Previously on Mr. Robot
Mr. Robot – S2E4 – eps2.2_init1.asec | Rami Malek, Christian Slater, Portia Doubleday, Carly Chaikin, Michael Cristofer, Martin Wallström, Stephanie Corneliussen, Grace Gummer, Gloria Reuben | Writer & Director: Sam Esmail
Once more, Sam Esmail displays his vision with razor sharp precision and charmingly sardonic view of the current state of our world. Peppered throughout “init1” are a number of characters – from the leads to background – who vacillate between the cold reality of a collapsing society and the welcome distractions that contemporary technology and Luddite forms of diversion can provide. Taking selfies in front of anarchistic graffiti. Ordering DIY meals. Playing a VR game on the subway. Crosswords. Daily affirmations via MPEG-4. It may not seem much of anything but it’s a telling sign that Elliot isn’t the only who cannot deal with the ceaseless disappointments and frosty indifference that’s so prevalent in society.
Apparently from the flashback that opened the episode, Alderson was determined not long before our introduction to him at AllSafe to dissolve E Corp and keep pressing until nothing could be recovered. All of this thanks to Darlene’s frivolous desire to see Elliot wear their father’s old jacket and mask from their favorite Z-grade slasher film, The Careful Massacre of the Bourgeoisie. As we now know, this small exercise in disorder hastily avalanched into a movement that presently has no course, harming more people than Alderson could have realized.
It doesn’t take long for Dominique DiPierro (Grace Gummer) to find fsociety’s old lair and piece together a workable theory about how they put the 5/9 attacks in motion. That’s the problem, however: it’s only a theory. DiPierro may be on the right track but the FBI hadn’t found any hard evidence… until the inexplicable appearance of a bullet casing found behind a coin-op. Curiouser and curiouser!
Naturally such crucial information finds itself in the well manicured hands of Whiterose (B.D. Wong) and her Dark Army. The feds are much closer to the truth – whatever that might be – than Whiterose and Phillip Price want them to be. For the first time in their terse conversations both appear fearful of what may occur. Just as fsociety was seemingly sponsored or funded by the Dark Army, they too have masters they must serve. Having no desire to experience the ramifications of a persistent investigation, the Dark Army is systematically tracking and eliminating key fsociety members.
If it wasn’t for Cisco (Michael Drayer) and his knowledge of the situation, who knows if Darlene would have seen another day. Having no other avenue, Darlene implores Alderson to help pull her out of the mess he never wanted. At least Elliot believes he didn’t. Did he? Surely, Mr. Robot was at fault from the start… right?
It’s become increasingly difficult for Elliot to differentiate reality from fantasy and his new best pal Leon (Joey Bada$$) isn’t helping matters. He finally convinces Alderson to ease his mind and allow himself to dream of happier times, be they moments that occurred or Elliot wishes to occur. What follows is a fantastic sequence that ties up (in Elliot’s dreams) the indelicate relationships he had among former neighbors and co-workers, culminating in a dinner party with a deconstructed version of Green Day’s ‘Basketcase’ being the cherry on top of a crazy sundae.
Elliot’s pleasant yet improbable pipe dreams for the future are only impeded by Mr. Robot (Christian Slater), who convinces Alderson after three rousing games of chess that result in stalemate there’s no escaping him. Through the potential calamity that is Dark Army spelling their end, the two agree saving Darlene is paramount. Howbeit, the means in which they assure her survival quickly placed them at odds yet again.
Of course Elliot can’t let Mr. Robot tell him how to live their life and agrees to work for Ray (Craig Robinson) and almost immediately regrets it. It hasn’t been entirely clear (but what has on this show?) what Ray wants Elliot to accomplish online. However, the looming and highly intimidating threat from the muscle seated in the corner of Ray’s office alludes to something unsavory within the dark web. As much as Ray respects Elliot’s talent and believes his fractured personality a portent to the divine, his mask of civility is easily cast off to reveal a paranoid and insular attitude that equals Elliot’s. The honeymoon period was over as soon as it began.
Ray may not want to hurt Elliot, but whatever this project is can and would justify Elliot’s liquidation if necessary. Funny how the one person(ality) E wanted to be rid of for good will most likely be his savior once things go tits up. And they will, guaranteed.
In the meantime, the dream, in its current iteration, is over for everyone. Darlene and fsociety face a dual threat in the form of DiPierro‘s FBI taskforce and the Dark Army. Angela is playing a very serious game with Phillip Price that could cost her gravely. Joanna is at the end of her rope emotionally and financially… whilst Elliot is in the eye of the storm. While he seeks refuge from the thoughts that haunt him, and eludes the potential malice of his new ally, Elliot charged himself to become a one-man army against the FBI for the love of dear sister.
Dreams? Perhaps another time. There will be no sleep in Brooklyn, friend.
Mr. Robot - S2E4