Mr. Robot: eps2.7_init_5.fve

"Init_5 is supposed to bring color and sound. Instead, the world's gray and quiet."

We finally find out who was knocking on Elliot's door last season!

I had predicted in the season finale that the person on the door was Krista's pathetic, philandering ex-boyfriend, Lenny, out for revenge after Elliot hacked him and ruined his various affairs with women, and I was pretty much right. It turns out to have been the NYPD coming to arrest Elliot for hacking Lenny and stealing his expensive dog, Flipper. In despair after the last season finale, Elliot allowed himself to be charged and sent to prison.

We see the environment of the prison what it truly is, before Elliot molded it into his own perfect illusion in which he could hibernate. Ray was, in fact, the prison warden. Lonestar and Ray's other henchmen were prison guards. Right away, Leon tags on to Elliot and casually provides him with the routine he had been following since this season's outset, as well as the notebook he used as a journal. It's a lovely external look at how Elliot's messed-up mind processes the world around him.

After the intro, we cut to the moment when Elliot gets released from prison. He reconnects with Darlene and Cisco, who states that he wasn't selling her out to the Dark Army last episode, only letting them know that she was safe and secure before "Stage 2" is set in motion.

The mission now is to figure out what the Dark Army is up to, and what Stage 2 entails. They set up a meeting with Xun, Cisco's Dark Army contact, during which they plan to hack his phone to listen in on him later and hopefully unravel this mystery.

The wrinkle in all of this is that, just when things seem to be returning to normal, Elliot starts melting down. "Overheating", as Mr. Robot puts it. He starts zoning out, forcing Mr. Robot to take over, only to imagine himself on the outside looking in as his alter ego speaks for him. He can barely conceal his madness from Darlene and Cisco. It gives the episode a visceral nightmare quality.

Despite his crazy mind constantly bleeding over into reality, Elliot is able to handle himself well enough during the meeting with Xun. They're able to hack his phone, and Elliot specifically tells him to tell Whiterose he wants to know what Stage 2 is.

Whiterose, meanwhile, has come to America. She first stops by the lonesome grave of the former CEO of Evil Corp, strongly hints that she was responsible for the plane crash that ended his life, then pisses on his grave. She then becomes her other self, Minister Zhang, for the meeting with the CEO, Price. Although Angela Moss's help with clearing the lawsuit against his company impressed them both, it was not enough to get Price out of the hole he's in. Since Washington isn't going for a bailout and is still unwilling to ask China for money after the Beijing shootout, Price demands that Zhang persuade China to give him a massive loan anyway. In exchange for this generous donation, he can make sure that the federal government won't take over the Washington Township power plant, which is apparently of great significance to Zhang; he refers to it as "his" plant.

Price makes it clear that he is done playing nice and that if he can't get what he wants, then neither will Zhang. Zhang/Whiterose seems to agree... but then again, he also might be planning Price's death now. Although, if that's the case, Price suspects it and doesn't appear intimidated. I don't know who scares me more: Price or Whiterose.

This Washington Township thing, though. It has been in the background of this show for awhile now. We've only really been there once, in the suburban area where Elliot, Darlene and Angela lived as children. The toxic waste scandal that killed their parents and many more was the catalyst for so much of what has happened in this series. That the power plant is coming into the forefront now must be important in some way. Especially considering Angela's plot in this episode.

Using the rubber ducky drive given to her by Mobley, she's able to hack her Risk Management boss's computer and discovers that the toxic leak at the power plant was never fixed by Evil Corp. She tries to report this to the proper authorities, but gets scared off when she is led down an ominous hallway by an eerily friendly top representative who knew too much about her. A personal visit from Agent Dom DiPierro makes it clear to Angela that, unless she cooperates with her, she will have no way out of the mess she's got herself into.

When the hackers return to Cisco's apartment, Cisco leaves to retrieve the fsociety videotape with her face on it from Susan Jacobs's house. Elliot also leaves to cope with his malfunctioning mind alone. Darlene is left to listen in on Xun's meeting with Whiterose, who is confused when she learns Elliot asked about Stage 2... since Stage 2 is his plan. Meanwhile, Cisco finds someone incapacitated at Susan's place, but we don't know who. And while walking the street, Elliot is finally confronted by Joanna Wellick. Be afraid.

The further we go, the more dark and uncertain the journey. But I'm liking how close all of the disparate players in this game are to colliding with one another.

Ones & Zeroes:

* Whereas init_1 signifies a computer that is on the verge of crashing, init_5 is the process in which a computer "returns to normal", operating as it should. It's an ironic title, since Elliot is currently unable to grasp any semblance of "normalcy."

* I feel like Hot Carla is alluding to Whiterose. They are both pale, dark and mysterious transexuals who enjoy watching things burn. Elliot said Hot Carla had become something of a "personal totem" for him, and Whiterose was already a strange foil to Elliot.

The train scene was particularly unnerving: Elliot finds himself trapped in a train car with a weird guy playing a mini keyboard. He sees Mr. Robot talking casually to Cisco in the adjacent car and tries desperately to get their attention, but his cries are drowned out by the roar of the train and the increasingly erratic keyboard music. Elliot beats his fists and screams in vain until, suddenly, he snaps out of it and is back in his body. And Cisco thinks he's nervous.

* Dom's scene with Angela said a lot about her character. It once agains displays her tendency to exert her dominance over a subject and, at the same time, pacify them with politeness and formality. However, she gets personal when she relates what Angela is currently feeling to what she eventually felt after falling in love with the person she almost had a life with, who it turns out was a woman.

* Elliot visiting his mother at the hospital was sad. A lifetime of never-ending madness and tragedy has left her frail and catatonic. I sincerely hope this isn't what fate has in store for Elliot.

* With the electric companies on strike, the city is now experiencing frequent brownouts. It's a nice effect that adds to the show's apocalyptic atmosphere.

* This is another episode with book-ends. It starts and ends with a knock on someone's door.

Quotes:

Lenny Shannon: Adios, you son of a bitch.
As much of a scumbag as this guy was, I could not help but find this funny.

Zhang/Whiterose: The next time you threaten my plant--
Price: What? What? The only move left in that scenario is a third World War. You see, I'm a mercenary. I don't play fair. I play what I want! When you deal with a mercenary, then all decorum gets tossed out the window. So you go ahead with your cute threats and your watch beeps. Order will not protect you anymore, my friend. I will reign chaos! Even if it hurts me. Because I would rather see you lose than win myself. Oh... that's all the time I have.

Darlene: Yeah, I would love to meet him.
Elliot: He's not meeting you, he's meeting Mr. Robot.
Darlene: ...
Cisco: What'd you say?
Elliot: ... Nothing. I meant me. He's meeting me.
Mr. Robot: Something's happening with us. We can't do this.
Elliot: I got this.

Dom: (to Angela) And that dream I had, when I was being drowned? It was when I stopped fighting it. When I finally let go and stopped struggling so much. That's when I survived.

Elliot: For me, there's no such thing as normalcy. My dead father appears and disappears at will. I talk to you, an invisible friend. I'd ask if you're normal, but you never talk back.

Whiterose: Did he ask about the others? His friends... The man and the girl.
Xun: No. He just...
Whiterose: Stop! Hand me your phone.
Xun: I follow protocol. The phone's clean.
Whiterose: He is a master. You have to be extra careful.
Seems like Whiterose actually fears Elliot. That is interesting. And "the man and the girl" seems to imply that the Dark Army has gotten to Mobley and Trenton. That is distressing.

Three out of four psychotic episodes.

2 comments:

Heather said...

I really love this show. I'm over whatever quibbles I had and much like Dom, I've just let go! I'm truly in awe with how fresh this show is. There is nothing even close to it in its modernity. Great review, Logan!

Logan Cox said...

Thank you, Heather.

"There is nothing even close to it in its modernity."

My thoughts exactly. It's the perfect show for this cultural era we're currently seeing.