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Mr. Robot: 7 Times Elliot Acted as Mr. Robot Without Knowing It and Why They Were Important

What does each instance mean for Elliot and the series?

Tim Surette

[Spoilers for Season 1 of Mr. Robot follow, obviously.]

Throughout the first season of Mr. Robot, the question of whether or not Mr. Robot (Christian Slater) was real rung through our heads until it was confirmed with a 10-ton hammer in the brutally revealing penultimate episode. Mr. Robot was one of Elliot's (Rami Malek) delusions, a mental re-creation of his deceased father who represented Elliot's wants and desires to make a change in the world.

Many viewers picked up on this right away having already been introduced to the idea by movies like Fight Club and looking for clues about how Mr. Robot interacted with other characters, how he just happened to show up at convenient times and how he held secrets about his past. But the show's mental joyride wasn't actually so much about whether we, the audience, knew if Mr. Robot was real or not. Creator Sam Esmail admitted he never intended the truth about Mr. Robot to be a big secret and thought it was somewhat obvious. The real purpose for the question of Mr. Robot's existence was for Elliot to find out.

So for Elliot's sake, we're running down all the obvious times he acted as Mr. Robot and what they meant for him and the series' future.

1. Mr. Robot planted the infected file in E Corp's servers for Elliot to find


Mr. Robot had to reach out to Elliot to let him into his secret world, and he did so by hiding an encrypted file in Evil Corp's infected servers during the pilot episode's massive DDOS attack. Elliot found the file, which told him to not delete the file if he wanted in on what fsociety had to offer. But now we know that Elliot must have planted that file during one of "lost time" moments, so to speak. This was quickly followed by the introduction to Mr. Robot, but he wasn't created on the spot there. How long had Elliot actually been acting as Mr. Robot? Maybe it was just a few nights before the season started, maybe it was even longer.

2. Mr. Robot pushed Elliot off the railing at the beach


In the closing moments of the second episode, Elliot and Mr. Robot were just chilling after a long dad talk when Mr. Robot shoved Elliot off the boardwalk railing to the ground below as payback for not trusting him. We later saw video from a different perspective of the incident, which showed Elliot, alone, tumbling off the railing without any extra help. This was an early sign that Elliot and Mr. Robot would be fighting for control over Elliot -- something that will be huuuuge in Season 2 -- and that unless Elliot gets a grip, Mr. Robot will win.

3. Mr. Robot was talking to Elliot when he was inside Steel Mountain


The fantastic caper to hack the thermostats at Steel Mountain -- the fortified data-storage facility that held important backups for Evil Corp and other companies fsociety was targeting -- in "Exploits" became a two-man operation when Elliot went in on the inside and Mr. Robot served as his guide from a van in the parking lot. Except now we know that there was no second man, and Elliot was having a conversation with his worser half like one of those weirdos walking down the street with a Bluetooth headset. (Stop pretending someone is on the other end! We know the truth.) Still, Mr. Robot exploited an ugly side of Elliot that must exist deep down inside of him somewhere. Remember when he tore Bill the tour guide a new one by crushing his self-worth and demanding someone higher up give him access to the lower levels? Ouch! Poor Bill is probably still crying over that. This was a great example of Mr. Robot tapping into Elliot's dark side and using that for his own mission. Will Mr. Robot do that even more in Season 2? Probably!

4. Mr. Robot broke a bunch of stuff in fsociety while Elliot hung back


Infiltrating Steel Mountain should have been a big victory for fsociety, but because the Dark Army backed out of their end of the bargain, all was for nought. This did not please Mr. Robot, who engaged in a heated argument with Darlene (Carly Chaikin) about what to do next, culminating in Mr. Robot tossing laptops and Darlene threatening to execute the hack against Mr. Robot's wishes. But again, there was no Mr. Robot, only Elliot. During the entire scene, Mr. Robot dominated the action while Elliot hung out quietly in the back as an observer. The direct conversation between Darlene and Mr. Robot threw us off the scent of whether or not Mr. Robot was real, but in reality, who we saw as Mr. Robot was actually Elliot. This was a big-time Fight Club move and an out-of-body experience for Elliot, and made us trust ourselves even less. If we can't believe what we see, what can we believe? That's all part of the fun of watching this show, right?

5. Mr. Robot met with Tyrell in the SUV


This was a huge mind-rogering moment for those who were on board with the "Mr. Robot is not real" theory. How was Mr. Robot meeting with Tyrell (Martin Wallstrom)? Well, it's like the above instance: We saw Mr. Robot, but in reality it was Elliot meeting with Tyrell. We still don't know what these two have planned together or if they're even real allies (what happened to Tyrell in between Episode 9 and 10?), but from this meeting and their conversation we got hints that this wasn't the first encounter of Tyrell with Elliot as Mr. Robot, and that Elliot has been meeting with Tyrell for some time now. That's going to be a big surprise to Elliot if he ever finds out! The idea that Mr. Robot is actually meeting with others without Elliot's knowledge? Pardon me, I will just be cleaning up my brain matter over here.

6. Elliot threw Mr. Robot out of the window


Just before the grand reveal that Mr. Robot was a figment of Elliot's imagination, Elliot clashed with his ghost dad and threw him out of the window of his childhood home. It was an OMG moment that became even OMGer when we later realized that Elliot threw himself out the window while wrestling with his alter ego. Physical control over Elliot's body may become as big of a deal for the series as the mental control over Elliot as the two continue to fight. Though we've seen Mr. Robot usually win these scuffles and take over Elliot when he's unaware, this was a rare case in which Elliot, spurred by his childhood trauma, was able to be victorious. Well, if throwing yourself out of a window can be called a victory.

7. Elliot fought himself (and a goon) in a coffee shop


Not to be outdone by Elliot tossing himself out of a window, Mr. Robot came back in a big way in the Season 1 finale well after we realized he wasn't real. Elliot was demanding answers from Mr. Robot about Tyrell's whereabouts by physically threatening Mr. Robot. Of course, to everyone else it looked like Elliot was engaging in some very public autoerotic asphyxiation. And when Mr. Robot told Elliot that they were the same person, he proved it by starting a fight with a meathead, who punched Mr. Robot -- but actually Elliot -- in the face. What this showed was the even though Elliot knew Mr. Robot was a delusion, Mr. Robot still was a force in his life and could take control of him at any point. Will Elliot ever be able to get rid of Mr. Robot? Not if Mr. Robot has his way.

Season 2 of Mr. Robot premieres Wednesday, July 13 at 10/9c.