Mr. Robot: Eps1.2d3bug.mkv

Posted on July 09, 2015

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Rami Malek and Christian Slater in USA Network’s “Mr. Robot.”

This show is determined to make every recap title look like a typo.

So…

Okay, let’s just do a quick rundown, since we need to get things straight in our head. Everything is so dreamlike and odd in this show – especially this episode – that we find ourselves questioning whether certain things even happened. We both spent the first five minutes of this episode not only debating whether Mr. Robot pushed Elliot off that pier, but debating whether we actually saw such a scene depicted in last week’s episode. “Did that happen? Did we see that happen?”

This show, you guys. Don’t even take so much as cough medicine before you watch it or it’ll fuck with your sense of reality.

Anyway, Elliott winds up in the hospital after taking a header off a pier, waking up to Dr. Gordon, his therapist and Shayla, his neighbor/soon-to-be girlfriend/dealer at his bedside. He confesses to the former his morphine addiction and promises to stop taking it but he totally doesn’t mean the last part. He talks a lot about bugs of various sorts; the computer kind, the insect kind, and the kind found in each person’s psyche. He goes home with Shayla only to find the outrageously obnoxious Darlene already in his apartment (Tom to Lorenzo: “I do not trust a word that comes out of this girl’s mouth. Not one.”), whom he kicks out because he thinks he’s done with Fsociety. Then, in a somewhat hilarious montage, he imagines himself leading a more or less normal life with Shayla, watching stupid Marvel superhero movies, joining a gym, and drinking Starbucks. Trying his newfound basicness on for size, he agrees (Starbucks in hand) to go to dinner with his coworkers at the invitation of his boss Gideon, who is like every high school principal in every John Hughes movie rolled into one, except gay.

Meanwhile, Tyrell Wellick, the slimy guy from Evil Corp, does his best Patrick Bateman impersonation, first by beating up a homeless man, then by bedding a gay admin assistant to gain access to his phone to find out who’s in the running to get the CTO position he craves, and finally, by going home and tying up his pregnant wife before getting down to some … wait, did we ever see what it was she was into? It was supposed to be dangerous in her condition. Then, Ollie, Angela’s bro-tastically bland boyfriend -who is supposed to be a specialist in cyber security, mind you – buys a burnt CD off a stranger on the street and inserts it into his computer, making him the one person we hope to see dead before the end of the season. Just for being so stupid. Angela seems to agree with us. Anyway, now they’re in a pickle with some Chinese people? Possibly that Dark Army hacker group? Who want them to infect AllSafe’s network?

We’re just talking in up speak now because we’re trying sort it all out. Sorry. We’ll be more declarative going forward.

Then FSociety’s data dump implicates Colby, the ousted CTO of Evil Corp, as the man responsible for Elliot’s father’s death. We also find out he’s responsible for Angela’s mother’s death, which immediately deepens their relationship to the audience. Having found his bug and exploited it perfectly, FSociety welcomes Elliot with open arms.

Jesus Christ, that’s a lot of plot. And we dumbed it down to like a third grade level. We don’t think we can do it justice by attempting to unpack it all, so we’ll focus on the parts that stuck out to us.

First off, now they’re quite openly teasing the audience with the question of whether Christian Slater’s Mr. Robot character is real. They’ve been subtly teasing it all along, lifting techniques from Fight Club and The Sixth Sense to make you question whether or not anyone else can see him besides Elliot. But the scene in the bar and the scene in the AllSafe offices lent serious credence to the idea that the title character is, in fact, a figment of Elliot’s imagination. Even more so when you watch the final scene, the way everyone in FSociety acts like they’re welcoming back their leader rather than watching the newest recruit accept the job.

Because of Elliot’s drug use and possible schizophrenia, not to mention his open admission that he’s not sure what’s real and what’s not (How many times have we heard him ask “Did you see that?” “Did she see that?” “Can they see that?”) there’s this sense that everything is a clue because everything we’re seeing might be subjective to Elliot’s perceptions, which are unreliable to say the least. It feels like we should be looking at every sign and piece of text in the background of every scene to try and decipher a message because everything is subliminal and we’re looking at a dream state, but that’s crazy, right?

Right?

In other news, it would be regrettable if the show was drawing a connection to kink and gay sex as the purview of the damaged or sinister, such as in the case of the mysterious Mr. Wellick. But we tend to see each of these scenes as reflective of the ways in which his life is a constant power play, in every one of his relationships and interactions. He bedded that guy purely for business and ambition reasons. We’re not even sure we’d call him bisexual or gay, since there was every indication he had absolutely no sexual attraction to the man at all, nor did he appear to enjoy the sex. As for the scenes with his wife, we tend to see them as illustrative of his own submission to what looks like her greater ambition and sense of control. We’ll see. It’s all so weirdly rendered and dreamlike that we’re not even sure we can trust it, although all of these scenes happened totally independent of Elliot, so we suppose we have to take them as they appear. For now, at least.

God, this show really does mess with your head. It makes it hard to recap or review it, because it feels like at any moment a shoe is going to drop and everything will change. But it’s also what makes it so enjoyable. Most of television is so predictable – even the prestige shows – that it’s a rare treat to watch something that challenges you as much as this show does.

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