Mr. Robot: eps3.6_fredrick+tanya.chk

"Nothing creates profit quite like global conflict."

Needless to say, this isn't really a happy holidays kind of show. That works out for me, since my holidays aren't particularly happy right now.

We witness the fallout of the two previous, insanely intense episodes that ended with another crippling blow delivered onto not only Evil Corp, but the United States as well. It's an hour full of uncertainty, terror and despair.

To recap, the Dark Army has executed Stage 2 and launched a massive terrorist attack unlike anything America has ever seen. The death toll keeps rising: last we check, it's up to over 4,000 dead and still climbing. All of our characters are affected by this. Some profit from it. Most are shattered by it.

Elliot retreats to his confidant, Krista, but that's as far as he gets. The overwhelming magnitude of what he's helped bring about causes him to experience a major Heroic Blue-Screen of Death, forcing Mr. Robot to take over. Mr. Robot is livid about this turn of events, and is determined to find out who has twisted and misused his revolution. Unfortunately, he doesn't get very far either, knocked out and abducted by Irving and his Dark Army goons. Irving proceeds to illustrate to Mr. Robot that no matter the crisis, be it revolution, mass-terrorism or immediate death, rich assholes will continue partying away and making light of other people's suffering with no repercussions. So both personalities are left to contemplate the futility of their actions.

And so is Angela, for that matter. The news reports of the increasing number of deaths seems to have completely broken her. She's reduced to continuously rewinding footage of buildings falling as a way of undoing the damage she's done. Darlene has no idea how to comfort her. Poor girls.

The same can be said of Dom DiPierro and the rest of the FBI, who are unable to affect anything, even as "fsociety" threatens to launch another, even bigger attack within the next 24 hours. Since her superior, Santiago, is unwilling to humor her (correct) belief that the Dark Army is behind this, they're forced to rely on the word of Tyrell Wellick, who (ironically) claims to just be fsociety's patsy, a helpless victim; him turning himself in was just part of the Dark Army's plan.

But we know that Santiago has actually been compromised by the Dark Army (probably because they're threatening his sickly mother), and is just one of many pawns who helped bring about the attack. He is understandably frustrated by the whole situation behind closed doors, and decides to take it out on Tyrell. Turning the camera off in the interrogation room, Santiago proceeds to unveil the truth about Joanna's murder to Tyrell, as well as her infidelity and the knowledge that their child is now an orphan. He also threatens to kill him and ensure that his son "becomes a statistic" if this news inspires Tyrell to deviate from the Dark Army's plan or try to expose Santiago.

It's a very sadistic move that successfully reduces Tyrell to a sobbing, heartbroken mess. It would be sad if it were happening to anyone else. But it's Tyrell, who was one of the main orchestrators of this mass terrorist attack, so I just found it funny. Treasonous asshole though he may be, Santiago is still way more sympathetic than Tyrell and hurting him is basically the only satisfaction he can gain from any of this. Tyrell more than deserved this, especially since it looks like he's going to get off scot-free. Besides, I'm thinking that baby is probably way better off being raised by anyone other than two monstrous, narcissistic sociopaths like Tyrell and Joanna Wellick.

This episode did actually make me feel sympathy for Phillip Price of all people. Despite his grand, dominant persona, Price is faced with the reality that he is just another pawn in someone else's game. While his conglomerate Evil Corp is still too big to fail, he is on his way out and knows it. And he is not happy. I'm kind of surprised he didn't just snap and kill Whiterose then and there in the Mar-a-Lago Club. The only reason he hasn't been eliminated like the last CEO of Evil Corp is because Whiterose expects him to sheepishly carry out a few additional details. I'm betting Price, con man that he is, will try to work another angle before this is over.

The real meat of the episode centers around our long absent fsociety alums, Trenton and Mobley. In the wake of 71 destroyed buildings, they have been abducted by Leon after murdering Mobley's roommate. After he forces them to bury the roommate's corpse in the desert, Leon leaves them in the hands of Whiterose's right-hand man and his Dark Army goons. For awhile this section of the episode is treated like (very dark) comic relief, what with Leon's endless pop culture references and the always funny banter between Trenton and Mobley.

Sadly, it takes an extremely dark turn in the very end when we discover what exactly the Dark Army has in store for them. We spend a lot of time thinking Elliot and Darlene are going to be the ones who Tyrell implicates for the attack, even Mr. Robot fears this. But no, it turns out Trenton and Mobley are the ones chosen to take the fall for all of this chaos and destruction. They are placed in a room full of evidence of their ties to fsociety and an Iranian flag, as well as two computers set to cause a series of plane crashes around the country. Then they are both murdered, their deaths staged to look like a suicide pact. The FBI, and the rest of the world, are left believing that fsociety died with them. That the threat is over.

But Dom knows better. She's already highly suspicious of Santiago, and the neatness of this last scenario only strengthens her belief that the Dark Army is responsible. She can only add Whiterose's name to her evidence board in despair. The bad guys have won.

Like I said, not the happiest of Thanksgivings.

Ones and Zeroes:

* "Fredrick & Tanya" are the aliases Mobley and Trenton used while hiding out in Florida. I'm not sure if it doubles as tech slang, though, which this show's episode titles often do.

* It's weird whenever there is an episode that doesn't include Rami Malek narrating. It's such an integral part of the show.

* Usually when you have a character who's constantly displaying their pop cultural literacy, it's meant to be funny, endearing or, at the very least, relatable. That's how it started with Leon. But now they've taken it to a dark extreme. His deep investment and idolization of fictional stories and characters is sharply contrasted with his coldblooded indifference towards actual human beings and reality itself. So he's able to casually murder and terrorize innocent people even while simultaneously believing that he's a good guy who values life and the simple things in it. I'm sure that's meant to say something about us, the viewers, and the detached nature of our society. Either way, it's very disturbing.

* I doubt Dom would be the only one who would find the Trenton and Mobley thing questionable. They're conveniently found dead in a room containing what Colin Farrell in Minority Report would refer to as an orgy of evidence. And as Colin said in that movie, those are ridiculously rare for a detective to find. But who knows? Maybe life is stranger than fiction.

* Trenton claimed to have set her computer to email information that could potentially undo Five/Nine to someone she trusts if anything should happen to her. I'm assuming that someone is Darlene. That's one silver lining.

* I'm hoping now that all of our major characters know or are on the verge of knowing that they've been royally screwed over by Whiterose and the Dark Army, maybe some of them can put aside their differences and work together to bring these homicidal sons of bitches down. Pretty please?

Quotes:

Leon: You know, it's kind of sad, the general lack of respect afforded to Knightrider. They throw fuckin' gold statues at the Crane Brothers, but Michael Knight and KITT? Their relationship predicted the current societal dependence on technology, and that was 30 years ago. Plus, anytime Mike spits game on a chick, I swear, I believe every damn word... If nothing else, Knightrider should've won a fuckin' statue for its dope-ass theme song. I mean, that shit just stays with you. It's stuck in my head right now, as a matter of fact... (Knightrider theme plays)

Mr. Robot: Nice to see you again, beautiful.
Krista: Hello, Mr. Robot.

Mr. Robot: It's not me he has to worry about. It's the others, the real string-pullers.

Mr. Robot: (to Krista) You still don't believe me. You're indulging me right now like I'm one of your nutso patients. Do the math. Elliot worked at Allsafe, ground zero for Five/Nine. He was also arrested for hacking. He even hacked you, didn't he? And he's completely out of his mind. You add all that up... you still want to doubt me?

Angela: They're gonna be okay, right?
Darlene: Who's that?
Angela: All those people who died. Do you think that they're gonna be okay?

Santiago: Well, there's some information that's about to be declassified for public release. And before you hear it from your lawyer or somebody else, I wanted to personally come here and deliver it to you. Rumor has it you're asking about your family?
Tyrell: I've been told that if I cooperate--
Santiago: Your wife's dead. Almost two weeks now.
Tyrell: What? No, you must be mistaken--
Santiago: Lover's quarrel with a dude she was banging. He shot her in the head at close range. It's nasty stuff.
Tyrell: Lies. You're lying.
Santiago: Which means that your son is currently being raised at Peaceful Acres Foster Care. Now, last I checked, it was only a one in five abuse rate. Decent odds.

Trenton: Look, do you think I want to be stuck in the backseat of a psychopath's cadillac with you? I should be at home, with my family. My brother's probably flipping out right now.
Mobley: Your brother's flipping out? That guy slit my friend's throat. And now he's digging what might be a mass grave over there. If your brother's flipping out, I'm in a Sam Kinison stand-up bit! I'm like Shelley Duvall over at the Overlook Hotel! I'm at hot-mic Christian Bale levels of intensity and hysteria here! So please, don't talk to me about flipping out!

Price: Give me the real reason, motherfucker! Coming at me now. What in god's name do you hope to gain?
Whiterose/Zhang: The opportunity to teach a lesson.
Price: A lesson? You sadistic fuck! You got your UN vote, you got your plant, you got everything you wanted! No, you don't get off that easy. Not until you explain it to me. You had to destroy so much! Why?
Whiterose/Zhang: Because, Phillip... I had to ask you twice.

Irving: You see what I mean? Literally nothing can stop these little shindigs. Not thousands dead across the country. Not a lifeless mistress in the guest bathroom.

Dom: You're actually gonna get away with it.

Not much happened in 'Fredrick & Tanya', and it got a little too convenient near the end, But it's a testament to this show's quality that even an episode that's a bit slow and contrived can still be so damn good. Three out of four sugar-coated pearls of semen.

2 comments:

milostanfield said...

Dom (Supercop!) and Elliot are two main characters who have never been one on one in person face to face. And they are the only two left who have any agency to do something about Dark Army. Be interesting when they finally get together.

Logan Cox said...

I'm with you on that, for sure. I've been dying for this to happen for awhile. They also seem to be the ones most concerned with justice.