USA’s Mr. Robot
Season 4, Episode 2: “402 Payment Required”
Directed by Sam Esmail
Written by Kyle Bradstreet
* For a recap & review of the Season 4 premiere, “401 Unauthorized” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “403 Forbidden” – click here
Phillip Price reminisces on the fall of the Berlin Wall and dissolving of the Soviet Union, which provided possibility for a “New World Order.” Whiterose began to cultivate relationships across the world, from Putin to Assad and more. She and the investment group Deus were concerned with profit over “moral reservations.” This worked well with those ruling from the top 1%. They used technological advancements to their advantage, to keep the masses at bay with entertainment alongside the various other everyday uses for the internet, et cetera.
Soon, the Deus Group had a stranglehold on everything with Whiterose at the top, who’d been manipulating everything wholly in her favour from the very beginning, in spite of the group itself. Now Elliot knows the extent of things, saved from the brink of death by Price. Can the hacker manage to take down Deus? Will Phillip help him? Elliot attempts to push him towards the “right thing” ethically, and, despite Phillip’s cold heart, it works. Not that it won’t take a minor miracle on his part.
The hacker only has the name Susan Jacobs— a missing contact from the Cyprus National Bank— and he’ll have to figure out where she’s gone, as well as why, hopefully. He has no idea his sister would know. He coincidentally gets a call from Darlene: their mother’s died. Neither of them are overly sentimental about her, nor are they upset to hear of her death. Yet they’ve got to take care of her things. Elliot goes about clearing the place and Darlene halfheartedly apologises for their most recent time together. She feels “a little relieved” since hearing their mother died, and he doesn’t disagree. He finds an old Walkman in mom’s drawer, it belonged to him once. They also stumble upon a receipt for a safe deposit box belonging to mom.
At the FBI, Dominique has to deal with the fallout from Santiago, who’s officially registered as MIA. She’s got to tow the Dark Army line. Things need to be clued up correctly, and well, or else her mother might get a visit from creepy taxidermist Janice. Dom struggles before saying she thinks Santiago worked as a “double agent.” She breaks down, telling Agent Horton how Santiago was working with bad people. She claims he was working with the Trujillo drug cartel. Oh, damn. Could there be unintentional fallout from that lie? At least, for Dom, it’ll keep Janice from doing anything nasty.
Later, Agent Horton supposedly kills himself. Because Dom wasn’t 100% things were fine.
Elliot doesn’t have time for grief. He gets advice from dad, who advises him to slow down for a minute. He’d rather make sure nobody dies first, by working on taking down Whiterose. Darlene’s the one sitting down to look at caskets for their dead mom. She has no idea what to do about the arrangements. When Elliot turns up he asks for the “cheapest urn” because they’re going to cremate her corpse. Darlene keeps thinking of the safe deposit box and what could be inside. It’s more a form of closure for her than anything else. She’s desperate for her brother’s help. They find out there’s nothing left at the bank and it just serves to make her feel worse.
While Darlene’s feeling low Elliot takes out the Walkman. She opens it to see a Happy Mother’s Day tape inside. It’s one Darlene made, but not for her. Somehow mom got her hands on it, and used it as comfort in her worst days. Darlene wants to listen to the tape with Elliot, but he refuses— until he sees her reaction, then he leans closer into his sister, and they hear themselves as kids, along with Angela, wishing her a Happy Mother’s Day.
A quietly powerful, devastating sort of moment.
Whiterose, in drag as Zhang, is putting up his Christmas tree when Phillip comes by, resigning his position as E Corp by the “end of year.” Price wants to part ways with Deus, too. This doesn’t please Whiterose, who won’t stand for that until his big project is finished. They’re at odds. Loyalty comes into question for Whiterose, wondering why Phillip would do this currently. It’s all a way for Phillip to try forcing the Deus Group into meeting in person, so the hacker can enact his plan.
Darlene mentions to Elliot she saw Susan Jacobs on his phone earlier. She uses the past tense to refer to Ms. Jacobs. Then the truth gradually comes out about that fateful night with fsociety, and the hacker figures out the whole story. Darlene explains the unfortunate fatal mishap, in as few words as possible. Naturally this further complicates everything for them, and Elliot’s prior plans. Only a little. Because now he and Darlene are back on the same track, which makes them stronger together. Although he’s troubled when he hears Vera’s name come up. She already told him about it. This makes him paranoid about his father. If it wasn’t for the fact dad says it wasn’t him.
This gives us a vision of a young Elliot and his mother, who refers to “the other one.” See, we haven’t quite cracked the full psychology of the hacker’s shattered mental health. There are fragile bits of his mind we haven’t explored. Yet, anyway.
A fascinating episode that raises a lot of interesting, important questions.
It’s going to get a whole lot wilder from here.
“403 Forbidden” is next time.