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Mr. Robot: eps2.2_init_1.asec

"My beliefs create my own reality. My beliefs create my own reality."

This time on Mr. Robot, everyone seems to be fighting futile battles, struggling to determine where they stand. Only a few are still concerned with bigger pictures and end-games, while the rest are out purely for survival

Elliot's war with his split personality is ongoing. When Ray suggests that Elliot play himself in a game of chess as a way of exorcising his demon, both he and Mr. Robot lock on to the idea. Specifically, they agree that whoever wins the chess game becomes the dominant personality. If Elliot wins, he's free to confess and Mr. Robot goes away. If Mr. Robot wins, he runs the show and Elliot is the one who goes away forever.

The game proves fruitless though, since Elliot and Mr. Robot cannot beat each other, always ending in a stalemate. I guess Krista was right. That Elliot and Mr. Robot are part of each other, and the end of one might mean the end of both of them. Meaning, Mr. Robot was right. He's not going anywhere. If this is true, then Elliot really is trapped.

By far the most intriguing part of the episode was the beginning, which revealed the humble origin of fsociety. It all started on a stormy Halloween night. Darlene comes over to Elliot's old apartment to hang out. She arrives wearing the mask that became the face of fsociety, and we see the origin of that as well when she and Elliot watch an old, low-grade horror film called The Careful Massacre of the Bourgeoisie (which might as well be this show's alternate title). In this film, a man wearing the sinister Monopoly guy costume starts murdering a bunch of vapid rich kids at a party.

After this, Elliot tells Darlene he got fired from a tech support job when he destroyed all of the company's computer servers during one of his blackouts. When the conversation turns to their late father, Elliot shows Darlene the Mr. Robot jacket their father used to wear. Darlene then instructs Elliot to wear the mask with the jacket. Once he's put both on, Elliot assumes the role of Mr. Robot and right away starts outlining the plan to take down Evil Corp through Allsafe. The rest is history.

In the present, Darlene is indeed dealing with the hard part and looking to Elliot for help. Someone seems to be following her, and then Cisco informs her that Romero's possession of the FBI roster had something to do with a shady top-secret surveillance program called Operation Berenstain. She and fsociety are caught between a rock and a hard place between the FBI and the Dark Army. Her desperation is ultimately what brings her brother back into the game. Under the guise of helping Ray with his website problems, Elliot is planning to hack the FBI.

This, in turn, puts Elliot in a very precarious situation. On one hand, hacking the feds could put him right in the crosshairs of the intuitive Dom Dipierro, who is already on his trail. And on the other hand, no matter how nice he is, Ray is clearly a sinister figure and getting involved in his affairs might not be something Elliot wants to do.

Everyone's in a precarious place this episode. Which is fitting because the title, Init_1, refers to a code used to prevent a computer from crashing; this became an emergency code between Elliot and Darlene.

Even though we know what a monstrous person she is, Joanna Wellick is a woman being weighed down by many burdens. On top of her husband being missing and wanted for murder and the biggest economic disaster America has faced, she must take care of her baby alone. We discover she and her husband's henchman, Mr. X, have been paying to keep Kareem, the parking attendant who found Elliot in Tyrell's car, quiet. However, she cannot afford to keep him from talking to the FBI unless she has money. This proves difficult since Scott Knowles of Evil Corp is withholding Tyrell's severance package, to spite Tyrell and everyone he loves. As much of a dick as Scott is, I can't really blame him, since Tyrell did viciously murder his wife.

After handing over the evidence Price supplied and seeing the two execs from last episode get hauled off in handcuffs, Angela believes that Price wants to use her to bring an end to the class action lawsuit against Evil Corp (you know, the one she fought for so adamantly last season). She confronts and calls Price out on this, stating that she's willing to get the lawsuit dropped in exchange for greater advancement, security and power in the company. Price, though he admires her spirit, claims that she's wrong about his goals. As such, Angela's self-confidence backslides into uncertainty once again; before that she actually seemed proud believing that she was the one at the center of this web.

However, Price may have been lying. The beginning of his phone conversation with White Rose suggests that his game with Angela might be what he's truly banking on after all. For all their grandeur, both Price and White Rose seem to be as helpless to the whims of circumstance or fate as anyone else in this story. Although, White Rose seems to be the more elusive of the two. She has little patience for the political hangups Price is locked into, and she also has caught wind of the progress Dom and the FBI have made in the investigation of the Five/Nine Hack.

Everyone's motivations are still shrouded in secrecy for the most part, but the one thing that is clear is that they are all walking on an exceedingly treacherous path. Some are just walking it better than others.

Ones and Zeroes:

* The feds found a single shell casing in the fsociety arcade. Maybe Mr. Robot really did kill Tyrell.

* At first, I thought the opening scene was going to reveal who was knocking on Elliot's door at the end of season one. Nope. Flashback.

* We learn that Darlene suffers from panic attacks. Not sure if we knew this before.

* They have to censor the word "fuck", but the word "cunty" slips right on by.

* In the shot of Darlene getting off the train in the beginning, you can see in the same frame a woman wearing headphones, a woman wearing VR goggles, and a man wearing a white surgical mask over his mouth. Hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil? In one of the shots before that, there were also a couple of people wearing gas masks sitting near Darlene.

* That grungy bathroom that Darlene and Cisco had sex in was, as my brother put it, very Darlene.

* While lying in bed, Joanna basically tells her lover Derek that he's a nobody who won't ever be able to offer her anything she wants and that this is the exact reason she loves being with him. The sincerity of that whole declaration was haunting. Although, with Joanna, it's hard to determine when she's being sincere and when she's being manipulative. That's what makes her so scary.

* Elliot imagines the world he would like to fight for. A world where he pursues his dreams and basks in the happiness of those he cares for. A world where all the myriad aspects of his life can exist as one. And above all, a world that no longer exists under the oppression of Evil Corp's ivory tower. The best part of this whole sequence was when Elliot imagined himself finding Bill, the nice IT guy he emotionally broke last season, who he apologizes to and who gives him a big hug in return.


Darlene: This is definitely the root of all of our psychological dysfunction.
She did not know how right she was.

Elliot/Mr. Robot: Maybe I should take the job at Allsafe. I could be a Trojan horse. Take them down from the inside.
Darlene: Who?
Elliot/Mr. Robot: Evil Corp.

Elliot: (narrating) The only way to patch a vulnerability is by exposing it first... The flip-side being that exposing a vulnerability leaves you open for an exploit.

Ray: You know the definition of insanity?
Elliot: (narrating) He clearly doesn't know who he's talking to.

Mr. Robot: You want to unburden yourself? Go jerk-off. This -- it's just a road paved with your dead friends and family.

Leon: Existence could be beautiful or it could be ugly, but that's on you.
I like Leon. He seems like a cool guy.

Darlene: We might be owned.

Our chess pieces are still moving further out onto the board, but this was yet another solid episode. Three out of four chessboards.


  1. I just had to say this about Elliots dreamy-scene. The music. At first I couldn't put my finger on it, it seemed familiar. Then it struck me, it's an extremely toned down, and haunting, version of Green Day's "Basket case".
    So utterly, totally, perfect for the scene.
    Much like your reviews. Thankyou!

  2. Logan,
    Thank you for your review. I really look forward to them each week. The teaser (which was actually very long!) was a real highlight for me with this show, both this season and the series, so far. It's the show at its best, imo. The flashbacks feel so essential and fulfilling because of how non-linear (and that's an understatement!) this show is. Just love seeing Darlene and Elliot together, too.

  3. Addendum: Here's the Basket case lullaby version on youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SF6jtLajESY and Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/track/16Al0cWZoVEdtQUsoYNrpp

  4. Heater, I loved the way they incorporated flashbacks this season. This show's editing is wonderful.

    I didn't catch that it was Basket Case. That truly was a haunting yet pleasant piece of music. Thanks for pointing that out, Henrik.

  5. As for Leon being a nice guy, I'm pretty sure he's another figment of Elliot's imagination


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