‘Mr. Robot’ Goes Farther Down the Rabbit Hole (TV Review)

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This week’s Mr. Robot kept the mystery going. After the action packed premiere, you’d think we would get a little break for story building right? Well, that’s the thing about this show, it doesn’t really conform to what you think should happen. For the most part anyway. Though there are a few easy tropes being employed by Mr. Robot, it’s never in intrusive to the story.  

Part of the excitement of this show is that we don’t know what’s real, and what’s in Elliot’s head. At the conclusion of last week’s episode, Elliot was brought into an office full of chattering business men in suits, the 1% of the 1%. We actually saw them earlier in the episode, but it wasn’t until he’s standing in room with all eyes on him that they become corporeal rather than an idea. The room is led by Evil Corp up and comer Tyrell Wellick, who basically gives Elliot an ultimatum. Join Evil Corp, or pay later. Elliot of course, refuses the position, leaving Wellick staring wistfully out of the top floor window.

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This is the first time in the episode that we stop and wonder, who is really the bad guy here? Evil Corp’s name is too obvious to lay all the blame on them. But who then should we be fearing? The answer comes later when one of the lady programmers from the Coney Island stronghold is showering at his apartment. She complains about having to wait, and whisks him away to the office, yammering on about her life as Elliot talks over her in his running dialogue with the audience. It’s peculiar, she acts like she already knows him. And not in “computer wizard information hack” sort of way, but more on a personal level, perhaps even in the biblical sense. In an odd moment while they’re switching trains, she quickly pushes him into one just as he sees men in black stalking towards him. “Does she see them too?” He wonders.

When they arrive at the computer stronghold, everything gets a little wonky. Mr. Robot is on hand to explain the ultimate plan to Elliot, but not before he gets into it with intrusive lady programmer. Notice, when Mr. Robot addresses the hackers he does so while standing in front of Elliot. Classic Tyler Durden behavior. As the hackers get back to work and lady hacker pouts to the side, no one bats an eyelash at Elliot and Mr. Robot’s conversation. Turns out, they have conspired to destroy the whole financial system used in the US. Which, you know that’s fine. Greed has turned men into monsters since the beginning of time. But a huge part of the plan is to blow up an information strong hold, a move that will surely kill a lot of innocent people. Elliot refuses to participate. Lady hacker chases after him, yelling out to him that he’s a part of it and can’t get out. This is the second time the villain becomes unclear. Are Mr. Robot and co the problem? Or the solution?

Seriously, if this turns out to be a Fight Club lookalike I will be so pleased. It makes sense, Elliot has delusions. He’s constantly stuck in his head, and the running dialogue he keeps makes it difficult to find out information as he’s always talking over everyone around him. Lady hacker has all the tell-tale signs of a Marla-like character: the showering in his apartment with no real explanation, looking bemused when he acts clueless, yelling at him (Not Mr. Robot) at the Coney Island “office.” I would say the whole storyline revolving around his interest in Evil Corp is all in his head if it weren’t for his father’s death. His whole motivation for wanting to infiltrate their systems comes from this vendetta he’s holding onto for his dad. Since we find out that his dad died from cancer this episode, it gets a little confusing as to why he blames Evil Corp. I’m sure the explanation is deeply rooted in a conspiracy theory that will play out soon enough, but for now everything is still very much up in the air.

Elliot’s drug habit becomes more of a problem this week as his drug dealer Shayla (the one he quietly banged for a laced joint) is having problems with her supplier. The supplier, Fernando Vera, is a creep and a half, demanding more time with Shayla as she shies away from his advances. She continues to go to him as he’s the only one with access to both kinds of pills Elliot needs to function. She’s determined to keep him going, even if that puts her own life in danger. Things come to a head after Elliot retrieves his dog from Shayla’s after she’s watched him for an afternoon. Fernando is sitting on the couch in his underwear, gun and drugs nearby. He marks his territory, declaring Shayla is his. There’s a whole stare down, and eventually Fernando gathers his things (including the pills Elliot needs) and leaves. Elliot searches for Shayla who was locked in the bathroom, naked in the bath. When she awakes she doesn’t remember a thing, lucky and sad all at once.

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As gross as Fernando is, he makes a good point during his angry ramblings towards Elliot. He pretends he’s not an addict, but as we soon learn he’s just as much an addict as a junkie jonesing and broke on the street corner. This idea eats at Elliot, who soon breaks the connection between Fernando and Shayla when he turns him in to the police. Of course, now he has no way of getting his hands on his pills. Things are about to get very interesting.

Things go south when a video is released by the “fsociety” who threaten ruin for Evil Corp. It’s a problem for Allsafe (Elliot’s employers) as they are meant to guard Evil Corp’s online investments. It’s also a problem for Elliot as he’s a part of fsociety whether he wants to be or not. They come off as a terrorist organization, led by Mr. Robot. Or so it seems we are to believe. To conclude the episode Elliot heads back to Coney Island to confront Mr. Robot who just so happens to find him waiting on a rail. They talk, Elliot explains the situation with his dad to Robot. Apparently he betrayed his father’s trust by telling his mother he was sick. Robot empathizes with Elliot, that is until he asks whether or not his father was right to remain distrustful of him and pushes Elliot off the railing onto the beach.

I don’t want to dwell too much on the Fight Club parallels, because it seems too easy. There’s a lot building up right now, and for Mr. Robot to not be real would be a huge undertaking for the show runners as there will either be a reveal at the end of the season or at the end of the series. To not bring it out early would change a lot of what we learn about Elliot and his mental health issues, but to wait until the end of the series would make for a great shocker. More than anything dancing in this delusional limbo keeps us on the edge of our seats from week to week. USA has already signed for a second season of the show, ensuring that at the very least Elliot will be fighting corporate evil for many days to come. Where that evil actually lies will ultimately be decided by audience, because after all, Elliot imagined us to into existence to act as his conscience.

Next week on Mr. Robot:

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