What the fuck happened to Tyrell Wellick? We’ve been asking ourselves that since Elliot woke up in Tyrell’s car at the end of Season 1. And the guy is worrying in the sense that his creepy smirk is nightmare fuel. (Remember when he murdered that woman?) But opening Season 2 with Elliot’s fixation on Tyrell has made the first three episodes a bit of a slog, so we begin to question if we really give a shit what he’s up to.
We know that Tyrell and Elliot-as-Mr. Robot were responsible for the execution of the Evil Corp hack at the end of Season 1, and Elliot has no memory of what happened that night and the days following. Of course it makes sense that the character, at his most vulnerable following his Mr. Robot realization, would be obsessed with answering this particular question. And the show, which has treated Elliot’s mental illness admirably, has an obligation to give him a little space. But it’s been frustrating how little Mr. Robot is showing us about the post-hack world.
This week’s episode finally showed signs of pushing the narrative forward again, with Elliot finally sitting in front of a monitor to get his hack on again. As a relative Luddite, I never thought I’d be rooting for a show to lay off the deep character study and get back to computer coding action, but here we are. Hopefully, this means Elliot is losing his fixation on Tyrell because frankly, at the moment, it doesn’t matter what happened the night of the hack.
As Darlene emphasized it’s all about what comes after. So let’s put some Tyrell theories to bed and stop worrying about him.
Tyrell is not Elliot. Let’s clear this one to start off. It’s a theory that has been floating around for a while, and fair enough, as Mr. Robot has made viewers question at one point or another if any given character is real. But it’s also pretty easily debunked. Tyrell has a fully established life that is often shown on screen. It’s one thing to accept that Elliot has an alter ego that is just a shoutier weird loner, but there’s no way he lives a full double life as an ambitious and ruthless corporate suit.
Tyrell is still alive. A lot of people think that Tyrell is dead, and that possibly Elliot murdered him the night of the hack. While that would be a sufficiently traumatic thing to trigger Elliot’s extreme dissociative state, it also definitely didn’t happen. We may have been suspicious of his phone call to Elliot, but it now seems clear that he is in contact with his wife, Joanna.
The Season 2 premiere showed Joanna in the dark as to her husbands whereabouts. She wasn’t exactly in a tailspin — recall that she previously threatened to divorce him if he continued to fuck up — but there were hints that she was rattled underneath her sexy, sociopathic exterior. Then a beautifully gift wrapped burner phone appeared on her doorstep, and she has her cool sheen of confidence back.
The most logical explanation is that she’s communicated with Tyrell, and his scheme is up to her lofty standards. Tyrell clearly saw an opportunity in Elliot’s hack, and he’s playing the long game. That being said, Joanna is the one to watch for any hints of their intentions. Actress Stephanie Corneliussen was also bumped to series regular, which further proves she will be the face of the Wellick family schemes this season.
Oh, and just to clear the air, Tyrell and Elliot probably didn’t hook up. In certain corners of the internet, they are Mr. Robot’s most popular slash pairing. Despite Tyrell’s bisexuality, the E Corp hack was not followed by a three-day car sex bender, although there’s most definitely a fic for that if you’re interested.
The most pressing thing is that the hack happened, and that’s where the story is at the moment. The Tyrell question is best left as a lingering background thread. We will eventually find out, but don’t hold your breath.