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 6: “eps2.4_m4ster-s1ave.aes”

USA’s Mr. Robot
Season 2, Episode 6: “eps2.4_m4ster-s1ave.aes”
Directed by Sam Esmail
Written by Adam Penn

* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “eps2.3_logic-b0mb.hc” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “eps2.5_h4ndshake.sme” – click here


We switch to Mr. Robot if it were a late ’80s or early ’90s sitcom. Elliot (Rami Malek), Darlene (Carly Chaikin), dad (Christian Slater), and mom (Vaishnavi Sharma) are driving down the highway in their car, having the typical sitcom-like conversations. Except much darker. On Darlene’s Game Boy we see Elliot being beaten by Ray’s (Craig Robinson) men briefly. The whole while Elliot is mystified, whereas the rest of the family seems to be a part of the whole deal. Even when he’s “hearing voices” – as in the laughter of the studio audience – it’s passed off as his usual mental health issues. A brilliant opener, along with the Full House-esque theme song and credits sequence.
They head to a gas station, stopping to fill up. In goes Elliot where he bumps into none other than ALF. Afterwards, he discovers Angela (Portia Doubleday) is working there, cracking bad jokes about the death of her mother. Before long they’re off again, stumbling in and out of shitty situations. Plus, dad has a guy tied up in the trunk. Then the cops show up.


Gideon (Michel Gill) is the officer, though he winds up being run over by ALF, dead again even in this weird TV show. Brutally killed all over. Elliot’s done with whatever Mr. Robot is doing to him, he wants out. “Itll feel good if you let it,” he tries soothing his son.
Oh, the guy in the trunk? It’s Tyrell (Martin Wallström). Seems that between Gideon and Mr. Wellick, the TV show dad’s created is bits of the subconscious, cobbled together in similar yet slightly different ways. Great bit of writing. And it’s only temporary. He’s actually lying in the hospital, beat the fuck up after Ray let his boys loose.
This whole place is a lie. Nothing here is true.”
He wakes to Ray, Lone Star (Michael Maize) over him. The black market kingpin tells a sob story about his dog having heart worm. A roundabout way of discussing the master v. pet relationship, the one in which he and Elliot exist now.
Angela (Portia Doubleday) is working with Darlene, Mobley (Azhar Khan), and Trenton (Sunita Mani) to enact their plans. Problem is they can’t just teach Angela to hack in a day. But Darlene is adamant things are going ahead.
Poor Cisco (Michael Drayer) gets in big trouble with his Chinese contact. Two men in masks, the same Dominique (Grace Gummer) saw in the airport, grab him from behind, then he has an injection needle cracked off under his fingernail.
Speaking of Dom, she’s being asked to take time off; a month. To recover. She’d rather keep fighting the Dark Army, investigating the hack. And she’s of the belief the attack was part of trying to silence them, as the gunmen committed suicide after shooting the place up, even leaving her alive.
Screen Shot 2017-09-23 at 11.23.53 PMJust about time for Angela to work whatever magic she can. First, Darlene sets up in a hotel room nearby with all the computer gadgetry necessary. Across the way, in the heart of Evil Corp, Angela starts in on her end of the hack. In the bathroom she clicks away on the keys, rushing against time. She barely slips away from an FBI agent before she can get on to the rest of her tasks.
That is until their wifi signal goes down, sending Angela back to her desk. She has to work with more coding, via Darlene’s instructions. Just as she’s about to finish, who shows up? Agent DiPierro herself, Ms. Dom.
Every relationships a power struggle. Some of us need to be controlled.”
Elliot’s being taken from his hospital bed, forcibly, by more of Ray’s henchmen and Lone Star. They take him to a basement. He’s, naturally, frightened. He still sees his father there with him, explaining he was trying to “take those punches” for him with the whole sitcom dream.
Then we flashback to young Elliot, a bruised face, dad driving him home from school. Dad tells a story about being called into the office at work, where he’s terminated from his job. All because he had to go get blood work at the hospital. This is the moment he reveals to his boy his cancer; the only person who knows. Also when he shows Elliot the new shop, the future Mr. Robot store.
Screen Shot 2017-09-23 at 11.46.25 PMWhat a killer episode, in many ways. Heavy, dreamy at first (as are many of these episodes). Plus, we really get to see Rami do good stuff, and also Slater, whose star shines brightest in a long time here on this show. Cannot wait for more, as we unravel the new dark relationship setup between Ray and Elliot, too.
“eps2.5_h4ndshake.sme” is the next one at bat.

Mr. Robot – Season 2, Episode 5: “eps2.3_logic-b0mb.hc”

USA’s Mr. Robot
Season 2, Episode 5: “eps2.3_logic-b0mb.hc”
Directed by Sam Esmail
Written by Kyle Bradstreet

* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “eps2.2_init_1.asec” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “eps2.4_m4ster-s1ave.aes” – click here
Pic 1Last we left Elliot (Rami Malek) he was hacking into the FBI, as he’s working on the computer and website issues for Ray (Craig Robinson). “I live for this shit,” he tells us as he hacks away at the armour the federal government has setup. We hear more of his past; when he was eleven, he hacked into the municipal government in his town, controlling everything.
Suddenly he remembers he’s in the room with Lone Star (Michael Maize). He says he has to talk to the old system administrator. Probably just a ploy to get him more time by himself to hack the FBI.
In the meantime, the FBI is hacking away with its own investigation. Dominique (Grace Gummer) is digging further into the evidence, finding more by the day. She’s only a few degrees of separation away.
Angela (Portia Doubleday) goes home to find Darlene (Carly Chaikin) in her apartment. They’re at odds over the “crime of the millennium” and the parts they’ve played, their involvement, what might happen in the near future depending on their next choices. Darlene wants her old friend to help disappear evidence, more penetration on the FBI hack on the Evil Corp side, to make sure nobody knows Angela and Elliot were involved in the AllSafe end of the massive debt hack.
Pic 1AThen there’s Joanna (Stephanie Corneliussen), her contact continually getting paranoid, believing the feds are tapping his phone, watching his place, all the usual. She seems to be getting tired of him. Although she plays it off with a straight face and assurances. But, I wonder… a little later, we discover she’s absolutely tired of him. She takes care of that, quick. Once and for all.
Over at E.Corp, Dom checks in on the hard drive processing. It’s there she flicks past a picture of Mobley (Azhar Khan). The noose is slowly tightening, each episode slightly tighter. It’s also fun to see the flip-flop, we go between watching Dom and the FBI moving along through the massive amount of evidence, to being there with Elliot and Darlene, arguing over their next step in trying to thwart the FBI. So much tension in awaiting whatever will happen. Digging the anticipation.
Dom is now in China, where Whiterose (B.D. Wong) is not herself. She’s now Mr. Zhang, Minister of State Security for the Chinese government. A wildly compelling addition to the character, to the whole overarching plot, as well as explains why the Dark Army has massive reach. Which is even more interesting after Dom brings it up in the meeting, requesting all information available. Quite the scene.
Elliot speaks with Ray about the previous admin for his website, appears they didn’t part on “the best of terms.” For this guy, that could mean ANYTHING, who knows what he’s into at this point.
At a bar, Angela meets with Ollie (Ben Rappaport) after all this time. He acts semi normal, until she figures out he’s recording her. Trying to get her to admit to what happened during the AllSafe hack. He says he isn’t working with the FBI, but he did talk to them. He told them a little bit of info, enough to make her truly paranoid.
Screen Shot 2017-09-23 at 7.51.27 PMScreen Shot 2017-09-23 at 7.54.26 PMMr. Zhang and Dom get talking at a reception, as she’s poking around. They briefly chat with a bunch of ticking clocks surrounding them. “Life is but a walking shadow, a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage and then is heard no more,” (Macbeth Act V Scene V) he quotes. Clocks, time, they signal mortality. Another tick is another sec towards death, ultimately. Pleasantly morbid, beautifully depressing. Dom winds up telling Zhang about her personal reasons for joining the FBI. Well, she tells him a story, maybe not the real one. He comes close to revealing himself, as well. Stopping short at showing her a closet filled with the finest dresses, claiming they belong to his sister.
While Elliot doesn’t want Angela involved, she’d rather act instead of waiting for the FBI to catch her eventually. She trusts in her childhood friend, that he’d never lead her astray. So, they’re in this together. That’s at least one sliver of hope. This is when he tells Angela his father (Christian Slater) is still there in the room with them.
Later, Elliot gets help from RT, previous system admin for Ray’s site. He’s the beat up guy we saw recently. Turns out, he gives Elliot a glimpse at the website he’s helping with, what Ray is really doing under the nose of the law, the community. He runs a “Tor hidden site” like the deep web, a black market where you can traffick humans, buy drugs of any illegal kind, you can hire hitmen; literally, anything you need.
So what does Elliot do? Can he leave morality at the door? His father wants him to drop it. He just can’t do the same, not after seeing what’s on that website. He won’t let himself become that person who’ll ignore the truth, no matter how difficult and ugly.

Angela goes to Darlene, via a pre-planned route in case they’re being watched, where she meets the remaining members of fsociety. They’re ready to get working on the next leg of the hack. Meanwhile, Dom is under attack when a gunmen starts firing on people as they’re leaving the hotel in China. Rather than be caught, before Dom can pump a kill shot into him, the gunmen shoots himself, as another keeps firing.
Other nasty things are happening. Elliot is dragged out of bed at night, Lone Star and Ray are there. They’ve dealt with RT already. Ray isn’t pleased that the hacker disobeyed his warning “not to look.” They put a beating on our man, to hopefully teach him a lesson. He’s not dealing with punks, these guys mean fucking business.
Screen Shot 2017-09-23 at 8.16.22 PMSometimes Mr. Robot can verge on scary, not just existential fear but straight up, real life terror. This is one of those episodes, feeling steeped in horrific things. The ending, especially. Cannot wait for more.
“eps2.4_m4ster-s1ave.aes” is next up.