Rami Malek as Elliot Alderson
Carly Chaikin as Darlene Alderson
Portia Doubleday as Angela Moss
Martin Wallström as Tyrell Wellick
Christian Slater as Mr. Robot
Michael Cristofer as Phillip Price
Stephanie Corneliussen as Joanna Wellick
Grace Gummer as Dominique “Dom” DiPierro
BD Wong as Whiterose
Bobby Cannavale as Irving
Creator: Sam Esmail
Picking up immediately following the season two cliffhanger, season three explores each character’s motivations and the disintegration between Elliot (Rami Malek) and Mr. Robot (Christian Slater).
Season 2 of Mr. Robot, while good, did feel a little disappoint when compared to its previous season. While it was ambitious and ended strongly enough, Season 2 was bogged down by self-indulgence and some storylines that seemed to be going nowhere. Even though I liked it, parts of it did feel like a chore to get through. Season 3 however is a noticeable step up and a real return to form for the series, a lot more focused and constantly engaging from beginning to end.
This goes without saying, but this review will contain spoilers for seasons 1 and 2 of Mr. Robot. The action picks up from where we last left the show, with Elliot having just been shot by fugitive and former E Corp senior VP Tyrell Wellick. Angela is working with both Tyrell and the Dark Army, and Darlene is now serving as an FBI informant for Dom who, along with her colleagues, is still trying to get to the bottom of the E Corp Hack. A large part of season 3’s success comes from how it deals with that season 2 cliffhanger. Something that also made this season quite interesting is that Elliot and Mr. Robot are now individual personalities. This creates a new and interesting dynamic between those characters and others in their sphere. It also gives Season 3 a clearer narrative structure, as Elliot’s two personalities now rarely appear in the same scene together. and aren’t aware what the other is doing. It adds an extra level of tension and allows the audience to better understand every character’s motive, all while avoiding a simplistic ‘good vs evil’ narrative.
For those already weary at the prospect of more episodes rife with frustrating mind games, just know that in season 3, Mr. Robot is much more consistently assured and compelling than it was in its uneven second season, while still having plenty of floating questions and mysteries. Esmail cleverly retrofitted some of the less clear plot points and character decisions in the past by filling the audience in on the missing parts (even dating back to season one) – all without being too much, or feeling dumbed down and just explained to us. You do get some of the answers that many of us wanted, including what exactly Tyrell had been doing while he’s been away for most of season 2. It’s a tight season at 10 episodes but it’s very eventful and tense throughout, characters are placed in very dangerous situations in the story. The main arc of the season, centered around the Dark Army’s terrorist attack and Elliot’s attempts to stop it, comes to a head in a sensational midseason double-bill, and I won’t spoil it but it’s excellently done. As season 3 picks up and races forward, the series continues to poke fun at itself, this season particularly has a good sense of humour. Episode 2 for example opens with a mostly upbeat eight-minute sequence that follows Elliot as he re-acclimates to daily life as a corporate drone. The series also gets back to letting viewers dive into big questions of government control, corporate greed, the rights of citizens, and the power and shortcomings of technology. The season doesn’t really end with a cliffhanger, but it does end in a way that makes you excited for season 4.
The acting from everyone is fantastic as usual. Elliot Alderson and Mr Robot get more focus in this season compared to the last, and thus Rami Malek and Christian Slater get to shine more. With their new dynamic (as mentioned much earlier) this means that Malek and Slater are more united ever as actors because they’re called to dip into each other’s performance tics in specific scenes. Both continue to give very compelling performances. The returning supporting cast including BD Wong, Grace Gummer, Carly Chaikin, Portia Doubleday, Martin Wallstrom, and Michael Cristofer also perform quite well in their parts. All of their characters are taken in more interesting directions than before, and as a result they get to do a lot more. There’s some particular standouts. Portia Doubleday’s Angela Moss is placed in an interesting position as she’s now working for the Dark Army, and she gets to stand out, especially in the second half. Speaking of which, there’s a lot more screentime for BD Wong as Dark Army leader Whiterose as we learn more about her, and as usually he’s fantastic in the role(s). The biggest surprise however is Tyrell Wellick, played by Martin Wallstrom, he’s taken to a whole other level in this season. It’s almost a reinvention of the character that we knew from him in the first two seasons, and Wallstrom does some excellent shape-shifting to pull that off. Bobby Cannevale also joins the cast as Irving, a fixer of sorts for the Dark Army. Cannavale maintains a chill, chatty demeanour throughout, and was quite entertaining to watch. He could’ve easily come across as too cartoonish, but Cannavale is so immersed in character that it works, he’s terrific.
Sam Esmail directs every episode, some which started from the second season and continuing through to the very end of the series. Esmail remains a flashy and ambitious filmmaker, framing certain shots to be extra-top-heavy and capturing chaotic scenes via lengthy tracking shots, but in ways that feel more natural and doesn’t feel like it’s showing off. This is a show which moves its cameras like no other, plays with reality like no other, blends timelines across seasons like no other. His use of long one-take shots were particularly effective, it helps that this technique is saved for moments so dramatic you’re not even looking for the cut. Speaking of which, there’s particularly one episode which is made to look like it was in one shot, this episode remains one of the best episodes of the entire series and for good reason, it’s incredible impressive. The score by Mac Quayle is even better here than in the past seasons and it was already amazing.
Mr. Robot Season 3 is a return to form for the series. From the first episode to the last, it’s a tight, incredibly tense and entertaining ride. The writing is incredible with compelling character work and social commentary, the visually striking direction is only improving as the show continues, and the performances from the stellar cast are fantastic as always. It continues on the ambitions brought forward from season 2 and is as precise and well put together as season 1, while also making itself quite distinct in tone and style. It’s a strong contender for best season of Mr. Robot, it’s between this and the final season.