one personality that would take on the world in a way real Elliot could not, and hopefully make that world better for the real Elliot once he was ready to return.
Such an elegant answer to the third personality mystery was not only satisfying, but it made sense with the rest of the series. This final major plot twist was baked into the show’s DNA all along instead of being a last-minute twist created for pure shock value.
The Real Elliot Returns To Reality
Elliot’s personalities were created to help him cope with and navigate a cruel, unjust world and his traumatic past. They worked tirelessly throughout the series to protect the real Elliot and create a better world where he would eventually return.
The “mastermind” and Mr. Robot are the characters audiences naturally became attached to, but at this point, it would’ve been a disservice to keep them at the forefront and keep the real Elliot suppressed. Their mission was complete and it was only right that they said goodbye and real Elliot returned to take on the new world his other personalities helped create.
Things That Didn’t Bring Closure
Gideon Goddard’s Death
As the CEO of Allsafe Cybersecurity, Gideon Goddard is the rare Mr. Robot character who is honest, trusting, and exactly who he seems to be. Gideon is shot and killed by a stranger at a bar in the season 2 premiere because the stranger mistakenly believed Gideon played a role in the 5/9 hack. Unfortunately, Gideon’s death feels random and doesn’t go on to have much of an impact on the show.
With Allsafe shut down and no longer part of Elliot or Angela’s lives, and with only the most ruthless and clever characters able to stay alive and in control, there was arguably no room left in the show for the moral and upstanding Gideon. Nevertheless, Gideon was a prominent supporting character in the first season whose death felt more like trying to tidy up a dangling plot thread than giving an ending that fit the character.
The audience doesn’t find out what happened to Olivia Cortez after being blackmailed
Olivia Cortez is one of Mr. Robot‘s best characters introduced after season 1 and is a tragic victim on Elliot’s path to take down Whiterose and E Corp. Elliot pretends to like her so he can get the credentials to Cyprus National Bank’s Deus Group account, information Olivia can get for him since she works for Cyprus National Bank. Not only does Elliot emotionally gaslight her, but he drugs her. He uses this as blackmail since she is a recovering drug addict who has been clean for eight years. These events drive Olivia to try and end her own life.
She straight-up tells Elliot that he is a monster. This is the last the audience sees of Olivia. Fans never learn if she relapsed or if she managed to move forward. She deserved some kind of justice and closure for how she was manipulated and it is an injustice that Elliot never reconciles with.
What was Whiterose’s machine? Whiterose’s mysterious machine under the Washington Township power plant served as a long-running mystery throughout all of Mr. Robot. It was the driving force behind all of Whiterose’s manipulation and power. It contributed to the deaths of Mr. Alderson and Mrs. Moss and thus largely shaped the motivations and identities of Elliot, Darlene, and Angela. In the end, it turned out to be a machine designed to access a parallel world.
After all the buildup to the machine, though, it turned out it didn’t work and audiences never got to see what it was supposed to do. In the end, there’s nothing that would’ve served as a satisfying answer, and going down the road of time travel or parallel universes would’ve felt disingenuous to the rest of the show’s world-building. Still, it feels a little cheap to resolve Whiterose’s all-important machine in such a manner.
Tyrell Wellick was one of Mr. Robot‘s best-developed and most fascinating characters in season 1. He was absent for most of season 2, though his absence drove the plot forward and made his dramatic return at the end of the season feel worth the wait. Early on in season 3, there was a great episode that followed him during his season 2 absence. After that, though, Tyrell stuck around with the show seemingly unsure of what to do with his character.
His ultimate fate in season 4 didn’t rectify that issue as his end felt rather anticlimactic. There’s something to be said for Tyrell thinking he would be crucial to the endgame and realizing he was wrong, along with such a weird character receiving such a weird end. It’s not a satisfying conclusion to a character who used to be so important to the show, though.
Before season 4, Angela’s journey was arguably treated as the most important in the show, except for Elliot’s journey, of course. Starting season 4 with her death was a bold move that established the tone and launched the narrative of the final season. Yet, it felt like a betrayal to her character’s journey to die so suddenly and for the sake of other characters.
Her death is what motivates Price to ally with Elliot and finally risk everything to take down Whiterose. Even though Angela died fighting for what she believed in and refusing to compromise with corrupt forces, she was undeniably “fridged” and sacrificed to mostly serve the narrative needs of the male characters closest to her. The fascinating, complex Angela was one of Mr. Robot‘s best characters and her journey deserved far better than that.
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