Mr Robot: eps2.7_init_5.fve – Hello Ollie (Review)

Mr. Robot - Season 2

Mr. Robot is a tad repetitive this week. We learn what really happened to Elliot. What he was arrested for, ironically for the damned dog as well as hacking the therapist’s douche boyfriend, and what really happened behind bars. In some ways a bit of a redundant episode, in that respect.

There are many more revelations, as well as questions, in init5.  For one thing it appears that Elliot is going through some sort of meltdown. Perhaps due to the lack of morphine and other self medicating drugs he was taking before.

Dom follows her hunches, we learn, when she shows up at Angela’s with some takeaway and warnings couched as conversation.

The Snowden Treatment:

Angela learns the hard way that no one likes a whistleblower no matter how grand their intentions.  After showing her hacked information to the nuclear regulatory people, Angela notices the cameras are not working.

As she and the deputy director walk down a gloomy hall to a “meeting” Angela sees more inoperative cameras. The deputy director then reveals that she knows where Angela works. Spooked she leaves without accomplishing what she came for.

Mr. Robot - Season 2

When Is a Door Not a Door:

The mysteries of who is knocking at the door, is getting old. Repetition is not a good thing, unless one remembers playing the old Resident Evil games where opening doors signified moving into another level or challenge.

Darlene opens her door to what appears  to be at least two visitors. Her eyes move from left to right and back again.  However, the use of the knocking door is really just an “off camera” device to keep the mystery going.

When is a door not a door? When it is off camera. Cisco also has an off camera moment where, collecting the video tape, he hears labored panting and breathing from behind the couch (and the camera).

There have been a lot of “knocks on the door” in this season.

Come on Esmail, give it a rest.

Mr Robot:

There is a breaking down of the “relationship” between Elliot and his dead father.  Using an “out of body” experience Alderson sees Mr. Robot talking to an arguing Darlene and Cisco. Then Mr. Robot sees Elliot.  They then morph into Elliot.

Mr. Robot - Season 2

Later, on the subway, Elliot sees Mr. Robot talking to Cisco in another car; one he cannot access.  There is an obvious splitting of the two. It is ironic that this has occurred after Elliot “accepted” his dead father in prison.

Mr. Robot insists that something is wrong. “It’s like we’re overheated,” he says.  He is the one who instigates Elliot’s leaving Darlene’s apartment and going home.

Stage Two:

Heading back to the theory that Elliot knows more than he thinks (“Who is Wellick“) it turns out that the information that he is so desperate to learn about is his own plan.  The Dark Army is puzzled that Elliot has approached them asking the question. It leads to the hacked phone being disconnected with the phrase, “he is a master,” proceeding the cutoff.

Brown Outs:

It could well be that  Elliot is imagining all this in his mind. There is no E Corp, with Chinese connections, and that either none of these people exist outside his mind, or that they do but not as they are seen in the show.

Are the brown outs significant not as a power issue but a brain malfunction? Is it a coincidence that the breakdown between Mr. Robot and Elliot started occurring at the same time the brown outs began?

There is still a tinge  “Fight Club” thematics going on here and much more to Elliot and his split personalities than meets the eye.

Hello Ollie:

Joanna Wellick waiting outside Elliot’s apartment building is interesting on many levels.  Sticking with the idea that Joanna knows Elliot from before their “initial” meeting, it is important to note that she got in touch soon after his release from prison.

When they spoke before, Mrs. Wellick seemed more bemused than anything else. She knew Elliot.  Her reaction to his name (Ollie) is odd. (This is the same scene where she, apparently, threatens Elliot saying if he hurt her husband he would pay – or something along those lines.)

It could even be a sort of in -joke or  have a hidden meaning.  Is Joanna’s line a take on the song “Hello Dolly?”  “It’s so nice to have you back where you belong,”  goes the second line of the song. Is Elliot back where he belongs?

Price and Whiterose:

These two were fascinating this week. From Whiterose urinating on Price’s predecessor’s headstone to Price practically foaming at the mouth “I will rain chaos,” their exchange spoke volumes about E Corp, the Chinese government and the Dark Army.

Finally:

Things are getting interesting. There is one thing, apart from those damned doors, that should be addressed. Everyone, it seems, has secrets.  This is fair enough, as it is representative of real life, but, when all the main players appear to be on the same line as Elliot it makes for a predictable end.

Making all the characters too interesting takes away from Elliot, unless the idea is that away from all the computer jiggery pokery , this really is the “Fight Club” and all the players merely extensions of Alderson after all.

Regardless of how this show turns out, the journey has been a cracking one and may it continue for a long time.

Mr.  Robot airs Wednesdays on USA.

 

CAST:

Guest starring  Michael Drayer as Cisco

Mr Robot: _h4ndshake.sme – Esmail’s Mind F**K (Review)

Mr. Robot - Season 2

Season two of Mr. Robot has all been about false realities. The previous episode gave plenty of clues that pointed out none of what we have been watching is the “real” Mr. Robot Universe. (These hints continued this week but with Angela. Two separate times, two different characters allude to her not “being Angela.” Her father and Dom point out that she is not who she thinks she is.) “Handshake.sme,” for all it reveals, was the ultimate Sam Esmail mind f**k.

Elliot has been in prison throughout the entire season. It all makes a sort of twisted sense if one looks at the episode back to front.  Many fans of the show were pretty sure he was in an institution or jail. The former was the most popular theory.  (The big question is why Alderson is in prison.)

Is he there because of Wellick?

But the “why” loses potency when the realization hits that everything dealing with Elliot has been an illusion.  The moment  Krista (Gloria Reuben) says to Elliot that he is not staying at his mother’s house, everything clicks. Even as the short montage  plays where each event or place morphs into a prison setting,  the puzzle pieces fall into place making this information  take precedence over all.

Other reveals, such as Leon working for Whiterose and that  Darlene and fscociety are  not bothered whether Angela gets caught or not, become more than secondary to the data overload of Elliot being behind bars.

Mr. Robot - Season 2

At the start of the episode, the focus is briefly on Joanna Welleck.  She has a flashback that is brought on by a pair of emerald earrings.  It includes the woman that Tyrell murdered in season one.  Then a comes a moment that can only be described as a signpost of what is to come.

Joanna is on the sidewalk with her baby and  pram when a woman comes up carrying a bucket, or pail. Welleck smiles at the woman who says “capitalist pig,” as she hurls the container full  of either red paint or blood all over Joanna.  The spattered woman screams her rage.  This can only be there to tell us, the audience, that we will have something thrown in our faces as well.

And so  Esmail manages to fling a shocking reveal at us that stuns and, in some cases, outrages our sensibilities. Can we trust anything that Elliot has been telling us?

Perhaps not, but in reality, we do not care. The story with its twists and turns and hidden secrets compels us to return  each week.  Esmail’s sucker punch ending of “Handshakes.me”  makes sense.  Even the smallest details from earlier episodes of Mr. Robot  point to Elliot’s reality being a lie.

When Darlene and Angela come to visit Alderson at his “mom’s” house they sit in the dining room in straight-back chairs. All the while the mother sits silently watching television. It felt wrong until one envisions the visits taking place in a prison visits room.

The spartan condition of Elliot’s room; a desk, chair and his single bed also points to a prison cell versus a bedroom. All of these things make perfect sense once this huge twist is revealed.

Mr. Robot - Season 2

Looking at other character’s shows Angela getting dangerously overconfident in her dealings with Price.  She made a big mistake in not celebrating the old boy’s birthday with him.  He okays her lateral move but in a fit of pique tells her new boss to treat her as he wishes. (Which in his case, is not very well at all.)

Part of her problem could be that FBI hack that Darlene instigated. Angela helped fsociety pwn the law enforcement agency almost literally under Dom’s nose. This could explain Angela’s added burst of self confidence. Unfortunately it seems like Darlene may throw Elliot’s bestie under the bus if Dom gets too close.

The FBI agent already has Angela in her sights. She tells them to check Angela’s work space computer, and clearly suspects her of something, even if she does not know what, just yet.

Another highlight from last night’s episode (also diminished by that huge reveal) was Leon. Not his association with Whiterose but his samurai attack; complete with swishing blade sound effects, on those thugs who were going to rape Elliot.

Just as the tall bald supremacist was ready to act, rapid footsteps and those blade sounds turn this little party into a bloodbath.  What Leon does with his knife after the rapist moans is poetic justice.

Something else occurs in that alleyway (prison hallway). As Elliot is hit by the thugs to soften him up, he keeps changing into Mr. Robot.  This seems to indicate that the two are now completely interchangeable for better or worse.

Joanna filing for divorce from Tyrell seems like a calculated move. Earlier, after the paint scene, (Wellick looks quite terrifying there, all teeth and silent screams of rage with that blood on her face…) she is looking at a baby scan.

Is this a new one? Can this be why she suddenly decides to ditch Tyrell and go for her S&M boyfriend? Or was this another surprise from Tyrell, a gift from before?

Mr. Robot - Season 2

Dom seems to be “on the prod” after her boss’s “softly, softly” orders. She has homed in on Angela and seems to have guessed quite a lot.  It may well be that Agent DiPierro will be fsociety’s nemesis in the end.

Finally:  It is clear that Ray was a Corrections Officer with the K9 section, or a dog handler in HMPS parlance. (Hence the special connection with his dog.) He appears to be relieved that his business has been closed down and that he will be caught.

Ironically, even as Angela tells her father to take the money and run as E Corp may not last much longer, the corporation has managed to survive the attack by resorting to “E-Coin.” Looks like Elliot’s masterplan hardly slowed them down.

Mr. Robot airs Wednesdays on USA. Tune in and see what Esmail throws at us next. Could the garbage burning have something to do with the upcoming storyline?

CAST:

Mr Robot – eps2.4_m4ster-s1ave.aes: ALF and Wellick as Baggage (Review)

 Mr. Robot - Season 2

Mr. Robot starts this week with a 4:3 ratio  complete with ’80s sitcom music and shot through a filter that mimic’s that ’80s feel. Pseudo adverts interchange with the Alderson family vacation.  Canned laughter, ALF and “the man in the trunk” aka Tyrell Wellick (described by Elliot’s dad as “baggage”)  all convey a message.

This quirky beginning is a dream, of sorts, one that Elliot; recuperating in the hospital from the beating that Ray’s thugs gave him, is having. Influenced by an ALF rerun on the television, the dream, or interlude, tells us in the theme song that nothing is as it seems. No one is who they seem to be and that Elliot has more issues than initially thought.

It is fitting that the setting for this week’s prologue is the mid ’80s. (Alf hit TV screens in 1986.) The computer as “home accessory”really started taking off at that time. Commodore 64,  Apple and the Atari all became available  and very popular around then. Essentially Esmail has taken us back to the beginning and not through a flight of fancy either.

Clues are scattered throughout the sitcom “dream.”  (There are others later that indicate the fsociety are not the only players here.) The main message appears to be that Elliot and his other self, Mr. Robot, are in this alone.  The secondary message is that none of this is real.

Darlene disappears from the back of the car during the “Wellick escape sequence” and Elliot’s father tells him that “sometimes lies help.”  Elliot responds with:
“This whole place is a lie. Nothing is true.”

Another big clue appears during this sequence.  Mr. Robot kills Wellick with a tire iron. Does this indicate that in the last season it was Robot who murdered Wellick and this is why Elliot has no recollection of the event.

(It could also explain why he can see Wellick and Robot cannot. Once again, this could be a “metaphorical” killing of Wellick as it is still not 100 percent clear that Tyrell is “real.” )

This opening sequence, explained as a coping mechanism for Elliot to survive the beating by Ray’s minions, appears to do a lot amid all that canned laughter and seeming nonsensical action.  The scene also puts Mr. Robot firmly in charge of Elliot.

In this dream sequence, Elliot finally accepts Gideon’s death (The killing blow as by ALF in this alternate world. Esmail’s inclusion of the “double bump” over the man’s body was blackly comic.)  Other things are touched on in the ’80s sitcom world of Mr. Robot.

Both the women in Elliot’s life disappear.  Elliot’s mother maces Angela in the petrol station and, after being knocked out twice, Darlene vanishes completely.  Later in the episode, Angela and Darlene are working together to hack the FBI cell phone data bank.

Does this signify a parting of the ways?

Mr. Robot - Season 2
Darlene channelling her inner “Jackie Brown.”

It has to be pointed out that Esmail also, apart from his big wink at 1980s comedy television,  gives what appears to be a massive nod to Quentin Tarantino. The sequence with the blonde wigged Darlene, with 80s “hipster” music in the background,  heading to her rendezvous with Angela was so Tarantino-esque that one expected Samuel L. Jackson to turn up.

The entire “ALF” sequence dominates the rest of the episode. It is tempting to dissect the episode opener frame by frame. Just the Wellick sequence alone is full of clues. For instance, reversing to the exec as “baggage” seems to indicate that Elliot needs to let the whole thing go.  However, the rest of “Master Slave” has clues also.

The Chinese connection to the Dark Army is clearer in this episode. Price is having difficulty getting what he needs. “CD man” asks too many questions of his Dark Army rep and gets the modern day equivalent of bamboo under his fingernail as result.  Later he is recognized by Angela and Darlene has no idea why.

This is a huge clue that the Dark Army has been working in opposition along side fsociety all along. This possibility changes a lot of things  when looking back on last season’s attack on the storage facility.

Obviously Whiterose has a double edged objective and the main one is taking down E Corp as a means of allowing the Chinese government to slip in the back door. Price appears to slowing becoming  aware that there is a weasel in the henhouse.

Mr. Robot - Season 2
Portia Doubleday as Angela Moss

Anglea as hacker was intense and funny.  Her face, throughout the entire  FBI sequence, screamed guilt. When Dom approaches her,  just before she finishes entering the last command to bring up the wifi, it her face is just priceless.

At the end of the episode, Elliot has given up fighting. He fully embraces his Mr. Robot  persona. This is the clearest sign of things to come. Robot has always been the real leader, as he says himself, he is what people see when they look at Elliot.

The final flashback, where it is learned how “Mr. Robot” came to be was brilliant. By the end it seems that Esmail is reaffirming that the series is “Fight Club” on LSD.

Mr. Robot airs Wednesdays on USA. Do not miss this “through the computer screen darkly” series.

 

CAST:

Mr Robot eps2.2_init1.asec: Interlude (Review)

 Mr. Robot - Season 2

Written and directed by show creator  Sam Esmail, this week’s episode of Mr. Robot is an interlude of sorts. Eps2.2_init1.asec is a sort of necessary evil. A pause in  the second season’s pace where everything slows down…to…a…stop.  The expository look at the beginning of the whole “taking down E Corp” plan and Elliot’s battle with himself has to be presented to build up the payoff.

The prologue to the episode starts with Darlene turning up with the “Monopoly” mask of Fsociety and having a visit with her brother.  She is having issues and needs a break from it all. She says to an evasive Elliot Init1.  A password of sorts between the two of them which equates to teaming up.

As the two watch a faux ’80s slasher film, the score sets the mood.  An ethereal mix of orchestra and a chorus of wailing that is both evocative of science fiction and fantasy.  (The music is, incidentally, “The Planets: Neptune, the Mystic” – by Gustav Holst – a grateful thanks to Jeff Jensen over at EW for finding that one out.) 

The episode spends a lot of time focussing on Elliot’s fight for control with Mr. Robot.  The peripherals show Joanna Wellick  having  money issues.  Darlene fighting to protect Elliot while simultaneously asking for his help.

Angela is also seen playing her own chess game with Price. Her boss clearly has her in line for something as he speaks with the Dark Army rep Whiterose, played by BD Wong.

Whiterose asks, cryptically, if Price is sure he wants to bank everything on her, and his answer is yes.

Later Joanna confronts Scott Knowles (Brian Stokes Mitchell) about Tyrell’s severance package. A drunken Scott is belligerent and refuses to authorize it even after Joanna offers to stitch her husband up. 

Evidence seems to point to Angela being the next E Corp sacrificial lamb. A young blonde version of the on-air suicide man himself, James Plouffe.  Angela believes she knows where Price is headed with his constant tests. Unfortunately she gets it wrong.

Agent Dieperro (Grace Gummer) shows the rest of the FBI team at the arcade the shell casing found “tucked behind  that Mallard Murder game.” Once more the idea of Wellick being murdered crops up. 

The main thrust of this episode is chess. Elliot plays it with Ray (Craig Robinson).  Leon offers to give Elliot a game and later, he  plays with Mr. Robot, in other words himself.  Unsurprisingly each match ends in a stalemate.

 Earlier, after playing Ray and losing, the winner suggests Elliot plays against himself and says “Who knows, you might beat yourself.”

Before taking on Mr. Robot, who actually suggests playing chess for control, Leon urges Elliot to dream.  In this sequence, Wellick is seen for the first time since this season started.

He and Joanna are seated at a long table in the street. (Very evocative of the V.E. day celebrations.) At the table are a group of Elliot’s friends and loved ones, Angela, Darlene, et al. Strangely missing is his dad, Mr. Robot.

At this street banquet a tall imposing building in the distance begins to crumble and fall. The skyscraper is obviously E Corp and this is the manifestation of his real life dream of annihilating the company.

Angela confronts Price who tells her that all this in in her head. “Wait,” she says, “I’m not wrong.” “Go home,” replies Price.

Later, after the successive stalemates, Elliot takes back the chessboard to Ray.  He offers to fix Ray’s computer problem and immediately begins talking to Darlene on the web. Ray tells Elliot that hearing voices is a trait shared by Moses, Abraham, John, Paul and Jesus. “You could be divine,” says Ray.

Elliot learns of the FBI finding the arcade, Romero’s death and the “Berenstain”  program.  He begins to hack the FBI.

Mr. Robot - Season 2
Elliot

Esmail as director makes short sharp cuts between scenes.  This leaves the viewer veering quickly between vignettes and sometimes feeling a little off balance.  It works for this episode but is not a technique needed for others.

Mr. Robot taking a moment on more backstory and allowing more focus on Elliot was needed to move things on. No one else had died yet, but the FBI have traced, Mobley back to Vegas. This   means that other’s can as well.

The series airs Wednesdays on USA.   Stick with this one it gets under your skin and stays there.

CAST:

Mr Robot: eps2.1_k3rnel-pan1c.ksd FSociety & Death (REv13w)

Mr Robot: Season two

The third episode, which is really the second as the season opener was a double shot of Mr Robot,  starts with a flashback. Romero (Ron Cephas Jones) is showing the arcade to Mobley (Azhar Khan) as the two stroll down the Coney Island boardwalk, Romero tells Mobley about the bloody history of the place. It is, claims Romero, cursed and has caused more than a few deaths.  At the end of the scene, set against the iconic Dusty Springfield tune “You don’t Have To Say You Love Me,” the camera shows how the hacker organization got their name – “FSociety.”

Mobley asks, “What happened to the U and the N?” “Oh that,” replies Romero. “That is a story for another time.”

The opening serves as a protracted explanation about how FSociety came to be so named and it shows the dark history behind the arcade where the group worked in the first season. Romero’s tale also serves as a portent of bad things to come, a foreboding sense of danger for the group.

Springfield’s love ballad, used to transition the scene from the arcade to Elliot,  also seems to drop a hint about Alderson. The lyric “You don’t have to say you love me, just be close to hand,” could be referring to Mr.  Robot or  it could be a reference to Wellick.

More on that later.

This season, so far, has been  full of death and references to it.  Romero being found shot dead at his mother’s house is the start. Ray (Craig Robinson) speaking about his dead wife, and to her, and Gideon’s murder last week are all included in this episode. 

(Incidentally, it has not been mentioned  but Ray clearly knows Darlene.  In the season two opener,  when she takes over the automated house that Fsociety hacked, a  one legged man is seen walking up the stairs.  The man  is wearing shorts and all that can be seen is that  prosthetic leg. In this episode, where Ray talks about speaking to his dead wife, he mentions having one leg. Ergo that has to be him going up the stairs. It also explains how he knows who Elliot is in the season two premiere.)

This episode also reveals that Ray is not a well man. Aside from having one leg, the man requires dialysis every morning.  He is also having site problems with someone stealing his bitcoin and shutting his site down. It also pretty clear that he is not a “straight and narrow” sort of businessman.

Leon is not only real but he is Elliot’s drug dealer and the man really is fascinated by Seinfeld.

Elliot takes an overdose of Adderall and this starts  another of those patented “weird” segments of the show.  Alderson is kidnapped and force-fed cement until he vomits.  It turns out that he is making himself sick in his room. Mr. Robot watches and tells Elliot he cannot get rid of him.

In a stomach  churning move, Elliot begins picking tablets out of the vomit and shoving them back into his mouth. This is the beginning of six days with no sleep and by the end Alderson is in free fall.  He has managed to exorcise Mr. Robot during that time but he is clearly one step from being mad full stop.

Later he and Ray hook up and Mr. Robot turns up again.

More light is cast on Agent DiPerro. She lives alone, cannot sleep and is too driven to live “normally.” She even has trouble focussing while masturbating.  This lack of focus does not apply to her professional life.  It is her attention to detail that enables her to find the FSociety headquarters later in the episode.

(The bit where DiPerro rolls blunts for Romero’s mum is brilliantly ironic.)

Angela is slowly getting used to working for Mr. Price and E Corp.  She still recites her success mantra when needed but she is learning what the job is all about.  Angela is still naive to an extent, not realizing  that Price is constantly testing her.

Mr. Robot - Season 2
Anglea in Prices office, hand’s clasped like a patient schoolgirl.

Her final test comes at the fancy meal set up by Price. He gives her evidence that will destroy the two men who dined with Angela and Richard. Both are long time employees and the test is for Angela to eradicate them both.  Price tells her to leave out the emotion and it will go easier for her.

This episode seems to indicate, once again, that Wellick is not real or is a part of Elliot.  The clues are there: The static during the phone call, Tyrell’s spacey replies and, of course, the big one, Mr. Robot facilitates the call.  The latter clue is the most meaningful.  Robot is Elliot and vice versa.

Sam Esmail has always held on to his “Fight Club” theme;  where , in Elliot’s world, nothing is really what it seems.  Add to this formula Elliot’s constant self mediating and his schizophrenia it certainly seems to indicate that Wellick is not a separate entity.

Season Two has killed off Gideon  (Michel Gill) and Romero.  It appears that Ray, not the Dark Army, may have murdered Romero, possibly,  on Darlene’s orders. If that is the case, Mobley and Trenton (Sunita Manimay be next.

If Darlene is responsible, does this mean she has had  her own fatal error?

Mr. Robot airs Wednesdays on USA. Tune into this addictive and fascinating show and fall in love with television again.

CAST: