Mr Robot: eps.1.5_br4ve-trave1er.asf (rec4p and rev1ew)

Elliot gives Angela a hug in Mr Robot
Last week’s episode ended with Shayla being kidnapped by Vera’s henchmen, Tyrell Wellick overstepped himself badly and the Steel Mountain plan was “killed” by the Dark Army pulling out at the last minute. In eps.1.5_br4ve-trave1er.asf Elliot is derailed and taken away from Mr Robot and fsociety by Vera’s interference. He must get Fernando out of prison or lose Shayla. The drug dealer’s brother and DJ stick to Alderson like glue while he fights to find a solution.

This USA show continues to surprise and show more layers of Elliot, while insuring that each episode cements the premise the Christian Slater’s Mr. Robot is a facet of Alderson’s schizophrenia. For example, in this segment of the show, how does the fsociety leader learn about the issue of Vera, DJ, Isaac and Darlene? When asked, Robot responds that it was Darlene who told him. Doubtful, but it could be so. Still he is ready to sacrifice “his” girl Darlene just as quickly as Shayla. “Let her become a memory,” the leader says and he finishes by telling Elliot that he is playing a zero sum game. It is a lose-lose despite what path Alderson chooses.

Later, when Elliot visits Fernando in the prison, he uses a hard-line approach when dealing with the drug dealer. He explains about hacking Isaac’s phone and gaining control of all his, Vera’s, assets. At one point he orders the thug to sit down, Vera does. This show of “force” is unlike Elliot, who is usually so hesitant.

When he works out how to get Fernando out of prison, Isaac takes Elliot for a walk, one that he is not intended to survive. Alderson then uses the zero sum talk on Vera’s little brother and unlike the result of his conversation with Mr. Robot Isaac is swayed and decides not to pull the trigger. He opts for the best of his lose-lose propositions.

Tyrell Wellick receives a broadside from his new CTO Scott Knowles when he attempts to interrupt the interview process. It turns out that Sharon Knowles told her husband about the bathroom visit during the dinner party. He goes on the attack and does not stop until he breaks the facade of Wellick’s careful composure.

Angela sets out on her own personal attack against E Corp. She pulls information from the data dump and goes to see the lawyer who handled her mother’s case, along with 40 others. The woman tells Angela that essentially she does not have a prayer. Angela replies that Nayar was the only one who returned her call. By the end of her visit with the lawyer, Angela has a new game plan, to “flip” Terry Colby.

As Elliot struggles to hack the prison’s system and get Vera out, Angela stops by to see him. She refuses to leave until he comes down to see her. Darlene is stuck in the apartment till he gets back. Later, Tyrell trashes the glassware in his two-bedroom Chelsea house’s kitchen while his wife calmly eats. She discusses his rage with Wellick and explains why he is so angry. She also points out that Sharon Knowles’ actions have told them what she wants. “What,” asks Tyrell. “To be wanted,” Tyrell’s wife says as she leaves the room.

Elliot realizes that Angela will not leave until he tells her what she wants to hear. Hugging his friend, Elliot tells her that she should follow what she believes is right. Mr Robot is waiting in the stairwell of Alderson’s apartment building and it is here that he gives Elliot the zero sum speech. He says that Shayla was always going to be a victim.

Throughout the episode, Elliot references the fight or flight option. He battles with the decision to do one or the other. However, each time he choses to fight. After Elliot finds his way into the prison’s security system, he has the zero sum talk with Isaac. Using Darlene, Alderson hacks the system via their 4G network.

Vera is released, as promised, and his first move is to have DJ shoot his treacherous little brother. He makes Elliot look at the body and tells him that he can do what ever he wants with his empire, Vera is getting out, becoming a brave wanderer and a spirit.

Before he leaves, Fernando gives Elliot keys to the car he has been traveling in all day. Shayla is in the trunk, dead.

Martin Wallström was, as always, impressive as the plotting exec who felt he had lost control. Carly Chaikin, as Darlene managed to get some of the best lines, the winner being “douche tools” when talking about Vera’s brother and DJ. Portia Doubleday gave us a new prospective on Angela and actually made her even more likable. Last week when she shafted the cheating Ollie, already made her a more empathetic character, and this moved her fully into the likable category.

In terms of just who walked off with the show this week, it was, hands down, Rami Malek. His bounce from panic to forceful assertiveness and back again was impressive. Nothing, however, came near his discovery of the dead Shayla. His entire countenance sold the viewer on the horror of her death before the camera ever moved in for a quick look.

Mr Robot continues to provide a paranoid look at the world of hacking and makes the viewer aware that no place is safe from someone who really wants to mess with your system. It also shows us that mental health issues can be overcome, even without snorting pharmaceuticals, if the desire is strong enough, at least in TV land. It also, reference the start of this week’s episode, manages to merge unreality with every day oddness masquerading as normalcy.

Malek’s voice over performance keeps us with him through the entire story. It shows us his thought process and reassures us that our records and lives are not safe from people like him. It is the perfect marriage between onscreen and off screen portrayal of a character. This actor should be getting a gong, or two, come award time for his compelling performance. Of course the high caliber of his colleagues on the show means that he will most likely have company. Mr Robot airs Wednesdays on USA.