Mr. Robot – Season 3, Episode 1: “eps3.0_power-saver-mode.h”

USA’s Mr. Robot
Season 3, Episode 1: “eps3.0_power-saver-mode.h”
Directed & Written by Sam Esmail

* For a recap & review of the Season 2 finale, “eps2.9_pyth0n-pt2.p7z” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “eps3.1_undo.gz” – click here
IMG_0304Will we see Tyrell Wellick (Martin Wallström) help the Dark Army enact “Stage 2” finally? Or, will our friendly neighbourhood hacker Elliot Alderson (Rami Malek) be able to stop it after he was shot by his supposed friend?
We open on Irving (Bobby Cannavale) arguing with a woman at a fast-food joint called the Red Wheelbarrow about his punch card and its “faulty logic.” He’s a man of principle. He likes order. Quite the unique man.
He’s also been called up to Tyrell’s little HQ, to check on Elliot after the gunshot. Plenty of blood. There’s help on the way, so long as the young man survives. So, on appearance Irving looks like a used card salesman. When in fact he’s so much more, some sort of Dark Army operative, as he’s also given the name of Angela Moss (Portia Doubleday) over the phone by his contact.
IMG_0305Mr. Zhang a.k.a Whiterose (BD Wong) keeps an eye on everything, of course. While others around him believe Elliot and Wellick both are unstable, the man himself is more inclined to watch on with a bit of a curiosity. He speaks about the former Mr. Alderson (Christian Slater). As well as the value of having Elliot around: “His unadulterated, focused rage.” However, it only lasts as long as he’s needed. Then he can die for the Dark Army, “just like his father.”
Oh, my. So much intrigue in only 10 minutes.
When Elliot wakes he finds Angela waiting. He wants to know what’s been happening, realising that Tyrell is indeed alive. Likewise, he discovers the power he once held has dissipated; greatly. He hates Evil Corp, but he doesn’t want to see people die if their facility is blown up. At the same time, the “ever looming presence” that was his father doesn’t feel present anymore.
He goes back to his apartment and finds Darlene (Carly Chaikin), worried about him and where he’s been. He tells her about people outside, likely watching, listening. She fills him in on Cisco’s death. Afterwards, he explains Stage 2, what could happen, the backdoor they infiltrated into E.Corp in the beginning. But it also splits the brother and sister slightly, considering she didn’t know about the plan. All the same, Elliot isn’t well. It wasn’t technically him who did all this, it was the influence of Mr. Robot.
With the power reduce by brownouts, there’s no internet. So, it’s a family outing somewhere Darlene knows they can get access, in hopes Elliot might close the backdoor into E.Corp and stop the planned destruction. They head to a sort of club/internet lounge, a “hacker space.” They’ve got to be careful, though. Could be Dark Army lurking at every turn.
IMG_0307And they’re everywhere.
So is the FBI. Before anyone can get them, Irving picks them up in a cab. They go to talk about Stage 2, and Elliot leaves believing he’s finished it all. Darlene isn’t so sure, and their divide widens. Now, our hacker sees how he’s “fucked society.” Nice play on the fsociety’s original name.
The mental illness angle of Elliot’s character comes out vividly through Sam Esmail’s visuals and his writing. Here, we see a great inward v. outward sequence, as Elliot rants: “What if instead of fighting back we cave, give away our privacy for security, exchange dignity for safety, trade in revolution for repression? What if we choose weakness over strength?” And as he narrates onscreen, walking through a scene doing a theatrical aside, he goes into voice-over narration, too. Great techniques.
Also now we’re seeing Elliot come to grips with having made things worse somehow. People who brand this as a leftist show, and in many ways it is, it doesn’t pull the punches when it comes to exploring how revolution is messy, and it doesn’t always go well, for either side.
They turned our dissent into intellectual property” – a timely line, right?


What does Elliot do from here? He goes to Angela, asking for her to get him a job at E.Corp. To help working from the inside out, to undo the hack, to restore civilisation so they can at least try rebuilding from a better standpoint. Right now, it’s all ruined. On top of that, our hacker asks his old friend to watch out for him, to make sure Mr. Robot doesn’t take over again.
That night, dad does show up. Is Angela taking advantage? Certainly seems that way. And that’s troubling. She’s one of the most unpredictable characters of the series, which is always interesting. However, she’s manipulative right now, telling Mr. Robot things he didn’t know Elliot’s been doing. Shit, this sets up a very compelling plot for Season 3. All of a sudden I can’t help resent Angela a bit, doing this to someone she considers a close friend, someone mentally ill. That’s ugly.
They go meet Irving. Discussing things moving along. The guy doesn’t know all about how things with Elliot and Mr. Robot work, so it’s questionable at first. Soon enough this changes. And who else is there? Tyrell. He feels terrible for having shot his friend. But Mr. Robot understands, for the most part. We see how they’re all manipulating this young, mentally ill hacker to their own ends. Under the guise of friendship. The only one who seems outwardly emotionally affected is Tyrell; that in itself is kind of… creepy. Angela kids herself that she’s actually talking to two different people, and that it’s all for the greater good. In certain ways, she’s as ill as him.
IMG_0314Perfect opener to Season 3. Just a spectacular way to begin, as always. Dig how Mr. Robot finds ways to refresh itself, recharging every so often, in the middle of a season and at the end, too. Esmail’s a genius. This show is a work of art.
“eps3.1_undo.gz” next week.

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Mr. Robot – Season 2, Episode 10: “eps2.8_h1dden-pr0cess.axx”

USA’s Mr. Robot
Season 2, Episode 10: “eps2.8_h1dden-pr0cess.axx”
Directed by Sam Esmail
Written by Kor Aldana & Randolph Leon

* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “eps2.7_init_5.fve” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “eps2.9_pyth0n-pt1.p7z” – click here
Screen Shot 2017-10-08 at 12.18.41 AMTerry Colby (Bruce Altman) and Phillip Price (Michael Cristofer) meet, the latter namedropping Trump as a “cocksucker” about the run for President; he’s got dirt, too bad he isn’t real. The two high and mighty bourgeois men discuss all sorts of international things, specifically Africa, China, Obama. Phillip also wants Terry to help him out, a favour for which he’d be eternally grateful. Beneath it all is a question of power, why people like Price seek it.
I intend to leave a legacy, the standard of which was set by God when he created Earth and man after his own image.”
We see Joanna Wellick (Stephanie Corneliussen) meeting Ollie a.k.a Elliot Alderson (Rami Malek). She wants to know where her husband is, though he says he doesn’t know. He’s got to be careful what he says next, he’s in quite the little predicament. She talks of her marriage, the twisted relationship she and Tyrell had since the beginning. Then she tells Elliot her husband calls, he’s sent her a phone. That’s strange, considering our hacker’s sure the guy is dead. Either way it’s gonna be awful hard to refuse Joanna.
Screen Shot 2017-10-08 at 12.25.47 AMElsewhere, Cisco (Michael Drayer) has dragged Vincent (Anthony Jennings), bruised inside and out, back to Darlene (Carly Chaikin). She won’t call an ambulance for him. She’s becoming ruthless, too. She’ll let this man die rather than help him, so Cisco tells her to “wake the fuck up.” But will she?
The investigation at the Smart House is well underway. Dominique DiPierro (Grace Gummer) is there to hear about a connection to the DC activists. Someone there witnessed a couple men leaving in a cab; one of whom is Cisco. When Dom brings this to her boss, he wants to just put out the word. She knows this will bring the Dark Army down, and they’ll kill Cisco.
Elliot: “Maybe wars arent meant to be won, maybe theyre mean to be continuous.”
Our hacker’s out looking for hardware, seeing as how the cops are jamming him up. He’s got to get his situation with Joanna settled. Suddenly he gets a call on the phone she gave her. Heavy breathing. Could it be Tyrell? Also, dad (Christian Slater) is gone. Why now? Great fourth wall break where Elliot looks directly at us, wondering if we heard the person on the other end of the call, as well. And we did.
While we hear a story about Darlene, in a sense what Elliot means to her, we’re also seeing her brother work away for Joanna. Elliot has to also listen to her driver/confidant yak about a bunch of nonsense. He takes that time to zone out, to wonder why dad’s vanished out of nowhere. He finally wonders if Tyrell might actually be alive. Furthermore, he asks for our help in looking for any clues, as to why Mr. Robot brought him there specifically.
Elliot has the NYPD working for him, hacking through whatever’s in his way to try finding out from where the calls originated. He tracks it down to an address, and it seems Joanna’s guy knows more than he’s letting on. Cut to Dom and the FBI breaking into an apartment belonging to Francis Shaw a.k.a Cisco.
Screen Shot 2017-10-08 at 12.46.46 AMAfterwards on the subway, Elliot meets Angela Moss (Portia Doubleday). She wants to know why he started fsociety. She wants answers, after the FBI’s been to her home, her life is starting to uproot from what she once knew. She’s ready to confess to what she’s done, but she won’t talk about anyone else. Regardless, everything will change. Before he leaves the subway, they kiss. Once he’s gone, two people arrive for Angela on the train.
Meanwhile, Dom is getting more and more information about Cisco, his girlfriend, and the wheels in her head are turning, she’s hot on their trail. Sooner than later he and Darlene are going to find themselves in very hot water.
At a diner several blocks from the hospital, Dom’s found Cisco. She calls for FBI backup to meet her there. Then, a gunman arrives off a bike, opening fire on the place. Dom puts a couple shots in him and his friend on the bike leaves him behind. No matter, the gunman shoots himself before they can take him alive. Just like in China. The Dark Army strikes again.
Screen Shot 2017-10-08 at 1.01.27 AMA-ma-zing. Nothing else to say. One of my favourite episodes yet.
“eps2.9_pyth0n-pt1.p7z” comes next.

Mr. Robot – Season 2, Episode 9: “eps2.7_init_5.fve”

USA’s Mr. Robot
Season 2, Episode 9: “eps2.7_init_5.fve”
Directed by Sam Esmail
Written by Kyle Bradstreet & Lucy Teitler

* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “eps2.6_succ3ss0r.p12” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “eps2.8_h1dden-pr0cess.axx” – click here
Pic 1Elliot (Rami Malek) is arrested for “unauthorised use of a computer” among other charges and taken into custody. His apartment is looted by the authorities, as they process him. Fingerprints taken, questions asked, a few truthful answers in return. The sleazy boyfriend of Krista Gordon (Gloria Reuben) got him into all this trouble. Yet Elliot doesn’t try getting out of it, pleading guilty. Even though dad (Christian Slater) wants him to do otherwise. This is our hacker’s way of taking responsibility, something he’s wanted to do for a long while.
Thus begins his odyssey into the American prison system. Same place Ray (Craig Robinson) works, Lone Star (Michael Maize), too. This is a head trip. He’s there with Leon (Joey Bada$$), who initiates him into the life, telling him about the place. He likes a lot of 1990s stuff; he’s ready to start watching Seinfeld next. I love how Mr. Robot again this season pulls the rug from under us, in such a way it’s unbelievable, the execution of which is beautifully orchestrated.
Pic 1ANow, Elliot’s out of jail. The hack, through all that’s happened, wound up affecting many things, involving the prison industrial complex. He’s released because his crimes were of a non-violent nature. Back to the real world. Or, well, whatever that is to him. At least Darlene (Carly Chaikin) is there waiting. Although she, and things, have changed, quite a bit.
In other news, Angela (Portia Doubleday) is enacting further plans with the Rubbery Ducky she was given by Mobley (Azhar Khan). She slips in and out with relative ease, getting a ton of E.Corp personal information, allowing her to login and find files on the Washington Township leak, copying all its files over to a zip drive.
Darlene is worried, both Mobley and Trenton (Sunita Mani) are nowhere to be found. She thinks Evil Corp is “cleaning house.” Yet her brother believes they played a part in him being released early. Needs more investigation. He stops in to see his mother (Vaishnavi Sharma) in a care home, to thank her for helping him survive in jail, the memory of her one of the few soothing entities in his mind.
Whiterose (B.D. Wong) is at the cemetery, visiting the grave of a previous CEO at Evil Corp. To literally piss on his grave. She was the one who put him there, believing now she may have to do the same with Phillip Price (Michael Cristofer).
Screen Shot 2017-09-24 at 8.09.18 PMScreen Shot 2017-09-24 at 8.09.35 PMMeanwhile, remember Darlene knocked Cisco (Michael Drayer) out with a baseball bat? Well, we’re back there with them again, arguing over what’s going on, what to do. And Mr. Robot is out calming them down, as Elliot hears him gearing up for a rant. He’s still not entirely stable, jail did him no favours. One good thing is Cisco has a Dark Army contact, so this gives our hacker a few ideas.
Price doesn’t feel that threatened by “veiled death threats,” pushing back against Minister of State Security Zhang. The two men are entirely at odds after the bailout money got figuratively flushed. Money is what E.Corp requires. It’s all a twisty, turny pot of unethical soup. “I would rather see you lose than win, myself,” Price makes clear.
The question is, what do the Dark Army want? fsociety set out to change the world, now Elliot wonders why they’re into the whole game. That’s his next task, to figure out the puzzle. He’s hacking them, one rung of the ladder at a time. He insists he’s got a plan. All the while Mr. Robot is in the back, whittling away his confidence. But there’s a strange power in Elliot, waiting to explode.
Except maybe it’s not power. Something is wrong. He can’t seem to bridge himself with Mr. Robot anymore, like they’re literally two different entities yet he’s trapped inside. Or perhaps it’s all just visions. Doesn’t make Cisco feel any better while they’re headed out together to meet with the Dark Army. When they get there, the contact isn’t happy. This is when Elliot gets serious, telling them to ask Whiterose for information on “Stage 2.” They leave without a word, so I’m curious as to how this will pan out. We know Whiterose doesn’t fuck around.
One problem arises: Darlene thinks they left the fsociety VHS tape with her face on it back at the Smart House belonging to Ms. Jacobs. Cisco offers to go back and check, just in case. Don’t like the sounds of that.

 


Out of the blue, Dominique (Grace Gummer) shows up at Angela’s door for a little impromptu chat, a bite to eat. Dom talks about an unusual dream, a violent one. She then explains Ollie told her about the CD at AllSafe, since then she’s been tracking Angela. She can’t put all the pieces together, not yet. What will Angela do next?
Over their tap, Darlene finds out that Elliot is actually the originator of Stage 2. Or, should we say, Mr. Robot was the originator. Seems the Dark Army’s well aware of his issues, at the same believing they have to tread carefully: “He is a master.” Simultaneously, at the Smart House, Cisco stumbles onto something else while looking for the VHS tape. And who’s waiting for Elliot when he gets home? Joanna (Stephanie Corneliussen). For what, exactly? We’ll see.
Screen Shot 2017-09-24 at 8.36.54 PMAmazing, mysterious, wild episode. This series delivers consistently like no other.
“eps2.8_h1dden-pr0cess.axx” is next, promising many interesting things.

Mr. Robot – Season 2, Episode 7: “eps2.5_h4ndshake.sme”

USA’s Mr. Robot
Season 2, Episode 7: “eps2.5_h4ndshake.sme”
Directed & Written by Sam Esmail

* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “eps2.4_m4ster-s1ave.aes” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “eps2.6_succ3ss0r.p12” – click here
Screen Shot 2017-09-23 at 11.59.39 PMJoanna (Stephanie Corneliussen) keeps finding gifts left for her, the baby. Of course they’re from estranged, lost husband Tyrell (Martin Wallström). We see that these little gifts were always a thing. We’re briefly flashing back to a time when Sharon (Michele Hicks) was still alive. Then quickly we’re back to the present, where a woman tosses a bucket of red paint all over her: “Capitalist pig!”
What about Elliot (Rami Malek)? He’s still down in the basement, dad (Christian Slater) trying to keep his spirits up, holding him close. It’s become a rough life for our hacker. His altruistic, if not foolishly heroic intentions have landed him in a bad way. Now they’re trying to retrace memories, to figure out what actually happened on the night of the big hack with Tyrell.
And back over at E.Corp, Angela (Portia Doubleday) is surprised to find Dominique (Grace Gummer) at her desk, inquiring as to what she’s been up to, floor to floor, looking busy. The FBI agent knows who she is, sweating her subtly. But off she goes, leaving Angela to finish off her coding. Darlene (Carly Chaikin) lets her know all is finished; they’re in deep.
Screen Shot 2017-09-24 at 12.04.30 AMDad’s telling Elliot they killed Tyrell. Of course it’s all under the guise of protecting his son, protecting them all. Supposedly, they used the gun from the popcorn machine. But is that true? Hard to tell. Just as control is an illusion, as is the truth most often.
FBI’s discovering the hack, though Dom doesn’t take it too hard. She expected it, almost. And she knows Angela, whoever else is behind it, has wiped every trace of their tracks. Might as well try finding another, better way inside fsociety. Meanwhile, Angela’s only just now putting together all the pieces of the puzzle about her childhood friends.
Back out of the basement, Elliot is brought to see Ray. He’s bending to the master’s will now, or so he pretends. He’s back at the computer, working on migrating the black marketplace site. At least he’s needed, which keeps him alive, safe. For the time being.
We see Joanna dealing with Derek dissatisfied over their relationship. He wanted her to come publicly be his girlfriend. She was busy, though now shows up to present him with the divorce she’s filing, separating herself from Tyrell. But I wonder, how does a divorce work when the other party is nowhere to be found?
Later, the literal chess Ray and Elliot play mirrors the mental, figurative chess they’re playing. The black market kingpin talks about his wife, that she was involved with him creating the site. He talks about morality, how Elliot is his “answer.” He realises the hacker turned him in, that the cops are coming. In a way, Ray recognises he’s been, effectively, saved from himself.
Screen Shot 2017-09-24 at 12.12.08 AMThe missing Wall Street Bull’s balls come crashing down on the senate floor.
Perfect. Everyone can see.
Elliot gets a visit from a few tough guys. Lots of people aren’t happy with the Ray situation, Bitcoin money fucked up in limbo. One guy wants to get paid back. He’s watching Elliot. Ah, more trouble. No good deed goes unpunished, huh? Love Leon (Joey Bada$$) referencing “the Sword of Damocles.”
Angela is still trying to change things from the inside. She keeps trying to get what she can from Phillip Price (Michael Cristofer), angling to whatever’s in her best interest. Even if her own father doesn’t trust her anymore. In a way, Price has become a kind of father figure. At times, a threatening one.
Now, Elliot is going back to his father, to find inspiration as what to do next, to finish what he started concerning Evil Corp. But dad reminds his boy that it’s all him, he’s the one who’s done all of this to begin a revolution: “Because you are a leader.” Except our hacker doesn’t want to be one. A big transformation is ahead if he is to become one.
At the office, in her new department, Angela gets an overview of what she’ll be doing. An internal investigations department. She has to work discreetly, fast, smart. Help the company. She’s starting off with the Flint water contamination case that’s on the horizon. Oh, that’s great.
Screen Shot 2017-09-24 at 12.32.02 AMElliot keeps running into the tough guys, they beat him more. They’re about to do something awful when he’s saved by none other than Leon, always watching out for his friend. A vicious, bloody scene that was totally unexpected. Leon only asks that Whiterose (B.D. Wong) hears about how he did right by our hacker.
You cant destroy a part of yourself
At the psychiatrist’s office, Krista (Gloria) helps us see that Elliot hasn’t been staying with his mother. He’s in jail, meeting with her. He keeps on seeing the outside world, an illusory experience. Illusion has now given him control, rather than the other way around. That’s why we had the bloody scene, Leon’s knife-wielding ninja act. All the while, since Ray’s arrest, he’s also been kicking around in jail. Using his mind to project another place, somewhere he could hang on to sanity, even if delusion and illusion are his current best friends.
So it’s pretend, pretend, pretend, to make it through the day.
Screen Shot 2017-09-24 at 12.45.34 AMJesus, this show constantly reinvents itself, and flips the script on the viewer so well, in interesting, inventive ways. So much to look forward to going forward, particularly where things go with the FBI.
“eps2.6_succ3ss0r.p12” comes next, many things are about to go down.