Mr. Robot: Action Without User Interaction

Courtesy of USA Network
Courtesy of USA Network

Warning: Spoiler Alert

Cold open begins with Elliot staring at a closeup of a line of morphine. This is a metaphor for the decisions that have brought him to where he is. “I chose this”. Whether morphine or f_society, Elliot chose this. At f_society, Elliot attempts to explain his plan to the team. It deals with the relative temperature inside Steel Mountain and how the right temperature will adversely affect the hardware. Essentially melting them so that they are literally unreadable. The plan hinges on installation of a circuit board on site. Now this plan has left the realm of conceptual hack and into the realm of a Mission Impossible plot. Then Elliot leaves, before the team was ready for him to leave.

This is when the withdrawal symptoms began. And back to the metaphor. This is now the second time Elliot has broken his own rule about usage. Inner Elliot takes us through the journey his morphine took, from the manufacturer to the guard who stole it, to Shayla, to him. All decisions leading to this line. This last line. From all early indications, Elliot actually believes he’s committed to quitting his drug of choice.

Elliot doesn’t get very far outside his apartment before he notices he’s bookend-ed by two men in black suits. Back in his apartment, there is loud banging on the door. It’s Darlene, not men in black suits. At least she didn’t break in this time. Darlene notices his paraphernalia on the table and shows some slight concern. Elliot shrugs it off and departs the apartment in full compliance of her initial request for clarity on his plan.

Romero, one of the team at f_society, informs the team that Evil Corp is ramping up their security protocols. Moving copies from the New York Steel Mountain location to 5 additional sites around the country. Elliot’s wheels are already spinning over information no one else on the team has. Because no one else on the team has had direct conversations with Tyrell Wellick. The security protocols won’t change until April 1st. A couple of days from now. The plan now requires they move as close to immediately as possible. Romero doesn’t believe they are ready. The rest of the team is more than willing to do their fair share of lifting to move early.

Romero is still against the plan. Months of planning to be rushed at the last second is just risky. Elliot volunteers to be the physical presence on site. Then Romero points out the minor elephant in the room. Elliot is clearly de-toxing. Whether he’s a junkie in need of a fix or a guy trying to quit a bad dependency. Romero can see it.

Elliot meets with Mr. Robot (wink, wink) and questions why Mr. Robot has not questioned any of this plan thus far. Elliot claims that this is not his operation, but some of us know better. Mr. Robot reiterates that Elliot is the key to the entire thing. “The only force of nature at play here”.

Inner Elliot: There’s a saying, the devil’s the strongest when we’re looking the other way. Like a program working in the background while we’re doing other ****. Daemons they’re called. They perform action without user interaction.

Inner Elliot continues this inner dialogue about ‘daemons’ and transitioning the concept into a more practical look at ‘demons’. To which he admits, he has more than a few. Mr. Robot looks on concerned from the back seat. Elliot’s gaze intensifies. Then he vomits. They make a stop at what I must assume is a motel room for Elliot to sweat out the rough patch of his detox. Romero gives him the business about how bad it’s going to get. Elliot thinks he knows what he’s up against.

Angela clumsily tries to steal the mix CD from Ollie while he sleeps. He wakes up to an accidental but welcomed view, distracting him from what’s happening. Angela makes her way to Elliot’s apartment and gets no response. She does however cross paths with Shayla who is about to take Flipper for a walk. Before they even leave the building there is a polite clash of personality. Angela’s premeditated attempt at controlling what she can and Shayla’s random approach of letting life dictate to her. Shayla offers for Angela to join them on their walk. Angela reluctantly agrees.

During Elliot’s attempt to shake the ‘shakes’, two of the team watch and criticize a scene from the movie Hackers. Elliot squirms as we see a caravan of Evil Corp trucks pass by the window. The girls at f_society get tired of waiting.

Shayla and Angela walk into a park when Shayla hands Angela two pills. Angela mistakes it for ecstasy. Shayla describes it as ‘clarity’. Something to help her relax during whatever it is that’s bringing her down.

Romero starts looking into options. Dumping Elliot at a hospital and splitting seems to be the least likely option. Each plan involves leaving. Then Mr. Robot (who up until now didn’t appear to be in the room) yells out.

Mr. Robot: Fine! You wanna leave? Then leave.

The strangest part is that Romero seems to react to the outburst and does in fact leave. Elliot says he just needs a hit. To get through this. Then Mr. Robot retorts that he can’t let him do that. Mr. Robot hesitates to respond further. Do you really need any further evidence that Mr. Robot is in fact a part of Elliot’s subconscious? Or at the very least a figment of his imagination? Interesting since USA keeps asking the question “who is Mr. Robot” considering they’ve telegraphed the issue for the last two episodes specifically.

Mr. Robot half carries Elliot to a shady flop house in the hopes of assisting Elliot in a drug deal. The curious part is that the shady character seems to be talking to Mr. Robot exclusively. A role reversal of what we’ve seen to this point. Only users are allowed in. Mr. Robot pays the man and they both hobble towards the side entrance giving instructions all along the way. Following the rules, Elliot enters alone. Upon entering, Elliot sees a few f_society prints on the wall. There is no morphine. The man inside hands him a syringe instead.

A young woman attempts to assist Elliot. Inner Elliot is having an attack of conscience. Has he really fallen this far? Why can’t he control his own thoughts? I need this. Once the drugs are injected, the girl mounts him and begins to get ‘fresh’. Just then a commotion in the background. A man with a gun has entered the premises. There is a struggle to get the gun from him. Random shots ring out. One of them hit the girl now sitting next to Elliot. Elliot tries to stand to get out of harm’s way. Before he is completely vertical a second shot hits Elliot in what looks like his arm as he falls to the floor.

Elliot appears to be alive as he’s transfixed by the weather report on the television in front of him. Then the transition is interrupted by another f_society message. This message is much more cryptic. F_society is here for those that do not wish to wait. They are here to help with lost memories. The camera pulls back to show the camera fixed on the man in the mask. The masked man who from the beginning were led to believe is Mr. Robot. Elliot, or the dream facsimile of Elliot walks into the shot standing next to the man in the mask. The man in the mask takes off a necklace attached to a key and hands it to Elliot. Then removes his mask, revealing a second mask beneath it and hands the first mask to Elliot.

Elliot: What does it open?
Man in the Mask: It belongs to you now. Made in the Orient. Made just for your head. Now, find your monster and turn the key. But first, a word from our corporate overlords.

We must be in full dream sequence as the lighting of what we see has completely changed. Out of the commercial break we are in a commercial when the now familiar static change cuts it short. Elliot walks a brightly lit suburban street. He stops at a mailbox that reads, “Aldersons”. On an electrical pole a stapled paper reads, “Error 404 Not Found”. A young girl approaches on a scooter humming Frere Jacques. Elliot looks very clean as he addresses her. Before she will tell him what happened to the house behind him, she asks “what is your monster”? She bends down and gives him a key he droped. Elliot now hums Frere Jacques.

Inside, Elliot finds Wellick sitting at a dual monitor display holding up a key. This now appears to be Elliot’s apartment.  He doesn’t acknowledge Wellick. Instead he sits next to a Beta fish (assuming its QWERTY) and begins to have a two-way conversation with the fish. The fish talks about the endless loop that is his life. When Elliot asks what he can do to help, the fish screams at him to move his tank to the window (paraphrasing minus the profanity).

The next scene in this dream sequence shows Elliot sitting across from Angela in what at first appears to be a restaurant but upon further review looks creepily like All Safe’s office made to look like a restaurant. Here Angela is cutting and eating a very large fish made to look like QWERTY, even on a bed of colored aquarium gravel, as to make that image clear.

Elliot: Angela, he’s my friend.
Angela: Yes. And he’s delicious.

Angela offers him a bite of his own aquarium pet. He quietly refuses. Across the room we see what looks like Elliot’s mother trying to force feed young Elliot something he doesn’t want. A waiter brings over a plate of raspberry pie. Elliot does take a bite of this and it is crunchy. He pulls out a small key and Angela immediately repeats, “I do” as if he just proposed to her. The surrounding patrons all begin clapping. Confused, Elliot still enjoys this moment.

Elliot enters f_society HQ wearing a James Bond-esque tux complete with matching hoodie. Music plays while he walks towards Angela in a wedding dress. She begins to speak. Claiming that she was lying to those people just then, she moves into something more telling.

Angela: You’re not going to do it are you? Change the world? Figures. You were only born a month ago. You’re afraid. Afraid of your monster. Do you even know what it is? It doesn’t fit. (She hands him back the key)
Elliot: Why not?
Angela (in a distorted voice): Isn’t it obvious? You’re not Elliot. You’re the—

FYI, this is the part of the episode when I yell at my television for a tactic the showrunners have clearly done intentionally. Elliot wakes up in a chair in a dark room. He calls out, “Hello?” and all he hears is children’s laughter. The mask hangs from the camcorder. Inner Elliot questions the mask. Even asking if it’s his monster. He puts the mask on sitting in front of the camera. A voice says, “I am here, you are alone” then all the machines in the HQ suddenly turn on. Elliot wakes up back at the motel.

Elliot: They all left. They all left. They all left. I’m alone. I’m alone. (he begins sniffling).
Mr. Robot: No you’re not. I’m not going anywhere kiddo. I’m in this til the end.

Darlene in her drunken state scales bike racks as if she were a skilled ballerina. Trenton advises against this to no avail. The guy Darlene was looking for never came. Across the street is a parked limo that Darlene is sure is ‘him’. They both get in. Inside are two men dressed in what look like Chinese Shamanic masks. One yells out something in Chinese. Darlene hands over her phone which he throws out the window. He insists Trenton do the same.

Elsewhere, Angela is enjoying loud music in a bathroom, clearly effects from whatever she took. She looks down to see all of the missed calls and texts from Ollie and realizes she needs to be at work in four hours. Apparently, Angela has been accompanying Shayla on her last drug deals. They exchange views on worrying. Then Shayla moves in and they begin making out. They stop after a few moments and Shayla suggest Angela look in the mirror. At the only person she should ever worry about.

Darlene now walks the streets alone until she finds the man she was looking for. The ‘turtle’ look a like who was peddling his new CD, apparently working for the Dark Army and is responsible for the predicament that Ollie and Angela find themselves in. His name is Cisco. The way she’s talking to him its clear that he’s aware of what f_society is trying to do but is not directly involved. He gives some vague comment about the people he works for and how serious they are. He warns her to back off. She tries to convince him to talk to ‘them’.

Romero puts together some sort of home remedy. Seven of them to be precise. Elliot is beginning to look like himself again. His inner self reintroduce himself like two friends that haven’t seen each other in a while. “Did you leave or did I”? Darlene wakes up at f_society to the sound of Trenton praying. Angela walks out of an elevator while Inner Elliot drivels on.

Inner Elliot: At some point, action without user interaction will come along and sweep my legs. This spinning wheel of false highs and true lows will continue. That much I know.

Angela scans her id badge at All Safe but no one is in the building. She inserts the disc into a company computer. What looks like a dos prompt appears then disappears and she can’t remove the disc. A new face enters the office. Angela rips the disc out. This new face starts distributing bound packets onto all of the desks, but Angela has slipped out undetected.

Inner Elliot: Daemons. They don’t stop working. They’re always active. They seduce. They manipulate. They own us. And even though you’re with me, even though I created you, it makes no difference. We all must deal with them alone. The best we can hope for–the only silver lining to any of this is that when we break through, we find some familiar faces waiting on the other side.

::mind blown::

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