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‘Mr. Robot’: Sam Esmail on Maybe Reaching The Series’ Midpoint and Not Minding When Fans Guess The Twists

Thanks to the show's origins as a feature script, the story "Mr. Robot" is telling could be done by Season 5. 

MR. ROBOT -- "eps3.5_kill-process.inc" Episode 306 -- Pictured: Rami Malek as Elliot Alderson -- (Photo by: Michael Parmelee/USA Network)

Michael Parmelee/USA Network

[Editor’s note: Spoilers for “Mr. Robot” Season 3, Episode 6, “eps3.5_kill-pr0cess.inc” follow.]

There’s a chance that we may have reached the halfway point of “Mr. Robot” as a series, according to creator Sam Esmail.

Part of the “Mr. Robot” narrative has always been how Esmail originally started writing the project as a feature film, before realizing at a certain point that it would work better as a TV show. And as he recently told IndieWire during an NBC Universal press event, the “big mile markers” of Elliot’s story are still, according to him, “in line with what I had in mind for the feature.”

This includes the final moments of Season 3, Episode 6, “eps3.5_kill-pr0cess.inc” — specifically, the 71 bombings that may have killed thousands while Elliot was distracted trying to save one E-Corp facility in New York City.

In fact, Esmail pinpointed this event as the midpoint of his original script. By IndieWire’s math, this would mean that there’s another two and a half seasons left to tell from the original story, a sum to which Esmail didn’t commit. But he did note, “That would add up to five seasons, right? That’s not bad.”

That said, while Elliot’s journey hasn’t deviated much from Esmail’s original plans, the show has definitely featured plenty of tangents and diversions, primarily due to the show’s large supporting cast.

MR. ROBOT -- "eps3.5_kill-process.inc" Episode 306 -- Pictured: Carly Chaikin as Darlene Alderson -- (Photo by: Michael Parmelee/USA Network)

“That was one of the reasons why it turned into a TV show,” he said, “because when I was writing that first draft of the script — the moment in Episode 2 when Elliot discovers Darlene in the bathroom, that was I think the moment I put the pen down, because then I wanted to explore Darlene. I wanted to explore Tyrell and Angela, and that’s when realized, ‘I can’t do this in two hours,’ because I would have 15 minutes of the story done.”

“That’s when I stopped and redid it for a TV show. It was really the other characters that really surprised me. They flourished in ways that I would’ve never expected to do in the feature.”

And the opportunity to explore those characters is one that Esmail has relished. “One of my favorite moments in Season 2 is Dom (Grace Gummer) in bed watching some bad reality show, being on her phone, and then having a relationship with her Alexa. I just think those are moments you can’t afford to have in a feature that you can do in TV, and those moments are really special and great,” he said. “I don’t even think you have time to discover those moments in a feature, even if you did have the real estate. For those things, I think TV just excels in great ways.”

So far, Esmail is loving how Season 3 is shaking out, though he said, “I have a different relationship with every season. Part of me just loves the weirdness and uniqueness of Season 2 — I love character way more than plot. I feel like plot only gets in the way of character. I feel like plot is like the excuse to explore character. This third season has a good blend of both and I’m just really excited that, especially for the upcoming episodes, how much we’re burning through but then how we’re growing the characters into this weird mix and seeing how they come out of that.”

There are four more episodes left in Season 3, which so far has yet to reveal a massive game-changing twist like Season 1 (the reveal that Mr. Robot is a hallucination) or Season 2 (that Elliot began the season locked in prison) — but one is likely on the horizon.

MR. ROBOT -- "eps3.5_kill-process.inc" Episode 306 -- Pictured: Portia Doubleday as Angela Moss -- (Photo by: Michael Parmelee/USA Network)

Internet forums, which Esmail admits he frequents (“I’m a huge Redditor”) predicted both of the previous twists before their formal reveals. “I remember being a little bummed out during the second season, that everybody figured out the big reveal, but at the same time, it just made me realize that wow, we have a really strong fanbase that’s really going to break it down and make the effort to really try and understand the show,” he said. “We were also not hiding it necessarily. We were foreshadowing a lot of that.”

He also keenly remembers his own days as a fan, and what it like to be invested on that level. “I remember when I would watch ‘Lost,’ in between every episode, I had huge arguments with every friend I knew and I also went online and read every theory, and I enjoyed that. I enjoy that level of engagement,” he said.

He also feels like, in the end, “in every scene there’s a mystery, right? I don’t care what show it is. It could be a drama or a comedy, but every show, there’s a mystery.”

As he explained: “You have your two characters, you have some sort of knowledge about what’s happening in the beginning of the scene. By the end of the scene, hopefully you’ve learned something new. Something’s been revealed. Some understanding has come. You’ve come to some kind of understanding about who they are and what they want now.”

And ultimately, those are the mysteries that really matter to him. “As storytellers, if we ever hinged our whole experience with the series on this one line that you can read in Wikipedia, then we haven’t done our jobs.”

“Mr. Robot” Season 3 airs Wednesdays at 10 p.m. ET on USA Network. 

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