There are some strange things happening to Elliot’s relationship with MR. ROBOT in this week’s episode that take even his alter ego by surprise. With Mobley and Trenton having vanished, Darlene and Elliot are the only members of fsociety left to finish their mission. What is phase 2, and what does The Dark Army have planned?
So the big reveal a couple of episodes back was that Elliot was in prison the entire time, and everything we saw about Ray and his website were all just figments of Elliot’s imagination. This episode starts out showing us the reality of his situation so there’s no more lies between Elliot and the viewer. Why was he in jail? The knock on Elliot’s door at the end of season 1 was the police. They arrested him because he stole his therapist’s boyfriend’s dog and hacked his social media accounts. It’s really just a trivial charge, and his lawyer tells him he can get him off easy if he just pleads not guilty, but when the time comes, Elliot pleads guilty of all charges and is sentence to 18 months in jail for his felony charges.
Why did he do it? He wanted to get rid of Mr. Robot, but we know how that worked out. He needed a monastic routine, and he thought the regimentation of prison would be what helped him clear his head of his alter ego. Elliot built an elaborate alternate reality to help him get through the prison time, but it all unraveled. How much of the alternate reality was based on actual fact is up for debate, but it turns out Ray is the prison warden, and his goon is a prison guard. Leroy is real, and watches Elliot’s back, but the real reason Elliot is released from prison seems to be the hack he created. Since it wreaked havoc on the financial systems in America, they’re letting nonviolent criminals out of jail early to save money. Did White Rose have anything to do with his release? It’s unclear at this point.
Darlene is waiting to pick Elliot up from prison, but they are being watched. Is FBI surveillance still following them even after the operation Berenstain debacle? Maybe. Darlene catches Elliot up to speed on Mobley and Trenton’s disappearance, and Romero’s death. Are Mobley and Trenton on the run together or has The Dark Army taken them out? They need to find out, and at the same time also figure out what phase 2 of the hack is supposed to be according to The Dark Army. The only ally they have left is Cisco, and he’s still a little upset Darlene hit him in the head with a bat, but his connections to The Dark Army are useful.
The one big problem for Elliot is he’s having moments of being outside of himself watching Mr. Robot interact with Darlene and Cisco, only to snap back into Mr. Robot’s place. How is this possible? Are they losing a connection to each other? If so why is this happening? It freaks Mr. Robot out, and the lines between himself and Elliot are blurring. There’s even a moment when Elliot refers to himself as Mr. Robot, but then catches himself when Darlene and Cisco look at him like he’s crazy. Is he losing himself to his alter ego? It’s a troubling development, and adds another layer to his unreliable POV.
Zhang/The White Rose has an interesting past with E-Corp. It turns out the Washington township plant that killed Angela’s mother and Elliot’s father is his doing. The last CEO of E-Corp tried to shut it down, and Zhang had the man killed in a plane crash that appeared to be accidental, but was not. He’s beginning to think the same fate would be appropriate for Price. When they meet, Price turns Zhang’s veiled threats on their ear by blackmailing him into making China bailout E-Corp with a huge cash loan at zero percent interest since the Federal government wouldn’t do it. In exchange he’ll see that the Washington Township Plant continues to run. If Zhang doesn’t do what Price says, the Federal government is going to seize the plant. Price has Zhang right where he wants him.
Angela hacks all of the documents on the Washington Township plant, and it shows the cover-up by E-Corp and their negligence in her mother’s and Elliot’s father’s deaths. The plant is still kicking out poisonous levels of toxicity. It’s a huge deal, and she thinks she’s really going to stick it to E-Corp this time. Only when Angela brings what she has to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission it becomes ominously clear they are in either E-Corps or Zhang’s pockets, and she gets the hell out of there as fast as she can. Dom shows up at her apartment and throws her a lifeline, but Angela is afraid Dom is working for E-Corp as well. In reality, it appears Dom is Angela’s only true hope to get justice for what happened to her mother.
Cisco uses his connections to get Elliot a meeting with The White Rose’s second in command, but he’s hacked the man’s phone so they can listen in on his conversations. The plan is to demand to know what phase 2 is going to be, and then when The Dark Army leaders talk about it, Elliot and Darlene will be able to listen to everything. Darlene realizes she left an fsociety tape at Susan Jacob’s house, and it could incriminate all of them, so Cisco goes to retrieve it. He finds it, but there’s someone at Susan’s house. Darlene listens to White Rose tell her second in command that phase 2 was Elliot’s plan. She’s confused, and there’s a knock on the door. We don’t see who it is when she opens it up. Elliot goes back to his old apartment, but see’s Tyrell’s car parked in front of it. Joanna Wellick is waiting for him.
One of the other highlights of the episode, was some incredibly gorgeous camera angles and shots. I was especially impressed during the scene between Zhang and Price. There were moments that reminded me of Last Year At Marienbad, and there was something about the balance of the frame with the two umbrellas that was really evocative. I don’t talk about cinematography and shot selection enough in these reviews, but the look of the show has been fantastic again this season.
If Elliot came up with phase 2 but forgot it was his idea what does that mean? Was it Mr. Robot who came up with it, and since he’s having weird separations of reality between himself and his alter ego, will he still be able to pull it off? Can Angela help them all by trusting Dom and giving her the information she has on E-Corps negligence in the Washington Township Plant? Who’s at the door, and where are Mobley and Trenton?
Season 2, Episode 9 (S02E09)
Mr. Robot airs Wednesdays at 9PM on USA
For six months out of the year Jeff is holed up in his home with nothing to do but shovel snow, watch television, write, and dream of warmer climates.
Jeff Iblings | Contributor