Michael Parmelee/USA Network
November 15, 2017 at 11:00 PM EST

Mr. Robot

TV Show
Crime, Drama
Rami Malek, Christian Slater, Portia Doubleday, Carly Chaikin
Current Status
In Season
We gave it an A-

“Eps3.5_kill-process.inc” doesn’t need to indulge in a single-take to amplify the paranoia that last week’s episode expertly laid out. Instead, there’s a constant shift in perspective that drives this episode, and it’s every bit as tense as the previous instalment. As the episode progresses, we get three separate but connected stories: Elliot racing to stop Stage 2, Dom searching for Tyrell after getting a substantial lead, and the unfolding plan of the Dark Army involving Angela and Tyrell. The episode never lingers with each character for long, instead constantly cutting between scenes, which keeps us off guard and in that constant state of anxiety.

Elliot decides that his only option for stopping Stage 2 is to get into the E Corp recovery building that’s being targeted and get on a computer to shut the whole thing down. He calls Darlene and gives her Tyrell’s location, which is Red Wheelbarrow BBQ, and says that she needs to give that information to the FBI. Darlene does, but Dom isn’t given permission to go in with a team. Santiago says they need to wait, because Santiago is working for the Dark Army, whether willfully or under duress. He texts Irving instead, informing him that Tyrell’s location has been burned.

While all of this is going on — while Elliot heads to the E Corp building, Dom decides to “get lunch” at Red Wheelbarrow, and Tyrell learns that the Dark Army may be turning its back on him — Whiterose and Philip Price are celebrating their victory at Mar-a-Lago. They get in a couple shots at Donald Trump and his gaudy style choices and his unbearable stupidity — which, as much as there’s truth there, feels like the show hitting an easy target — before retreating into silence. They have nothing to say to each other. These are people who can only converse when it involves notions of power and influence. Cocktail chat is a waste of time. Whiterose doesn’t waste time.

Whiterose doesn’t waste any time getting Irving to deliver instructions to Tyrell — “nothing’s changed,” she says after being informed that the FBI knows about Red Wheelbarrow BBQ — which kicks off a lengthy stretch of “Eps3.5_kill-process.inc” that’s stunning in its execution. The rapid cuts between scenes convey the sense of urgency driving Elliot, Tyrell, and Dom as they race against different clocks. Elliot is trying to stop Stage 2, Tyrell is trying to save his own life, and Dom is trying to find Tyrell despite the obstruction from Santiago.

It’s a thrilling set of scenes. Elliot’s hinges on a single interesting idea, and one the season’s been exploring all along: Is Mr. Robot a welcome part of Elliot? How much of Mr. Robot is Elliot? Throughout Elliot’s attempts to stop Stage 2, Mr. Robot invades, causing Elliot to lose time. He removes Elliot from the E Corp building in 15 minutes of lost time. He trashes an entire computer lab in five minutes of lost time. He even engages with Elliot via word processing, telling him to get out of the building before they both end up dead.

“Eps3.5_kill-process.inc” feels like the episode the whole season has been building toward. It’s a collapse of everything these characters understand about themselves and their roles in the world, in the Dark Army, in the revolution, and in each other’s lives. When Angela makes her way home on the subway after escaping E Corp, she sits across from two older ladies. Above them hangs a poster for Repulsion, a new play based on Roman Polanski’s film.

There are layers in this moment, as everything collapses. Perspectives shift and change and refuse to clarify. Repulsion is a claustrophobic, horrific exploration of threats both real and imagined, and how the difference doesn’t matter when it comes to trauma. Kaitlin Doubleday is listed as the actress set to reprise the role played by Catherine Deneuve in the film. Kaitlin Doubleday is the sister of Portia Doubleday, who plays Angela on Mr. Robot. What’s real and what’s fabricated? Nobody knows. Everything everyone thought was stable is suddenly unstable. Season 3 is a paranoid thriller in the style of say, BlowoutThe Manchurian Candidate, or, yes, Repulsion.

Even the presence of Mr. Robot is unstable and ever-changing. Just when we think that Mr. Robot is definitively an evil force, he helps Elliot stop the Dark Army from blowing up the New York E Corp recovery building. Now, did he do it because he knows there are no documents in the building, or because Elliot regained some semblance of control over his actions? A question for another day.

For now, all we know is that for a brief moment, the wants of Elliot and Mr. Robot align, and that’s really saying something when you consider that only moments earlier Mr. Robot is flinging Elliot into every surface imaginable, bouncing his head off of walls and pipes. It’s a scene that’s a brief bit of comedy amongst all the anxiousness, especially when an E Corp employee witnesses what Elliot is doing to himself and just keeps walking. (Recap continues on next page)

/ ( 2 of 3 )

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