WHAT’S IN THE TRUNK?! That’s the question I was yelling at the screen as dread washed over my entire body while Elliot, keys in hand, walked towards a nearby car. Okay, maybe I wasn’t yelling, but the whole dread thing is still true. Before we find out what was in said trunk, however, let me give you a rundown of the first 50 or so minutes that led up to the tension-filled scene.
Last week’s episode of Mr. Robot saw an anxious Elliot thrown into the belly of the beast, Steel Mountain, to plant a raspberry pi within the facility that would fry all of Evil Corp’s files. Though the hooded hacker was successful, the realization that one of FSociety’s important collaborators was “out” of the mission was a blow the group wasn’t expecting. To make matters worse, Elliot comes home to find out that Shayla—his new girlfriend and pretty much the only person he feels somewhat comfortable with— has been abducted by Fernando Vera’s thugs. This final moment is what the entirety of Elliot’s actions in this week’s episode center around.
Since Elliot is clearly the most quotable character on television this summer, I give to you, his opening line:
“I feel the sensation, fight or flight. It’s constant. I should just pick one. I Elliot Alderson am flight. I am fear, I am anxiety, terror, panic.”
Though he normally lets his fear get the best of him, Elliot uses his panic to fuel his ability to fight for Shayla’s life. At the beginning of the episode, he is allowed to meet up with her in a restaurant. They have a short exchange in which Elliot expresses how sorry he is for being the reason she’s in this life-threatening situation. Clearly feeling betrayed, she cuts him short with a simple “You promised me,” before getting violently ripped from the table by Fernando Vera’s thugs. The scene was jarring, yet I have to question whether or not she was really there. One of the main reasons for this is that nobody in the restaurant blinks an eye when Shayla gets dragged away. I have a theory on this, but I’ll get to that in a minute.
Immediately after this moment, Elliot is taken into another room where he receives a call from Vera. After giving him a spiel about the “true meaning” of both of their names, he tells Elliot that he craves his power. He wants to be “hacked out of prison” and fast because his life is on the line. Elliot informs him that something like that might be possible, but would take weeks to manage. After he tells Vera that they have to let Shayla go, Vera cryptically replies, “She’ll be there tonight, too. It will be one big happy happy.”
I’m glad Vera was brought back into the fold, despite the fact that it involves the abduction of Elliot’s girlfriend. He’s by far one of the most threatening characters in the show, which, just like Rami Malek’s portrayal of Elliot, is in large part thanks to Elliot Villar’s excellent acting. He’s spurred the normally cautious, anxious and paranoid protagonist into action, making for an episode that is even more intense than the one last week where Elliot nearly got caught.
With no choice but to attempt to meet Vera’s demands, Elliot races against the clock to figure out how to hack into the prison’s network. Though it seems like he might have found a way in–thanks to a flash drive Darlene dropped in the parking lot of the prison–this plan comes crashing down as the computer’s antivirus picks it up and identifies it as malware. Frustrated, Elliot ditches the thugs and takes Flipper out for a walk only to find Darlene waiting for him in an alleyway nearby. She stresses the fact that she needs more than an hour to pull it off and tells him that she’s going to go in and demand just that from Vera’s men. Just as she says that, one of the guys rounds the corner and forces her up to the apartment. If you’re keeping track, that makes two lives Elliot has endangered.
Meanwhile, Angela—who at the end of last episode discovered that her father was buckling under a mountain of debt—is on a mission to re-open the case against Evil Corp. She spends this episode researching the company’s involvement in the toxic waste scandal that cost tons of lives, including that of her mother and Elliot’s father. After collecting more proof, she reaches out to several of the lawyers who were originally on the case. She’s turned away by all but one, which gives her a faint glimmer of hope. Unfortunately, once she shows up (in the morning, mind you), the lady lawyer is already a few drinks in, and despite her hatred for E Corp, isn’t eager to help.
This brings Angela to Elliot’s apartment, frantically ringing the buzzer and telling him she needs to talk to him. Vera’s men tell Elliot to go downstairs to shut her up, because she’s drawing attention and wasting valuable time. Once he gets downstairs and opens the door, she tells him that they’ve both known for a long time that E Corp was behind their parents’ deaths, but they never had enough proof. She explains how she’s been doing research and may have a plan that could change the world. Knowing he needs to tell her what she wants to hear, Elliot tells her to go with her gut. They hug and she leaves with a look of relief on her face.
Elliot then heads back up to his apartment, bumping into Mr. Robot on his way up. This is his only appearance in the episode, and he uses it to act as Elliot’s conscience. He explains to Elliot that Shayla was dead from the moment she started working for Vera, so the best case scenario would be for him to call the cops, and just let her become a memory. Elliot dismisses the idea and heads back upstairs.
With a determined look on his face, he tells the group in his home that he has a plan, and that they need to get to the prison immediately. Once there, Elliot gets out of the car and walks to the prison to have a chat with Vera. He tells him that his plot involves opening all of the prison cells, so the hack doesn’t get traced back to either of him. During this conversation, his cell phone is in the office of the police station, gathering intel that will help him sneak into the network. Clearly excited, the former drug lord stands up but is told to sit down by Elliot, who reveals that he hacked his brother’s phone, and now has access to his entire business. He uses it as blackmail to get Vera to agree to spare both his and Shayla’s lives.
Though he feels triumphant after that last move, Elliot realizes that the system’s WPA 2 will make it hard to hack. He then sees a laptop from a nearby vehicle pop up on the network and decides to use that as a way to hack the system. Since he only needs about 30-40 seconds with the system, the group sits in the car as Darlene goes over to distract the officer in the car. The plan’s successful and they now have a way in.
Luckily, the hack works and Vera, along with the rest of the prisoners, are officially free from the chains that bind them. When he shows up, Vera shoots his brother (because he blamed him for getting arrested). When Elliot demands to know where Shayla is, Vera tosses him some keys and tells him she was with him the whole time. With a look of horror on his face, Elliot walks to the car and opens the trunk of the car they’d been driving around in. He looks down, but the camera only shows her legs. After a few minutes, wracked with tension, the camera finally pans down and shows Shayla. She’s dead. The only person who Elliot has truly connected to is dead, and my heart aches for him as he reaches out to see if it’s true.
The final moments of the episode were gut-wrenching and a complete shock. Elliot has come a long way since the beginning of the season, and I’m curious to see how he copes with losing Shayla. The fact that he had a hand in her death is liable to eat at him, and push him back to his nasty habit. As for the theory I teased at the beginning of this recap, I think Shayla might have already been dead. I could be wrong, but the way nobody in the restaurant looked up when she was taken, makes me think this was probably the case. Either that, or Vera’s minions killed her right away. Since Vera told Elliot that she’d been with him the whole time, it’s the only scenario that makes sense.
What did you think of the shocking ending? Was it necessary? Let us know in the comments below.