USA’s Mr. Robot
Season 3, Episode 5: “eps3.4_runtime-error.r00”
Directed by Sam Esmail
Written by Kor Adana & Randolph Leon
* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “eps3.3_metadata.par2” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “eps3.5_kill-process.inc” – click here
The UN is gathering to vote on the Congo. At the same time, Elliot (Rami Malek) is headed back to work at Evil Corp with Angela (Portia Doubleday) watching over him. He gets a call from Darlene (Carly Chaikin), asking to talk to him. We continually hear the crackling of a potential system failure, Mr. Robot (Christian Slater) on the verge of breaking through, or maybe he’s the one in charge. Elliott wonders if his “daily program” crashed, if he’s merely going along the routine. Perhaps a “runtime error.” Either way he knows something’s wrong. He’s starting to not be able to distinguish between inner monologue and outer speech.
Meanwhile, the one-shot episode continues; I doubt it’s actual a real single take, rather a bunch of cleverly disguised cuts, which is just as perfect, and requires lots of artistry. So we watch Elliot try going about his day, however, he’s starting to realise his access is locked out. His paranoia starts working on him. Rightfully so, as the Dark Army is doing his thing while his account and employment at E.Corp is being shut down permanently.
Thus begins the intensity. Security comes looking for Elliot while motormouth Samar (Ramy Youssef) distracts them, and our hacker goes about his perpetual search for truth. He has to evade security, act natural. He winds up getting access to a computer again via some Bernie Bro douche, checking on the Dark Army Stage 2 execution. Takes a bit of finesse, though he manages to get himself out of there just barely and into an elevator. Except that’s when dad shows up, ranting and raving. And he still hasn’t finished what he needed to do before getting ejected from the building.
Outside is a massive protest, and Elliot does the only thing he can do: he calls in to tell E.Corp there’s a bomb in their building ready to explode. Darlene’s there, too. She reveals to her brother she’s been working with the FBI. She tells him about everything, that they were onto fsociety, tracking them both for months, all of it. This is fairly shocking to him, obviously. Darlene acts like it was for their safety, that she’s been trying to help. The feeling of betrayal for him is deep, and it’s more unsettling than everything else that’s already going on. His paranoia is turned up past 10 at this point. This is when he finds out Angela’s been manipulating him, using Mr. Robot to her advantage. He remembers his brief waking moment with Angela and Tyrell.
Who can he trust anymore?
Soon from the crowd of protesters a bottle is tossed at the cops, tear gas is released, and a full fledged riot commences. Masked protesters invade Evil Corp, spray painting, destroying anything on which they can lay their hands. Employees are accosted and made to swipe the masked vigilantes upstairs through the elevator, where they’ll unleash further chaos. The whole play is tagged, smashed, turned upside down.
Angela gets a call from Irving (Bobby Cannavale); they’ve started the riot as a “distraction,” apparently. This also involves Elliot putting into place their contingency plan. Ah, how things have changed. Angela gets a package at the desk, which contains all the information the hacker will need to implement the plan necessary for the Dark Army. So while the hallways are utter chaos, she has to go looking for her friend, or her tool, as far as it looks from her perspective. Things get sticky once she runs into security, they see some of the things when she drops her package. She barely gets away after the guy’s beat down brutally by protesters.
Angela makes it into a server room, attempting to hook up a hard drive. She winds up running into another woman, who’s suspicious of why she’s there. She claims to have been doing a physical security audit. They’re interrupted by more violence. Angela gets a bit of second hand mace, though not enough to blind her. She gets back to the hard drive, doing the work herself in lieu of finding Elliot amongst all the madness.
She finishes up, but now she has to get out of there in one piece. She finds one of the fsociety masks, so she uses it to her advantage, disguising herself for when she comes across more of the protesters. She gets to an elevator, a way out. But she lets Irving know a woman saw her, that she did the hacking herself. He’s not entirely thrilled. Although Stage 2 is going ahead as planned, all is right for the Dark Army right now. When Angela gets back to her office, she finds Elliot waiting, wanting answers.
Simultaneously, China’s been given the vote to annex the Congo via the UN.
Sam Esmail continually pushes the envelope, in many ways. This series is one of the greatest, it’ll go down with the best in the history of TV. No doubt.
“eps3.5_kill-process.inc” is next week.