Wowsers, Trousers! Where to begin? S02E09 certainly kept us on our toes; providing us with quite a few answers but ultimately only asking more questions.
Firstly, one of Mr Robot’s biggest questions was finally answered (and we think we called it in our recent post) – It was the cops at Elliot’s door. Not Tyrell, not Robot, Not Fernando Vera (thank the universe) not even the FBI but the cops and what amounted to the beginning of a ten-minute recap of Elliot’s 86 days behind bars.
This opening montage provided answers to questions we (mostly) already knew, but who cares when they’re so deliciously drip-fed under Sam Esmail’s keen direction?
SAM’S PRISON CHECKLIST by Sam ESMAIL aged 39 (nearly)
- BEGIN S02E09 WITH COPS KNOCKING AT ELLIOT’S DOOR
- ELLIOT PLEADS GUILTY IN HIS TRIAL BY VIDEOLINK
- REVEAL LENNY/MICHAEL GOT ELLIOT ARRESTED
- (DON’T FORGET TO SHOW FAN FAVORITE FLIPPER THE DOG!)
- REVEAL LONE STAR AS PRISON GUARD AND RAY AS PRSION WARDEN
- HAVE LEON EXPLAIN THUG LIFE TO ELLIOT
- SHOW PYRO CARLA (“Chick with a dick”) BURNING SHIT
- “STAY AWAY FROM THESE DAVID DUKE MUTHAFKKRS”
- ELLIOT ASKS FOR NOTEBOOK
- MOM AS WARDEN (DEPECHE MODE MONTAGE!)
- ELLIOT ON PRISON PILLOW INTERCUT WITH MOM’S HOME PILLOW
- BURNING THE RED WHEELBARROW NOTEBOOK (over title-card)
- THAT’S EVERYTHING!
And when we were done, Elliot even told us “That’s how it happened, that’s all you missed. That’s everything.” which was nice! He’s keeping his promise and telling us the truth… unfortunately, someone else isn’t!
What was interesting about the opening scenes was that now we got to see Elliot’s “real” prison life, it wasn’t the clichéd, Hollywood version whereby newbies are simply fresh meat for the hardened criminals. There were no catcalls, no banging trays on cell bars, threats nor dropped shower soap.
And then, after the televisual equivalent of eating all the chocolate from the advent calendar on December 1st, S02E09 could begin!
Darlene meets Elliot outside prison and gives him what MRHHQ decided is Cheestrings!
Miss Moss immediatley wears her “Good Angela” mask with a quick hack of Mr Joseph Green’s computer before it’s revealed that Trenton and Mobley are both AWOL and Elliot visits Mom in an old folks’ home to thank her for helping him hallucinate his way through prison.
While her comatose state does unfortunately cross the streams into the realm of cliché, her clear non-compos mentis state does raise an interesting question… does mental illness run in the family? Does Mrs Alderson see her dead husband? Does Darlene?
After Whiterose pisses on the grave of the last E-Corp CEO who crossed her, Elliot starts to show the first signs of not coping with being out of prison. At Cisco’s apartment, he sees Robot talking to Cisco and Darlene and then he does zackly what we thought he would and hacks Zhun’s phone… but not just any old hack!
Every week, Mr Robot shows us real-life products and authentic hacks, but S02E09 saw Elliot use a Pwnie Express Pwn Phone, “a phone loaded with 103 network monitoring and attack tools” to run his custom CrackSIM script to pwn Zhun’s phone.
And we’ll let you into a little secret… our friends over at Pwnie Express are giving away the actual Pwn Phone (worth $1,300) that Elliot used over on their site.
Elliot then sets up a meeting with Zhun as Robot describes himself as “overheating” Maybe Robot and Elliot need to cool down by sitting their asses on a laptop cooling pad?
Especially since, on the way to the shoutiest library in the world, Elliot again hallucinates Robot talking to Cisco while he’s locked in another train carriage with a man from One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest’s psych ward!
Angela travels to Washington to blow the whistle on the Washington Township Chemical Leak and Philip Price meets with Whiterose, but we’ll come back to those two points… after Darlene remembers that she accidentally left the V.H.S. tape at Susan Jacob’s house and Cisco volunteers to go retrieve it, he finds someone alive behind the couch.
As brown-outs lend a horror-movie vibe to New York City and Washington D.C, we and Darlene discover from the pwnd Dark Army phone that Stage 2 was Elliot’s plan all along (though under the control of Robot) and.. just as we were given the answer to who was knocking on Elliot’s door, we’re gifted another just as tantalising question – Who was knocking on Cisco’s apartment door?
And what the hell does Joana Wellick want with Elliot!
While TV has always provided cliffhangers, this Second Golden Age of Television asks so many questions that it’s made detectives of us all. While the first GAOTV in the 1960’s took the first baby steps asking “Will Richard Kimble ever find the one armed man that killed his wife?” television, has (via David Lynch’s surreal Twin Peaks which asked “Who killed Laura Palmer” for two seasons, the labyrinthine mythology of Lost and latterly the existential pondering of True Detective and the unfathomable twists of Mr Robot ) turned YOU into the True Detective to ask your television screen “What the fuck is going on?”
But Mr Robot does give us clues – one of the most significant indicators of S02E09 was Elliot’s very first words of the episode. “Every relationship is a power struggle” in which he became not only reliable narrator but told us what to keep our eyes and ears peeled for…
Just like the brown-outs and the knock at Cisco’s door lay new breadcrumb trails, Robot seeming to talk to Darlene and Cisco indicates his control (or Elliot’s illness) will crank up at the same pace the story cranks up towards the Season Finale.
Of course, we know that Elliot’s relationship with Robot has always been a struggle for control (despite what the latter said about working together) but EVERY relationship this week manifested in struggle for power.
Darlene struggled with Cisco and Angela’s 1970’s political thriller levels of paranoia kicked in as she struggled with the overly-friendly yet crazily ominous (in a Nina Myers-from-24-like-way) with Deputy Director Phelps in the eerie corridors of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
Angela also struggled with Dominique, after my favorite moment of the episode. You never turn up at my apartment with a super friendly “HEY!!” and sandwiches, Agent Dom, even after I emailed the address on your business card to ask you out for dinner (you wouldn’t believe the lengths we go to at Mr Robot Hacks – the emailbounced back as a delivery failure)
Elliot asserted his power over Zhun, but of particular note was Minister Zhang (Whiterose) and Phillip Price’s rendezvous. Shot like a cross betwixt The Manchurian Candidate and The Omen, Price revealed his true colors as a mercenary more prepared to blow it all up and see his nemesis (one time partner, now enemy?) lose everything.
S02E09’s title “init_5.fve” was named after a Unix system run level – Init 5 is an X11 Mode command for a “Full Multiuser with Networking and X Windows (GUI)” which makes sense as Elliot is out of prison in the real which should bring sound and color (but doesn’t) plus he’s finally working with others.
There’s only one higher run level (init 6) and while it’s not exactly a hierarchical scale, we’re gonna take a stab in the dark and suggest that’s the name of the Season Finale when Stage 2 and the show both reach uhm… for want of a better phrase… “critical mass“!
S02E09 contained HUUUGE implications and clues and here at Mr Robot Hacks HQ, we a million ideas taht we ain’t even rocked yet about who Cisco found in the smarthouse, who’s at Cisco’s door and the fall-out from Price’s meeting with Whiterose… but in true Mr Robot and Second Golden Age of Television stylee, we’re gonna keep you in suspense too!
If you want to know our thoughts and theories on What Happens Next, be sure to check back in over the next few days, until then… DON’T GET PWND!