USA’s Mr. Robot
Season 4, Episode 8: “408 Request Timeout”
Directed by Sam Esmail
Written by Robbie Pickering
* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “407 Proxy Authentication Request” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “409 Conflict” – click here
Flashback to 1995. Young Elliot and Angela are playing hide and seek at the Queens Museum. He runs through an unfinished part of the office building to a place marked PERMANENT STORAGE. He goes inside where there are all kinds of unused things stored away— one kind of looks like a giant robot. All the while, Elliot’s talking to that unseen presence in his mind. He stashes something behind a part of the wall. Then he heads back out, not doing very well at hiding while Angela continues to seek.
In current day, Krista’s just stabbed Vera in the back. She wants to call the police. Outside, Vera’s crew are waiting and calling his phone. Elliot is caught up with the repressed trauma of his past that’s begun to pour out. He’s stuck in a liminal space between the past and the present. Peanuts and Javi head upstairs, discovering their man’s corpse laid out on the floor, no sign of Krista or Elliott. The therapist is dragging the near catatonic hacker out of there, climbing into a cab. She’s determined to get to the cops. An eerie “happy holiday season” message from E Corp can be seen here on TV, coming from Wellick, himself like he’s not dead.
A brutal Christmas scene occurs at Dom’s family’s place. The Dark Army show up zip-tying everyone while creepy taxidermist Janice is rambling on about cement and “modern civilisation” to captive Dom and Darlene. Lucky for Darlene she was able to wipe her device clean entirely. She refuses to restore the phone, and Dom attempts to tell Janice how stubbornly loyal Darlene can be when it comes to her brother. Janice is thinking of using Dom’s feelings about Darlene against the FBI agent, going so far as to embarrassingly bring up the fact Dom masturbates to Darlene’s interrogation video on a constant basis. An uncomfortable conversation, particularly once the taxidermist breaks out her torture tools. Janice gets serious, taunting Darlene and stabbing Dom in the right side of her chest, puncturing a lung.
Outside the police station, Elliot asks Krista how “people like me” go on after discovering what’s been done to them. He blames himself, believing he could’ve fought off his father somehow. She assures him: “It wasn‘t up to you.” He’d rather just forget it all. But life and trauma don’t work like that. Elliot always knew something happened to him, he’d simply buried it into repression. Krista cares about him, despite everything that’s happened. She hugs him then heads in to speak with the police.
Dom lies on the floor, slowly inching towards death. This gives Janice time to talk about Dom and her family, her mother Trudie. Darlene doesn’t do much to help, calling her “fucking insane.” The taxidermist mentions her young life, being tested for mental illness by her parents because she was interested in sewing up dead animals. She keeps digging into Darlene, blaming her for what’s happening to Dom. And the hacker keeps refusing to play the game. So Janice prepares to have Dom’s family murdered. This is what finally cracks Darlene.
“You will survive this…”
Elsewhere, Elliot has followed his younger self back to the Queens Museum. He stands looking over the giant map of New York. He’s not sure why his younger self has brought him there. They’ve come back to find what he left there, all those years ago in the storage room behind the wall. Elliot reaches in, finding a Beavis and Butt-head coin purse. He opens it and discovers a key— it was his father’s key to his room, he hid it so he’d be able to lock his room and protect himself. This was his method of “fighting back.”
Darlene gives up Elliot’s phone, but the Dark Army can’t find him. She tries to convince Janice she doesn’t know where he is otherwise. Dom confirms Darlene’s not lying— she knows what it looks like when Darlene isn’t being truthful. This pushes Janice to have Trudie gutted “like a trout.” She believes Darlene’s holding out. Except she can’t get the Dark Army operatives on the phone. Dom suggests checking her phone. Someone named Lucky Irish Bastard has been calling. He’s the one who picked up Dom’s family before the Dark Army could get them.
This gives Dom time to be a bad ass, hauling the knife from her chest and lung to stab one of the men. She uses his gun to kill the other guard and Janice, too. She’s saved Darlene, but can Darlene save her before she succumbs to those wounds? Dom dials quickly using her FBI credentials to hopefully speed things up before she dies. She urges Darlene to go find Elliot and finally crush the Dark Army.
Back at the old Allsafe hideout, Elliot and Mr. Robot see each for the first time since the big revelation of what happened to the former as a child. It’s weird, and unsettling. Elliot acts as if nothing’s happened while Mr. Robot offers to “talk about it.” Mr. Robot is not quite dad. He only looks like him. And he talks about being unable to protect Elliot against dad. Mr. Robot tries to instil Elliot with the belief he has strength enough inside him to protect himself. Still, Elliot’s unsure of whether he can make it through all this, burdened by everything he’s learned, which may put the hack in jeopardy.
Yet again, an emotional episode.
Truly spectacular stuff as the final season gets nearer and nearer its end.
“409 Conflict” is next time.