In the latest ‘Mr. Robot’ recap, Elliot tries to deal with the trauma from a vicious beating and Angela attempts to help FSociety hack into the FBI….
By Damon Martin — Editor/Lead Writer
When last we spoke, Elliot was finding out the hard way that he really shouldn’t have started digging into Ray’s online website business because the result culminated in two of his goons handing the computer hacker a vicious pummeling on the street.
Elliot was struggling with his own inner morality — that need he has to be the good guy and put a stop to bad people — while his second personality kept screaming at him to leave it alone or he’d just wind up hurt.
Well, it turns out Mr. Robot was right.
The latest episode of ‘Mr. Robot’ started out for about 20 minutes as a deep dive into the mind of Elliot Alderson, in what appeared at first as his final break with reality. Elliot woke up in the backseat of a 1980’s Mustang convertible being driven by his father as the family went on a vacation.
Complete with an 80’s theme song — written by the same folks responsible for the theme ‘Full House’ mind you — and every machination and nuance that made sitcoms from that era cheesy and yet somehow hilarious were all packed into Elliot’s elaborate fantasy.
The rest of the episode took a look at Angela’s attempt to become a hacker with 24-hours of training as well as another reminder about how dark the Dark Army could really get when someone crosses them — or even bothers to ask a question.
With that said, let’s recap the latest episode of ‘Mr. Robot’ titled eps2.4_m4ster-s1ave.aes….
One for Alderson and Alderson for One
Prior to the latest episode of ‘Mr. Robot’ kicking off on Wednesday night, creator Sam Esmail tweeted out a subtle hint that it was worth watching this episode from beginning to end — complete with commercials.
While hype like that rarely lives up to expectation, Esmail was right on the money because from the moment the show began with grainy graphics and a synthetic soundtrack — it was clear this was going to be a very trippy start to ‘Mr. Robot’.
The ultra 80’s sitcom sees Elliot on a disturbing family vacation complete with a laugh track and possibly the worst scenery surrounding a car ride since Al Bundy decided to take his family on a labor day trip on ‘Married With Children’. In those days, the aesthetics of a scene were expected to look somewhat cheap and glued together — and remember this was long, long before anyone ever even uttered the words ‘high definition’. And of course there was even a special appearance from ALF – the beloved alien life form that feasted on cats.
The car ride did reveal a few secrets from Elliot’s troubled childhood because it’s clear this was all happening inside his own head. From his mother burning Darlene with lit cigarettes and then literally knocking her out twice to his father revealing that he was dying of cancer, Elliot’s ‘fantasy’ was filled with brief moments in time from when he was a kid.
The conflict that exists in Elliot’s own head today even seeped into his dream world after he found Angela working at a E-Corp convenience store where she tried to explain how she was climbing the corporate later in hopes that a better job might make up for the fact that these monsters killed her mother. During that exchange, Elliot’s father even tells him very poignantly that Angela is lost to him — she’s part of Evil Corp and she’s never coming back. There was also a brief appearance from Gideon, who showed up as a cop (no doubt reference to him trying to pull the plug on Elliot’s hack job) and then was run over by ALF. It seemed to be a symbol that Elliot still feels that Gideon was needlessly gunned down despite the fact that he was threatening to turn him over to the FBI.
The dream even features an appearance from Tyrell Wellick, who is tied up and locked in the trunk courtesy of his father. That sequence in particular is interesting because you start to wonder — is Tyrell being kidnapped and locked up a real memory that Mr. Robot has tucked away deep inside Elliot’s brain or is Tyrell actually dead and this is just where he’s staying as a feeling of guilt because Elliot killed him?
Throughout the car ride, Elliot continuously sees visions of the beating he took from Ray’s thugs, but each time he tries to look, his “father” tells him to keep his eyes forward on the road ahead. It’s clear the entire dream sequence is really predicated on Elliot being locked inside his own head — where he believes he’s staying now because Mr. Robot has finally taken over for good.
“It will feel good if you let it. Believing it’s real makes it so.”
~ Mr. Robot to Elliot
The family road trip ends when the vision of his father from the dream pulls up to the hospital and explains that despite his injuries, they still managed to get him help. When Elliot wakes up he’s actually in the hospital bed with Ray and one of his goons standing over him. Outside the room, Elliot spots a nurse watching ‘ALF’ — which then begins to explain part of the vision he’s just woken up from in his bed.
While Elliot is still suffering from the physical thrashing he’s just been handed, Ray decides to tell him a story about a dog — a dog that was as spry and lively as any animal on the planet until one day she was stricken with heartworms and this once vibrant pooch was reduced to a pile of bones and fur, unable to even feed herself. The sickness forced the dog to receive her food directly from her owner’s hands and everything she needed had to be provided for her. When the dog passed away, Ray explains that he’s not sure if it was the sickness or the reality that she really had a master this entire time that finally made her expire.
The story served as an analogy for Ray to remind Elliot that despite all his computer prowess and the knowledge he now held inside his own head about what’s really going on with that website — he still has a master and it’s time to obey or get put down.
The second half of the episode primarily focused on Angela’s attempt to compete the hack necessary for FSociety to wipe out the evidence collected by the FBI that could lead back to her as well as Elliot from their time at All-Safe. Angela’s crash course in hackernomics was a rough go — Mobley thinks it’s a pointless endeavor to attempt to teach anyone how to hack in 24 hours — but Darlene is convinced she’ll get the job done.
Part of the puzzle also relies on Darlene’s part time fuck buddy Cisco procuring a femtocell from the Dark Army that they can use to help hack into the FBI database. While Cisco gets the equipment without a problem, he decides to ask a few questions about what the Dark Army is up to these days and instead of receiving an answer, he gets a needle shoved under his fingernail as a reminder that he’s a foot soldier. Cisco’s job is to follow orders, not ask questions — perhaps another nod to that dog story about masters?
Regardless, Cisco shows up with the femtocell but when he locks eyes with Angela she immediately recognizes him as the bad street rapper who gave her ex-boyfriend the CD that would eventually lead them down the path to install infected malware into the computers at All-Safe. Angela is starting to put the pieces of the puzzle together — that she’s been played this entire time — but she doesn’t let on and instead just takes the femtocell and heads off to Evil Corp.
Meanwhile, FBI agent Dom DiPierro has been instructed to take four weeks off work after witnessing the massacre of her friends and colleagues in the shooting that took place in China during last week’s episode. Dom isn’t concerned about her own mental welfare as much as finding answers about the two gunmen who wiped out several FBI agents and then just took their own lives in the end. The Chinese government are selling the attack as a rogue terrorist group, but Dom believes this was the Dark Army trying to send a not so subtle message to make the FBI back off this investigation.
Inside Evil Corp, Phillip Price is also affected by the Chinese massacre because the bailout he was counting on to save his company has just been shut down by the Federal government. As the Speaker of the House — who suspiciously sounds like crying man John Boehner — explains that he would be branded a traitor for doing any business with the Chinese right now. So the bailout isn’t going to happen and that’s bad news for Phillip Price and Evil Corp.
Across the street from Evil Corp, Darlene (who makes a killer blonde) sneaks into a hotel room with grifter precision before setting up a computer to complete the hack into the FBI once Angela gets set up. Inside the building, Angela makes her way to the 23rd floor where the FBI is station. Timing is crucial because the FBI is moving out the next day so this is the only time they will be able to get the femtocell planted before the agents are gone.
Once she’s on the floor, Angela tucks away into the women’s room where she finishes the initial script necessary to complete the hack but when she exits, a very flirtatious agent named Ross is waiting there to greet her.
His overt attempts to land a date with Angela fall flat until he starts to question why she’s on this floor considering it’s off limits to anybody not holding an FBI badge. To fend off his questions, Angela finally accepts his offer for a date and tells him to meet her for lunch downstairs in 30 minutes. Agent Ross is satisfied with that answer because he thinks he just scored, but really it’s Angela who won the game because his exit means she can complete the job.
Angela plants the equipment, wipes off her fingerprints and heads for the door until Darlene chimes in and explains that she has to go back to a terminal and type in yet another command to connect the hack to the WIFI on the computers.
Angela impatiently sits back down and starts to type away with Darlene’s instructions buzzing away in her head. It’s all going well until a voice rings out — ‘Angela Moss’ — and when she looks up, there stands Agent Dom DiPierro — the last person she could possibly want to see in this situation.
Back inside the hospital, Elliot is yanked from his comfy bed and tossed down into a basement where he’s left to suffer while Ray’s people continue to torture him until he’s ready to complete the job that he initially started before peaking where he didn’t belong.
Elliot looks up from the ground and sees Mr. Robot standing over him. As it turns out, he wasn’t trying to take over. He was trying to save him.
Mr. Robot: “Before you get all bent out of shape, all I was trying to do was take those punches for you. That’s it.”
Elliot: “Thank you”
While Elliot’s other personality has been painted as a terrorist bully throughout this season, don’t forget that he was originally created as a living homage to his dead father. It seems this creation carries the same complicated baggage as his real father — remember Elliot was unbelievably close with his dad, but this was the same father that pushed him out of a window once upon a time. Those traits have been transferred into this vision and while Mr. Robot has been antagonistic and vile towards Elliot all season long, there’s also compassion and caring hidden inside the person he sees as his father.
In the end, Elliot hugs Mr. Robot and thanks him for taking the punishment in his place. Perhaps this is a sign of things to come now that Elliot is starting to reconcile with the other person talking inside his own head.
A moment later, we cut to a car ride from Elliot’s childhood.
He’s sporting bruises on his face after being excused from school. His father understands that Elliot didn’t want to tell the principal his side of the story so he just asks that his son listens to what he has to say for now. Elliot’s dad explains that he just lost his job because his boss explained that he’s been taking too much time off lately — time off that he used to see doctors as he attempted to diagnose and eventually treat the cancer he’s suffering from thanks to the tainted water courtesy of Evil Corp.
Elliot’s dad promises that he’ll be just fine but now without his job, he’s decided to open up a computer repair shop and his son has a very important job to complete as part of the new family business. Elliot gets to name the new computer shop.
“When we pull up, the first thing that comes into your mind — that’ll be the name”
Elliot looks up with wide eyes as his dad stops the car — he examines the building and just when the words ‘Mr. Robot’ are about to slip from his lips, the scene cuts to black. Like that moment in “Usual Suspects” when Agent Kujan starts spotting names and places used in Verbal Kint’s elaborate tale about the massacre at the harbor while tracing it all back to Keyser Soze — Elliot is beginning to remember how his psyche fractured into a thousand little pieces and he’s finally starting to put them all back together again.
‘Mr. Robot’ returns with a brand new episode on USA Network next Wednesday night at 10pm ET.