Mr. Robot Review: Episode 5

SEASON 2, EPISODE 5: eps2.3 logic-b0mb.hc

Once we have access to their system, we can make all the bullshit go away. – Darlene

Well, that was certainly a busy 72 minutes for Elliot Alderson and his merry (or should I say somber and desperate) band of misfits. In one episode, more events occurred than in the first four combined, and it was wildly entertaining. Along with the fun came some questions and some opacity, but that’s just how Sam Esmail likes to get down.

Mr. Robot opened with Elliot narrating the passion he has for hacking a system he distrusts and deplores. Through all the insider jargon, as always, are universal truths that use the fancy-sounding words to say basic things about our lives. This week, it was the logic bomb, which can rise and bite amidst various levels of code. As the episode progressed, we saw it occur in multiple scenes and with multiple characters.

The concluding minutes showed Elliot in more trouble than at any point in the series, as he went down the rabbit hole and his If-Then moment escalated rapidly. We all knew Ray was likely into some ugly stuff, but seeing just how nasty his corner of the Dark Web was even made the worst of us blush. Not just drugs and weapons, but the full range of human trafficking and pedophilia. Not surprisingly, once Alderson unwrapped the package, he couldn’t re-wrap it and hide it from his parents. He’ll survive, but it’s going to get much more treacherous before our antihero finds any semblance of relief.

I’d like to officially welcome Angela Moss back to the party, as we didn’t get the robotic (no pun intended) businesswoman, and instead saw her go from “No” to “Maybe” to “Yes” to walking in the door of fsociety’s new headquarters. What she’s being asked to do is anything but simple, and Darlene knew it when she laid the plan out for her, but it’s going to lead to some tension-filled sequences in the next few episodes. For the first time this year, she’s interesting again, and we’re seeing Portia Doubleday at her best.

We spent much more time with Dom this week, and after mentioning the Dark Army in a Beijing meeting with the Chinese Minister of State Security, the FBI’s role in the episode became clear. The room full of clocks, the non-existent sister’s wardrobe, and then came the masked gunmen, one of whom was willing to shoot himself in the head, rather than risk capture as Dom had him dead to rights. We also learned things about our favorite field agent, including the story of how she went out the back way from a restaurant to escape a proposal from a man she was in love with. Her character still isn’t fully fleshed out, but there’s far more to Grace Gummer’s performance now, as we’re starting to see some layering.

Eventually, Tyrell Wellick is going to return, as it appears he’s haunting Joanna, who was pretty terrifying in her own right as she explained why she wanted to paralyze the former ally before having him murdered. “We let him die with answers,” is downright chilling. Come to think of it, she’s just frightening in general, not to mention dangerous. But, someone sent her gifts and breathed into a telephone, and the smile indicates she thinks it’s her husband. It would be nice if she were right, because his absence is the one thing we haven’t remedied in the new season.

A few quick notes, as we saw in the Angela restaurant scene a television news update showing same sex marriage legalization and the rainbow-lit White House, so that’s an indication of the timing. Angela also told us, through her conversation with Darlene, that it’s been around five weeks since the last time she was with Elliot or his sister. We also heard that Five Nine Truthers exist in this world, as some people believe the malware was a “put on.” I know we probably won’t ever hear it mentioned again, but I’d love to somehow see more from the conspiracy theorists. Speaking of which, I’m still not fully ready to embrace the popular theory that Elliot has been in a mental institution (or a prison) since the beginning of the season.

I will admit, however, that as I watch any scene he’s in, I can find a way to place that in a fictionalized world in the mind of someone doped up and in an asylum. It works the same if he’s in lockup, and would explain his routine and his bedroom, as well as things like watching aggressive basketball games or playing chess in an empty park. It’s fun to think about, even though I hope there’s something deeper to the story than a trick played on the audience.

Everyone moved forward in last night’s episode, at least they all stepped up to a greater plane within Esmail’s narrative. Angela even sat down and had to deal with the fact that her ex spoke to the FBI, and figured out she was being recorded before saying even one incriminating word. People made logical maneuvers all across the board, even though some led to pain, with Elliot’s beating being the most obvious example.

Dom stepped up and called the Dark Army by its name, and it may well have led to the death of several of her colleagues. Darlene has sent some of her people to Washington D.C. for the next stage of the E Corp attack. Joanna Wellick had a young man murdered to protect her family and the money that comes along with it. Ray revealed more of his true colors. It was an eventful, fast-paced, strong episode.

Since the third installment, which was a little weak, Mr. Robot has been on fire. Each character has become more dynamic, and the story has become more centralized. We’ve seen escalation in every facet of Esmail’s plot, and the show is far better today than it was two weeks ago. I have no idea exactly where we’re going, but I’m really enjoying this trip. As it’s grounded itself and gotten away from the dream sequences and the narcotics and the delusions, the show is hitting on all cylinders. Oh, and this one was a few minutes shorter, which was also a major plus.

I’m @GuyNamedJason on Twitter. I told you not to look. (But follow me.)

Written by Jason Martin