Coming down from the shock of last week’s ending, the latest episode of Mr. Robot managed to be just as powerful—and possibly more so—in a much quieter way, beginning with a bitter sweet cold open.
Did you ever wonder how Elliot got his betta fish? No, probably not, but Elliot and Shayla’s origin story managed to be an emotional, low-key way of reinforcing the loss from last week. The pain was doubly strong because their initial conversation makes it clear that Shayla wouldn’t have gotten involved with Vera if it hadn’t been for Elliot’s special request. If you’re beginning to get the feeling that Shayla’s death rests at least partially on Elliot’s hands, don’t worry. You’re not the only one.
After the flashback, we rejoin our characters in the present day, which happens to be a month after Shayla’s murder, and the show happily reminds us with lines like, “Come on, it’s been a month” and, “You’re that girl from a month ago” and, “How many days are in a month? Thirty or 31, the same number of days that it’s been since Shayla died.” Fine, I made up that last one, but I have a hard time ignoring the necessary evil of exposition like that.
Anyway, one month after showing up at Terry Colby’s door, Angela has made a little progress toward getting the former Evil Corp exec to go on the record about the Washington Township toxic waste dump. She and her lawyer managed to get into a room with his legal team, so that’s a start. But the next step is going to be big one. The main condition of a meeting with Colby would be that Angela has to speak to him alone, putting her in a vulnerable position where he could potentially tell her to put his balls in her mouth. Actually, that’s exactly what happens. It’s one thing to be a conscienceless exec who doesn’t have any qualms with poisoning and killing innocent people as long as it’s a profitable endeavor. It’s an entirely next level kind of douchebaggery to be that and a misogynist pig on top of it.
Angela did the right thing in the situation though and just reminded Colby how pathetic he is and that it’s only a matter of time before everyone around—whether they know him or not—loses respect for him. (Hey, it worked!) She also mentions that that fate is something they share, but it’s not immediately clear why that’s the case—whether she’s referring to the malicious software she knowingly infected Allsafe with or not. But based on her later conversation with Gideon, it’s clear that her bargain with Colby means exchanging his Washington Township testimony for hers, saying she broke the chain of custody on the incriminating DAT file, something that could ruin the company.
NEXT: A bevvy of problems for Human Resources…
Business etiquette can be tricky. Just ask Tyrell Wellick. He made a few textbook mistakes over the course of this week’s episode. Let’s see if we can break them down, shall we? First, when confronted with a homophobic subordinate, who happens to be referencing the very kind of sexual escapade you yourself embarked on weeks before, you shouldn’t scream “You’re fired!” and then fire the other two people in the room. That could be perceived as rash and kind of psycho, even if the move is kind of awesome and deserved.
But the biggest etiquette takeaway from this week’s episode arises during Scott Knowles’ promotion party. If you’ve already made the mistake of purposefully walking into the bathroom while a co-worker’s spouse is taking a whiz, you should not double down on the advance at the behest of your pregnant wife. And the roof of a skyscraper is no place for a meeting, especially one that results in an encounter of a sexual manner. It should be noted here that it doesn’t matter whether the spouse of your co-worker insults you, calling you pathetic for making such advances in an attempt to derail a promotion that has already occurred because it looks desperate. That’s no reason to strangle her to death, which would be the worst mistake to make here.
But at least he wiped away her DNA from his mouth and hers from his. That’s polite.
And now it’s time for the weekly installment “Is Mr. Robot just an invention of Elliot’s deteriorating psyche?” (I should come up with a better title for that.)
Mr. Robot is getting antsy. It’s been too long since fsociety has done any fsociety-ing, so there are a few things that need to change. He convinces Darlene to get the Dark Army back, which she insists is next to impossible since the battalion of hackers cut off ties pre-Steel Mountain, but the Robot has a plan. He’s calling in the big gun: the mysterious White Rose, a figure whose very existence is debated. Should we start taking bets on the identity of White Rose? Wellick? Knowles? Flipper? Since he/she accepted Darlene’s invite, I suspected we’ll find out soon.
And, in the tradition of D2: The Mighty Ducks, Mr. Robot and Darlene begin getting the team back together. First up are Romero, who has been busy infusing lotion with THC, and Trenton, who’s back at school. Both former fsociety-ers are having crises of faith, but Mr. Robot and Darlene have two very different approaches to address their doubt. The latter gives a speech about the infinitesimal chances of ever crossing paths, while the former puts a gun to Romero’s head.
So, is Mr. Robot just an invention of Elliot’s deteriorating psyche? I don’t know. Maybe. He sure is crazy though.
Unsurprisingly, Elliot is in a bad way. He blames himself for Shayla’s death, since he was the reason behind her connection to known psycho Fernando Vera, and his court-ordered therapy sessions are coming to an end. What’s possibly worse is that Elliot’s coping mechanisms are kicking into high gear, and soon Shayla will just be a “girl he knew that died.” But time off isn’t what he needs, as he tells Gideon. He tells himself that all he needs is to wipe his computer again after expunging it of his hacked Shayla info—burned to a CD labeled “The Cure,” of course—but the real solution is still a breakthrough away.
Elliot’s storyline also took a curious detour as Flipper ate a computer component that he meant to microwave. It’s curious in the amount of time we spend discussing the detail at the vet’s office, which had no real payoff in the episode. Is there going to be a piece of data that Elliot will need to retrieve once Flipper barfs it up?
The episode ended with a gut punch just as potent as last week’s twist and yet another spectacular performance from Rami Malek. When he shows up at Krista’s office voluntarily, it’s clear that something is up, and what’s up is that he’s ready to come clean. Completely clean. He tells Krista everything, every detail of his hack on her, his compulsion to do the same to everyone he meets, the crushing loneliness he’s desperate to rid himself of. Therapy works, and it just totally broke Elliot.
What does this mean for him going forward, especially as fsociety prepares another attempt at Steel Mountain? I’m not sure, but I’m seeing the beginnings of season one’s end game. And I have the feeling that Mr. Robot will not disappoint with its final three hours.