Sam Esmail’s Mr. Robot is a puzzle box of a show, full of interlinking relationships, twisting revelations and enough ideas to power a small think-tank. But with the final season currently airing, you’d be forgiven if you thought the show was done with dropping enormous, game-changing twists. Well, you’d be wrong. In the second episode of Season 4, three simple words changed everything we know about the show: “the other one.”
Spoilers for Mr. Robot “Payment Required” past this point.
In the episode, Elliot Anderson (Rami Malek) is talking to his sister Darlene (Carly Chaikin) while attempting to eulogize the ashes of their dead mother. Almost casually Darlene mentions Fernando Vera (Elliot Villar), an extremely dangerous drug dealer from Season 1 who briefly popped up again in the Season 3 finale. The reason Darlene is so casual is because she already told Elliot she saw Vera again, and he was dismissive about it — surprising, because Vera tried to kill Elliot the last time they interacted, and did kill Shayla (Frankie Shaw), Elliot’s girlfriend.
Not sure what’s going on, Elliot plays it off as no big deal. Darlene leaves, and immediately Elliot starts yelling at Mr. Robot (Christian Slater), the alternate personality Elliot has an uneasy truce with. Mr. Robot has previously manipulated Elliot, taken over his body and worse, so naturally if Darlene didn’t tell Elliot about Vera, that means Mr. Robot is withholding information. Except according to him, he’s not. They’re in the endgame, and it’s not the time to be working against each other.
“I’m telling you the truth, I’m not the one Darlene talked to,” Mr. Robot says.
“If it wasn’t you, it wasn’t me… Who was it?” Elliot asks, terrified.
And that’s when we get a scene that legitimately changes everything. Cutting to a building in Manhattan with a view of the Freedom Tower and a strange, stacked building opposite, a young boy is sitting in an office chair, spinning around. After a moment, a woman enters.
“I’ve been looking all over for you,” the woman says. “You shouldn’t be sitting there, that’s not your seat.”
Of note, there are four seats at the table — we’ll get back to that in a second.
“They’re not ready yet,” she continues. “We need to wait.”
“For what?” says the little boy.
“For him,” she says.
“You mean Mr. Robot?”
“No,” she says. “The other one.”
And then she leaves the room with the boy, and our jaws dropped on the floor.
…So what, exactly, is going on here? The way I see it, there are two possibilities, both tied together. The first is that there pretty clearly is a third personality residing inside Elliot Alderson’s mind, along with his own and Mr. Robot’s. Whether — like how Mr. Robot was based on his deceased father — this is a character we’ve met before, is up for debate. But “the other one” is definitely someone else, working behind the scenes. The related question there is, how long has “the other one” been present, and what has he (or she) been doing, while the rest of the series has been trucking along?
The second, deeper theory here is that since there are four seats at the table, there’s yet another personality we haven’t heard about, and possibly this whole building we’re seeing — and maybe the entire series — are taking place inside Elliot’s mind. That would be a hell of a twist, and doesn’t seem backed up by the fact that things often happen outside Elliot’s knowledge and realm of influence. Take, for example, Dominique “Dom” DiPierro’s (Grace Gummer) storyline this season, which has yet to tie back with what is going on with Elliot in any distinct way. Could she be a fever dream concocted by Elliot’s broken mind? Sure. But more likely, these things are real, and there’s just more going on with Elliot’s lost time than we knew.
Compounding that theory — and it’s distinctly possible I’m forgetting something here — but that weird building glimpsed through the window opposite the Freedom Tower sure looks like a reconstructed version of the E-Corp tower, the one that collapsed in Elliot’s mind during a Season 2 fantasy sequence. So perhaps Elliot doesn’t just have himself, Mr. Robot, “the other one” and a potential fourth personality bouncing around in there — he also has that child, the woman, and an entire damn city.
On a related note, it is bonkers that, during an episode which revealed how Whiterose (BD Wong) gets her money, how her manipulation led to the creation of the internet and the subjugation of the world, the reveal that Darlene killed a woman named Susan Jacobs midway Season 2, that Angela Moss (Portia Doubleday) was, in fact, Philip Prince’s (Michael Cristofer) daughter and the entire conspiracy behind Whiterose’s master project… We still have barely scratched the surface of what’s going on in this series.
Buckle in, folks, this final season is going to be a wild ride.
Mr. Robot airs Sundays at 10/9c on USA.