Synopsis: Elliot’s plan to drive away Mr. Robot has undesirable side effects, Angela unwittingly enters into a game of cat and mouse with her boss at E-Corp, Darlene, Mobley, and Trenton square off over their crimes, and FBI agent Dominique Dipierro makes an incredible discovery about fsociety.
This season of Mr. Robot has been quite pointedly focusing more on the internal struggles of its characters in the wake of last season’s events, than the hyper-realistic hacking and related subculture that drew viewers to the show initially. It’s a risk, given that it more or less bypasses the show’s “thing,” but it’s absolutely on par thematically, and it’s paid off big time.
Elliot’s self-imposed exile, Angela’s eggshell-stepping, and the piecemeal investigation into five/nine are far more compelling than even the coolest hacking sequence, and the new motif of people refusing do to coding work has built an underlying tension that’s coloring the whole series with a subtle new shade. Coupled with incredible editing and utterly hypnotic dialogue, Mr. Robot has not only proven how much it deserves its multiple Emmy nods, but also put out what is by far it’s best episode to date.
After all else fails, Elliot finally decides that, against his better judgement, the only way to shut down Mr. Robot for good, is massive amounts of Adderall. Unfortunately, right after he takes it, he’s kidnapped by a mysterious man in a black hat and some goons, who take him to an abandoned warehouse and pour wet concrete down his throat with a funnel.
It’s gag-worthy, horrifying, and totally out-of-the-blue, but only becomes more so when Elliot’s choking becomes vomiting – onto the floor of his bedroom. A bedroom in which Mr. Robot is sitting calmly and holding the man’s black hat, having tricked Elliot into throwing up the Adderall that would have made him disappear. Desperate, Elliot fishes the soggy pills out of his own vomit and swallows them again.
The show deserves an Emmy for that sequence alone. And also the sequence after the Adderall stops helping, where Elliot, knowing Mr. Robot will reappear at any moment, turns a hopeless and exhaustion-fueled rant onto his church group, brokenly and involuntarily waxing poetic about the hypocrisy of organized religion, and the myth of control. The monologue was so well-written and well-delivered I was tempted to write it down somewhere, just to keep it from fading.
As far as fsociety is concerned, Trenton and Mobley are casually freaking out that the Dark Army is going to track their misdeeds back to them. Darlene assures them it’s impossible, because the Dark Army only ever talked to her, and she definitely didn’t tell them anything. They point out that Elliot also talked to them, and his motivations can’t exactly be trusted. She tells them to suck it, basically, and they are far from comforted, especially given the sudden murder of poor Romero, who Mobley found shot in his own home.
This is especially poignant after an expertly crafted cold open flashback, where Romero charismatically tells Mobley all about the disturbing and sordid history of fsociety’s arcade base of operations. A history filled with murder and mayhem, and a long-standing belief that the place is cursed to kill its owner and frequent patrons.
His death brings out FBI agent Dominique Dipierro – also known as my current love and inspiration. Just as talented, informed, and quick-thinking as we saw last week, she gets farther into the details of fsociety in the span of one episode than Elliot did in essentially the entire first season, and does it with a wry and offhanded pseudo-self-assurance that belies both drive and existential dread. She’s secretly as broken as the rest of them though, subsisting entirely on coffee, concealer, dry shampoo, and unsuccessful cybersex (#relatable).
Her investigation takes her to Romero’s mother, who’s in the process of moving. Dominique stumbles upon a poster for the End Of The World Party in her packing chaos, and walks herself right into Coney Island, finding the defunct arcade, complete with broken signage that once spelled out “Fun Society” – if you catch their drift.
Elsewhere, Angela’s recent work is called into question by her boss at E-Corp. After starting to quietly do as she’s asked, she makes an impulse decision to stand up for herself. He reacts by telling her an elaborate story about his favorite restaurant and insists on taking her there, before agreeing that she was right, and her work was better than what he’d asked.
It’s a super disjointed and vaguely creepy scene, but Angela is still hedging her bets against E-Corp, and given her recent struggle with identity, seems at least a little genuinely pleased at the attention and validation.
When she arrives at the restaurant though, Price has been joined by two other E-Corp employees, Saul and Jim. Price espouses their virtue and accomplishments and talks about their lovely families, before privately telling Angela that they were complicit in the E-Corp negligence that killed her mother. He offers her all the evidence she needs to cut them down, if only she could learn to take her feelings out of it and do what needs doing.
His motivation behind destroying two of his own is unclear, and Angela, rightfully, doesn’t trust it. She’s been presented with a shockingly unexpected opportunity however, and must decide if the shaky, incomplete peace she’s built stacks up to revenge for her mother. It’s clear which way she’s leaning though, as Price sings Saul and Jim’s praises practically in list format, and only after they’ve gone. They hardly speak for themselves, and we never get a good look at their faces.
In the end, Mr. Robot does return. Appearing the moment after Ray tells Elliot he also suffers from hallucinations of a sort, as he regularly talks to his wife as if she’s there, even though she was killed some time ago. He says that there’s no way around it, only through, and the best thing you can do is just keep slogging forward. This comes on the heels of Ray’s visit to a programmer in his employ who has – conveniently – been unable to migrate Ray’s website to a more secure server and get it up and running again, and tells Ray he needs to find someone else.
Ray and Elliot play chess.