USA’s Mr. Robot
Season 2, Episode 6: “eps2.4_m4ster-s1ave.aes”
Directed by Sam Esmail
Written by Adam Penn
We switch to Mr. Robot if it were a late ’80s or early ’90s sitcom. Elliot (Rami Malek), Darlene (Carly Chaikin), dad (Christian Slater), and mom (Vaishnavi Sharma) are driving down the highway in their car, having the typical sitcom-like conversations. Except much darker. On Darlene’s Game Boy we see Elliot being beaten by Ray’s (Craig Robinson) men briefly. The whole while Elliot is mystified, whereas the rest of the family seems to be a part of the whole deal. Even when he’s “hearing voices” – as in the laughter of the studio audience – it’s passed off as his usual mental health issues. A brilliant opener, along with the Full House-esque theme song and credits sequence.
They head to a gas station, stopping to fill up. In goes Elliot where he bumps into none other than ALF. Afterwards, he discovers Angela (Portia Doubleday) is working there, cracking bad jokes about the death of her mother. Before long they’re off again, stumbling in and out of shitty situations. Plus, dad has a guy tied up in the trunk. Then the cops show up.
Gideon (Michel Gill) is the officer, though he winds up being run over by ALF, dead again even in this weird TV show. Brutally killed all over. Elliot’s done with whatever Mr. Robot is doing to him, he wants out. “It‘ll feel good if you let it,” he tries soothing his son.
Oh, the guy in the trunk? It’s Tyrell (Martin Wallström). Seems that between Gideon and Mr. Wellick, the TV show dad’s created is bits of the subconscious, cobbled together in similar yet slightly different ways. Great bit of writing. And it’s only temporary. He’s actually lying in the hospital, beat the fuck up after Ray let his boys loose.
“This whole place is a lie. Nothing here is true.”
He wakes to Ray, Lone Star (Michael Maize) over him. The black market kingpin tells a sob story about his dog having heart worm. A roundabout way of discussing the master v. pet relationship, the one in which he and Elliot exist now.
Angela (Portia Doubleday) is working with Darlene, Mobley (Azhar Khan), and Trenton (Sunita Mani) to enact their plans. Problem is they can’t just teach Angela to hack in a day. But Darlene is adamant things are going ahead.
Poor Cisco (Michael Drayer) gets in big trouble with his Chinese contact. Two men in masks, the same Dominique (Grace Gummer) saw in the airport, grab him from behind, then he has an injection needle cracked off under his fingernail.
Speaking of Dom, she’s being asked to take time off; a month. To recover. She’d rather keep fighting the Dark Army, investigating the hack. And she’s of the belief the attack was part of trying to silence them, as the gunmen committed suicide after shooting the place up, even leaving her alive.
Just about time for Angela to work whatever magic she can. First, Darlene sets up in a hotel room nearby with all the computer gadgetry necessary. Across the way, in the heart of Evil Corp, Angela starts in on her end of the hack. In the bathroom she clicks away on the keys, rushing against time. She barely slips away from an FBI agent before she can get on to the rest of her tasks.
That is until their wifi signal goes down, sending Angela back to her desk. She has to work with more coding, via Darlene’s instructions. Just as she’s about to finish, who shows up? Agent DiPierro herself, Ms. Dom.
“Every relationship‘s a power struggle. Some of us need to be controlled.”
Elliot’s being taken from his hospital bed, forcibly, by more of Ray’s henchmen and Lone Star. They take him to a basement. He’s, naturally, frightened. He still sees his father there with him, explaining he was trying to “take those punches” for him with the whole sitcom dream.
Then we flashback to young Elliot, a bruised face, dad driving him home from school. Dad tells a story about being called into the office at work, where he’s terminated from his job. All because he had to go get blood work at the hospital. This is the moment he reveals to his boy his cancer; the only person who knows. Also when he shows Elliot the new shop, the future Mr. Robot store.
What a killer episode, in many ways. Heavy, dreamy at first (as are many of these episodes). Plus, we really get to see Rami do good stuff, and also Slater, whose star shines brightest in a long time here on this show. Cannot wait for more, as we unravel the new dark relationship setup between Ray and Elliot, too.
“eps2.5_h4ndshake.sme” is the next one at bat.