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Were you wondering what happened to Martin Wallstrom’s Tyrell Wellick during the time he was away from the action in season two? Wonder no more!
The third episode of Mr. Robot season three finally pulled back the curtain on this missing period of time, filling in the gaps about what exactly befell the ice-cold Tyrell in the immediate aftermath of the Five/Nine Hack. The episode, which focuses almost entirely on Tyrell and draws inspiration from Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining (among other sources), brings viewers up to speed on exactly how Tyrell kept himself busy all of these months: chopping wood, growing an incredibly formidable beard, almost getting captured but saved through the help of a crooked federal agent, and ultimately reuniting with Rami Malek’s Elliot Alderson — just in time to shoot the man and learn that sometimes, Elliot isn’t Elliot after all.
As we’re doing every week this season, THR is once again joined by writer-producer and tech expert Kor Adana to hack into the latest round of Mr. Robot. Here’s what Adana has to say about the Tyrell-centric episode, how long the writers room knew about the specific events surrounding this character, and much more.
Episode three fills us in on Tyrell’s whereabouts while he was missing in season two, beginning with the night of the Five/Nine Hack, and ending shortly after he shot Elliot. How long have you and the writers known exactly what happened to Tyrell in between seasons? Is this a carefully crafted plot finally fully revealed, or were elements of Tyrell’s story discovered closer to the episode’s construction?
We knew parts of the story … little details here and there, before we started the season three writers room. While we were outlining this season, the intricacies and machinations of Tyrell, Irving and Dark Army came into focus. From a viewer perspective, season two posed a lot of questions that needed answering. This episode was an opportunity to answer those questions in a compelling way that also deepened our characters. What really happened on the night of Five/Nine? Where did that bullet casing come from? Who shot the gun? Where is Tyrell and WTF is he doing? These kinds of questions actually led to the creation of Irving. We knew that there had to be some kind of Dark Army influence that was helping to facilitate things behind the scenes.
What I love about writing for this show is that we strive to subvert expectations and spin what you think you know. Elliot and the rest of fsociety were supposed to enact the hack on E Corp. together. Then we reveal that was really Tyrell and Elliot together … and you thought you knew what happened. Maybe Elliot turned into Mr. Robot and killed Tyrell and that’s why he’s missing? We spent an entire season thinking that. Now we learn how and why Mr. Robot and Tyrell separated. Another example of this is the prison phone call with Elliot and Tyrell in season two. On that call, Tyrell is presented as this force of nature … one with unbelievable power and confidence. In this episode, we see how vulnerable and controlled Tyrell was during and after that phone call.
Can you talk about how The Shining acted as a source of inspiration for this story, beginning with the title reveal? There’s certainly an “all work and no play” element to what Tyrell’s dealing with in his time in isolation.
I’m probably the biggest Kubrick fan you will ever meet, so I was psyched to see all these references to The Shining come together. This episode didn’t start out that way, but as we were breaking down the beats of the story, there were elements of isolation and madness that Tyrell was experiencing that had some parallels to Jack Torrance in The Shining. Even the wood chopping with the axe … when we were first discussing it, it was just a pitch to try and get Tyrell centered and it gave us a small window into his past. Later in production, we really leaned into it as an homage to The Shining, which informed how it was filmed, scored and cut.
The opening title sequence is definitely a nod to the opening of the film (except we don’t have a helicopter shadow in our shot). There’s also a music choice in the interrogation scene with Wallace Shawn where you can hear a track called “Polymorphia,” which was composed by Krzysztof Penderecki. It was used in The Exorcist first, but Stanley Kubrick ended up using it in The Shining as well. Also, for those who noticed the name of the hotel that that Dark Army takes Tyrell to, that’s a pretty fun reference — if you can figure it out.
There’s another interesting connection with The Shining and our series. In the book, Jack Torrance comes home to find that his son, Danny, made a mess of all of his papers, so he yanks the kid up to his feet and breaks his arm. It’s what motivated Jack to stop drinking. In our show, Edward Alderson got mad at a young Elliot and pushed him out of a window. Elliot broke his arm in the fall.
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