Previously on Mr. Robot “eps2.6_succ3ss0r.p12”
Mr. Robot – S2E9 – eps2.7_init_5.fve | Rami Malek, Christian Slater, Portia Doubleday, Carly Chaikin, Michael Cristofer, Stephanie Corneliussen, Martin Wallström, Grace Gummer | Writers: Kyle Bradstreet & Lucy Teitler | Director: Sam Esmail
Init n. COMPUTING [Unix/Linux]: The parent of all processes. Runlevels are spawned by init which are defined in the/etc/inittab file. Init can be in one of eight runlevels: 0-6 and S or s. The runlevel is changed by having a privileged user run telinit, which sends appropriate signals to init, telling it which runlevel to change to.
“Init_5” may not have been the flashiest, slickest, or most brutal episode of Mr. Robot this season, yet the subtle content and symbolism washed throughout its running time is as important, if not essential, in the grand scheme of things. Just when we all thought we had a grasp on the situation, there may be a new player in the game who wears a mask we are all quite familiar in seeing.
Before we discuss Alderson’s latest descent into madness, there were a number of developments that map the road ahead for the future of fsociety and the nation at large. First off, some weeks have passed since “succ3ss0r” and Mobley and Trenton have been MIA since their last appearance. Whether they’re in seclusion together or separately is anyone’s guess; Trenton definitely didn’t appear to be under the best circumstances while waiting for Mobley.
Whiterose and Phillip Price reunite to exercise their social graces and fail miserably, with both threatening each other to get their way. WR revealed that she has a long history with E Corp and hastened its previous CEO’s journey to the afterlife after he rejected her secretive project. Price and Whiterose’s terse conversation managed to drop important hints on the history of E Corp’s shadowy practices; she wants control of a facility in Jersey, even though the last undertaking under ‘Rose’s supervision was alluded to be disastrous. It appears to be coming together now, yeah? Phillip’s bluster does little to assuage Whiterose, however she will relay his request for a bailout from China in order to keep the conglomerate solvent. Now it’s just getting too messy.
Speaking of hot messes, Angela finally engaged in the most critical part of her ambitious plan to restore order to E Corp: stealing classified files about the Washington Township Leak. All appeared to be on the up and up until the two personnel Moss met at the NRC acted far too shady while not-so subtly inquiring about Angela’s work history and personal information (so much for being anonymous). The experience left her flustered, which was a prime moment for Dom DiPierro to step in and deliver a few rabbit punches to the kidneys, reminding Moss that she has few options that don’t spell out P-R-I-S-O-N in her future.
Lastly, there’s Darlene and Cisco (Michael Drayer) who apparently made amends in spite of the former attempting to severely traumatize the latter with a bat to the head. Essentially the only active member of fsociety remaining, Darlene – to Cisco’s chagrin – wants to know more about the Dark Army and hack’s Xun’s phone to know what Whiterose’s lieutenant is privvy. In the meantime, Darlene suddenly remembers she left the Project Berenstain tape at Susan Jacob’s place (talk about a brain fart) and Cisco recovers it… along with a person that currently remains unseen. As much as we love Mr. Robot, some narrative devices have begun to become played out, especially the incessant knocking at a door that calls for a character to appear shocked at the sight of a currently unknown/unseen player. We get it, you want us to come back next week. You needn’t worry, you had us at revolution.
All that occurred in “init_5” was enough material to create an exceptional episode for any other programme; ironically it was the severe instability of its titular lead that gelled everything together.
It may have been a bit confusing to some about what was occurring between Elliot and Mr. Robot, especially if you haven’t a clue about computer science. From day one, the episode titles have been the most glaring clue to how the narrative for that week will progress. In this case, as stated in the definition posted above, the init process is essential for a system to run properly after a reboot. One could choose a run level during the process; inittab(5) is responsible for entering a multi-user mode. After casting an illusion of normalcy in prison, being jumped by Ray and his guards AND Mr. Robot assuming control to lessen the trauma of the event, Elliot apparently regained his composure by aligning himself with Mr. Robot and renewing his determination to right fsociety’s course and destroy E Corp absolutely. At least that was the plan before a glaring error occurred during the process.
Writers Kyle Bradstreet and Lucy Teitler spun a tale that was sheer brilliance and is quite possibly the most critical episode of Mr. Robot this season. While there have been significant moments in the first eight episodes – Angela’s ascendancy in E Corp, the Dark Army’s assault on the FBI, and Elliot’s time in prison, for starters – this new development in the possible existence of a third personality in Alderson is frightening. The existence of this “master” isn’t a certainty (but what is in this show?) however there were a number of breadcrumbs spread along “Init_5” that argues the existence of a malevolent alter ego.
Based on evidence from “init_5” alone, it’s feasible that another fully formed personality within Elliot exists. Xun (Lyman Chen) and his henchmen don’t harm Elliot when he says it with his chest. During surveillance, Whiterose’s voice sounds like it respects and fears Elliot’s abilities… or whichever persona she has a rapport. Lastly, and most importantly, no one save this other personality knows the exact plan for Stage 2. We must remember that the Dark Army doesn’t work exclusively for China; they’re a band of mercenaries under Whiterose’s leadership. It’s apparent that Elliot – or whoever that’s been occupying in his addled mind all this time – is more powerful and threatening than any of us had realized. His desire to rid the world of E Corp may have begun on a whim thanks to Darlene’s banter, yet something potentially sinister awakened in Alderson not long ago and protected itself – like Mr. Robot did for Elliot during his beating – from any manner of discovery.
Once more we’re put out in the cold, wondering who is the real Elliot Alderson. We, his friends, know he can no longer be trusted to show us the harshness of his reality, let alone relay anything factual. Furthermore, nearly everything we’ve seen him accomplish on the show hasn’t been impressive enough to warrant a cutthroat hacker army to follow his lead. Surely there is more to the man. Alas, he and dear ol’ “dad” haven’t a damn clue about what’s been lurking in his brain all this time.
While New York City strains to keep its power running as the rest of its services collapse, Alderson is similarly losing all semblance of control when it appeared he was at his most focused. It’s not a fair shake for a man who simply wanted to change the world for the better. Now everything has turned inward, with Elliot’s very psyche thrashing in confusion while his enemies ready to storm the gates.
Mr. Robot S2E9 = 9.3/10