Elliot's journey into the dark web turns into a nightmare

By Jeff Jensen
August 04, 2016 at 03:51 PM EDT
Peter Kramer/USA Network
S2 E5
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  • TV Show
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The sleeper has awakened. The dark knight rises again. Superman, reborn! Elliot Alderson is hacking again, and damn, if it doesn’t feel good.

We meet him where we left him, sitting at Ray’s computer, working on a scheme to get into the digital mind of the FBI. He talks us through it. Identify and target flaws. Build malware and prepare an attack. Create a reverse shell for a two-stage exploit. Write the script. Launch the attack. If he succeeds, Elliot will own every phone of every FBI agent camped out in E Corp. HQ. He’ll also control E Corp.’s computer network, too.

“I live for this sh-t,” he says.

It might kill him, too.

Honestly, he sounds kinda smug and scary, likening “zero day” vulnerabilities to Christmas presents for him to unwrap and malware to a “programmatic expression of my will.” You know who thinks thoughts like these? Terrorists, megalomaniacal mad men, and comic book super-villains, that’s who. Believe me, I know… I mean, I’m just guessing. But bad guys are always good guys in their own narrative, and right now, Elliot’s having that moment in every superhero origin story when the chosen one delights in newly received power. Or in Elliot’s case, recovered power. It usually comes right before learning the lesson that with great power comes great responsibility.

Before episode’s end, Elliot will experience that, too. Painfully.

The work reminds him of his first hack, the Washington Township Library. Harmless, yes? Who did it hurt, prying into the checkout records of members, peeking at their literary tastes? It was just the snooping of a curious, socially challenged child and a simple test of his developing power. Just a ghost in the machine, haunting the thought life of his town. The reward was magnificent — a simulation of God-like omniscience — and it got him hooked for bigger challenges and riskier curiosities, too.

He loses himself in his work. It’s just him and the computer in the dark of his mind. The screen fragments into split screens, Elliot in one, the computer monitor in another. While Elliot goes on about logic bombs — “malicious code designed to explode under circumstances I have designed” — we see words like “HEAD” and “metadata” and “magic_headers.” The split screens and the phrases speak to the complex program of compartmentalization and rationalization Elliot is running on himself. The objectives: Keep Mr. Robot boxed up and under control. Stay narrowly focused on his private mission, saving Darlene and his fsociety friends. Ignore everything else, like his conscience, that itchy part of his brain that tells him Ray is bad, that his benefactor and employer is all kinds of wrong. What evil lurks in the dark part of his secret website?  

Elliot doesn’t want to know. Yet. For now, he models the everyman strategy for living in moral compromise. Keep your head down. Focus on the survival. Rationalize and deny them. Soon, though, his story will remind us of another tale about curiosity and responsibility, Pandora’s Box. He’ll represent the sneaky peeker, of course, the Jeffrey Beaumont of Blue Velvet who can’t resist a dangerous mystery, who justifies his questionable interest with dubious, high-minded heroism. But he could also represent the content of that box, too. Is he catastrophe or is he hope? Is he both?

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The lights go on. Elliot is pulled out of his head. Lonestar — Ray’s thuggish partner, the brutal yin to his gracious yang — looms next to the desk. He fixes Elliot with his Big Brother’s glare, a mix of distrust and don’t-you-be-f—ing-with-me designed to keep him obedient and on-point. Elliot’s supposed to be repairing Ray’s busted website. How’s that coming? Elliot says something that may or may not be true. He needs the previous system admin, Rat Tail, to transfer an encrypted database. Lonestar balks. Elliot doesn’t flinch. “I’ll talk to Ray, see what’s what,” fumes the goon, stomping away, trailing pout.

The lights dim. Elliot puts the no-peaky blinders back on and gets back to his clandestine labor. Sam Esmail’s camera pulls back and frame starts to shrink toward the bottom of the screen. It creates the effect of putting Elliot in an increasingly tight box, then into a very tight spot — a metaphor for the predicament that would befall him and many others in this episode. 

NEXT: Was “logic-b0mb.hc” the bomb?

Dangerous curiosity. Dubious rationalizations. Boxed-up lives trapped in tight corners. Performance versus authenticity, deception versus sincerity. The thin line between heroism and selfishness. Intimates as corrupting malware. Moral conscience as logic bomb. “logic-b0mb.hc” was all of those things and more, but also less: This episode — the first not written by Esmail (Kyle Bradstreet gets the credit) — was the shortest of the season so far, less than an hour, not counting commercials. While we still got a fair number of scenes that stretched a little longer than needed, there was a minimum of indulgent razzle-dazzle and more attention paid to character. Agent Dom DiPerro and Whiterose, a.k.a. Mr. Zhang, a.k.a. China’s minister of state security, were further developed, and Angela got a break from self-help affirmations and queasy intrigue with Phillip Price (MIA this week) and integrated into the main of Elliot-Darlene-fsociety concerns and relationships. Everyone tried to play hero in their own story. Everyone risked becoming enmeshed in deep, dark webs of conspiracy and madness.

The promise of escalation in plot and pace suggested by last week’s episode (“I’m going to hack the FBI!”) wasn’t quite fulfilled. I was pumped and primed for sweaty-palmed, suspense-driven, and console-jockey jiu-jitsu, but that plot stalled as he and Darlene fought over strategy, namely, recruiting Angela to plant a phone amid the FBI squatters inside E Corp. headquarters. Still, there was some progress and revelation (Ray, you bad man, you broke my heart; I loved you!) and a hail-of-bullets cliffhanger in China (prayers for Dom, please). “logic-b0mb.hc” didn’t fry my grid, but it was a solid jolt.

Before we dig into the recap, a note: I’m going to go light on the “Elliot’s in a mental hospital/prison and his experience is a hallucination” theory this week. But the storytelling continued to suggest it. Ray Heyworth’s computer password? “Caretaker.” Elliot’s dining-room meetings with Darlene and Angela had a visitation-room vibe. Nameless Mom continues to be a bizarre presence, rocking in her chair and watching TV like a kick-back security guard or an inmate in a day room. (I’m beginning to wonder if we’re going to get some spooky Psycho-like reveal with her.)

Angela. Elliot didn’t want to put Angela at risk and told Darlene not to ensnare their childhood friend in fsociety family business. Mr. Robot objected, suggesting some part of Elliot recognized the necessity of Angela’s involvement and maybe wanted it, too. Darlene sided with Ghost Dad. Demonstrating anew her mad home-invasion skills, Darlene infiltrated Angela’s apartment (and futzed with computer; a spyware install?) and leveraged her with the revelation that Elliot had wiped away her tangential involvement in the Five/Nine. Angela owed them. And Darlene — whose people skills are seriously degenerating — had no problem making Angela feel like crap. Unspoken but palpable was the haughty counter-culture revolutionary’s disdain for Angela’s E Corp. sellout. Angela didn’t deserve her respect. She deserved her judgment. More boxing imagery: As Darlene sat with Angela and tried to talk her into the plan, the camera put them on the right side of the screen, framed against a windown, and then zoomed in, boxing them in, the visual matching Darlene’s ploy, a squeeze play.

Angela wanted to squirm out of it. But she reconsidered after an encounter with Ollie, her former Allsafe workplace romance, at their old watering hole, home to Josh Groban Nights and corporate-brand beer. (So many of Angela’s pivot scenes have taken place at bars this season. An interesting factoid about this one: it takes place on June 26, 2015. We know this because of the breaking news on the bar’s television: the Supreme Court’s decision to make marriage equality the law of the land.) Angela initiated the meeting — lonely again, girl? — but he had his own agenda. He tried to reminisce about old times, he tried to bond over shared grief. He talked about Gideon’s killer, a “Five/Nine truther” who believed the attack was a “put-on” and Gideon was an actor in a “crisis performance.” (We know this theory is actually somewhat true, given Price’s alliance with Whiterose.)

But then Ollie betrayed himself. “You think that CD had anything to do with it?” he asked nervously. It was like indulging conspiracy thinking triggered an anxiety that subverted his masquerade, his own “crisis performance.” Angela checked his phone and saw Ollie was recording their conversation. He spilled. The FBI had interrogated him multiple times. He was certain he was being spied on or tailed.* (At that moment, dark-suited men entered the bar.) His lawyer convinced him to trust no one and prove his innocence, however possible. Angela, pissed, dumped his phone in her Bud Light. “My contract was cleared after the hack!” he whined. “I can’t afford a new phone!” Poor, poor Ollie.

*Remember last week, Darlene learned the FBI was executing some kind of surveillance program, codename “Berenstain.” Darlene’s fear/assumption is that the target of this operation is fsociety and anyone suspected of being connected to the Five/Nine hack, but we don’t know for sure if her suspicion is true.

NEXT: Reaching out

During a dining-room summit with Elliot inside The House of Shadows and Foggy Nameless Mothers (Darlene did dub her “She-Devil” this episode), Angela and Elliot reconnected in perhaps the episode’s most emotionally sincere scene (with the heavily qualified exception of the Whiterose-Dom encounter). It stood in stark contrast to what Angela got from Darlene and Ollie, fraudulent intimacy and anxious manipulation. Angela told Elliot she was going to help him hack the FBI and destroy whatever evidence they had on them, mostly out of self-preservation. “Either I act, or I wait to get caught,” she said, continuing the project of taking heroic control of her life and authoring her destiny. But she told Elliot she missed him and asked why he had routinely rejected her bids at “reaching out.”* He explained that at their last meeting, she told him to take care of himself. “I wanted to be okay” Elliot said. “I wanted to stop seeing him.” And? “And… my dead father’s standing behind you right now.” Angela turned to look. Was she actually expecting to see something? Regardless, I found that to be a rather sweet gesture. Her next words were even sweeter. “I can be a friend. Someone to talk to. Who cares about you,” she said. “Who knows? Maybe that will help.” It will! We all need companionship, care, and feeding. Just ask Qwerty.

*Not to rain on anyone’s ‘ship, but I found this more spiritual than possibly romantic, and if I had more time, I’d argue that what Mr. Robot was dramatizing here were ideas culled from Henri Nouwen’s book (Reaching Out) and his concept of relational hospitality (as evidenced by Elliot and Angela’s dining-room connection) versus relational hostility (as evidenced by Angela and Darlene/Ollie). We all need love, care, and feeding. Just ask Fat Qwerty.

With that, Angela fell into the dark web of fsociety. She sealed the deal by traveling a circuitous route involving subways and backtracking cab rides from her skyrise corporate apartment to fsociety HQ, the hacked and hijacked “smart house” of E Corp. counsel Susan Jacobs — a kind of Alice-down-the-rabbit-hole journey into a topsy-turvy mirror world. One more disorientation for a season of full of disorientation. After four hours of reversals in alliances and desires in pursuit of fulfillment and strength, I imagine the dial on her wonky moral compass spinning wildly. Can Angela be trusted? She’s with Team Elliot today. Will she be there tomorrow?

Joanna. Angela wasn’t the only woman who had to deal with a buggy former workmate in this episode. Joanna was summoned by a panicky Kareem — whose silence she’s been buying at great, draining cost — for an imprudent meeting at a local diner. His conscience was getting the best of him. Paranoia, too? He had lied to the FBI. He was convinced they knew it. He was also convinced they were following him, spying on him, tapping him. He could hear the static on the phone, he could hear their voices — ghosts in the machine. His life was now a song by The Police. Every breath you take/every move you make/every bond you break/every step you take/I’ll be watching you.

Kareem couldn’t handle that kind of haunt, that kind of heat. He couldn’t keep Joanna’s secrets anymore, couldn’t keep accepting her hush money. Especially for reasons his cracking mind couldn’t fathom. “Who are we protecting? Some scrawny kid in a hoodie?” He was done. He wanted out of her web.

NEXT: “No problemo.”

Joanna beheld Kareem’s suffering and knew she had to do something about it before it became a problem for her. She, like Angela, wasn’t going to let circumstances or flaky men subvert or rob her agency. She flipped a switch inside her mind labeled “Basic Humanity” and executed a performance of “reaching out.” She allowed her perturbed demeanor to soften. She took his hand and said with a comforting smile, “Thank you for sharing this with me. I promise you, everything will be okay.” It’s chilling to consider that Joanna was actually not being disingenuous, that what she had in mind for Kareem was her idea of doing him a favor.  

Joanna’s solution for Kareem’s existential misery was sicking Mr. Sutherland on him. Rocking a wig and a Katin USA hat stitched with the words “No Problemo” — a hot item these days, I’m told — Joanna’s right-hand man stormed Kareem’s apartment and injected him with a paralyzing drug. The assassin staged Kareem’s body, then shot his helpless victim in the chest and head. Talk about “crisis performance.” Kareem, conscious throughout this horror show, was made to play both actor and audience in the drama of his death.

All of this was done at the very specific direction of the very controlling Joanna. Later, as World’s Best Mom took a break from singing a lullaby to her oh-so-very-lucky baby, she told Mr. Sutherland why: “Killing a man instantly robs him of explanation. He has no time to process his final moments. Now, even though he was paralyzed, his mind was still able to understand why his life was ending. Better to let him die with answers. Otherwise, we’re just ruthless murderers.” You keep telling yourself that, lady. You keep telling yourself that.

Later, Joanna was mulling the mystery of recent gifts delivered by post — a ballerina music box; a silver, duck’s head rattle; a phone — like Mother Mary pondering the secrets of the universe hidden inside her heart, if said heart was actually a frozen rotting husk. Then that phone rang. She heard sounds similar to what Elliot heard when he found himself on the line with Tyrell — sounds not unlike the sounds Kareem described during resignation meltdown. Crackling interference. Breathing? Maybe. And sirens. Definitely sirens. Exactly like the sirens screaming past Joanna’s house. Because whoever was on the phone was out there, too. Zoinks! “Tyrell?!”

Joanna raced outside and stopped in the street. She saw a fire truck turn the corner, but she didn’t see anyone with a phone. Certainly not Tyrell. Or Elliot. Or Men in Black. Maybe her phantom caller left. Maybe he or she or it was always somewhere else. Or maybe Joanna is going crazy.

I mean, crazier than she already is.

Dom. Agent DiPerro’s investigation into Five/Nine took her to Steel Mountain, which we learned was changing its identity in the vain hope of distancing itself from post-Five/Nine lawsuits and bad publicity tarnishing its brand. The company was now calling itself “Steel Valley.” What did Dom think of that? “Honestly,” she said, “it’s pretty terrible.” Dom was more impressed with the hack job her quarry had done on the data-storage facility’s security system. “Geez louise, would you look at that!” Dom, we would learn, is a committed do-gooder, but one who can appreciate the craftsmanship in evil’s handiwork.

Dom’s sleuthing took her to China, too, as Steel Mountain — sorry: Steel Valley — kept backup servers there, too. She wasn’t crazy about this trip. Flying makes her sick. “I throw up on airplanes,” she told a colleague, “so bring a raincoat and nose plugs.” Arriving in Beijing, Dom was without vomit-soaked slicker, thank god, but she did look pooped and stranger-in-a-strange-land disoriented. She caught site of two strange men wearing Dark Army masks riding an escalator. Was Dom seeing clearly, or was her busy but laggy brain projecting things?

The work in China brought Dom face-to-face with another expression of mutable identity, Whiterose, the transgender leader of the Dark Army. Not that Dom knew that. In this episode, Whiterose wore her public persona: Mr. Zhang, China’s minister of state security. Which certainly explains Dark Army’s considerable power and capability. (Elliot. Tyrell. Zhang. Note this recurring theme of “inside men” sabotaging/subverting the institutions they’re employed to serve and protect. Note they also struggle with identity crisis.) Zhang presented a façade of pleasantness, obsequiousness, and graciousness as he played the part of ally, helper, and host. The practiced smile turned upside down when Dom interrupted his polite parlay with her male boss to brusquely inquire about the Dark Army and ask to see China’s files on the group. You could interpret this as Zhang reacting as Whiterose, fretting Dom’s interest in her business. But you could also see Zhang’s disapproval of a woman asserting herself as performance, as part of the whole “Zhang” act. We might wonder if the person Zhang really is and would love to be, at all times and in all places, took an instant shine to Dom in that moment.

NEXT: The clock room

A few nights later, Minister Zhang hosted the FBI contingent at his palatial, exquisitely put-together home. Dom, tipsy, got lost while searching for a bathroom and bumbled into a most curious room filled with clocks of all kinds, rare, handmade, and otherwise, an expression of Whiterose’s obsession with time. The constant tick-tock of all the clocks was rather hypnotic, and throughout the engrossing scene that followed, I wondered if there was some significance to the allusion of mesmerism, of enthralling, manipulative influence. If Dom becomes a member of The Dark Army before season’s end, we’ll say the seduction began here.

Naturally, Zhang discovered Dom in this secret place before she could exit. “You’ve wandered very far from the party,” said Zhang. His tone communicated a scold, an accusation, and a bemused observation all at once. (B.D. Wong’s performance of his character’s ‘performances’ and ambiguities and the scaled progression from veiled to nearly revealed was extraordinary.)

They discussed a point of connection, a certain wooden (cuckoo?) clock. Dom said her parents had one just like that in the family room when she was growing up. Zhang said he purchased his for a steep price in Germany. The seller had said it was one of a kind. “My parents bought theirs at a Kmart in Teaneck,” said Dom. Zhang gave her a look that either said “My, god, you’re such a rube!” or “I think I love you!” Dom — a little drunk — kept up the gumption and asked Zhang to explain the clocks. Her host responded by quoting Macbeth: “Life is but a walking shadow, a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage and then is heard no more.”  

Dom translated this poetry into pop psych. “You’ve surrounded yourself with a constant reminder of mortality.” Zhang’s response: “There is much work to be done, great work. As each second passes, I constantly push myself to keep moving.” Perhaps that was Zhang’s way of confirming her conclusion; perhaps it was a clarification. He pivoted the conversation. Enough about me, Dom. What’s your origin story? How does a girl from Teaneck join the FBI? “I was — I am — disgusted by the selfish brutality of the world,” she said. “But at the same time, I am utterly fascinated by it. The FBI is the perfect place for that kind of contradiction.” Joseph Conrad, author of Heart of Darkness, would say Dom has “the fascination of the abomination.”

That’s not the whole story, and Zhang knew it. But something about Dom’s half-truth clearly speoke to him. The embrace of duality, perhaps. The idealism implicit in her worldview, too. “I have something in my office that I think you might appreciate.” Dom followed.

Above Zhang’s desk hung a woodblock print: 1998.11.15 (1999) by the Chinese artist Fang Lijun, associated with a movement known as “Cynical Realism,” expressing powerlessness and impotence, a dismay with modern society, and confusion with identity. (Or so I have gathered from, like, 10 minutes of web searching.) A quote attributed to Fang Lijun: “The bastard can be duped a hundred times but he still falls for the same old trick. We’d rather be called losers, bores, basket cases, scoundrels, or airheads, than ever be cheated again.”

“The artist strives to create the sensation of one’s loss of identity,” said Zhang of 1998.11.15. “His message is subversive to many in our country, but his work appeals to the masses, and to the individual.” (There are those who might use those same words to describe Mr. Robot, including, apparently, Mr. Robot.)

Dom puzzled over the idea that periods of revolution can create beautiful art. So where’s the beautiful art of the Five/Nine world? “You and I are tracking revolutionaries that have created nothing but turmoil.”

“There’s more to the story,” said Zhang, letting the phrase hang for a moment, as if offering a rejoinder to Dom’s despair before clarifying that his comment is about her. There’s more to the story about why she joined the FBI, isn’t there? There is. In law school, Don explained, there was a man who loved her. One day, in a restaurant, he proposed. She realized she couldn’t accept. Did she know why? Unclear. What she did know was she couldn’t stand to tell him. She excused herself to the bathroom, found the exit, and kept walking. Fast forward several years, and Dom is a field agent for the FBI.

NEXT: Antique dresses and alternate realities

Zhang to show Dom something else, his most valuable treasure, hidden within an illuminated closet. It was collection of vintage and antique dresses. (“They belong to my sister,” said Zhang, a lie. An odd choice. Did he think Dom wouldn’t find that out?) ”Have you ever wondered how the world would look if the Five/Nine hack never happened? How the world would look right now?” said Zhang. “In fact, some believe there are alternate realities* playing out that very scenario. That there are other lives we’re leading. Other people that we’ve become. The contemplation moves me very deeply.”

Zhang’s sincere reverie — delivered movingly by Wong — spoke to his yearning for a world where he is, has been, and always will be Whiterose. The idea of parallel lives, lived concurrently, makes Zhang/Whiterose akin to Elliot/Mr. Robot, too. Was he also expressing regret for the way Five/Nine played out? Or was he going after something different, something more hopeful, that the unfolding story of the Five/Nine conspiracy isn’t yet finished, that there is still hope for metamorphosis and redemption, that art may yet come from turmoil, and other beautiful new creatures, too. Think of Zhang’s “alternate realities” as maybe a gloss on John Lennon’s “Imagine,” but with a sobering, disputable caveat, that catastrophe is a prerequisite for transformation.

*I still contend we were set up for this business of “alternate realities” last week via the name drop of “Berenstain.” In case you missed that part of the recap, you can click here to read what The Berenstain Bears has to do with multiverse theory.

Okay. But why share this with Dom? Was he trying to minister to her spirit and her considerations of identity by inspiring her with a dream and bit of Dancing Wu Li mystical quantum physics? Or did he simply want to be known and connect, one budding butterfly reaching out to another? TBD. Before Dom could respond, the many clocks in Zhang’s time palace struck 12. He decided their extended moment together had come to an end, and he escorted her back to the party.

The next morning, a groggy, hungover Dom joined her FBI colleagues in the hotel lobby for breakfast. She was dishing about her encounter with Zhang and the intel she had just discovered: The dude had no sister. As Dom made her way to the buffet to grab some coffee, we were served a jolting shocker. Masked men, at least two, stormed the lobby, machine guns blazing. Everyone went down in hail bullets except for Dom. She took cover, grabbed a gun, and returned fire. She put one bad guy down with a shot to the knee. She had a chance to finish him off with a headshot. Instead, the injured rogue did the job for her, blowing his brains out with a pistol. Weird. Another shooter popped into frame behind his dead comrade and began firing at Dom, and we left her pinned and boxed in behind the breakfast buffet, shaking with adrenaline, fear, and a discombobulated WTF?!

As reminders of mortality go, my guess is Dom would prefer a watch.

Theory! The attack was more very real “crisis performance,” a psych-op drama that’s part of Whiterose’s plan to bring Dom into the Dark Army fold.

Elliot. It was thrilling to see him reconnect with his power, re-engage with Darlene and Angela, and take a redemptive interest the world. That part of his brain itchy with Ray suspicion? He couldn’t keep it compartmentalized. He just had to scratch it. And he needed Rat Tail to help him do it. At the basketball courts, where Hot Carla presided over another ceremonial burning in her pull-wagon altar-cauldron, Elliot boldly worked on Ray, coaxing him to grant access to R.T. Ray was distracted by his ailing dog, Maxine, and maybe softened by her condition, too. He dropped his opposition and decided to trust Elliot. “You say you need him, let’s need him.”

NEXT: Into the dark web

When Elliot finally got a look at R.T., he couldn’t stop staring at the bruises, the scabs, the burst blood vessels in his eye — the remaining evidence of the beating he took from Lonestar a couple episodes ago. Elliot’s scrutiny made R.T. uncomfortable. Elliot’s persistent questions about the secrets of Ray’s website — a dialogue conducted via notes in a Word document right under Lonestar’s nose — made R.T. downright nervous. R.T. wanted Elliot to cool it, quit, just leave him alone already, but Elliot kept up the pressure and R.T. had no choice to comply; Elliot had him boxed in and cornered. He divulged it was a hidden site, located on a Tor server. “Do the math.” Elliot surely knew the implication, that they were dealing with some black-market business on the deep web. But he wanted to see it. R.T. walked him up to it, inputting a url (Midcityp3cw5zldy.onion) and a username (dread_pirate_roberts, the masked, romantic antihero from The Princess Bride), and then he walked away. Would Elliot do it? Would he click on the site? Would he peek inside Pandora’s Box? Do we want him to?

Of course we do.

And he did.

“Midland City” — an “anonymous marketplace” — was a black-market site offering an array of products and services catering to the fallen and depraved. Drugs. Rocket launchers. Quick-kill hitmen. Sex trafficking. Elliot — whom we met in the pilot busting a kid-porn network — clicked on that folder. He saw a picture of a 17-year-old girl named Natchaya, born and raised and abducted from Thailand, currently held in the European Union but available for a price. And with that, the logic bomb that is Elliot’s conscience went kablooey. Mr. Robot begged him to play the long game, to stay on task with the FBI hack and not do anything to jeopardize it. Elliot couldn’t ignore the injustice right in front of him, the suffering calling out for a Good Samaritan. But his superhero virtue did seem a little compromised by narcissism. I could destroy [Ray] in under two minutes at a terminal! boasted Elliot. You’re only thinking of yourself! chastised Mr. Robot. I’m thinking of us, and I’m thinking of those people in the pictures. I can help them! countered Elliot. We have other battles to fight! argued Mr. Robot. What else is new? responded Elliot.

Did their conflict resonate with you? Elliot — and the show — seemed to think it should.

“A logic bomb explodes at a specific time or when a specific condition is met. And now you’ve met Ray’s black market of evil. Mr. Robot can deny it all he wants, but I can’t. Can you?” It was a provocative dig that seemed to be asking us to reflect on how we respond to the problem of evil in our everyday lives. Please, take a moment to make like Zhang and give it some deep contemplation. I’ll wait…

So anyway, high-and-mighty Elliot resolved to take down Ray… right after he got a good night’s rest. (Sorry, Natchaya. Thinking about saving you is just so exhausting!) Talk about falling asleep on the job. Elliot was sleeping the in his bedroom cell inside his mother’s house when two goons rousted him from bed and carried him outside. (How did they sneak in without being detected by She-Devil mom? Maybe they attended Darlene’s seminar on DIY effortless home invasion.) They were joined by Lonestar — who had tortured a confession out of R.T. by scalping his rat tail — and a sullen Ray. With a nod, Elliot’s beatdown makeover began. Now he and R.T. can compare shiners, provided R.T. is still alive. Elliot wanted to be hope for a world plagued with evil. Instead, his curiosity had unleashed more woe and purchased a world of pain for himself. Kid, this ain’t the Washington Township Library anymore.

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