There’s been a big, important death in Mr Robot.
Spoilers abound from this point on – you have been warned. If you’d rather read something a little less likely to ruin your enjoyment of the most recent episode of the show, try out this article about adorable pumpkins instead. It’s not Mr Robot related, but it’s still fun.
Anyway, for the rest of us, let’s talk about that death scene.
Man, that was gruesome. The show losing Joanna is shocking enough without the visceral horror of watching a newborn baby splattered with its mom’s blood and brain tissue.
That does seem a bit excessive, but, then, that’s kind of the point. This show is brutal, cruel, and occasionally overly poetic in its depiction of crime, violence, and mental illness. Of course if Joanna is going to go out, she’d have to be shot in the head in front of her child.
There’s more to this than just a gross scene of excessive violence. The show’s been building to Joanna’s death for a while.
The ball’s been rolling on this ever since Joanna manipulated her killer, Derek, into doing her dirty work by framing Scott Knowles for the murder of his wife in order to save Tyrell from taking the wrap.
Looking at the way, Joanna’s story arc has progressed since then, the show has been going out of its way to prove that bad deeds have consequences that can’t be ignored – hence, why she’s now been forcibly ejected from her own skull.
According to the show’s creator Sam Esmail, we were always inevitably heading to this story point:
“We knew Joanna using this poor guy to essentially save Tyrell from the murder charges had to backfire. As good as she is, we wanted Joanna to have that human flaw of underestimating this guy. It was also a bit of a class thing. She got overconfident and overzealous. She’s the rich and powerful woman, and he’s the lowly bartender she thinks she can play with. In the Mr. Robot universe, actions have consequences, and sometimes big ones. We felt there was something dishonest about letting Joanna get away with this — something too clean about letting Tyrell get off of the murder charges without a price being paid. That’s how the story took us in that direction of Derek killing her.”
In truth, this is the quiet brilliance of Mr Robot; the idea that actions have consequences that we can’t always choose, and that the characters are going to have to pay for their crimes sooner or later.
In a show that’s built around the idea of freeing people from the past mistakes and trappings used to control them, the message is clear: nobody can outrun their failings forever.
Thus, while Mr Robot continues to show off a trippy, looping, sometimes incomprehensible story that’s relayed to us by an unreliable narrator, the central conflict of the story continues to feel oppressive and dangerous. If Joanna of all people can take a bullet to the head within this story, then it’s worth assuming that pretty much all of the key players in the story are only ever one or two steps away from joining her.