Mr. Robot: season 2 episode 6 review – eps2.4_m4ster-s1ave.aes
You can love it or you can hate it. This week’s Mr. Robot has proven again how daring it can be to shatter anything related to the word “format”. Offering both familiar cyber thrills, as well as an incredibly unexpected subconscious sequence, this episode has reminded us that Mr. Robot is unafraid to challenge its own format time and time again. Below is our detailed spoiler-heavy review.
The episode, for the most part, seems to be divided into three major acts: the opening dream sequence, Angela and fSociety’s FBI heist, and the closing flashback sequence. Interestingly enough, after the first 15 minutes, Elliot is shoved aside (quite literally) during for the most of the episode, while the main focus is placed on fSociety and Angela, which is a nice change from Elliot-heavy previous episodes.
Sam Esmail has always been inventive in presenting the plot elements and the feelings of characters (particularly Elliot) in the show, and this time he went up a notch by presenting an unconscious Elliot’s mind as a cheesy 80’s sitcom. The audience even gets absurdist opening credits (very much like Too Many Cooks did it), that parody sitcom openings, but are also deliciously surreal. As an example, Angela is seen crying her eyes out next to her mother’s coffin while Portia Doubleday’s name appears on the screen. The sequence, that takes up around 15 minutes of the beginning of the episode, continues to metaphorically and surrealistically present the current state of the plot of the characters, with Angela apparently moving up in the ranks of an “E Corp convenience store”, and freakin’ ALF running over Gideon over with a car. And the mysterious “man in the trunk” is no other but Tyrell himself, who still hasn’t made an appearance in reality this season, making us believe that his return, when it happens, will be a very important plot element. The entire sitcom sequence is something you will either love or hate (as it can be seen as either a brilliant subversion of expectations or as a forced attempt to be weird and “artsy”), but it goes without doubt to show Esmail’s creativeness and courage to try something new every time.
While the first 15 minutes is probably what you will remember the most after the episode is finished, the episode’s worth does not end there. After Elliot’s awakening and Ray’s speech about dogs and masters the episode’s focus is switched onto fSociety’s attempt to hack the FBI with Angela’s help. The tension throughout the main heist scene is relentless, which is aided by a long tracking shot that follows Angela through the FBI’s floor to plant the bug, while encountering various obstacles, such as an obnoxious man trying to ask her out. The entire sequence reminds of the hacking scenes from season 1, full of thrills, uncertainty and manipulation of people. The act ends with a cliffhanger when Dom approaches Angela in the middle of a hack, and we are left to wait out another week.
The final of the three acts brings us back to Elliot, who is held locked away by Ray’s goons and, quite possibly for the first time ever, we are made to consider how Mr. Robot can indeed be helpful for Elliot, and be a positive presence for him. In this scene Mr. Robot embraces Elliot, and Elliot goes as far as to thank him. This unexpected moment goes to showcase that Elliot’s actual father was a caring figure, which is demonstrated in the flashback that follows. We see Elliot as a child riding shotgun in his father’s car after supposedly having been beaten up by kids at school, and Edward Alderson reveals to Elliot he got fired from his job because he missed it many times due to doctor appointments about cancer. The episode ends with Edward allowing Elliot to name his new computer store, and it cuts to black before Elliot utters it, but we all know that the name he chose would go to haunt him for many years to come.
eps2.4_m4ster-s1ave.aes is a fairly good installment in Mr. Robot’s second season that reminds us how daring the show can be with its stylistic and directorial decisions, brings back the good, old-fashioned hacking action and shows us that Mr. Robot can be both good and bad for Elliot, depending on the circumstances. In general, the show continues to be an exceptional piece of television that is unabashedly confident in itself, which always gives hope for more exciting episodes in the future.
Image credits: USA network