Mr. Robot: eps3.5_kill-process.inc

"Kill-process: When an unwanted process is running and you need to terminate it. I need to kill Stage 2 before it kills anyone else."

We have another race against time. As if last episode wasn't intense enough. Stage 2 has begun.

As usual, the show takes a lot of beats from Fight Club. Like the Narrator from that story, here we have Elliot in a mad dash to prevent an astonishing act of terrorism -- that he paved the way for -- from occurring. And like the Narrator, Elliot is hindered every step of the way by his troublemaker alter ego. His enemy within.

Elliot and Mr. Robot have so far been cut off from each other this season, but this time both personalities are desperately fighting for control of the meat suit they share. Either to stop the Dark Army from blowing up Evil Corp's data recovery building or to ensure that it does blow up. It gets to the point that Mr. Robot forces Elliot to literally beat himself up as he attempts to save the day. Stop hitting yourself, indeed.

Really, this episode makes it clear that all of our protagonists are unwittingly shooting themselves in the foot.

First, we get Angela. An opening flashback reveals that she, understandably, had a hard time accepting that her mother was going to die. Emily Moss comforted her daughter by promising to always be there for her even in death, and that they would see each other again in another world. Clearly her mother was referring to Heaven or some sort of afterlife, but this has the tragically ironic effect of motivating Angela's fanatical dedication to a terrorist plot in the present day. She is convinced that everything she is doing is for the greater good, even if it means manipulating her mentally ill best friend, hurting innocent people or blowing up a building. Her belief that Whiterose's plot will save the world -- or create a new and better one -- is that strong; she's even able to stare down a masked lunatic with a gun.

As much as Angela frustrates me, I really do understand her internal struggle. I mean, I don't know what I would do if I lost my mom or dad and believed there was a way to bring them back. But whatever it was, I hope I would be smart enough to realize that it probably wouldn't be clean. Which is what Angela discovers in the end.

Dom DiPierro has a futile battle of her own too. Thanks to Elliot and Darlene, the FBI finally has a lead on the whereabouts of Tyrell Wellick, their most wanted man. Unfortunately, Dom's boss Santiago is a secret Dark Army mole who stalls her pursuit and tips off Irving, who abandons Tyrell.

Fed up (no pun intended), Dom goes against the chain of command and investigates the location herself... which turns out to be that Red Wheelbarrow BBQ restaurant; it was a front created by the Dark Army to hide Tyrell. At first, I thought Dom was going to be attacked by Tyrell in a Silence of the Lambs style dark basement confrontation. But no, Tyrell escapes moments before she finds the hideout.

It doesn't matter since, shortly after, she sees Tyrell running out into the open, pleading with the authorities to stop the attack. She finally sees him get apprehended, but this also doesn't really matter. Tyrell was never the mastermind behind all of this, as he himself seems to have learned in this episode.

I'm thinking Tyrell giving himself up to the FBI might just be part of whatever plan Whiterose and Irving have for him, and he's just playing along. It would be an odd turn of events if Tyrell was suddenly one of the good guys. He certainly didn't care about collateral damage before, so why would he now? And we don't know what instructions Irving gave to him before departing. Nor will the FBI, since Tyrell did as he was told and burned the instructions after he read them.

Though perhaps I'm wrong. I mean, Tyrell was apparently acting out of loyalty to his wife and infant son, and it's implied that Irving finally revealed to him that Joanna died and his son was taken. Maybe that revelation made him see that he was just another pawn of the Dark Army, not the godlike figure he thought himself to be, and that his actions were for nothing. Maybe that was enough to flip him. Either way, he's in federal custody now.

Speaking of things being all for nothing, Elliot is able to convince Mr. Robot that blowing up the recovery building is pointless. Since Elliot rerouted all of their paper data to various facilities around the country, the explosion would be nothing but a senseless act of violence that would not further the revolution. Together, they manage to disarm the malicious malware, saving the building and everyone inside. But this, like so much else, doesn't matter, as Elliot discovers all those other facilities he sent the data to were destroyed in a series of coordinated explosions and fires while he was busy saving the main one in New York.

Whiterose has succeeded in executing Stage 2. Evil Corp's data network has been completely burned and thousands of people were killed as a result. It seems as though she has played everyone: Price, Tyrell, Angela, the FBI, and especially Elliot. Everything that Elliot did this season to prevent this inevitable catastrophe only made it that much more devastating. And this isn't even where her "project" ends. Whatever new world she has in mind can't be worth this.

In case it wasn't abundantly clear before, Whiterose needs to die. Evil Corp has been gutted. Elliot and Mr. Robot need a new enemy to lead their revolution against. I'm thinking Whiterose and the Dark Army just volunteered. With this unbelievable terrorist attack, the war is far from over.

Bits and Pieces:

* There's some more black comedy here: the red velvet cake reading, "See You in Another Life" at Emily Moss's weird terminal cancer party. Also, the cheery girl scouts who try to sell cookies to an unamused Darlene.

* I'm thinking Edward Alderson's conversation with Young Angela about Back to the Future is foreshadowing, but I'm not entirely sure what. Like, if there is some kind of alternate reality that comes about, maybe it's one where nothing in the present has really changed except Elliot and our other protagonists are living a happier existence, and the mean villains who lorded over them like Whiterose and Price are karmically reduced to servile roles, cleaning their luxury cars and whatnot. Unlikely, I know. But a guy can dream, dammit!

* Emily Moss apparently had an anonymous benefactor who was trying to pay for her cancer treatments, which she ultimately refused in order to spend her last days with friends and family. Now we're left wondering who was this mysterious altruist: Whiterose doesn't strike me as the sentimental type, unless it's in regards to herself. There's a hint that it might be Terry Colby, but I find that doubtful as well? Or I suppose it could be Philip Price; maybe that's partly why he's so interested in Angela. Mr. Moss wasn't happy when the benefactor was brought up. Was it someone Angela's mother was having an affair with? I guess we'll find out later.

* While attending a soiree at the Mar-a-Lago Club in Florida, Whiterose/Zhang and Price have a chat. We get a hilarious moment where they share a laugh together making fun of Donald Trump before awkwardly remembering that they're bitter enemies.

* Irving appeared sincere when he told Tyrell he was sorry, which I assume was in regards to Joanna's death. Could he actually be as empathetic as presents himself, even while helping to bring about the biggest mass murder in American history? Maybe he's like Whiterose and Angela, convincing himself that what he's doing is right, no matter what lengths he goes to.

* Elliot really should be dead or near it after the number of times Mr. Robot forced him to bash his head against walls and metal pipes.

* The news anchor at the end says that President Obama will be addressing the terrorist attacks. So I guess that means that Trump hasn't been sworn in as president yet. Maybe the 2016 election hasn't even happened yet.

Quotes:

Emily Moss: I'm always gonna be there for you, no matter what. You wanna know what I believe?
Young Angela: What?
Emily Moss: That this isn't the end. That there's another world out there for both of us. That we'll see each other again. And we'll play and dance and bake and sing. Doesn't that sound beautiful? Will you believe with me?

Old Lady on Train: The world's going to hell in a hand-basket.

Angela: No one's going to die.
Wrong!

Elliot: (narrating) The kill command. Here I am trying to use it to stop this attack, while Mr. Robot is trying to use it on me. Does that just mean we cancel each other out, fighting so hard we just end up standing in place? Fuck that. I gotta keep moving.

Darlene:You can lie to yourself all you want, but when you're alone at night this shit will haunt you. Trust me on that. You know I can have you in handcuffs right now, so I'm giving you one last chance. Convince me not to.
Angela: Go ahead and turn me in. I know what I'm doing is right.
Wrong!

Elliot: (narrating) So what now? Am I forever in limbo, not knowing which side I'm really on? And what about Mr. Robot? Does he now understand that Tyrell and the Dark Army have corrupted his alleged revolution? Does he have any fight left? If so, who's he gonna fight? Them or me?

I don't know what other critics are saying, but this season is on fire in my opinion. They're upping the ante with every new episode. Four out of four buildings in flames.

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