Mr. Robot: eps3.7_dont-delete-me.ko

"Shhh. The movie's about to start."

This, I feel, is a rare episode of Mr. Robot.

And it's not just because it is presented as a wide-screen movie that Young Elliot is watching with his imaginary friend, adding to the series' list of fun stylistic choices. It's because this is a show that, while fascinating and entertaining, normally makes me paranoid, afraid and sad for the world. And despite the fact that this episode begins in a place of utter despair, 'Don't delete me' is an episode that actually managed to lift my spirits.

It doesn't mean Sam Esmail won't take the wind out of our sails again in the season's final two episodes. That wouldn't surprise me in the least. But he proves here that while his view of things is pretty cynical, he's not entirely pessimistic and still has a fair bit of hope for humanity.

The episode deals with the aftermath of the last three harrowing episodes. It's been three weeks since the 71 Cyber Bombings, and Elliot is crippled by the guilt and depression he feels in light of his many failures. He blames himself for all of the destruction his revolution has caused, and especially for the fact that the late Trenton and Mobley were framed for everything. Darlene tries to reach out to him, since she and Angela are in similar states of disillusion, but Elliot is too busy dealing with his own pain. In fact, he's contemplating suicide. Or "deletion", as he calls it.

Elliot begins making all the preparations for his own personal deletion, after he already deletes Trenton and Mobley's files from his computer. He wipes down all of his wares, hard and soft. He leaves his cute little dog in the hands of a friendly neighbor. He relinquishes his father's Mr. Robot jacket with a trash burning vendor. He buys an entire bag full of morphine from a creepy drug dealer. He attempts to offer his condolences to Trenton and Mobley's families and let them know in so few words that they weren't responsible for the terrorist attacks; Mobley's brother has no sympathy and seems only concerned with how his brother's crimes reflect on his career, but Trenton's father is thankful for Elliot's kindness despite his bitter disposition. Finally, he goes to the beach at Coney Island, intending to OD on the morphine tablets.

Thankfully, Elliot is interrupted by Mohammad, Trenton's little brother. This is where the episode gradually takes a turn down a more positive route. Elliot is unexpectedly forced to spend the day looking after this precocious kid, who is clearly lost and just wants to reconcile what happened to his sister. I love the fact that Elliot, who often comes off as someone who is stunted developmentally in spite of his intellect, is forced to play babysitter to a little kid. As tragic as their individual situations are, it was very amusing watching them get on each other's nerves.

To kill time while waiting for the Biswas family to return home, Mohammad convinces Elliot to take him to the movies. Elliot's mood brightens a bit when he finds out they're having a marathon of the Back to the Future trilogy at his favorite theater, complete with droves of cosplaying fans. He ironically assumes the role of his father in the opening flashback, trying to excite the boy he's with about seeing a movie as a form of distraction from the harsh trauma in their lives. It works out a bit better for Elliot than it did for Edward Alderson though, as they actually manage to get into the theater together and enjoy their popcorn laced with M&Ms (I'll have to try that someday, even though my reaction was initially the same as Mohammad's: "You just ruined it"). The filmgoing experience is cut short when Mohammad leaves, and Elliot tracks him down at his family's mosque. Here is where Elliot starts to make a breakthrough, because now he cares about this kid and is able to connect with him.

Elliot is shown to be returning to his old self, a person of empathy. He seems to realize that he wants to be there for the people he cares about, whether it's Mohammad, Darlene or Angela. Thus, he rejects his thoughts of suicide. He even falls back into his cyber-vigilante persona, hacking and blackmailing Mobley's brother into giving him a proper funeral; I especially loved this. Even his reclaiming of the discarded Mr. Robot jacket is treated as a triumphant and almost miraculous moment.

Here is where we start to see hope shining through the darkness. Like the Jewish Ice Cream Man riding around listening to Orson Welles' reading of War of the Worlds, Elliot starts to believe that things won't always be as bad as they are. That he, maybe everyone, can persevere in spite of all the destruction they've endured. He replaces the broken mirror in his apartment, as well as the computer setup he initially got rid of. This leads him to his most important revelation. Turns out, Trenton sent her email with info on how to undo Five/Nine to Elliot. According to her email, she found out that the late Romero installed hardware keyloggers in the arcade computers before the hack, a backup which may have saved the data we thought was lost in the ether. This encrypted data was confiscated by the NYPD after Romero's death, then handed off to the FBI; they've unknowingly had the source of hope this entire time.

And hopefully this means something will happen that I've wanted for awhile: that Elliot will join his sister in working with Dom and the FBI to get the world back on its feet, maybe even strike back at the Dark Army. Elliot accepting a sucker from Mohammad (a la Dom, who is also fond of suckers) might be foreshadowing this outcome. I hope.

Ones and Zeroes:

* That opening was so sad. Elliot's father trying in vain to make up for breaking his son's arm, only for Elliot to tell him he'll never forgive him before he keels over from the cancer. And then it becomes horrifying when Elliot just leaves him there and enters the theater, where we learn that he's been talking to people who weren't there since he was a boy. I suspected being pushed out the window by Edward was the start of Elliot's madness. This seems to confirm it.

* Most Obvious Symbolism: The movie Edward was taking Elliot to was Danny Boyle's Shallow Grave.

* Martial law has been declared in New York since the attacks. There's a huge military presence, soldiers and helicopters patrolling the city, and a curfew is being enforced. Scary times.

* This episode had a lot of bittersweet moments, but the one that really struck me was when Elliot and Mohammad bonded over the fact that they both come from New Jersey and Mohammad told him he was born in the city of Trenton. Aww, man.

* I adore that patterned carpet in the mosque. As well as the lighting and camera framing when Elliot goes to see Angela: him on the outside, dressed in black and surrounded by red; her on the inside, dressed in white and surrounded by black.

* I'm glad Elliot decided to give The Martian a chance near the end. I really liked that movie.

* So apparently not much time has passed in the series. It's only Oct 21, 2015.

Quotes:

Elliot: He won't leave. He won't leave, because I wanted this. I liked it.

Elliot: I'll tell you what, you come by tomorrow, we'll smoke up and we'll watch Careful Massacre.
Darlene: It's not even Halloween.
Elliot: Since when did we start following the rules?
Darlene: I'd like that.
Elliot: Me too.
Even though he was lying in this moment, I couldn't help but find this endearing.

Mr. Biswas: Shama was a victim. Someone did this to her. This country now blames Muslims for everything.
Ain't that the truth? And Whiterose used that fear and paranoia to her advantage.

Mohammad: Do you like TV?
Elliot: No.
Mohammad: Do you like horses?
Elliot: No.
Mohammad: Do you like WiiU?
Elliot: No.
Mohammad: Do you like movies?
Elliot: ... I used to.

Doc Brown cosplayer: (to Elliot) Do you mind holding my flux capacitor for a few seconds. I've gotta clean my glasses.

Elliot: War of the Worlds, huh?
Jewish Ice Cream Man: Why not?
Elliot: Because it's about the end of the world.
Jewish Ice Cream Man: Nah, that's incorrect. Things get a little fakakta for awhile, but, in the end, humans actually persevere.

Mohammad: You're a baby.
Elliot: You're annoying.
Mohammad: You are.
Elliot: ... This is a nightmare.
Mohammad: You are.
Elliot: So are you.
Mohammad: I wish you were dead!
Elliot: So do I!

Angela: No matter what happens, we'll be okay.

Elliot: (narrating) Maybe there are still things left for me to do.

Another thoroughly effective chapter of Mr. Robot, showcasing the darkness and the light. Four out of four flux capacitors.

5 comments:

milostanfield said...

Nice catch with the lollipop that Mohammad gave Elliot, hinting at a Dom-Elliot coalition. Kid’s been to the doctor a few times and just did the expected thing after affecting a cure. As Wordsworth wrote: "Child is father to the man."

I wondered if Mo’s visit with Elliot was even really happening given Elliot’s past hallucinatory bent. Especially the way it opened with Mo suddenly appearing on the empty beach. I think he was real but Esmail used that past to add a bit of surreality to the scenes with them and make their connection more personal.

Loved the way Mohammad conned Elliot The Great People Hacker into taking him to the movies even though he had the house keys the whole time. It was like he had Elliot on a leash when they were walking around.

The Magic Jacket Return may have been a bit convenient. But I got a laugh at how the "garbage collectors" were taking peoples E-Coin to take their trash and then dumping it on the street in another part of town. Reminds one of a certain economic system.

Yes! That scene with Elliot and Angela, enhanced by the widescreen, was beautiful. Especially the way they lit Angela’s face as she moved into frame. At times the whole front of her face was blacked out. Then it would light just one eye and the lines above her cheek, making her look a bit like her mother dying of cancer from a previous ep. Then, as she and Elliot sank into their old groove, we see her lit full face. Hope that her "we’ll be OK" was not just more Whiterose zombieness, but was her reacting to Elliot instead.

Logan Cox said...

Thanks for the great comment, Milo.

I actually didn't catch the Elliot-Dom connection until I saw someone made a composite image of them both with their lollipops on Facebook. Pretty sure they are even both framed the same way, slightly to the right.

This show has some of the best cinematography. I love it.

I don't think the Mohammad thing was in Elliot's head, but like you said, with this show, you never know really. I was also hoping the same thing about Angela. Suppose it could be both. That she was reminiscing with Elliot while still lying to herself. Or maybe that scene was intended to provide context to her current behavior; why she allowed herself to buy into the idea that she could magically wish away everyone's problems. I'm still amazed at Angela. When I first started watching, I never imagined her character would be this complex.

milostanfield said...

Ah, Angela. No center, always in over her head, and yet she has coped and changed more than any other character. Not since Katie Sackhoff’s "glorious mess" of a Starbuck have I run across a female character more fascinating and difficult to figure out. Just love her.

milostanfield said...

Just for the heck of it I looked up .ko file. According to Wikipedia (emphasis mine):

"In computing, a loadable kernel module is an object file that contains code to extend the running kernel, or so-called base kernel, of an operating system. LKMs are typically used to add support for new hardware and/or filesystems, or for adding system calls. When the functionality provided by a LKM is no longer required, it can be unloaded in order to free memory and other resources."

Elliot staying alive and rebooting himself with Trenton’s email? Cool, Sam.

Mallena said...

It's a neat idea that Eliott's mind snapped at the same time that his arm did. The pain of loving his father so much, but also hating him for all the hurt he caused in Elliot's life...it was just too much to cope with. That might not have been the exact moment, but it makes sense.

This has been a great season, I just wish that last season didn't waste so many episodes on people and situations that I couldn't care about.