It’s 1995. A more innocent time for Elliot and Angela. They’re children, and they’re carefree. They have no idea about the Dark Army or the Deus Group or the evil that runs rampant in the world. Still, Elliot has his own problems, even if he doesn’t know it. He’s talking to Mr. Robot, the persona we now know he created as a wall to fight against the trauma of his father sexually abusing him. Mr. Robot might be present, but things still seem simpler here. Elliot and Angela run around the Queens Museum playing hide and seek. Elliot hides something in the walls in a basement storage area. We’ll get to that later.
Back in the present time, Krista is trying to coax Elliot back from the brink. They have to do something about Vera’s dead body on the apartment floor. Vera’s goons decide they have to go back upstairs because they can’t get a hold of Vera, and because, as one of them puts it, “that was some real cliffhanger shit they left us on.” They find Vera’s body, while Elliot and Krista move down the fire escape and hop into a cab to go to the nearest police station.
Elliot can’t go in. In fact, he feels like he can’t do anything. “What do people do? People like me, when they find out about something like this?” He feels completely unmoored, his whole world shaken. “They just try to keep going,” she says. Easier said than done, but sometimes it is that simple. Not easy, but simple. You don’t overcome trauma, you just keep living from one day to the next until the searing, unbearable pain dulls into a subtle throb, and then you live with the subtle throb for the rest of your life. That’s being human.
Krista tells Elliot that she wants to see him again, that they need to see each other again. For now, she heads into the police station to make her report, and Elliot begins an odyssey of the self. He sees a vision of his younger self, the one from the cold open, and follows him to a subway platform. Elliot follows himself to the Queens Museum. He reckons with his trauma, his younger self helping him pull out his thoughts and feelings. At this moment, Elliot is feeling like a failure, like he’s spent his life running away from his father. He apologizes to his younger self, but Young Elliot doesn’t want to hear it. He shows him something: the wallet they hid all those years ago. Inside is a key to Elliot’s childhood bedroom. The key belonged to their father. “You’ve got it wrong,” says Young Elliot. “I was fighting back,” says Elliot. The first step towards accepting what happened to him, and shifting his perspective.
While all of this is going on, Darlene and Dom are fighting for their lives. Janice wants Elliot’s location, but Darlene refuses to track his phone again. So, Janice stabs Dom in the lung, leaving her to either slowly die, or to pull out the knife and die quicker. Darlene still doesn’t budge, but then Janice starts calling her Dark Army henchmen to order them to kill Dom’s family — who, earlier in the episode, we saw get kidnapped at the hands of a number of masked men — and that forces her hand. She doesn’t want innocent people to die.
She tracks Elliot’s phone, but that only leads the Dark Army to Krista’s place, where the cops are removing Vera’s body. Elliot isn’t there. That sends Janice off the deep end. She’s sick of this. Darlene pleads with her, saying she has no idea where her brother is, but Janice is running out of options. So, she picks up her phone again to call her men with orders to kill Dom’s family. Dom cries, and Darlene looks hopeless. But nobody picks up the phone. Janice tries again; still nothing. Darlene laughs. “It’s probably because of him. You should check my phone, he’s probably been trying to call me.”
Janice checks Dom’s phone, and there’s a number of messages from “Lucky Irish Bastard.” Then, it all clicks into place. Dom found a way to get Deegan out of prison, and in return, he “kidnapped” her family to keep them safe. Janice tries her best to intimidate Deegan, but he’s in no way scared of “the Dark Army lass.” With Janice frustrated and flustered, this is Dom’s one chance. She pulls the knife out of her chest, slices the Achilles heel of one guy, and then grabs a gun and shoots Janice and her two men. Darlene unties her and hands Dom her phone. She calls in her location for immediate help and tells Darlene to leave. Darlene doesn’t want to leave her, but Dom insists. “If you want to help me, go find Elliot and take them down.”
There’s hope yet, then, but it doesn’t feel like it at the end of the episode. “Request Timeout” ends on a sorrowful note. Mr. Robot apologizes to Elliot for keeping secrets and not keeping him safe, and Elliot reconciles with this part of himself, understanding that he is who he is because of Mr. Robot, and he wouldn’t change that. But, he’s still a man in shambles, a man who’s lost something of himself. He weeps and says he can’t do the hack anymore. He’s broken and can’t see any way forward. Just as Elliot is finally approaching the moment he’s been waiting for, he’s dealt a brutal blow that may seal his fate once and for all.
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