USA’s Mr. Robot
Season 4, Episode 1: “401 Unauthorized”
Directed & Written
by Sam Esmail
* For a recap & review of the Season 3 finale, “shutdown-r” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “402 Payment Required” – click here
Phillip Price goes to see his daughter, Angela. She’s out in the garden at his palatial home where he’s stashed her. The way she’s talking— about “retribution“— it makes her father feel worried. He’s been trying to protect her. But she’s unwilling to do what he wants her to, and she refuses to run from Whiterose. Phillip tries to convince her otherwise. He can’t, so he walks away, tears off the wire he’s wiring under his shirt, and a couple of Dark Army masked men put a bullet in his daughter. He spent so much time trying to convince Angela that Whiterose was a villain, when he just let his own flesh and blood get murdered in cold blood. He continues to blame Whiterose, even when she calls him.
“You did this to her,” Phillip says. This doesn’t shake Whiterose, whose plans are mostly going ahead as she’d hoped. Her assistant tries to warn against dealing with Elliot Alderson, calling him an untrustworthy “wretch.” The hacker’s in deep with Whiterose. This year’s holiday season could very well be his last.
A lawyer named Freddy Lomax gets a package while he’s partying at the office. It contains video evidence of him chatting with a clearly underage girl. There’s also a phone buzzing with a call for him. On the other end is Mr. Robot, telling him there’ll be an e-mail waiting for him with a link to click. Freddy’s trying to buy his way out, but Mr. Robot doesn’t “give a shit about money.” He’s instructed what to do by the voice on the other line. He has no other choice but do it, or be exposed as a deviant.
Soon, he’s at Grand Central Station acting like “a coked up Henry Hill,” ordered along each step by Mr. Robot not far off. There are also Dark Army operatives lurking. Freddy wavers between confusion and panic, attempting to listen to all the various instructions he’s given leading him to a train where Elliot sits waiting. The hacker asks for the drive with files from his firm, but Freddy pulls his gun asking for any copies of the video of him. He advises it’ll be sent to his family and the FBI if he doesn’t hand over the drive.
That gets shit done quick. Elliot’s using the files to figure out how Whiterose is being funnelled money, leading him to Cyprus National Bank. He gets more info out of Freddy before the Dark Army are almost on top of them. He slips out of there, and the lawyer makes a run for it. They still have to meet for the hacker to get an address. Except Freddy figures out there’s nothing ultimately in this deal for him— no protection from justice or the Dark Army. So he chooses to use that gun of his to blow his brains out.
Tyrell Wellick is playing the part for E Corp. People see him as “a hero.” He sees it otherwise, and it’s taking a toll. Meanwhile, Dominique DiPerro isn’t what you’d call the picture of health. She’s been reluctantly made part of the Dark Army after what occurred in the end of Season 3. She’s living at home, dishevelled, isolated, and it’s as if she’s waiting for someone to come kill her at any moment— so much so she pulls her gun on a handyman her mother hired. She soon comes to realise people are watching her closely. Like Janice, whom Dom believed was someone her mom wanted her to maybe date, but who’s actually a taxidermist working for the Dark Army to keep tabs on her.
“As far as you’re concerned,
John Garcin is the name Freddy gave to Elliot. This has Mr. Robot and Elliot back at HQ looking through his social media and trying to figure out anything they can to break Garcin. They’re of two minds, stuck in one: dad wants to infiltrate the man using info, whereas Elliot worries about how much time they have left and would rather go straight to the man’s address. Mr. Robot thinks it’s all becoming too personal. Elliot just thinks everyone, himself included, is “exhausted” by the status quo. “Fuck my feelings,” he says. He wants to take Whiterose and her friends down once and for all.
At the apartment, Darlene comes to see Elliot. She believes she saw Angela. She’s not looking or sounding so great. Her brother checks out, letting Mr. Robot take over. He can’t deal with it right now. He’s accepted that their friend is gone, but Darlene cannot “give up on her.” She’s high and it provokes her brother into anger. She and Mr. Robot both see that Elliot’s starting to shut down all over again. We also see more clearly how Mr. Robot is something other than the vision of dad, he’s a whole other part of the hacker’s personality, and he uses dad to get things through to the son.
Elliot heads to an E Corp Properties building where Garcin lives. He heads up to the 7th floor. The door’s open and nobody seems to be at home. Ellliot wants to look around, though dad says it’s not a good idea. They quickly take a peak. Clearly the place is for show. The picture frames still have pictures from when they were bought inside, there are tags on the lamps, and a layer of dust sits over everything. Not only that, the door’s locked and they can’t get a signal. Have they wandered intro a trap? Perfectly, Elliot sees No Exit by Jean-Paul Sartre on the bookshelf, among other books like The Last of the Mohicans and text full of works by John Millington Synge. He pulls out the Sartre text to see one of the characters names is Joseph Garcin. Downstairs, the guy at the desk puts on Bobby McFerrin’s “Don’t Worry Be Happy” as men head up to grab the hacker and pull him out of the building by force.
Our hacker’s held in a chair. Drugs are cooked to inject him with, and Elliot tries to bargain his way out of it with morality, yet that’s not working. He admits: “I‘ve hurt so many people.” He wants to make things right before he dies. He mentions Cyprus National Bank, threatening that Whiterose’s money is gone no matter what happens. The man with the needle is face he remembers. Then the syringe is dumped into his veins and he’s left to die. He tips out of the chair and attempts knocking the phone over. Not enough to save him. He lies there, fading away, seeing visions of his family and friends as he’s about to pass over into death.
Luckily someone shows up with NARCAN to spray up his nose.
Price has arrived. Uh oh.
“My anger won’t die with me”
An incredibly intense opener for Season 4. Plenty of intrigue to chew on.
What a swan song this is about to be— buckle up!
“402 Payment Required” is next time.