Mr Robot season 4 is only three episodes in, but a lot has happened already. There have been unexpected deaths, shock revelations that Elliot is not two but three people, and unexpected alliances. All set against a backdrop of happy Christmas holidays, so far narrated by Mr Robot only as Elliot retreats further into himself and shuts off the outside world.
But could this be about to change? The latest Mr Robot episode, “Forbidden”, features endings and beginnings for multiple characters, including a possible new romance for Elliot as well as some top-notch hacking action. And the two are connected, naturally.
Better still, this Mr Robot episode supplies an answer to the question we’ve been asking for a couple of seasons: Who is Whiterose? It’s told through Whiterose’s origin story which is of course, also a tale of love and death and explains why she’s quite so vengeful and full of hate.
Mr Robot Season 4 episode 3: Whiterose is born
If there’s one thing that people wonder about villains: It’s why did they become so evil? The origin of Whiteroses’s angst dates back to 1982 at the time of Boy George and Blade Runner. Mr Robot’s first scene sees a younger pre-Whiterose Zhi Zhang (Ross Kurt Le), a Chinese bureaucrat, at IBM with her business and romantic partner and also translator Peng Chen (Eugene Shaw), as they orchestrate their plan to steal IP from IBM.
It’s revealed that Whiterose has aspirations to be ambassador to the U.S. and that the lovers want to live there and be together free from the prejudice of their own country.
The theme of forbidden love is key–and it also interlinks with Whiterose’s secret that she is a trans woman, which has not yet been revealed. However, she unveils her true self through an emotional scene with Chen, who accepts her when he sees her in her mother’s white dress and says she’s beautiful.
But there isn’t, of course, a happy ending. Chen has been forced to marry a woman, and he kills himself on his wedding day upon discovering that he and Whiterose didn’t get the ambassador job and the pair cannot be together in the U.S. as they had planned.
The gruesome suicide itself results in blood covered white roses, which Zhang has sent as a joke because they are a funeral flower. It’s suddenly clear: Ruthless, sadistic and bitter, Whiterose has been born.
Back to the present day, and Whiterose (who still has the white dress waiting for when her plan is complete) is onto the collaboration between Elliot and Price. Keen to take control, she wants the meeting with Price and Deus the next day (Christmas) and offers the CEO position to Tyrell Wellick (Martin Wallstrom).
Mr Robot Season 4 episode 3: Elliot’s relationships
Elliot is also going through some changes in this Mr Robot episode. He’s been shutting everyone out and Mr Robot can’t convince him to change. Worse, some people find him pretty scary. When he bumps into his therapist Krista (Gloria Reuben), she tells him she doesn’t feel safe around him and to leave her alone.
There’s also the Vera problem: Vera (Elliot Villar) wants to work with Elliot and we see how far he’ll go to get what he wants. Expect more from this storyline; he’s a dangerous guy.
At the same time, Elliot’s relationship with Darlene (Carly Chaikin) continues to be troubled. They are working together–but not all that well truth be told. However, between them they find their target: Deus Group’s account manager at Cyprus National bank–but they need physical access to her laptop.
Elliot needs Darlene: Not just her hacking skills; she’s the one person he has left but he seems intent on pushing her away. Even Mr Robot thinks Elliot’s being an idiot: What’s the point in being here and doing this–Mr Robot asks–if you have no one.
Mr Robot Season 4 episode 3: Elliot finds the one and the RSA security key
Now this is one of my favourite hacks/getting together ever on TV. Elliot manages a really tricky hack involving a lot of social engineering, but he also ends up falling for his victim, Olivia (Dominik Garcia-Lorido). There are mixed messages: Does he like her, or is it all for the RSA key?
The theme of ‘Forbidden’ is all over this storyline. It’s just typical really: Finally, you find someone you like but they’re also your social engineering target. So, what do you do?
When Elliot purposefully ends up as his target’s date, he can see the security key but it’s here the boundaries seem to blur: Sure, he’s here for the security key but he’s also connecting with this woman.
Elliot gives us a masterclass in social engineering: He tells her he’s addicted to morphine–which is of course true. And it works because he then goes home with her, to hack her laptop of course.
Elliot does succeed in getting the RSA code, but Olivia finds him in the bathroom with the (now concealed) key “looking for some aspirin.” It’s at this point we find out that Olivia’s mother was murdered, and the OxyContin bottle Elliot’s found in the bathroom contains a razor blade because if she ever starts using again, she might as well be dead. Elliot gets it–he knows what hating yourself is like.
This is the most messed up relationship ever but it’s wonderful. It’s also the moment Elliot finally gives up and lets someone in.
Romance aside, the episode closes on a tense moment. The Dark Army are following, and someone has broken into Elliot’s apartment–Tyrell, who tells Elliot about the offer of CEO from Whiterose. In a sinister moment, Elliot writes: “They’re listening” on a piece of paper and we see from a white van outside that ‘they’ actually are.
It’s another rollercoaster ride, Mr Robot fans, and this episode was full of twists and turns and surprises. It’s good to kind of understand Whiterose and it was about time Elliot just let someone in. What’s the point otherwise?