NOTE: This post contains spoilers for episode 2 of USA’s television show Mr. Robot.
Remember back in May when I told you that USA’s new television show Mr. Robot “has potential to be one of the best shows of the summer?” While I can’t completely confirm whether or not that’s true yet, the second episode “ones-and-zer0es.mpeg” (yes, really) is definitely in favor of that statement. Sure, it doesn’t have the the wow factor the pilot episode had, but it continues to keep me on my toes, and intrigued about the world Rami Malek’s Elliot and Christian Slater’s Mr. Robot both inhabit.
While episode one “hellofriend.mov” (seeing a trend here?) was all about introducing you to the socially anxious, possibly delusional hacker Elliot Alderson, this episode was centered around decisions. More specifically, Mr. Robot’s inquiry as to whether Elliot is a 1 or a 0. But wait, you ask, what does that even mean? Well, if you didn’t know already, this show is about a hacker, so what better metaphor to use for a black and white, pivotal question than binary code. What Mr. Robot wants to know is whether Elliot wants to become a part of his underground hacking ring, or whether he is going to walk out the door and sulk back to the mega corporation he works for.
“Tell me one thing Elliot, are you a one or a zero? That’s the one question you have to ask yourself. Are you a ‘Yes’ or a ‘No’? Are you going to act or not?” – Mr. Robot
That isn’t the only question our protagonist is faced with. In fact, Elliot is hit with a myriad of decisions including an offer at the very beginning of the episode. When the Senior VP of Tech at Evil Corp. Tyrell Wellick — surrounded by “11 of our most annoying lawyers” — offers Elliot a position at Evil Corp, he turns it down without flinching despite the fact that the big boss man tells him he’d be a multimillionaire within the next five years.
After walking out of the office, Elliot is escorted away from the premises by a black suit wearing man — one of the many he continues to see following him around in public throughout the episode. When he finally makes it home, he finds his drug dealer Shayla outside and scores some morphine off her despite her hesitance. Now that he’s good and self-medicated, he hacks into Tyrell’s emails only to find a happy individual without any dirt.
Whether it is because of the serious amount of drugs he just took, his obvious psychiatric issues, or Evil Corps VP actually being on to him, a paranoid Elliot freaks out and dismantles and demolishes the PC he was using. Judging by the way the scene was constructed, I’m still of the opinion that he’s experiencing delusions of grandeur and that none of this is real. Prior to getting his hack on, he snorts a ton of narcotics and talks aloud to no one, bringing another part of himself to the surface because he needs him more than ever now. I think at the moment, I’m also going to add dissociative identity disorder to his list of potential issues.
Moving on. If Elliot wasn’t confused enough by the supposed war waging between Mr. Robot’s crew of hackers and the mega corporations of the world, FSociety releases a video threatening to dump all of the sensitive information it gained unless the FBI releases their leader Colby. Wait, what? But, wasn’t FSociety working against E Corp? Now they want its CTO released because he is their leader? On the surface the fact that Colby is being named their leader sounds odd, but I’m guessing the monopoly mask wearing Mr. Robot did so in order to keep up the ruse that he was the one who hacked the company.
As you can imagine, this Anonymous-styled video confuses Elliot even more and pushes him to seek out Mr. Robot to find out more. Upon arrival, the team congratulates him for his part in the hack, and lets him in on the next step of the plan: they want him to help blow up a natural gas plant near Albany. Why? Because the plant is next to a data storage facility for “every company in the S&P” which of course includes E Corp.
In spite of his wrongdoings, Elliot’s morals seem in check when points out that people would die as a result of that act of terrorism. To this Mr. Robot enters into the 1 or a 0 monologue — which you can relive here — with the below statement:
“The world is a dangerous place Elliot, not because of those who do evil but because of those who look on and do nothing. This is war, people will die. C’est la monde.”–Mr. Robot
However, like at the beginning of the episode, Elliot turns down the offer and walks out the door and back to Shayla’s apartment where he meets her supplier Fernando Vera. Something’s up with this guy, and after finding Shayla bruised and asleep in her bath tub without any recollection of how she got there, he decides that “he [Fernando] can’t be allowed to exist anymore,” and comes up with ways to turn him into the police for his criminal behavior despite the fact that he’ll be losing his drug of choice in the process.
Clearly troubled, Elliot takes a trip to meet with his therapist Krista Gordon and reveals that he’s worried about his life spinning out of control and also gets upset after mentioning that his father died from cancer as a result of his job — which we later find out was with E Corp. Aha, the reason for the vendetta against the Evil Corporation is revealed. I think the thing I like about his cliché therapist meetings is that it gives us an outside perspective of what might really be going on with Elliot and the rest of the show. While it seems believable throughout the episode, hitting this therapy scene makes us question everything, which is a pretty intriguing way of keeping the audience guessing as to what’s coming next.
He then makes the trek out to Coney island to meet with Mr. Robot once more, with a plan to facilitate the data dump without harming innocent people. Mr. Robot reminds him that when he walked out that door, it meant he was out and that there was no way back in unless he makes up for it by telling him how his father died. He reveals that he was close with his father but things went sour after he broke the promise that he wouldn’t tell his mother about the leukemia. To this Mr. Robot asks if he ever thought his father was right for pushing him away after having his trust betrayed, and pushes him off the railing saying “you didn’t commit to the sacred pact you formed.”
So, is Elliot a 1 or a 0? Judging by his return to Mr. Robot, I’m guessing he’s all in with FSociety. But, I guess we’ll just have to find out next week.
What did you think of this episode? What will happen next for Elliot? Let us know in the comments below, or start a conversation with me on Twitter: @sam3214.