Last season, Mr. Robot shocked some viewers by revealing that the titular character, played by Christian Slater, was the dead father of main character Elliot, played by Rami Malek. As a result, the man Elliot thought the he had been having deep, meaningful conversations with all season was nothing more than a figment of his imagination.
Not to be outdone, during last night’s episode, creator and lead writer Sam Esmail dropped another bombshell for fans. In an interview with Hitfix, Esmail said that while some fans groaned that they saw the twist coming as early as the first episode, he didn’t feel he cheated anyone with the revelation.
Warning: The following will contain spoilers for the most recent episode of Mr. Robot.
At the beginning of this season, fans learned that Elliot had moved back in with his mother in Queens, giving up a life of hacktivism and turning instead to a routine of monotonous daily tasks and writing in his journal, trying to retain a hold of reality. Something about the setup for the new season felt off from the get go, but it wasn’t until last night that Esmail finally revealed that Elliot hadn’t been living in Queens, but was instead situated behind bars in prison, using different coping methods to make himself believe he was back in New York City.
Esmail told Hitfix that one of the aspects they really wanted to dig into this season was Elliot’s coping methods. The creator said it was a concept they had been slowly introducing audiences to since the pilot, and using the sophomore season as a way to exploit that aesthetic was something they had in mind from the time they conceived the events of the first season.
"Even from the pilot, he has this ability to reprogram his life: E Corp was turned into Evil Corp," Esmail said. "When we thought about him being in prison, what would be that coping mechanism, this came to mind."
Esmail said that it was all an attempt to remain as authentic to Elliot as possible, and while he was hesitant about doing another big twist this season, he thought it made the most sense considering what they wanted to do with the character. Esmail added that they didn’t want to trick the audience, nor were they in it for the "gotcha moments" but he did want to keep the experience of Elliot’s life alive through the big revelations.
"One thing that we always do is we never want to cheat the audience," Esmail said. "We never want it to be some extraordinarily contrived thing where we're basically lying to the audience and what they're seeing isn't actually happening, and we're fooling them.
In doing that, and being honest with what is going on, even though the surroundings aren't actually what they are, we didn't really hide it that well, right?"
Esmail previously said that he never wanted to make the audience feel like they had to question what was real and what wasn’t. By putting clues in the show, he added that he doesn’t think fans should feel cheated, but those who figured it out early on should be pretty proud.
Going forward, Esmail said they’re going to focus on Elliot’s internal struggle and dealing with his life in prison, now that audiences are aware of his reality.
Mr. Robot airs Wednesday nights at 10 p.m. ET on USA.