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Portia Doubleday Talks Mr Robot Season 3 Finale Twist
Dec 14, 2017
Mr. Robot is by now well known for its twists. Ever since the iconic, deliberately telegraphed Fight Club homage in Season One—where it’s revealed that Christian Slater’s Mr. Robot is in fact an alternate personality of Rami Malek’s Elliot—viewers have known to expect the unexpected. And tonight’s season three finale “Shutdown” was no exception, delivering a game-changing revelation about the backstory of Angela (Portia Doubleday).
This has already been Angela’s most grueling and transformative season yet. Having been essentially brainwashed by her mysterious meeting with Whiterose (BD Wong) at the end of Season Two, Angela began this year blindly devoted to the Dark Army’s increasingly violent mission. Seemingly deluded into believing that Whiterose can either raise the dead or turn back time, Angela colludes with the Dark Army leader, Mr. Robot and Irving (Bobby Cannavale) to carry out a series of bombings on E-Corp buildings, killing thousands.
Driven to psychosis by her guilt in the wake of those bombings, Angela hit a mental breaking point in last week’s episode, wandering the streets of New York almost in a trance. In trying to recreate the circumstances of her meeting with Whiterose, tonight’s finale saw her instead being taken to meet with Phillip Price (Michael Cristofer) at his grand country estate. There, he drops the bombshell that Angela has been nothing but a pawn in the power struggle between himself and Whiterose, and that Whiterose targeted her because—drumroll—Price is her biological father.
“He’s been watching over her all this time, which is why Whiterose is involved with Angela, just manipulating her to get back at Price,” Doubleday tells Esquire.com. And so Price’s obsession with Angela, his treatment of her as an employee, that flashback to him eyeing her in the AllSafe office last week, all take on a very different meaning in light of this. Below, Doubleday breaks down Angela’s mental state going into season four, the snowballing parallels between her and Elliot, and this seemingly out-of-left-field twist which has actually been teased for a long time.
So, my first reaction to the Price revelation was to flash back to early Season Two, where Angela gets dressed up to go to dinner with Price and seems to assume they’re going to sleep together. Yikes.
Right! Right? Sam and I talked about that, and I was like ‘You had not told me this when we filmed that scene!’ And he said ‘yeah, that’s why I told you not to go in that direction…’ But in a weird way, it plays. Angela didn’t know!
Angela seems really wrecked, not only by the revelation that Price is her father, but that this is the whole reason Whiterose was interested in her.
Yeah, in the midst of this mental breakdown it all finally starts to hit her that she did these things. That was my fault, I did that, I killed all these people. It’s a moment in time where she actually lets go of the illusion that she’s had, because Price is telling her that what Whiterose said isn’t real. She’s also hearing Price give this monologue about meeting her mom and loving her mom, and she’s thought for this whole season that she and her mom were going to be reunited, so it’s a really emotional moment. But although she does seem to acknowledge the fact that she was duped, I think there’s still a part of her that believes what Whiterose has told her, because of what she’s seen.
Both Angela and Elliot are grieving for these parents they lost when they were young, and they’ve both been reunited with parents in unexpected ways—Elliot hallucinates a very dark, twisted version of his father in Mr. Robot, and now Angela gets this unexpected, twisted father figure in Price. Do you see this bringing them closer together?
There’s a lot of parallels between Angela and Elliot this season, and I think even cinematically you see that with the door scene in episode eight. What happened to them in their childhood has completely determined their lives, and they’re basically doing the exact same thing, with the same drives and motives, just going about it in completely different ways. And you see how much what happened to their parents has affected both of their mental states, as well. I don’t think that Angela’s dad—the man she thought was her dad—ever really understood her. The only people that really got her were Elliot and Darlene, and even though she’s going through these massive changes, Elliot knows intrinsically what she is, maybe more than she knows herself. When she’s been manipulating Elliot this season, it’s out of this desperation where she’s thinking ‘if we got our parents back, Elliot wouldn’t be this way, he wouldn’t be plagued, he wouldn’t have a Mr. Robot’. If she could just get their parents back, they both wouldn’t have turned out this way.
The romantic undercurrent between Elliot and Angela has been bubbling up more and more. But she’s obviously resistant, and doesn’t kiss him when he tries in the season premiere—is that just because she has too much else going on?
There definitely is a romantic connection between them, and I think it surpasses romance as much as it’s this deeper soul connection that they have, after this traumatic event in their childhoods. In that moment, when she doesn’t kiss him, the promise that she’s holding in her heart is: this could all go away. That she could make this better for him, and make it so that he wouldn’t suffer this way and neither would she. That if she could just take back this moment and reset it, that everything would be different. I think she’s really heartbroken in that moment, but also absorbed by this conviction she’s had through the whole season.
We leave Angela in a very fragile place mentally. Do you see her recovering from her breakdown next season, now that she has this new sense of purpose?
I talked to Sam about that too, because I don’t really want it to be resolved. I think that when you go through something like this season, which has definitely stretched Angela more than any other, I think that there are a lot of things that happen for you psychologically, a lot of stages you have to go through, to reach some level of normality. I don’t know what that narrative will look like for her yet. We leave her with a sense of vengeance, that she’s going to go after Whiterose, so I’ll be interested to see that. I don’t think it’s going to be a simple recovery.