Photo Courtesy of USA Network
Warning: Spoiler Alert
It has felt like quite a long time since you and I spent time with Elliot, The Aldersons, FSociety and Evil Corp. Let ‘water cooler’ mode recommence. Part One begins right now.
The opening scene in tonight’s season 2 premiere begins with a familiar face, the public face (or mask) of FSociety. The unfamiliar part is the identity of the person wearing said mask. Tyrell Wellick. Wellick questions the nature of the mask and why it was chosen. Elliot is in code mode so he probably didn’t even hear the question. The camera moves slowly around Elliot to reveal his command prompt. A number of lines of code revealing commands that include “fuxsocy” and a number of encryption lines. Wellick asks “what it is”? Elliot responds with the ever ominous, “It’s happening…” Wellick sits down at Elliot’s computer as Elliot moves away as if he expects to see or hear something in reaction to what is ‘happening’. Instead he reaches into the popcorn maker digging into the popcorn to grab something.
Wellick: It’s almost as if something’s come alive.
The next scene is a flashback to the scene relived in season one a few times. The story told of young Elliot fearing for his father’s life, he betrays his father’s trust and tells his mother of his father’s fate. His father returns the favor by shoving young Elliot out of the window. The next scene involves his parents’ reaction to what Elliot must have been unconscious for. Fast forward to the hospital following the fall. Elliot will be fine, but as protocol goes, the doctor must speak to Elliot alone. To gauge any abuse the may have precipitated this ‘accident’. Elliot drifts off staring at his brain x-rays.
Elliot wakes from this relative day-dream as present day Elliot. Pleased to wake in his own perfect loop. Starting the day as he has started every day for the last month. He stops short as he walks past a tv airing President Obama’s reaction to the attacks perpetrated by FSociety and Tyrell Wellick.
Following breakfast (with Leon, a kid who spends way too much time talking about Seinfeld-something he’s just recently discovered), he comes home, usually around 10am. When he ‘helps out around the house’. More of President Obama speaking on the FSociety attacks. At noon, its time for lunch with Leon. And yes, Leon is still talking about Seinfeld. After lunch, Elliot and Leon catch a basketball game. No, not at the Garden or even Barclay’s as that wouldn’t logically fit. . A random pickup basketball game in the park. The local pyro is there (usually) and her routine-ness seems to be a source of calming familiarity for Elliot who is otherwise out of his element. Social gatherings, TV discussions, and sports. Then you guessed it…dinner with Leon.
Two days a week Elliot meets with a church group. This may be the most peculiar, not for any real underlying reason. Just that Elliot is attending for the routine of it. Like watching basketball for the organized chaos that the rules create. For Elliot, routine and repetition is the allure of all of this. Even mentions that his mother doesn’t have internet access to distract him. Is he really living with his mother? The absolute last place I would have guessed. He does this, keeps to his routine, because that’s what he believes normal people do. Keep life on ‘repeat’.
This play-by-play of Elliot’s new routine brings us back to Krista’s office. She seems to be lost in her own thoughts. Then she asks the question we’re all asking ourselves. Why his mother’s house? His mother is the source of a large portion of his childhood trauma. Yet, while Elliot’s answer is one we’ve heard before, it makes a lot of sense here. The devil you know is better than the devil you don’t.
For the first time since his admission that he hacked Krista, Elliot opens up a little. Why not go back to his old life. Answer? Because he can’t trust himself back there. Krista gets a little indignant when he hesitates to answer the question of why.
Elliot: It’s not that I don’t trust myself. It’s that I don’t trust him.
Inner Elliot speaking to the ‘him’ referenced earlier. An identity that I am completely willing to admit is anyone. The natural conclusion is that Elliot suffers from split personality disorder. Maybe ‘he’ is one personality in Elliot’s head that confirms dissociative identity disorder. Clearly whatever the practical application is, Elliot doesn’t trust the other voice in his head. He refers to him as his ‘friend’ and at this point in the relationship, actual Elliot feels betrayed.
When Elliot arrives home, we find another of what must be a mental disorder on some level. Elliot’s father lying on the bed reading Penthouse (for the articles I’m sure) and flat-out asking about ‘Elliot’s friend’. Elliot seems to be giving Mr. Alderson the silent treatment as he adds to his journal, including the phrase, “He’s here”. Push comes to shove quite literally as Dad shoves Elliot to the bed with a handgun pointed at his face as Dad tries to squash the notion that Elliot is in control. Elliot speaks up and asks him where is Tyrell Wellick? When Dad refuses, Elliot begins to tell his father a more colorful way of ‘getting bent’. Then Mr. Alderson shoots Elliot in the head splattering blood and brain matter all over the wall. Remember, in modern television, no one is ever really dead. Elliot slowly sits up, looks his father in the eyes and asks, “are you done?” Then he moves back to his journal like nothing happened. Still sporting the bullet hole to the forehead he writes, “he shot me in the head again”.
Someone who resembles Darlene in an FSociety mask and a couple masked associates arrive to castrate the Wall Street Bull. Side note. Why are so many shows and movies hell-bent on damaging the Wall Street Bull? The next day a new character, a middle-aged woman whose identity is still in question arrives home after a run. Once home, she has a hard time keeping her very integrated home from malfunctioning. Alarm goes haywire. The news (some sort of news) comes on and won’t turn off until the segment is finished. And even while she attempts to swim, the pool stereo won’t quit and the lights turn out. In the shower, the water keeps getting hotter while the temperature in the house keeps getting colder. If you’re thinking Ghost in the Machine, it might be a little too soon for that.
A strange hand that belongs to a body with a prosthetic leg simply walks in to the aforementioned integrated home and instantly all of the audible chaos stops at once. The one-legged figure is not alone. Her entrance into the residence is familiar. Shades of Jason Lee in Dogma, setting up a base of operations.
In an unexpected stroke, Gideon waits patiently in Elliot’s mother’s dining room. Despite Dad’s presence in the corner, Elliot is darn near social. Gideon is the subject of the FBI’s attention. He’s been cooperative but for some reason they keep coming at him. Gideon also believes he’s being continually hacked. There is essentially a three-way conversation. Gideon -> Elliot, Dad -> Elliot, Elliot -> no one. Right as Dad suggests the emotional weight of framing Gideon, Elliot begins to bleed again from his previously imagined gunshot wound.
Dad keeps rambling. Driving the proverbial knife deeper and deeper. Going so far as to suggest that eventually his bullet will penetrate Elliot’s thick skull. Suggesting that Elliot is on a downward spiral to madness. Gideon is there humbly to ask for assistance. Elliot hangs his head a mutters that he can’t help. Dad suggests that it takes a specifically troubled person to sit there and let a man like Gideon take the fall. Gideon has no earthly idea the evils Elliot is fighting and because of that detail he, as Dad puts it acting like a small animal, does what all small animals do when they are threatened. Try to act like bigger animals. Gideon threatens to turn over what he thinks he knows about Elliot to the feds.
Mr. Alderson: He has a point. He does know a lot. Maybe too much.
(Alderson slowly walks behind Gideon)
Mr. Alderson: I wonder…If I sliced his throat right here, would it be me doing it? Or you doing it?
Gideon (voice growing more clear): I will go to them. And tell them everything.
Mr. Alderson: Truth is it doesn’t really matter with the choices you’ve made lately. It all adds up to one thing. You add up to one thing. Me. (Elliot watches as Dad slices Gideon ear to ear-but not really as it didn’t actually happen)
Elliot says nothing but heads upstairs where he writes in his journal. I am control. I am control repeatedly. And follows it up with “Control is an Illusion”. The thing Dad said just before shooting him in the head. Elliot’s plan is to stay as regimented as possible to maintain his sanity until Dad goes away, allowing Elliot to return to his natural self. As if Mr. Alderson will just disappear out of frame like the photo from Back to the Future.
Even Elliot’s meals with Leon are not free from Father interruptions. Elliot remains steadfast in the adherence of his plan. Then Dad explains that he may just go from annoyed to hurt and hurting his feelings would be unwise. Elliot collects himself and begins to ask about the mask.
Elliot: How do you take off the mask when its stops being a mask? It’s as much a part of me as I am. Like the world we unmask. We will find our true selves again.
The camera moves from Elliot to a party showing FSociety supporters celebrating with the Bull of Wall Street’s removed bits to Darlene seated on the floor looking emotional. Darlene puts herself together and from the second floor can be seen by the rowdy group taking selfies with the Bull’s unmentionables. Darla does not appreciate the selfies based on the mere risk of making those pics public. She demands to have the phone then proceeds to smash it.
Darlene refocuses their attention. Reiterating that they are in a war. A war they are losing. They are in the home of the unidentified character from 20 minutes ago. She is now identified by her name from inside Evil Corp. Madam Executioner. Shortly thereafter, Darlene gives instructions on how to move outside of this location as to not burn this location. No one takes the same route twice to or from their new safe house.
At an Evil Corp bank, or Evil Bank we’ll call it, a woman in offended at the predicament that Evil Bank is putting her in. Their inability to verify payments has this customer in a state of limbo. Even cancelling her acct is no easy task. As the camera pulls back you can make out what looks like a countdown clock and court jester image. It reads, “Your files are encrypted. To get the key to decrypt the files, you have to pay 5.9 million USD. If payment is not made by tomorrow night, we’ll brick your entire system. More instructions forthcoming. -fsociety. Time Left: 23h 59m 12s.” And naturally, the Evil Bank IT guy is the Horatio Sands looking gentlemen from Mr. Robot’s original team.
Phillip Price, Scott Knowles and Madam Executioner sit in a meeting about the clock. Pay the ransom, don’t pay the ransom. Then Price notices a secondary request. One of Evil Corp’s Chief Officers will need to make the drop. Seems like a non-starter until Scott Knowles offers to do it. This concludes Part One of tonight’s double episode season 2 premiere.
Knowles shows up at the specified location with two large duffel bags. It’s very un-ransom drop like. The area is flooded with people. He stands there cautiously sizing up everyone who walks by. Including a very creepy guy walking his dog. The beautiful irony is the faint sound of Phil Collins singing “Take Me Home” subtly in the background. A bike messenger makes a b-line for Knowles. He is not the contact. He is just a bike messenger making a delivery to a man standing in the middle of a walkway who answers to being called ‘someone from E Corp’.
The delivery was for nondescript backpack. Despite being warned not to look in the bag by the voice in Knowles’ ear, he does so anyway. There is a note in the bag. Knowles’ phone rings. It’s a disguised voice that demands he do what the note says within 10 seconds or else. Also in the bag is an FSociety mask. Knowles puts it on and proceeds to open the bags. Ignoring the voice in his ear, Knowles unloads the bags onto the walkway and proceeds to burn the 5.9 million in front of a viewing crowd. Think Ledger’s Joker burning half of the Mob’s money but visually much smaller. Darlene being one of the onlookers.
Price meets with some White House officials in Washington DC. He apparently was under the impression this would be a meeting of good news. They will not contribute anymore funds beyond the 900 million they’ve already given to help Evil Corp. The only way to keep moving is for Price to resign. The President can’t ask Congress for a bailout. Instead of agreeing, he fires into a speech about FDR and the Great Depression. That comes together to create the theme that the country made it out of the Great Depression because the people were sold an illusion. Price resigning would destroy that illusion and any chance they have to save this thing. “A Con cannot succeed without the CONfidence”.
Side note. Wellick’s wife still scares me. Tied to all four posts and wearing about 3 square inches of material, someone who isn’t Tyrell moves a large kitchen knife across her flesh eventually breaking the skin. He then proceeds to do as he is ordered and slaps her really hard.
At a local corner store we are finally introduced to Dominique DiPierro played by Grace Gummer. That name might not be familiar to you but the face should be. Gummer played Hallie Shea in seasons 2 and 3 of the incredible HBO Series and latest television product of Aaron Sorkin, The Newsroom. If that’s not enough, Grace Gummer is the daughter of Don Gummer and the highly decorated Meryl Streep. Let that fester, because if this is news to you, you won’t be able to un-see Meryl is Grace’s face. It’s actually quite uncanny.
Now that we’ve had our Wikipedia moment, who is Dominique? First layer is that she’s a Fed. The Fed that Gideon apparently plans to spill Elliot to. Meanwhile, Elliot sees patterns in his daily pickup game watching. Trying to marry the chaos of a game with rules to the effort of wearing the mask. Do these men mask who they are? Or do they become who they are when they put on the mask? Then the ball falls out-of-bounds and lands near Elliot. Not familiar with the etiquette of a neighborhood basketball court he does nothing to return the ball to the combatants. When one of the player’s voice reaches a hostile level Leon jumps in. Leon tosses the ball and begins to square off with the player giving Elliot grief. The ball is returned by a third person off camera, but it looked like Leon was fully prepared to stand up for Elliot. Which may not be a big deal, but if you haven’t seen this episode yet, imagine Lil Wayne mixed with O Dog from Menace II Society, if that reference is not lost on you.
Then the third-party is revealed. Its Craig Robinson. Seriously, that’s not a typo. Craig Robinson of such productions like The Office, Hot Tub Time Machine, Knocked Up, The host of Last Comic Standing, and even the short-lived self titled “Mr. Robinson” show. Not criticizing, just pointing out that Craig Robinson doesn’t feel like a fit. But then again, I said that about Patton Oswalt as Constable Bob on Justified…and he was great.
Ray begins to make conversation with Elliot. Which actually works for a while. Ray speaks almost monologuing about the greater meaning of what they see. A bunch of people playing a weak version of a popular game. Which parallels nicely into what Elliot sees. His words may speak to Elliot on some level, which is why Elliot is compelled to leave the situation. Before he can, Ray identifies that Elliot is not much of a talker and makes it clear that he is alright with that. Elliot stops short. Ray mentions that talking is good in his line of work. Then when he refers to Elliot and computers, Elliot’s wall goes up again.
Elliot abruptly squashes any notion of him and computers going forward. That’s when Mr. Alderson shows up again egging Elliot on to help Ray with whatever it is. Just to get that feeling back. Ray backs off with a light-hearted reference to his wife, then asks if it’s alright if they continue talking. To be honest I thought that gesture would’ve spoken to Elliot, but he replied with a simple, “no thanks”.
Ray: Damn man. That’s some cold brutal _____ right there. I’m gonna have to go listen to some Adele on repeat when I get back home. Okay. I can take a hint.
Elliot still believes that by severing himself from computers, getting off the grid so to speak will remove his ‘weapon of choice’ from Mr. Robot. Hoping that eventually Mr. Robot will die. And we have a Nancy Grace sighting. That’s not a political comment, that’s a “she annoys me as a broadcaster” comment. Nancy Grace is Nancy Gracing the issue of the missing culprit, Tyrell Wellick.
Mrs. Wellick returns home to find a neatly wrapped gift. A jewelry box. Inside the jewelry box is a smaller also wrapped box. The smaller box is fixed to the jewelry box. Under the jewelry box is a Nexus phone taped to it.
We get our first glimpse of Angela in season 2 working her Evil Corp job as a PR Manager. She’s hardened and cold. However, she gets the desired result. This prompts her to bring an end to her and Nayar’s (the lawyer working her mother’s case against Evil Corp) meetings. Something Nayar does not take well. Nayar is still under the impression that this job of Angela’s is a temp job used to compile any intel on Evil Corp for their lawsuit against them. This effectively ends their relationship.
Another day, another pickup game. Ray begins to break the ice this time by claiming that Maxine, Ray’s aging basset hound, likes Elliot more than Ray. Elliot tries to ignore Ray and stands fast on his stance of not talking or befriending Ray. Ray is trying to be social this time because apparently, Ray and Elliot met last night and clearly spoke about something of consequence. A concept that Elliot is completely unaware of. Elliot says nothing. Looks up then books it, full sprint to get back to his journal.
The regiment, the perfect loop was designed and executed to avoid this very slip up. The journal shows nothing. 10:34 pm to sleep, awake at 6:33 am. He can’t account for it. Then Dad appears to turn the tables on what Elliot thinks he knows.
Mr. Alderson: What do they see when they see you coming?
Inner Elliot: And this is why I’m different, sometimes my mask takes over.
Actual Elliot: Why did you talk to him?
Mr. Alderson: Because…I’m going to make you realize…
Actual Elliot: What…? What will you make me realize.
(Alderson steps forward)
Mr. Alderson: That they see…me.
Elliot walks away back turned and stands silent for a minute. He turns around and I’m not ashamed to say, he does something both new and alarming at the same time. He smiles and laughs almost uncontrollably. Almost like one might imagine the Joker laughed the first time his mind broke. The laughing even confuses Dad. Alderson resorts to the gun to the head bit again. Elliot is not caving on that anymore. He demands, “Tell me where Tyrell Wellick is or shoot me again”. Both personalities square off but neither man gives any ground. That is until Elliot leaves for his church group.
Gideon tries to enjoy a drink at a bar alone, but no such luck. The stranger talks about the attacks, the leaks, the government cover up,etc when Gideon tries to defuse the situation but this stranger is not easily shaken. The man reveals that he knows he’s talking to Gideon Goddard. He also reveals that he can see why Gideon makes the perfect patsy. He just needed Gideon to believe it too on some level. This man acknowledges that he will be a hero by tomorrow. Then with no notice he pulls out a gun and shoots Gideon in the jugular.
Back at the Wellick’s home Mrs. Wellick plays the jewelry box/music box while waiting for that cell phone to ring. She gets up to check on the crying baby. While she’s gone the phone rings. Missed call from ‘unknown’.
Elliot sits staring blankly during his church group. He seems mildly engaged as he listens to a woman read from the book of Revelations. “I am the Alpha and the Omega. The beginning and the end.” Elliot becomes increasingly calm. He dozes off then wakes up with a payphone receiver in his hand. The line is not dead but no one is speaking. Elliot speaks first. There is a pause, then a familiar voice and familiar greeting.
“Bon Swah Elliot”