Mr. Robot: eps3.1_undo.gz

"I don't get it. I know I'm doing the right thing. You have to see that. Then what is this? Why do I feel this empty void inside?"

The season three premiere did a good job of thrusting us back into the action, reacquainting us with the characters and where they're at in addition to the show's increasingly dark atmosphere. I feel this episode is more about establishing the direction of this season. Or, perhaps, what the show wants us to believe is its direction. With Mr. Robot, that usually turns out to be a bit of a misdirection. Misdirection doesn't have to be a negative, of course. I can think of one or two that are revealed here.

Where to start?

Oh, yeah. Elliot has started working at E Corp. He is determined to undo the damage he has done, by any means necessary. He's even come to see the conglomerate he went to insane lengths to bring down as a "necessary evil that needs to be kept in check." He commits to the drone work in his cubicle with the other IT guys, but puts his cyber-vigilante background to great use in order to slowly but effectively take the Evil out of E Corp. Within five weeks, he's made headway in convincing his superiors to accept a more improved and reliable cybersecurity, secured their data networks from any future attacks from Tyrell or the Dark Army, and gotten rid of quite a few corporate scumbags to boot. Our hero is back, people.

Unfortunately, that means his problems are back too. The above quote is Elliot pondering the return of his crippling depression in the wake of his seemingly noble crusade to repair society. I found this realistic. Many with depression speak about feeling sad and lonely even when they aren't alone or when they have nothing to feel sad about. Of course, Elliot has plenty of reasons to feel sad and lonely.

His conflict right now is a reluctance to be close to his sister, Darlene, because he thinks she triggers his Mr. Robot personality. He loves his sister, yet believes she brings out the worst in him. Literally. What's really sad, though, is that he's right. Elliot and Darlene meet at Coney Island, where she tells him she's leaving town and he asks her to stay with him because he doesn't want to be alone. Sure enough, Mr. Robot resurfaces and gets violent with Darlene after he sees her messing with Elliot's computer. She freaks out upon witnessing this side of him and leaves.

Elliot and Darlene aren't the only ones feeling torn apart. The reason Mr. Robot is so especially aggro lately seems to be due to feeling cut off from Elliot. Where before, he could be the silent observer, now he can't see what Elliot sees. They are no longer whole, as he puts it. He's also not as collected as he used to be, letting a few details slip to Krista when he presents himself during her latest session with Elliot. For instance, he believes Darlene has compromised him and Elliot.

And he's right. Darlene bugged Elliot's computer for Dom and Santiago after learning Elliot lied about Tyrell's role in Five/Nine. Dom's hoping to find the Dark Army connection to Elliot and fsociety. Not that this really matters since Elliot already seems to have figured it out. The last scene shows him entering Darlene's FBI safehouse, after sending a coded message to Dom and company, who can see him on the monitors. So is Elliot confronting them? Is it Mr. Robot as Elliot? What message did he send and why? I really don't see the play here, but I would love it if Elliot made allies of Dom and the feds.

Dom and the feds could use the help. They're already still in a bind from the events of last season, and Darlene hasn't given them much since then. Now they are dealing with a mysterious, newly released fsociety video that may or may not be from the real fsociety. And there's the situation with Joanna Wellick...

Joanna appears on the Frank Cody talk show to reveal that her Season 2 endgame plot to frame Scott Knowles for his wife's murder worked. With a few well-placed lies, a fake witness (her boy-toy, Derek), and a convenient vicious beating from the accused, Joanna frees Tyrell of his murder charge and proclaims her love for him. This upsets her now ex-boy-toy Derek, who goes nuts and shoots up her car. Joanna gets a bullet to the head and Derek is gunned down by Mr. Sutherland, who is also shot; Joanna's baby is probably deaf after a gun was fired so close to his head.

This was perhaps the most abrupt death in the show so far. Before we had the sudden killing of Gideon Goddard and Darlene murdering Susan Jacobs. This, however, was a primary antagonist who had received a lot of buildup. Joanna was the devious mind behind Tyrell Wellick's crazy ambitions, a woman capable of stunning ruthlessness. There was her ambiguous backstory, her unsettling BDSM fetish, and the strange alien aura she had; Elliot believed she could see us, and she even had Mr. Robot worried.

And now she ends up shot in the head by some poor schmo she toyed with one time too many, without having really accomplished much of anything. Her husband is still the FBI's most wanted man and her baby gets handed off to social services.

While it was oddly sudden for sure, I'm hoping Joanna's death sets a good precedent for this season. That it means more of these scary, grandiose, evil bastards will end up getting unceremoniously cut down by the people they've used. Can Whiterose or Price please be next?

Speaking of Whiterose and Price, their rivalry is about to explode into all out war. Or rather a "currency war" between America's E-Coin and China's Bitcoin; though, I'm sure there will be a lot of suffering no matter what kind of war they wage. Price tries to bully "Minister Zhang" into convincing China to get on board with his E-Coin accord. Whiterose makes it clear that she views Price's ambitions as secondary to her own, and uses her new connection to Angela to threaten Price. That's a pretty sensitive button to push. And Whiterose doesn't stop there. She intends to initiate Stage 2 on the night of the UN vote to let China annex the Congo, just to punish Price. I don't know who will win between these two old weirdos. Part of me hopes they just destroy each other, but another part of me knows that these are the kind of men who will drag the whole world down with them if they're facing the end.

That's where we're at now.

Ones & Zeroes:

* The song "Renegades" by X Ambassadors is playing in the background when Elliot and Darlene meet at the Coney Island bench. It fits those two very well.

* It's very amusing how, last season, Angela had to make the difficult choice to expose the criminal dealings of two affable Evil Corp execs she and Price just had dinner with, ruining their lives. And here we have Elliot casually doing the exact same thing to at least ten different people at Evil Corp, without any hesitation or internal conflict.

* Depression is very sad, but I couldn't help but laugh when Elliot broke down crying while watching Dancing with the Stars.

* Elliot offhandedly mentions his dad pushing him out of a window to Krista and is surprised to discover she never knew about it. He never told her. Maybe he, like us, assumed that Krista knew already because we did.

* Mr. Robot tries hitting on Krista, to which she points out it would be unethical to screw around with a patient. I think Elliot views her as more of a maternal figure, but I do sometimes wonder if Krista has deeper feelings for him.

* When Elliot is riding the subway in the latter half of the episode, a movie poster can be seen behind him: Separation Anxiety, starring Will Ferrell and Judi Dench. That might as well have been the title of this episode too.

* In Joanna's last scene, she is a corpse getting her skull sawed open by the medical examiners. Clearly Sam Esmail was just as fascinated by what was going on inside her head as we were. I guess we'll never know.

* It looks like the masked man in the new fsociety video has a beard.

* Elliot is confronted once again by Lenny, that philandering jerk who hurt Krista. The guy doesn't want to deal with his sick dog anymore, so he leaves her with Elliot. There's our silver lining.

Quotes:

Elliot: (narrating) But this doesn't mean I'm selling out, I'm just growing up. Signing up for a 401k, choosing an HMO plan with a good deductible, sign up for Trunk Club. Pop a few Zoloft. Join in on the live-action cartoon of 2D emotions that everyone else is in. I finally see the fatal exception error of my ways, and I know what to do now. I'm gonna fix the world I broke, and put it back better than it was before.

Elliot: (narrating) Maybe I fucked up an already fucked up world, but I'm fixing it now. Hitting undo. And friend, it feels great.

Santiago: You're a CHS! You understand what that means, right?
Darlene: I don't understand half the letters you guys throw at me.
Santiago: Confidential. Human. Source.
Darlene: Cool. Now I get it. See what speaking English can accomplish?

Zhang/Whiterose: Do not mistake my generosity for generosity.

I enjoyed last week's episode, but this one was a lot meatier. Four out of four Kevin McCallister snowmen.

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