TV Review: ‘Mr. Robot’ Season Four Premiere – ‘Goodbye, Friend’


In the summer of 2015, “Mr. Robot” premiered, surprising critics and viewers with a fast-paced, new kind of show from a network most had written off. It won Best Television Series – Drama for its first season at the 2016 Golden Globes and Christian Slater won for Best Supporting Actor in a Series, Limited Series, Television or Made for Television Movie. Rami Malek was nominated for Best Actor in a Series – Drama. Later that year, Malek won an Emmy for his portrayal of Elliot Alderson, also for the first season. Suddenly, a show not many had heard of, on an unpopular network, created a large following and launched Malek into stardom. It also turned around USA network, causing them to drop the motto “Characters Welcome” in favor of “We the Bold.” USA turned into a network to pay attention to as it spun out more well-received shows such as “The Sinner” and bought a series from the world of Jason Bourne, the upcoming “Treadstone.”

With a two year hiatus, fans have not lost enthusiasm for “Mr. Robot” or their investment in the story. As “Mr. Robot” launches its final season, there is some sentimentality to see a show end that changed television so much and launched so many careers.

Last season ended with Angela (Portio Doubleday) discovering her father is E Corp executive Phillip Price (Michael Cristofer), and with Elliot (Rami Malek) finally undoing the five-nine hack with Mr. Robot’s (Christian Slater) help. Whiterose (BD Wong), leader of the Dark Army, decided Elliot should die after he helped them move the project from Washington Township to the Congo.

Season four picks up mere seconds after season three left off. With a heartbreaking opening and a new character who we meet and say goodbye two within fifteen minutes, we are in for a bumpy ride. As Elliot works to down to take down Whiterose for good, everyone in his orbit is put in more danger than ever. Stakes are much higher this season and, with the prominent danger hanging over Elliot’s head, one wonders if this will be a happy series finale or if it will end in death.

What is so perplexing about the season four premiere is it fails to address whether or not Elliot’s attempt to undo the five-nine hack succeeded. It touches briefly on the topic by showing Tyrell Wellick (Martin Wallström) as CTO of E Corp and credits him with creating a new cryptocurrency. With a goal that took three seasons to accomplish, the reverse of the five-nine hack should have been given more time and explanation. Instead, season four completely glosses over the subject and instead turns all its focus to taking Whiterose down.

Creator Sam Esmail directs the season and very loudly leaves his mark on each episode with aerial shots. BD Wong’s performance as Whiterose continues to amaze as he pulls the puppet strings from his role of China’s all-powerful Minister of State Security and leader of the Dark Army. We learn backstory on Whiterose and the intricate and dangerous group he built. As Whiterose is the clear antagonist and Elliot’s endgame, the additional information about her was most welcome. The star of the season is FBI agent Dom DiPierro (Grace Gummer) as she struggles with her new role in the Dark Army. Gummer’s performance is both vulnerable and subtle.

Season four takes place over Christmas 2015, and the message Esmail wants to get across is the danger of blind consumerism and that bad guys must be taken down, no matter the cost. Setting the season over the holiday is an interesting juxtaposition clearly done on purpose. As Elliot’s world falls apart, the world around him is blissfully ignorant. Then again, that seems to have been the theme along.

For most of season three, Elliot battled Mr. Robot for control of his brain and would lose time as Elliot when Mr. Robot took over his personality. By the end of the season, however, the two had come to an agreement that they would work together. Elliot asks for Mr. Robot’s help when he, Elliot, can’t do something or doesn’t know how to do something; like talk to girls or calm down his sister. Just when we think Elliot has his mental health issues under control, a new, shocking element comes into play.

In the first five episodes provided, the clear objectives were interrupted by outside forces, stalling the story significantly. Elliot’s former drug dealer, Fernando Vera, (Elliot Villar) returns with an unnecessary and distracting storyline. Elliot’s former psychiatrist, Krista Gordon (Gloria Reuben), also returns. Terrified of Elliot, she had cut off all communication with him but is drawn into his orbit and put in danger anyway. You can’t help but feel bad for her.

Elliot and Darlene’s characters go deep this season as they deal with a substantially significant family situation and other outside factors. Long overdue, these situations give dimension to characters that have previously been caricatures. Elliot and Mr. Robot work together in this season, and things go much better when they work together rather than against each other.

As with each final season, season four is a bittersweet beginning of the end.  After years of anxiously waiting, “Mr. Robot” is back to give another amazing season.

“Mr. Robot” premieres Sunday, October 6 at 9:00 p.m. EST.

GRADE: (★)

Have you watched the season four premiere of “Mr. Robot?” What did you think? Let us know in the comments below.