USA’s Mr. Robot
Season 2, Episode 4: “eps2.2_init_1.asec”
Directed & Written by Sam Esmail
* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “eps2.1_k3rnel-pan1c.ksd” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “eps2.3_logic-b0mb.hc” – click here
Elliot (Rami Malek) hears incessant knocking at the door. It’s Darlene (Carly Chaikin) wearing the fsociety mask. They watch a movie (a fake slasher from 1984) called The Careful Massacre of the Bourgeoisie; where the mask came from. They light up, watch the flick. Will Darlene taking a picture of the slasher movie, in which the mask for fsociety originated, and putting it on Instagram lead to her being investigated? Bit of a dumb move.
We get more of Elliot’s past, his issues. Darlene isn’t entirely stable, either. Together they’re aligned against the “Wall Street psychos” of the world, yet saving the world’s no good if you can’t save yourself, right? He shows her an old jacket that belonged to their dad (Christian Slater). She wants him to put on the fsociety mask, so he does. This almost rejuvenates him in a sense, he’s suddenly talking about becoming a “Trojan horse” within Evil Corp, to take them down from the inside. Under the mask, he’s filled with ideas, flowing out of him endlessly. Seeing it kind of scares Darlene.
Note: Beautifully orchestrated scene, using pieces of Phillip Glass leading into a stunningly shot scene, the music adding an extra layer on top of those unique camera angles so expected of Mr. Robot.
Brother and sister are at odds. Elliot doesn’t want to do anything more, not right now; it’s Mr. Robot who wants more revolution, no matter what the cost. He believes his sister isn’t being honest with him, hiding some other intention from him. But what?
Dominique (Grace Gummer) has the FBI crawling all over the fsociety hideout at the boardwalk arcade. She found a bullet casing. Did our hacker actually fire that gun from the popcorn machine? Shit.
Joanna (Stephanie Corneliussen) is still dealing with things in the wake of her husband Tyrell (Martin Wallström) disappearing. Problem is the money’s drying up to deal with keeping people quiet. E.Corp hasn’t released any of Tyrell’s money. Wonder what this will lead to now. Nothing good.
What about Ray (Craig Robinson)? He and Elliot are getting closer all the time, playing chess together; both figuratively and mentally, it seems. Neither of them are stupid men, regardless of the things with which they’re involved. Dad shows up, though. He’s worried his son is going to confess to Ray the things he’s done, in turn likely bringing the Dark Army down on himself, anyone near.
Angela (Portia Doubleday) is still trying to do the right thing. All the while trying not to compromise herself or throw her ethics out the window as she chases the truth. Her situation is a sort of allegory about chasing monsters, making sure, in the process, you don’t become one.
A chess game is set: dad v. son. If son wins, dad goes away forever, never comes back, and he can confess to whatever he wants. If dad wins, he “gets to be in charge, once and for all.” Then Mr. Robot tells him he’ll be in a “deep, black void” for the rest of his days, doing the bidding of his dead father’s momentum. Like it couldn’t even be stopped if dad wanted that. Meanwhile, Elliot is still seeking help from psychiatrist Krista Gordon (Gloria Reuben). She’s got his best interests in mind, sticking by him after so much. She now wants to talk to his father, but he’s afraid that will legitimise his power, in turn giving him more control. Resistance is the only thing that’s keeping him relatively sane.
“Annihilation is always the answer. We destroy parts of ourselves everyday. We Photoshop our warts away, we edit the parts we hate about ourselves, modify the parts we think people hate. We curate our identity; carve it, distil it. Krista’s wrong. Annihilation is all we are.”
Elsewhere, Phillip Price (Michael Cristofer) and Whiterose (B.D. Wong) speak via telephone, the former insisting things take time, the latter a stickler for time and not a fan of being patient. Moreover, Whiterose has lots of reach, so she knows about Dominique’s investigation into the Five/Nine Hack and the FBI discovering the fsociety’s hideout.
Scott Knowles (Brian Stokes Mitchell) gets a visit from Joanna, curious about her husband’s severance. He’s drinking himself into oblivion, wanting justice for his wife’s murder. She offers a deal: get her the money from Tyrell’s severance and she testifies he didn’t come home the night Sharon died. But it won’t be that easy.
That night Darlene senses she’s being followed. Suddenly, someone in an fsociety masks asks for her phone, giving her directions. Of course it’s Cisco (Michael Drayer), checking in with her about Romero, the FBI investigation, making sure she’s okay. This leads to them having sex in the bathroom, too. After that he says the Dark Army’s getting nervous with the FBI involved. Uh oh.
Gorgeous little cover of “Basket Case” by Green Day over Elliot imagining the future, a normal one with people he knows getting married, Darlene and Cisco happy together, he even goes to make up with the guy from Season 1 he berated to get a job done for fsociety. It’s a “future with friends and family” he never thought possible, everyone eating together at a big table out in the street. In the background a large building is demolished, they clap happily. Something to fight for, to motivate him in his resistance against Mr. Robot’s influence.
The big chess game comes to a stalemate. So they begin again. Or, he begins again. Another stalemate. Begin again. The pattern keeps repeating, nobody can ultimately win. They’re stuck together. Likely forever.
Angela’s putting the screws to Price. She realises there’s a reason for her involvement, that she has value to him, to the company. She asks for a nice office, a promotion, which only further impresses the old man. However, he won’t concede. This is a powerful, creepy man.
Elliot goes back to see Ray, telling him nobody won at chess. He also offers to help with the computer troubles, finally. Thus begins another strand of their relationship. Again, there’s some little thing about Ray that doesn’t quite sit right, something he’s concealing about himself to his new friend. He also asks for “discretion” about his online business. Very telling. Elliot also then uses Ray’s computer to communicate with Darlene privately, finding out about the FBI, Romero’s murder. All pulling him back to fsociety.
Another fantastic episode. The mystery’s always there, as little pieces are chipped away, and then comes all the brutal tension. I can never get enough of the series. Lots of good characters, all kinds of different intentions, desires, feeding so much plot.
“eps2.3_logic-b0mb.hc” comes next.