Mr Robot Season 2, Ep 8: Release the Kraken (Recap/Review)

Mr. Robot - Season 2

It is all good fun till the FBI and the Dark Army put you on their hit list.  In Mr. Robot this week, Darlene goes on the offensive. She releases her inner Kraken and takes out one, if not two, people who get in the way.

The episode opens with Mobley and Trent meeting hacker cute in Ron’s Coffee House. Darlene arrives, instead of Elliot, and begins reading the fsociety mission statement to the newest members. The dialogue is muted by jazzy music evocative of a noir detective film or maybe a nod to “Peter Gunn.”

A change of venue and time means a change in music.  As the fsociety survivors monitor the FBI communications Dance Macabre, originally composed by Camille Saint-Saëns plays over the scene. (Known to  a plethora  of fans as the theme to Brit mystery series Jonathan Creek, it  is a brilliant bit of music that sets the scene beautifully.)

Operation Berenstain is alive and well. It also illegally surveilling around three million Americans.  Darlene makes a tape with the assistance of Trent. In a signposting of things to come, the video tape unspools while recording.  This insignificant event is forewarning that  all  is about to come unravelled for fsociety.

The first step in this downward spiral is when Susan Jacobs returns home. She finds it full of fsociety members.  She is tied to the railing in her swimming pool room.  Jacobs will not shut up Trent is told to sort her out.

Susan says she needs the toilet and Trent cuts the ties.  Jacobs tries to attack Trent and knocks herself out cold by slamming her head agains the wall.  The group panic.  They hack her files to find something to use as leverage.

Darlene notices an email referencing pacemakers.  She goes to speak with Susan.  She has a taser and tells the captive to keep it cool. Darlene offers her a cigarette, which Jacobs takes, and they talk.

Elliot’s sister recalls seeing Jacobs when she was four, laughing as E Corp was cleared of any wrong doing in her father’s case.  She lets Susan go and then zaps her with the taser. With her heart stopped, Jacobs falls into the pool.

Fsociety scatter.

Darlene ends up with Cisco and they talk about Susan’s death at her hands. She tells Cisco that she feels nothing.  Darlene admits to having a dark side that she always wanted to let loose.

Mobley is picked up by the FBI and held for 12 hours. Dom finally questions him and he asks for a lawyer.  Agent DiPerro has to let him go. The fsociety tape, released by Darlene and Trent has created a sh*storm for the FBI and the bad press is killing them.

Trent heads home and nervously suggests to her father that they move. Mobley texts her, telling her to meet him at Ron’s. She arrives and waits.

Angela has had an agent from the FBI planted on her.  She dumps him at a bar.  He is not pleased and complains to Dom.  Angela also ranks a plumber friend of her father’s who attacked her verbally. “Who do you think you are,” he asks.  Her reply silences the older man.

At the end the episode, Darlene wakes up in Cisco’s bed and he is in the shower.  His laptop is open and she reads correspondence from the Dark Army and Cisco.  He has sold them out.

When Cisco comes into the bedroom he sees his laptop destroyed.  Darlene  hits him in the head with a baseball bat.  At the same time Mobley has disappeared and Trent sees someone enter the coffee shop. Her eyes widen…

Fsociety are smack in the middle of everything. The feds and the Dark Army want to shut them down. It was obviously Whiterose who ordered the death of Romero and it seems that they are racing to take out the rest of fsociety before the FBI can get to them.

Dom has, quite rightly, zeroed in on Mobley as the weak link in the group.   It is almost a certainty that it was not  he who Trent saw entering the coffee shop.

Darlene has become homicidal.  First Susan Jacobs and now, it seems, Cisco has been taken out.  Both were dispatched by her hand. Release the Kraken indeed.

Mr. Robot airs Wednesdays on USA.

CAST:

Guest starring  Sandrine Holt as Susan Jacobs and 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: Logic_B0mb.hc – Key Change (Review)

Mr. Robot - Season 2

Perhaps the most significant bit of dialogue in this episode of “Logic Bomb” came from the soon-to-be-murdered parking garage attendant in the cafe. Kareem (Kareem Savinontells Joanna that he cannot keep this up, he lied to the FBI and they know it.  He asks  if this is just to protect some “scrawny kid in a hoodie.”  Kareem  just described Elliot, not Tyrell.  Mr. Robot just underwent a key change, not only  with Elliot but with all the women of the verse.

There is, of course, Elliot’s uncomfortable cease-fire with his dead dad. Elliot is somewhat in control  now and his actions seem to be a mix of Mr. Robot and himself.  This side of his multi personality now serves, more or less,  as a guide.

There is a lot going on in this episode.  Despite the end where Ray has his thugs beat Elliott for looking at his website’s wares, “Logic Bomb” deals with the women.  Joanna Wellick, Angela, Dom  and Darlene are the focus this week.

Darlene is orchestrating some fsociety attack in Washington and she will use Angela to deliver a device to the FBI.  Joanna proves that Tyrell is not the only murderer in the Wellick family. Agent Dom DiPerro gets close to Whiterose, in his guise of State Security Minister of China, aka  Mr Zhang.

Call Me Dom:

The two talk in his “clock room” and play getting to know you.  The Jersey girl gives a little backstory and it is rather mundane, no Clarissa Starling here, and Zhang takes her on a tour.  He shows her his sister’s room and talks of alternative realities where 5/9 never happened and  the world is acting accordingly.

All this talk of other realties is a big hint to the FBI agent.  Zhang, like Elliot has different personalties. When he is doing Dark Army tasks he is the feminine Whiterose. As State Security Minister he is Mr. Zhang. The clear pleasure in his dress collection and his talk of alternate worlds is his confession of duality.

(Just as his statement moments earlier to Dom are a hint. “There’s more,” he says. Zhang then goes on to talk about Dom’s entry into the FBI. But the phrase itself is a hint to his split personalities.)

Later, as the FBI start to leave for their “tour” two gunmen enter and start shooting everyone. Dom moves quickly and hides behind the catering table. She grabs another agent’s gun and wounds one of the gunmen. He then shoots himself in the head.

Gunman number two then pins her down behind the table.  (Dom’s ear ringing is testament to how close at  least one of those rounds came to hitting her. This was a nice touch.)

Mr. Robot - Season 2
Grace Gummer as “Dom”

It is clear that this assault was orchestrated by Zhang/Whiterose. There was never any intention to share what information they had on the Dark Army.  This was a public relations exercise only.  Dom’s request for the hacking records generated  a death sentence.

Darlene and Angela:

All the women in the series step up.  Darlene pushes for Angela to be a part of their secondary  attack on E Corp.  She is also making a move on Washington.

Angela agrees to help Darlene. Her motives could be linked to Price’s refusing to promote her in the company.  This move is not necessarily retaliatory in nature. It could be down to reading things incorrectly.  If she has misinterpreted the lay of the land her planting the device at the FBI could be an escape route for her.

There is also the fact that Angela is covering her and Elliot’s tracks.  That CD she uploaded may have been covered up by her former douchebag boyfriend but, as they say, it pays be sure.

Joanna Wellick’s Lullaby:

Tyrell’s wife has turned out to be even more cold blooded than he ever dreamed of being. Sure he liked to beat up bums in alleys and murdered Mrs. Knowles but her never ordered the murder of anyone else. Of course it is not just the murder of Kareem that is disturbing but the manner of his death.

Given a paralyzing agent and forced to watch helplessly as first his apartment is ransacked by Joanna’s security man and then shot twice.  She says this was necessary to give Kareem closure. Otherwise, she says, we are “ruthless” murderers.”

This is so much store dressing. Given Joanna’s personality, it seems more likely that this was the added twist of the metaphorical knife. It must have been difficult to  listen to Kareem’s whining and bitching while paying out money she could ill afford.  This was her revenge.

As a final disturbing touch, she sings a Danish lullaby to the baby after her conversation with her “hitman.” Later  she gets the insert for the music box and a call. She believes it is Tyrell and clearly the caller is right outside her house.

Mr. Robot - Season 2

Elliot:

After getting the previous sys admin to show him the site, Elliot is in a quandary about what to do.  His Mr. Robot side tells him to let it go.  But the images that RT (Luke Robertson) gave Elliot access to have opened his eyes. He wants to believe that Ray is a good man but  has serious doubts. 

In the middle of the night, two of Ray’s men grab Elliot out of bed and drag him outside.  Elliot asks Ray what he is doing and the man’s answer is, “I told you not to look.” The thugs then beat Elliot to the sidewalk.

Despite a preview that shows Elliot injured and in bed, with Ray visiting, this could all be in his head. As one viewer mentioned on a recap: Why would they take Elliot out into the street to beat him. Where his cries of pain could  be heard and neighbors can call the cops…

Sidenote: The whole Ray storyline feels very “Bluebeard” in nature.  “Fix my site but do not look at it,” says Ray. Bluebeard tells his last wife that she has the run of the castle except for the one room with no key. He tells his new wife that she will not, of course, want to go in there…Like Elliot however, the curiosity is too great.  

At the end of Mr. Robot this week we have no idea if Dom has survived the gun attack or not.  Elliot is being beaten to a pulp and Angela has agreed to deliver the device to the FBI. Darlene is still using her “stolen” smart home as a base of operations.

A final thought on the Mr. Zhang/Whiterose issue.  Is Whiterose helping the minister of state security through the Dark Army. Is this all part of some plot to put the Chinese in charge of American finances? A type of world domination via the banking world? And is Elliot and his little team of fsociety hackers inadvertently helping?

Mr. Robot airs Wednesdays on USA.

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: