Monday, April 15, 2024

Mr. Robot Delivers Season 2’s Best Yet

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Spoilers for 2×09 “eps2.7_init_5.fve” ahead

Whatever your opinion on the slow burn approach of season 2 to date, everyone approached Elliot’s imminent release from prison with excitement. The audience, the Dark Army, fsociety, E Corp, Angela, everything seemed to wait on him before erupting. Now the moment finally arrived. Mr. Robot is free. Season 2 takes full advantage of the fact to take the season’s many plot threads and start tying them together. As a result, “eps2.7_init_5.fve” is the best episode of season 2 to date, and a great example of Mr. Robot at its best; stylish, powerful, intelligent, and with twists that catch the viewer off-guard without feeling cheap or unearned.

Mr. Robot elliot leon

For those wondering the grander details of Elliot’s imprisonment, the opening provides them. His arrest came due to the hack and theft of Krista’s boyfriend. He pleaded guilty and a judge sentenced him to 18 months. Ray was the prison’s warden and his thugs the guards. Leon found him immediately (and confessed a love for Mad About You, before mentioning his desire to watch Seinfeld next). His release came 86 days (approximately 3 months) into his sentence.

Elliot spends much of the episode post-release trying to fit back into his life. He shares a sweet hug with his sister outside the prison. He visits his mother in some type of him and thanks her for her unknowing help during his prison sentence. He jumps back into fsociety’s frantic business. Top priority is Stage 2 and the disappearances of Mobley and Trenton. We see some kind of strange disconnect between Elliot and Mr. Robot, a confusion of the when and where of their existences.

A disconnect sure to set the theories running wild with the ending revelation that Stage 2 is Elliot’s plan.

As ever, one of the main questions coming from this, especially with Joanna waiting for Elliot in Tyrell’s SUV outside Elliot’s apartment, is the fate of Tyrell Wellick. Some think he lives. Some think Elliot killed him and think the disconnect he experienced throughout the episode due to the coming realization that he adopted Tyrell as a third personality. Some question whether Tyrell ever really existed (a little bit extreme there). My guess? Tyrell lives and has spent this season covering up their crime. Though I honestly love the “Tyrell becoming a third personality” theory.

Yet this mystery pales in comparison to the brain busters delivered throughout this episode. What do we know for sure? Stage 2 came from Elliot. The Dark Army seems wary of him. It’s important enough to Whiterose to protect him in prison and influence an early release. Whatever happened to Mobley and Trenton occurred because of Elliot, as well. Whiterose has some connection to the Washington Township scandal. She apparently arranged for the previous E Corp CEO’s murder to protect that connection. Whatever is happening there is serious enough for Price to successfully extort her. Ollie confessed to the Allsafe CD hack the moment Dom brought him in for questioning. Dom had Angela tailed every moment since. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission, unsurprisingly, has connections to E Corp.

Did I miss something? Probably. “eps2.7_init_5.fve” was a mindblower of an episode.

Mr. Robot darlene robot

As usual, the best of it centered on Elliot’s mental state. Is his disconnect with Mr. Robot supportive of the new persona theory? Has Mr. Robot lied all season and begun a bid to take control? Are they simply in sync in some way both currently struggle to adjust to? Just how much has Mr. Robot made happen behind his back? How far back does his connection to the Dark Army go? Guessing is difficult considering the continuing realization that even Elliot knows nothing about his history.

He is the ultimate unreliable narrator. He can’t be sure where he is from moment to moment. Release back to the real world seems to have only created further separation from reality. His connection to the Dark Army and Whiterose precedes possibly even Cisco’s. It makes me question how he learned his hacking skills. He claims to have made his first successful hack at 11-years old. Is that true? Did he maybe learn his skills from the Dark Army, or Whiterose herself? I doubt Elliot knows. At this point the real Elliot Alderson only receives brief moments of existence where he must react to the actions of his personas. He knows even less than we do.

Whatever the case, Elliot’s actions have now pulled everyone around him into something they cannot handle. Dom’s comparison of Angela to a drowning dream could apply to not only her, but Darlene as well. Through differing circumstances both now find themselves inescapably deep into something far beyond their ability to control. While a doubt even a disassociated Elliot would order his sister’s death, how can she know that? Why would Cisco, Mobley, or anyone else trust Darlene if she argued otherwise? Why would she trust any reassurance from Elliot?

Also apparent now is Elliot’s culpability in drawing Angela into danger. Coincidence did not seek Angela and her boyfriend out in season 1 to use the CD at Allsafe. Coincidence did not get her a job at E Corp or account for her rise. That much Price and Whiterose apparently admitted during their conversation. I’ve described other characters as drowning in other reviews this season, and her actions this episode only put more distance between her and the surface. I worry at this point that her friendship with Elliot will not save her, and Dom’s warning came too late. She has the attention of too many powerful forces and is too much a liability. Between E Corp, the FBI, the federal government, the Dark Army, and whatever Elliot may unknowingly do, she appears doomed. Her character has been tragic every step of the way.

Pulling everything together is the Washington Township scandal. Elliot and Darlene began their scheme to take down E Corp because of it. Angela still works to reveal the truth of what happened there. Now we know Whiterose owns the facility and that the previous E Corp CEO died the same year Elliot’s father and Angela’s mother died. The implication was clear as to Whiterose’s involvement in that death. Many wondered how the numerous separate threads could tie together this season, and now we know. All of this started because of the Washington Township incident. All of it connects in some way, which spurs my questioning of Elliot’s history.

The eventual answer may disappoint, but right now I only want to applaud this terrific show ahead of what promises to be an excellent ending to season 2.

Mr. Robot whiterose price

Other Thoughts:

  • How many times will Mr. Robot end without letting us see who knocked on the door?!
  • Price reminds me greatly of Vincent D’Onofrio’s portrayal of Wilson Fisk in Daredevil. The slow, deliberate speech, the language they use, even their mannerisms. Something about this episode made the comparison click.
  • Dom’s totally antisocial friendliness never fails to charm me. She didn’t care less what Angela thought before barging in with dinner.
  • Does Ollie’s immediate confession about the Allsafe CD surprise anyone?
  • I know I don’t mention the visual brilliance of this show nearly enough, and “eps2.7_init_5.fve” really showed that brilliance off. The marvelous opening sequence showing Elliot’s imprisonment, the rolling brownouts, the glitch effect between Elliot and Mr. Robot, and the wonderful overhead shot of Whiterose and Price in perfect lockstep all stood out to me.
  • And while it may be my imagination, did Mr. Robot sneak a crotch shot onto USA Network?

Images courtesy of USA Network

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