Now that was an episode of Mr. Robot. While this season has had its issues, chiefly in the payoff and satisfaction, this episode had no such problems. There’s plenty of twists and turns in the narrative, but unlike some of the other episodes it isn’t trudging along either. When the show decides to become more kinetic, it really begins to work to its own advantage. Following up on the questions it raised with last episode’s cliffhanger the sins of everyone involved in the 5/9 hack and its aftermath finally come home to roost. For Elliot, that involves dealing with Joanna Wellick’s desire to find her possibly dead husband Tyrell; for Darlene and Cisco it’s the the various missteps they’ve made finally closing in around them; and for Angela that means finally succumbing to the desire for safety and her fear by confessing her crimes to Dom.
The best thing about Mr. Robot is its ability to channel paranoia. Elliot’s paranoia over whether Tyrell is actually dead; whether he can trust himself via Mr. Robot; just how much of his memories are real or fictitious, makes the tension that much more palpable as Elliot begins to lose what fragments of control he has left. It’s a testament to the show’s trust in the audience that it decides to keep crossing between so many stories, allowing for so much build-up to this point that I’m quite willing to forgive any flaws.
The way Cisco has been played this season has been somewhat frustrating but it pays off big here. As Belle has mentioned in previous reviews: that fSociety hasn’t been caught thus far is nothing short of a miracle. While they are smart, their ability to cover their tracks is riddled with holes, and as last episode demonstrated: some of their mistakes are major. One such mistake is Darlene unmasking herself in a previous episode, leading to Cisco going to find the tape, thus becoming the subject of a manhunt.
Dom has also been an interesting spoiler this season. While she’s a nominal antagonist (if you really consider the Elliott/Darlene/Angela trinity as protagonists) she, more than anyone else, has been a great insight into just what a catastrophe the 5/9 hack was for the people trying to pick up the pieces. However, more than anything else: she’s trying to do the right thing. While Angela’s encounter with her last week hinted at that, her vehement refusal to putting Cisco’s face on television as she knows the Dark Army’s propensity for violently retiring their soldiers, was both an example of her ability to think differently, and her compassion as she refused to risk Cisco’s safety. Which, considering the immediate assassination attempt, her fears were justified. Given her previous encounters with the Dark Army, this suggests their tendrils are deeper into the US government than they might seem.
Compassion continues to be a recurring theme this season. What everyone has in common is a desire for compassion, or at least a wish to fill its absence. From Elliott, to Angela, heck even to Joanna or Phillip Price, a lot of people are simply attempting to fill that void. Even Cisco seems to care more about Darlene in some respects, and her psychological well being, than she does for him with his attempt to stop her from simply letting someone die. Overall, this is Mr. Robot at its best. Twists and turns abound, plenty of weird reveals, and for once a little bit of fanservice. Sadly at a very pivotal moment where it probably won’t get to bloom.
5 out of 5 Creepy Phone Calls
- I wasn’t so invested in the possibility of Elliott and Angela in the past, given the show’s penchant for deflating romance, but considering the effort to show just how alike they are? This was earned.
- I’m still trying to figure out the significance of the address that Elliott found for the phone, was that Cisco’s apartment? Or just a jump?
- While this episode did have a metric ton of tension, I did appreciate Elliott tuning out the not-so-scary security guard, but not during his story about one of his creepy clients.
- I think we’ve basically found our confirmation Tyrell is essentially alive, right? Even if creepy heavy breathing is never a good sign.
- Gotta love how Joanna’s fake lean for a kiss is simultaneously a scary intimidation tactic and foreshadowing.