A kind of communion: my review of Mr Robot season 3 (mild spoilers)

I fucking love this show. The first season has a great, focused narrative and that’s what I think everyone missed about the second season but also there was too much deferring of gratification in the sophomore year. There’s a big question that isn’t exactly answered until the third season and I can see how that’s a problem. However, this show is clearly written on the multi-season scale. Each season isn’t meant to tell a complete story like say The Leftovers or any of the many anthology series’s that exist today. This is a long form narrative, like Lost.
I enjoyed the second season, a lot. The second half of the season opener is gorgeous. That first scene with Freedom Tower firm in the background, the music and the oddness of it all. That scene is season 2 for me. It encompasses everything that would follow, a little off kilter, a little smooth but all captivating. My favorite thing about season 2 is Dom, who is portrayed by Grace Gummer. There is so much depth to her, it’s entrancing. I love her strength and her weakness and how each are played against each other and in unison. With season 3, the most striking change to the show from season 2 to 3 is how it seems like everyone is given so much more to work with. Dom’s journey through the season is memorable, I’m equally terrified and excited to see what the future holds for her.
Season 3 is a sort of return to form, in that we find ourselves facing down the barrel of another nail-biting narrative, filled with juicy reversals and chewy revelations. Just when you think they aren’t ever going to tell us anything about Whiterose, a handful of scraps falls from the high table. It’s not much but it’s enough. At least for the moment, I think we’ll get more next season. Especially since it’ll probably be about the extremely fascinating and weird mystery that came up this season.
The scene in which Angela is sitting on the floor in front of the TV is haunting. And when she “explains” to Darlene is even more so. That’s going to stick in my brain for a long time.
At the start of this season, I was convinced that answers were a lifetime away and that the show just wouldn’t be understandable because everyone is constantly mysterious and after completing it, I feel the opposite. This season feels like the midpoint of the story. The faucet of answers has been turned on, ever so slightly and answers are trickling out or at least a semblance of understanding.
The main driving force behind me wanting to write about Mr Robot is what happens in 8th episode of the season, it’s a reprieve. It’s one of the “standalone” episodes of the season, which is a really great addition to the storytelling bag on the show. In keeping to my mild spoilers promise, I’ll only tell you that there’s some Back to the Future here. Elliot goes to see the movie (no not via time travel). I loved how characters within the show explain the movie, in different ways because it means something different to them. That’s the goal. To reach people on a level where it means something different to each person. The way it’s portrayed in the show is beautiful, I got a little choked up.
Sam Esmail, creator of the show, is a huge fan and it seems to me he wears his fan hat more than he wears his director or writer hat. There are so many hints and nods and references throughout Mr Robot to other shows and films and not in the typical pop culture reference manner. This isn’t like Buffy where people crack jokes that are both for the show and for the audience. This is communion with the audience. Scenes callback to classic scenes in classic films, there’s a scene in season 3 that made me think of the beginning of The Matrix when they come for Neo at work and Morpheus guides him out of the building. It’s never done in a way that is distracting or meant to steal or rip-off other things, it’s a subtle nod to the audience. Hey, have you seen _? It’s more like discussing your favorite films with a stranger or a best friend than anything else. I could list all the ones I’ve found within the show but that takes the fun out of it. It’s more fun if you find Waldo for yourself. I’m sure I’ve missed more than I’ve found, seeing as I didn’t realize there was a Blade Runner nod in the second season until it was pointed out for me.
In this digital age, where everyone wants to partake in a community on Kickstarter or Patreon, it’s really refreshing to have this kinship with a creator. It’s more meaningful. I feel like I’m watching it with someone even when I’m alone. And it makes re-watching the show every year a deeply rewarding experience.

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