Mr. Robot's Best Character

Editor’s Note: This article previously appeared in a different format as part of The Atlantic’s Notes section, retired in 2021.
Portia Doubleday as Angela (USA)

Everyone who’s watched USA’s fantastic breakout show Mr. Robot—whose finale ended moments ago—generally agrees that the performance of Rami Malek, who plays the hacker protagonist Elliot, is a major factor in the show’s success. But the finale made it clear to me that, as Elliot spent the episode facing off against his many demons, including his Tyler Durden dad, he stopped being the most interesting character.

That honor now belongs to Angela—his childhood friend and former coworker at cybersecurity firm AllSafe, played by Portia Doubleday.

A high-strung employee and endlessly forgiving friend in the pilot, Angela’s had quite the season: She won AllSafe’s account with the conglomerate Evil Corp; lost said account; learned the sexist Evil Corp CTO who got her fired from the account helped cover up the company’s role in her mother’s death; fought to bring a class-action lawsuit against Evil Corp; endured sexual harassment; got offered a job at Evil Corp; took said job; and witnessed her boss fatally shoot himself on live TV—then promptly bought Pradas to replace her blood-spattered shoes.

What makes Angela so fascinating is that her transformation into a darker, more cunning and pragmatic character doesn’t betray her sense of self. Her sympathetic decision to join Evil Corp humanizes the company, though next season she could lose her way and fully embrace an institution she once loathed. Her arc makes me think Mr. Robot might aspire to Breaking Bad levels of moral complexity—a welcome departure from the more simplistic vision of good and evil the show began with (and which my colleague Spencer unpacked).

The only thing I’m equally excited for when the show returns next year? B.D. Wong as the hacker queen bee and possible double agent Whiterose. Perfection: