But by now, Tobias is sober enough to realize it is Darlene who really needs help. Surrounded by Christmas decorations, she pours her heart out, explaining how nearly everyone she has ever been close to is dead — except for Elliot, who she is worried may be next. Tobias reassures her. Sometimes, a pep talk from Santa is just what the doctor ordered.
Unfortunately, Darlene is right to worry about her brother. Though he and Tyrell manage to get the drop on the operative who was following him, the operative is significantly less dead than they believed him to be. When they pull over at a remote service station to buy gasoline and a lighter to torch the body and the Dark Army van they stole, they emerge to discover that their victim has recovered and driven off, stranding them.
What follows is the episode’s most visually surreal story line, as Wellick, Elliot and Elliot’s Mr. Robot persona wander through the woods in search of the closest town. It’s a starkly lit journey with the bright moonlight casting shadows and reflecting off the snow. In a smart bit of staging, the three men are nearly always shown marching from the right side of the screen to the left — forcing the viewer’s eye to reverse its normal left-to-right movement and almost subliminally making the trek seem more arduous.
Haunted by the belief that they’re marching to their doom and by the strange howl of a distant, unidentified animal, they eventually find a road — and a dead deer, killed by the Dark Army agent’s van before it crashed several yards away. Elliot and Wellick approach the van from different angles when suddenly the operative opens fire, mortally wounding Wellick before killing himself.
Wellick spent their time in the woods bemoaning the fact that Elliot didn’t care about him. But in the end, it is he who must insist that Elliot leave him behind in order to save himself, something Elliot refuses to do until Wellick insists.
Wandering back into the woods to die, Wellick appears to find the source of the strange animal sounds: an unseen object emitting a cold blue light. As Wellick gazes in wonder, the screen fades to white. Arguably the strangest, most volatile character on “Mr. Robot” is given a moment of beauty and grace before dying, at the end of one of the show’s strangest and most deeply empathetic episodes.
Wellick theorizes that Elliot wears the same clothes all the time — black hoodie, black jeans, black shoes — because he just doesn’t care what anyone else thinks of him and perhaps doesn’t care about anyone either. Speaking as a person who also wears a black hoodie, black jeans and black shoes all the time, I feel called out.
When Wellick is recognized by the clerk at the gas station, he attempts to obscure his identity — he is one of the most famous men in the world — by agreeing to her initial guess that he was a contestant on “Big Brother.” Of course that’s the reality show “Mr. Robot” would reference.
Since this may be the last chance to do so, I’d like to praise Martin Wallstrom’s performance as Wellick. Though he was once styled as an “American Psycho” type, there turned out to be a great well of need beneath his sociopathic surface. Wallstrom’s eyes have seemed to be on the verge of tears since late in the first season; he deserves kudos for acting on the edge.