Mr. Robot: season 2 episode 4 review – eps2.2_init1.asec
Early in it’s second season, the initial few episodes of Mr. Robot have at times been tedious to watch as Elliot and Mr. Robot struggle for control. This week’s episode breaks the cycle and steps away from the present, giving viewers a 10 minute flashback that revealed the origin of the fSociety mask as well as Mr. Robot himself. Additionally, all of the various plotlines are finally given momentum in a satisfying way. Below is our detailed and spoiler-heavy review.
The opening scene momentarily tricks viewers into thinking we’re finally getting an answer to one of the big mysteries remaining from season one…who was knocking on Elliot’s door in the finale. Instead we’re taken back in time and given a scene of Elliot and Darlene in which they finally act like siblings. Darlene shows up at her brother’s apartment on Halloween wearing what an fSociety mask and the pair bicker, discuss their traumatic childhood, and get stoned and watch a digital version of one of their childhood favorite VHS tapes. The film is titled The Careful Massacre of the Bourgeoisie, and happens to be the origin of the fSociety mask. Darlene even declares that the film is the root of all their psychological dysfunction
The 80’s b-horror film was actually created as an easter egg for the series with a plot synopsis as follows: Rich, bratty siblings BROTHER and Ashley are prepping their New Year’s party. BROTHER, however, refuses to take off the “un-chic” mask of his father, a prop dad used to where on his yacht… the one where Uncle Conrad once committed suicide after losing the family business. Despite having plenty of booze and some illicit drugs (an “infinite supply of pure Colombian boca sugar”) no one seems to be showing up… though Ashley and BROTHER quickly discover they aren’t alone. The sub-10 minute film can be viewed online in it’s entirety, and is an apt demonstration of the show’s attention to detail.
Additionally, the flashback scene reveals when Mr. Robot began breaking through Elliot’s psyche, and we learn that Elliot was fired in a work related incident in which he blacked out and woke to find the servers he was working on had been destroyed. The judge handling the case ordered him to go to therapy for anger management, revealing how Elliot came to be having sessions with Krista. Elliot also reveals to his sister that he has their father’s work uniform, and she insists he put it on along with the fSociety mask, showing his transformation into Mr. Robot for the first time.
Meanwhile in the present, Elliot and Ray connect and his new companion offers therapeutic advice by means of playing chess to cope with what he’s experiencing. Mr. Robot uses this to his advantage by challenging Elliot in a “game to end all games”, meaning whoever wins the chess game will then have full control over Elliot’s consciousness. Their face-off leads to several unlikely stalemates, leaving Elliot with the realization that he can’t beat his alter-ego.
Viewers are also given a reunion between Darlene and Cisco, and we learn that the Dark Army is still keeping tabs on fSociety and has knowledge of the FBI’s investigations. It’s unclear as to which side the Dark Army is on, if any, which leads to a panicked Darlene reaching out to Elliot for help. The end of the episode sees Elliot returning to Ray’s house to assist him with his computer problems related to Ray’s eerily cryptic online business. Ray tells him that many prophets admitted to hearing voices, and that this can be divinity if he lets it, which seemingly leaves Elliot more open to suggestion. Instead of delving into the task, Elliot is seen engaging in a conversation with his sister and realizing the gravity of what they’re up against, and we see him begin to return to form for better or for worse.
One of the more extraordinary moments of the episode is a scene between Elliot and Leon, in which his friend tells him to dream in order to find out what his future holds. This is later followed by a dream sequence in which Elliot finds his happy place and discovers what it is he’s fighting for.
Angela is seen fighting her own battles, as she continues her struggle with her position at Evil Corp. After uncovering information about the cover up that killed that killer her mother and Elliot’s father, she attempts to blackmail Price, who even while acknowledging her claim entirely dismisses her, showing just how out of her depth Angela really is despite her newfound confidence.
In the meantime, Joanna Wellick attempts to gain access to Tyrel’s severance package from Scott, who believes her husband killed his wife. While her financial needs are understandable, this seems like a plan unlikely to be successful. She also lets her current boy-toy down in brutally honest fashion in a plotline that seems entirely pointless, leaving viewers wondering where this is goin, as her scenes mostly feel forced and wholly out of place.
This episode saw the narrative progress effectively, although viewers are still left with many questions and are often forced to question if what’s being presented is reality. Oftentimes characters such as Leon seem as if they could be figments of Elliot’s imagination, while Ray could in fact be Elliot’s therapist. We’re left to wonder if Elliot could actually be in an institution or prison of some sort as his reality seems highly distorted, and Mr. Robot is a show well versed in twisting our perception of reality.
Image credits: USA network