Okay, over halfway through a binge rewatch and it strengthens one of my theories. Feel free to join in if you do not mind some spoilers.
TL:DR – The show highlights doppelgängers. Tyrell and Elliot are two sides of the same coin. Elliot and Tyrell are not the same character in the same body. They are the same character present in two different bodies. They are not the only doppelgängers in the show.
(They may even BE identical twins. We just see Elliot looking differently from Tyrell in the same way Mr. Robot looks different. Elliot is just a character that Tyrell’s twin takes on.)
Read on as I describe why I think almost every character in the show has a doppelgänger in order to demonstrate how choices do or do not lead to control.
Doppelgängers let the creators examine how choice and control affects someone’s life. Where would a character’s life go if different choices are made? What would OUR life be like if we made different choices?
Elliot and Tyrell – same character in different bodies making different choices BUT with the same dissociative problem.
We see Tyrell act oddly and out of ‘character’ a lot. But this is because we are watching from the outside. We do not see him surrounded by his other personalities who are actually taking these actions.
In rewatching, we see people reacting to Elliot acting out of character all the time as he takes on different personas. But, since we are inside his head (he created us) it does not seem out of character. There is ‘’another’ character there. not him, taking those actions.
Since we are not in Tyrell’s head we do not see that it is actually his “ Mr. Robot” doing these things. We simply see the Tyrell body doing them.
And now we see the choices Elliot has made beginning to raise him up and into greater control as we see Tyrell’s choices rapidly knocking him down and removing control.
This fits with the arc of the show – it is about choice and control. So we have multiple forms of the same character and can see how different change their lives..
When looking at it this way, there seem to be lots of doppelgängers. (it even explicitly mentioned the word when describing how the psychiatrist, Krista, was dealing with one of her patients).
Other examples of two sides of the same coin:
- Angela and Shayla – Both are disrespected by peers and superiors, both are betrayed by men who are not right for them, both rely on Elliot to provide social connections that cannot be digitized (watching BTTF2 or showing artwork). Both reach a decision point after the betrayal. Shayla does nothing which ends badly, the ultimate loss of control. Angela changes everything, gains agency and moves positively. At least for now. Choices lead to control. And likely eventually to its loss.
- Darlene and Cisco – They serve the same position for fsociety and Dark Army – liaison and hacker. Darlene actually takes over Cisco’s online identity to get the action going again. Of all the doppelgängers they actually are the most similar, even though they are of different sexes. But essentially each could substitute in any scene for the other. In contrast to Angela/Shayla, Darlene and Cisco’s choices have made them more similar, not less.
- Gideon and Scott Knowles– both are the CTOs of the respective companies (although Gideon is also President due to his choices , having used their backgrounds to reach positions of power. Both have dinners for the Tyrell/Elliot characters. One is a caring, homosexual concerned for the livelihood of those he employs and the other is a hyper-masculine, narcissist who cares little except how much bigger his dick (or his watch) is than any one else’s. But neither really has any real control, no matter what their choices.
- WhiteRose and Philip Price – One runs the largest conglomerate and the other the largest cyberhacking group. Both want to gain greater power for themselves, as we see from the very last image of this season – we see both of them quite comfortable with each other as they listen to a harp play the same song heard as the Titanic sank. They likely have total control due to their choices – for now
- Ollie Parker and Vera – both men think that they are in total control – of their lives, their jobs and their women. Both are shown to have no control at all because of the choices they made.