It’s hard to believe, but we’ve already reached the mid-point of Mr. Robot’s first season, and to be honest, we’re still not sure what’s actually going on (in a good way). Similar to a game of Hokey Pokey, our protagonist Elliot has spent the the first few episodes of USA’s hit tech-thriller teetering back and forth between either being in or out of the hacking crew FSociety—finally landing feet first in the circle of underground hackers, poised to take down the man. But, surprise, surprise, what appeared to have been the perfect plan has been shaken all about (sorry, not sorry) during this week’s episode, and we’re curious to see how Elliot’s going to cope.
After facing somewhat disturbing hallucinations courtesy of his drug withdrawals last week, Elliot finally seemed to have found clarity, and was on a direct path towards exacting revenge on the company that took his father from him at a young age. Because it wouldn’t really make for the most exciting show if Mr. Robot’s carefully placed dominoes toppled like they were supposed to, episode 5 “3xpl0its.wmv” faked us out and took a sharp left turn—further complicating things for Elliot, Darlene, and the rest of FSociety.
With the theme of last week’s episode being “daemons,” the driving force behind this week was how to take those weaknesses and exploit them. Following the trend of previous episodes, Elliot discusses this via an internal monologue towards the beginning of the episode where he notes:
“People always make the best exploits. I’ve never found it hard to hack most people. If you listen to them, watch them, their vulnerabilities are like a neon sign screwed into their head.”
With that mentality in mind, the episode kicks off with Mr. Robot sneakily making a copy of a Steel Mountain access card via bumping into one of the company’s employees at a nearby coffee shop—once again demonstrating how frightening and easy it is to steal information without people knowing. Saddled with the info they needed, the team slipped an earbud in Elliot’s ear, and pushed the socially awkward loner towards the lobby of the facility. After being turned away and told by an employee that he had to make an appointment, Elliot convinced the guy to give him a tour of the building and voila, just like that, he was in.
But, since he isn’t really here for a tour, Elliot quickly exploits his tour guide Bill’s unfortunate loneliness, by completely crushing the guy’s happiness (POOR BILL. He needs a hug) in order to move on to his supervisor. It was heart-breaking to see Elliot do this, especially after watching him have a flashback of his mother doing the exact same thing to him, but he did it without flinching because it had to be done.
Without time to apologize for what he said, the team realizes that the woman who is called in Bill’s stead is not the woman they’d prepared for. In fact, they can’t find any dirt on her and everybody starts to panic until they come up with a plan to pull her away from Elliot by sending her a dire text from her husband’s phone. With her now out of the way, Elliot heads to the elevator but comes to the terrible realization that in order to get to the second floor where the files are, he needs to scan his palm. In a panic, Elliot heads to the stairs and runs into Tyrell Wellick on the way.
Elliot quickly makes up a lie about why he’s there and Wellick either buys it or doesn’t care enough to raise an alarm. He’s then invited to eat lunch with Wellick who proceeds to tell Elliot that he knows he’s the one who framed E. Corp’s former CTO Terry Colby because it’s public record that his father worked there before. But, he doesn’t have proof, and doesn’t care enough to turn him in because all he really wanted to know was Elliot’s weakness. He tells Elliot that, “even extraordinary people are driven by human banalities, and unfortunately we’re all human. Except me.”
A paranoid Elliot sits with Wellick at a table for two while the pompous E. Corp employee comments on the waiter’s lack of accomplishments and how he could never handle that kind of lifestyle. Elliot manages to slip away to the bathroom where he nervously vomits and wonders whether he was Wellick’s “malware.” After being joined in the bathroom by Wellick, Elliot had enough time to secure the raspberry pi and high-tail it out of there.
Despite his valiant efforts, Darlene reveals the devastating news that the Dark Army had pulled out before FSociety even infiltrated Steel Mountain, which infuriates Mr. Robot. Though he’s had fits in the past, it was curious to see Darlene actually interacting with him during his tirade while Elliot stood on the sidelines. In any case, when Darlene threatens to set the raspberry pi off anyways without the Dark Army on their side, Mr. Robot begins to berate her about how it is a bad idea, but is interrupted by Elliot who tells the team that they will hold off and figure it out later.
We also got to see Angela finally tell her scumbag of a boyfriend Ollie that they were through and that she used his computer to infect Allsafe’s network. After crushing him, she headed back to her childhood home and was greeted by a supportive father and some interesting paperwork related to E. Corp Health Insurance. With Angela being pushed further and further to the edge, I’m hoping she snaps and gets tangled up with the main plot’s events alongside Elliot.
Aside from Angela’s developing plot line, Tyrell Wellick is also being fleshed out as a semi-insecure schemer who’ll do anything it takes to score the role of CTO of Evil Corp. In addition to his encounter with Elliot this episode, he also acted on the knowledge he gained two episodes ago about E. Corp’s ideal CTO candidate. He and his wife end up having dinner with the guy and his wife, and are able to successfully separate the two after the meal. When the wife heads off to the bathroom, Wellick walks in on her and stares her down, forcing her to spread open her legs. This was an odd scene, but I’m assuming he’s just looking for some sort of blackmail material.
As for Shayla, well, things aren’t looking to hot for her despite the fact that she’s got a new job as a plaid shirt-wearing waitress. If it wasn’t bad enough already that her main profession was ripped out from under her, she’s still dealing with the repercussions of Elliot’s decision, and has been abducted by her former supplier/sexual abuser Fernando while he sits in prison.
So, in one short episode, Elliot’s whole world has been flipped upside down again, and I can’t wait to see where they take the plot next.
What did you think of this week’s episode? Let us know in the comments below.