Well, this episode sure took a turn down bat country, didn’t it?
By that I mean, people be tripping. As if this show’s inherent appeal of gazing through the eyes of madness wasn't enough, in “Da3mons” they decided to send Elliot and Angela on disparate drug-fueled misadventures that get them both a little closer to dark uncertainty.
Other than that, not much happened this episode. It feels like we’re taking a detour from the swarm of developments we’re already privy to, this show’s version of a “breather.”
There was a lot of techno, hacker talk during the plan for breaking Steel Mountain in the beginning. I’m pretty sure the gist of it is that Elliot convinces fsociety that they need to infiltrate Steel Mountain and tap into the building’s thermostats to overheat all the valuable data stored away in the facility.
That plan has to be kicked into gear sooner than fsociety was prepared for, since Steel Mountain is about to divide up its data amongst several different storage facilities. Recklessly, Elliot opts to be the man inside Steel Mountain carrying out their mission himself. The fact that he is disintegrating from morphine withdrawal quickly puts that little adventure on hold.
This is where things takes a strange, bewildering turn. It would doubtlessly feel like total filler if it weren’t so obviously alluding to some future developments.
Soon after Elliot starts seriously detoxing and forces the fsociety boys to confine him to a motel room, he is abandoned by Romero and Mobley. Only Mr. Robot stays behind and appears to take Elliot to a heroin den, where he shoots up and then is literally shot after guns start going off. Then, as he lies bleeding on the floor, Elliot sees another fsociety video on TV. Elliot appears in the video too, and "Mr. Robot" gives him an fsociety mask and a key. This transitions into some pretty trippy dream sequences. Whether these dreams or nightmares are brought about by Elliot’s withdrawal or his mental disorder(s) or both is beyond me.
First, Elliot is walking along a sunny residential street and comes across a mailbox labeled with his family’s last name, only the house isn’t there (“Error 404 Not Available”). He meets a precocious little girl on a scooter. He asks her about the house, but first she wants to know "what's your monster." She then gives Elliot a key and leaves, but they start singing the same song.
Next, Elliot arrives at his apartment, where he finds Tyrell sitting at his computer space and holding a key between his fingers. Elliot ignores Tyrell and instead has a conversation with his fish, who now talks (with what sounds like the voice of Keith David; cool fish).
Then Elliot is having dinner with Angela in a fancy restaurant. Angela is eating his fish, Elliot tells her the fish is his friend and she simply responds that he is delicious. Elliot then orders a pie. When he bites into it and finds a key, Angela reacts as if he just offered her a wedding ring. After a weird John Hughes moment between Elliot and Dream-Angela in fsociety’s arcade, Dream-Angela becomes very passive-aggressive, she gives him back the key, telling him it "doesn't fit," and she seems to be on the verge of telling him who or what his monster is before the dream dissolves into chaos and Elliot wakes up in his motel bed.
In a wave of depression Elliot thinks everyone has left him, only for Mr. Robot to reveal he is still there. Once again reaffirming that he is, for all intents and purposes, Elliot’s new daddy. The way he comes out of the shadows in this scene, however, makes me think that if anyone is Elliot’s monster, it’s Mr. Robot.
By the episode’s end, Romero and Mobley are back and have whipped up a special drink to cancel out most of Elliot’s withdrawal symptoms. This allows the guys to get back on the road to Steel Mountain. And… not a lot happened on Elliot’s end this week.
The dream sequences were intriguing and Lynchian as they often are in shows like this, but as someone watching this in hindsight, I feel like they were just trying to hint a little too strongly at something I think most viewers had already guessed up to this point. I won’t say what it is for those who haven’t figured it out. I'll revisit this point in a later episode.
Bits and Pieces:
* Apparently that whole drug den/shootout thing that happened before the dream was actually just the beginning of the dream. Bit of a tease.
* Other plot: Overwhelmed by last week’s revelations from Ollie and Evil Corp, Angela seeks out Elliot but ends up spending the day with Shayla instead. Shayla gets Angela to unwind with some ecstasy and a little friendly make-out session in a grungy restroom. Unfortunately, Shayla picks the wrong time to give Angela a lesson in empowerment, since her advice to only worry about herself leads Angela to enter Allsafe with Ollie’s pass and insert the corrupted CD into his computer. While this no doubt hurts Ollie, it could also potentially hurt her and everyone else working at Allsafe. Great.
* The other other plot: Finally, we have Darlene and Trenton’s fun yet ominous journey to seek out her Dark Army contact/ex-boyfriend, who turns out to be the hacker currently manipulating Angela and Ollie. I enjoyed this female excursion slightly more than the other one. Darlene and Trenton are polar opposites who seem to grow more fond of each other by the end of the episode. The Dark Army hangout was cool, with the rows of ping-pong tables and dark lighting; a bit of a parallel to the secret arcade. Darlene’s conversation with her ex implies that she has deeply personal reasons for her involvement in fsociety, similar to Elliot. Makes me wonder if Evil Corp has hurt every member of fsociety in some way. And while the show already had it’s obligatory girl-girl make out scene, there were nevertheless vague hints of sexual tension between the two hacker girls as well.
* No Tyrell, Gideon, or Krista this week.
* We are briefly reminded of what an ass Ollie is before Angela goes on her little trip. He says he’s not letting himself off easy, even though that’s exactly what he’s doing by making light of the bombs he just dropped on her in the previous episode. The guy’s a stooge, he has no awareness.
* The episode was bookended with a downward shot of a long white line. First, the line of morphine Elliot was about to snort at the beginning, and then the line in the middle of the road to Steel Mountain at the end.
* Elliot’s alarmed, gaping mouth reaction to the deafening knock on his door was like something you would see in a Coen Brothers movie. Barton Fink, maybe?
* Some of the Dark Army people wear crazy red demon masks the way fsociety wears those Monopoly Guy Fawkes masks.
* Does anyone know the song that the little girl was humming along to in Elliot’s dream? It sounds so familiar.
Elliot (narrating): What I do have? Clinical depression, social anxiety, a day job, a night job, confusing relationships, others depending on me, taking down the largest corporation in the world. And I chose it all.
Darlene: I would have saved you the trip to the door, but you’re all against me breaking in or whatever.
Mr. Robot: I told you before, you’re the key to the whole thing. You’re the only force of nature at play here.
Elliot (narrating): There’s a saying. The devil’s at his strongest while we’re looking the other way, like a program running in the background silently while we’re busy doing other shit. Daemons, they call them. They perform action without user interaction. Monitoring, logging, notifications. Primal urges, repressed memories, unconscious habits, they’re always there, always active. We can try to be right, we can try to be good, we can try to make a difference, but it’s all bullshit. Because intentions are irrelevant. They don’t drive us. Daemons do. And me? I’ve got more than most.
Romero: Hollywood hacker bullshit. I’ve been in this game twenty-seven years, not once have I come across an animated, singing virus.
Mobley: I have yet to fly through a Tron City directory structure.
Romero: I bet you right now some writer’s working hard on a TV show that’ll mess up this generation’s idea of hacker culture.
When Mr. Robot is being funny, it doesn’t hold back. Was Hackers the movie they were ripping on? I'll admit, I haven't seen many movies about hackers. The ones I have probably were not very realistic.
Darlene (to Trenton): Are you seriously drinking a goddamn sparkling water right now? If you weren’t wearing my scarf, I’d kick your ass.
This was the episode I started warming up to Darlene as a character.
Romero: You say it all the time yourself, there’s casualties in every revolution, all that matters is the end result.
It seems like either Mr. Robot doesn’t truly hold to this philosophy or Romero just doesn’t believe Elliot is the “key to the whole thing,” like Mr. Robot does.
Mr. Robot: Now, find your monster, and turn the key. But first, a word from our corporate overlords!
This was great. Cutting to the commercial on this and coming back to a very flashy and well-produced E(vil) Corp commercial.
Fish: I’m exhausted with this world!
Elliot: What can I do? I want to help.
Fish: I think it’s pretty obvious. There’s really only one thing you can do for a brother in a fish bowl.
Elliot: What is it?
Fish: MOVE ME TO A GODDAMN WINDOW!
See, even the fish are bogged down by the dreariness of this world.
While this was definitely another entertaining and beautifully shot hour, it felt like we were standing still a little too much. Three out of four talking fish.
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