Mr. Robot, S01E03 – “Debug”

Episode Number: S01E03

Original Air Date: July 8, 2015

Time: 45 minutes

Synopsis: Elliot strives for a “normal” life but circumstances may thwart him; Wellick attempts to manage his anxiety while waiting for Evil Corp to choose a permanent CTO.

A Slap in the Face

Over a video montage of him working out, Evil Corp’s acting Chief Technology Officer, Tyrell Wellick, practices the speech he’s about to give to the CEO of Evil Corp. He’s extremely hard on himself and exacting in his approach and speech patterns. The practiced speech—as painful as it is—ends with him offering up his name as permanent CTO. But before he can even give his speech, the CEO, Phillip Price, asks him to come back in two weeks—and mentions that they have already found a “great candidate” for the CTO spot. Afterward, Wellick pays a homeless man and pulls on rubber gloves—and then proceeds to beat up the man, leaving him unconscious on the ground as Wellick and his driver, Mr. Sutherland, drive away.

  • Notes: The homeless man asks for $300 “this time,” implying that Wellick has beaten him up before.

  • Characters: Phillip Price, the CEO of Evil Corp, is played by Michael Cristofer, an accomplished writer and playwright. His play Shadow Box won a Pulitzer Prize. The homeless man that Wellick beats is played by Mick O’Rourke, who also appeared in the Scorsese movie The Departed.

  • Filming Location: According to Untapped Cities, the location for Wellick’s little “boxing” session is “between Queens Plaza South and 13th Street.”

Primary Care Facility

Elliot wakes to find himself in a hospital, recovering from his injuries after being pushed off the railing at Coney Island by Mr. Robot. Shayla, his drug dealer, and Krista, his psychiatrist, are waiting to speak to him. He’d told the police he’d been jumped by “a bunch of kids” and evidently requested Krista to authorize his discharge. He also apparently refused a full drug panel, and Krista’s curious why. “I’ve been taking morphine,” he tells her. She makes him agree to drug testing twice a month, and he’s amenable to that—he chose this particular hospital as his primary care facility because the computer system is particularly easy to hack. He’d be able to change the drug test results at will.

  • Notes: Shayla is Elliot’s emergency contact. William Highsmith is the head of the IT department—actually, he’s the entire IT department for the hospital. He’s nearly 70 years old, lives in Queens, and Elliot thinks he’s an “idiot—actually, it’s not his fault. The people that hired him to secure the hospital’s network should have known better.” According to Elliot’s medical records, he’s currently suffering from depression, anxiety, insomnia, mania, lower back pain and “temporomandibular joint dysfunction,” a systemic tightening of the jaw muscles better known as TMJ. And his SSN is “672 19 84,” which is missing two digits.

  • Goofs: According to IMDB, in Elliot’s drug screen the word “marijuana” is misspelled.

  • Terminology: Windows 98 is an outdated version of the windows operating system.

Shayla and Darlene

Elliot and Shayla make a purchase at a corner store, then head back to their apartment building. She asks if he had anything to do with “Vera getting busted.” Vera is Shayla’s supplier and he and his “whole crew” were arrested based on information Elliot sent the NYPD anonymously in S01E02. He denies any involvement. They find Darlene waiting in Elliot’s apartment—she broke in to talk to him. She’s surprised at his injuries, but Elliot asks her to leave.

  • Notes: The sign at the corner market reads “Due to the recent hack on Evil Corp, our credit card systems are not operational. We hope to resolve this matter soon.” First, it says “Evil Corp” instead of “E Corp” on the printed sign, so we’re clearly seeing the sign through Elliot’s “eyes,” and he’s already “corrected” the name of the company for us. Second, the fact that particular credit cards aren’t working shows the far-reaching power of fsociety. According to the tabloids, Jessica Alba wants to join fsociety.

Ollie and Angela

Angela, jogging in the park, returns a dropped wallet to a passerby—but it turns out he was a purse snatcher and the rightful owner yells at Angela for returning it. At home, her boyfriend Ollie is on the phone with his other girlfriend, Stella—they’re just finding out that Ollie’s computer has been hacked and that the hackers have nude photos of Stella. Angela returns, and Ollie has to end his phone call quickly.

Angela tells him about the purse snatcher—or tries to, but Ollie cuts her off. He gets another call—it’s the hackers. They want him to upload a virus to the Allsafe cybersecurity servers, or they’ll release “everything” on Ollie and Stella in 100 hours. The hacker, Cisco, hangs up and watches Ollie’s panicked reaction through the camera on Ollie’s laptop.


Later, at Allsafe, Gideon Goddard is holding a meeting in his office. Angela, Ollie and Elliot all work for him—and Gideon’s worried. He needs them to double down on their efforts to prevent future hacks of Evil Corp. He also invites them all to dinner at his home that evening, and Elliot passes. Gideon excuses the rest of them and asks about Elliot’s injuries. Eliot doesn’t want to talk about it—he’s created a “cold perfect maze” in his mind to protect himself and his “source code.”

Heading back to his desk, Elliot finds Mr. Robot sitting there—he wants to talk. At a nearby bar, Mr. Robot apologizes for pushing him off the railing—and tells him that unless he returns to fsociety, the plan to hack Evil Corp is over. Elliot is overjoyed—he wants nothing more to do with fsociety and returns to work, happier than he’s been in weeks. He imagines being normal: drinking Starbucks lattes and asking Shayla to be his girlfriend and attending movies with the normal people. Back at the office, he pokes his head into Gideon’s office and surprises him by asking if he still come to dinner tonight—and asks if he can bring his “girlfriend.”

Meanwhile, Ollie’s decided to go along with the hacker’s plans and inserts the infected CD into his work computer. Before he can upload the virus, Angela appears and they leave work together.

  • Notes: Mr. Robot’s preferred drink is the appletini. And, at the bar near his work, Elliot pays $12 for his appletini. Elliot thinks the Marvel movies are stupid. According to IMDB, the picture of the dog is a photo from the Instagram page of show creator Sam Esmail’s girlfriend, Emmy Rossum. The dog’s name is Cinnamon.

  • Filming Location: According to an article in InStyle, the location for the bar where Mr. Robot and Elliot drink Appletinis is the Racoon Lodge, located at 59 Warren Street in Tribeca, New York City. The bar closed for good June 30, 2016.

  • Quotes: Elliot: “This is the world we live in. People relying on each other's mistakes to manipulate one another, use one another, even relate to one another. A warm, messy circle of humanity.”

  • Elliot: “Hey, Gideon. Is that dinner still on for tonight?” Gideon: “Um, yeah. Sure. Uh, you want to come?” Elliot: “Yeah.” Gideon: “Great.” Elliot: “Can I bring my girlfriend?” Gideon: “You have a girlfriend?” Elliot: “Well, I, uh, haven't asked her yet, but I will. Hopefully she'll say yes.” Gideon: “Uh, yeah. Sure. Perfect.” Elliot: “Thanks.”


Seeing that Anwar, a particular male employee of his is at a local club, Kiss and Fly, Tyrell Wellick prepares to leave his home. His wife Joanna asks if it’s necessary, obviously aware of what he’s about to do, and Wellick says that everything he does is for their family.

At Shayla’s, Elliot asks her to go to the dinner with him as his girlfriend. “I’m not good in social situations like that.” She tells her about her interest in sewing and he’s impressed, kissing her. She agrees to go with him. Wellick “happens” to run into Anwar and tells him that he’s attracted to Anwar.

At Gideon’s, the dinner party gets underway. Gideon’s boyfriend Harry makes small talk but Angela seems confused that Elliot has a girlfriend. Gideon thanks Elliot for his good work for Allsafe. Angela and Elliot reminisce about visiting a museum as children.

Elliot gets a news alert on his phone—another data dump of Evil Corp secrets by fsociety. It turns out former CTO Terry Colby had knowledge of the Washington Township toxic waste cover-up, a 1993 environmental disaster caused by Evil Corp that killed Elliot’s father and Angela’s mother, along with 24 other Evil Corp employees. The company beat a class-action lawsuit by the surviving victims, but the latest data dump shows the company was aware their factories were putting out toxic levels of waste and chose to do nothing about it. In a flashback, we see Elliot’s mom calling his dad weak for dying and leaving them to fend for themselves.

After Wellick and Anwar have sex at Anwar’s apartment, Wellick hacks Anwar’s phone.

  • Notes: The doorbell on Gideon’s sweet industrial apartment is broken. Angela and Ollie have been dating for between two and two and a half years—opinions vary. Elliot mentions the “conversation on the plane,” which took place in the pilot episode, So1E01. Angela and Elliot reminisce about running away at eight years old to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City like Claudia Kincaid in “From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler” but ended up at the Queens Museum instead. When the bus passes by, the scene changes from the flashback to the current day, and Elliot is sitting in the same place on the bus bench as his younger self.

  • Characters: Joanna Wellick is played by Stephanie Corneliussen. Harry, Gideon’s boyfriend, is played by Randy Harrison.

  • Goofs: Angela got the idea to run away like Claudia Kincaid from the real-world book “Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler” but leaves out the “Mrs.” when reciting the name of the book.


Back at their apartment, Ollie and Angela start to discuss the news about Evil Corp, but Angela isn’t interested. Ollie tells her about the hack of his laptop, including photos of his other girlfriend Stella (“it meant nothing.”) and financial information and nude videos of Angela herself. The hacker is demanding that Ollie install a virus onto the Allsafe servers. Angela asks for the CD so she can install the virus herself—she’s worried that the hacker has not only her financial information but that of her father, who co-signed her student loan. At Allsafe, Gideon is concerned about some information he’s received about the Evil Corp hacks, and reaches out to the Dulles server farm for assistance.

  • Notes: Angela and Elliot bonded over the loss of their respective parents to leukemia from the Evil Corp toxic waste incident. The hacker emails to Ollie are dated around March 27-28, 2015, about four months before this episode aired.

  • Goofs: When Gideon picks up his phone to call the server farm, it’s in “airplane” mode and shouldn’t be able to make any outgoing calls.

Tied Up

Back at home, Joanna Wellick is waiting up for her husband. She’s wearing a mask and there’s classical music playing. He sighs and asks if it has to be “tonight” and she says yes. He then proceeds to tie her up and puts a ball gag in her mouth. Back at fsociety, Elliot tells the members that the hack of Evil Corp is back on.



This episode gives Elliot a glimpse of what a normal life would be like—dinner parties, quiet discussions with his “girlfriend,” and lattes from Starbucks. He seems to take to it temporarily, punctuated by Len’s bubbly song “Steal My Sunshine.” But the state is only temporary—the pleasant looks on his friends and co-worker’s faces can’t compete with the revelation that Evil Corp KNEW about how toxic their factories were—an incident that killed Elliot’s father—and covered it up. And while it looked like the fsociety plans to hack Evil Corp had been sidelined, by the end of the episode, Elliot had decided to walk away from his new “normal life” and embrace the hack.

Angela’s relationship with Ollie is depicted in an interesting way in this episode—while she cares for him, once she finds out about the hack of his laptop and the potential theft of her identity, she becomes almost “robot”-like in her responses. She tell him in a very matter-of-fact voice that they need to break up, then coldly weighs the need to protect her identity with possibly getting her and Ollie fired by going along with the hacker’s plans. After a few minutes, she comes back to reality, but there for a moment, she’s nearly as robotic—and calculating—as Elliot can be.

Episode Notes:

The episode is titled “Debug:” for most of the episode, Elliot is talking about “bugs” or errors in code—and he thinks he’s hidden his “bug” down deep. It’s not until the hack of Evil Corp at the end do we discover his bug—his feelings about his father.


NOTE: All sites accessed on August 30, 2016.

Greg Enslen is an Ohio author and columnist. He's written and published eight books, including four fiction titles and four collections of essays and columns. Several are available through Gypsy Publications of Troy, Ohio. To receive updates on upcoming titles, sneak previews and appearances, subscribe to Email Goodies. For more information, please see his Amazon Author Page or visit his Facebook fan page.