“Eps2.0_unm4sk-pt1.tc” picks up right where “eps1.8_m1rr0r1ng.qt” (1×9) leaves off, with the temperamental alliance between Tyrell Wellick (Martin Wallstrom) and Elliot Allderson (Rami Malek) still in place, three days prior to the E-Corp hack. All signs continue to indicate that Elliot killed Tyrell mere moments following the hack, as Elliot pulls a gun stashed in the popcorn machine. Before confirmation about Tyrell’s death is revealed, we jarringly cut to a flashback scene of Elliot falling through the second story window at his childhood home. A nice little Easter egg for viewers who were told the story behind the incident from both Elliot and Mr. Robot’s perspective. Both Elliot and Mr. Robot (Christian Slater) have different interpretations of that night with Tyrell, much like their differing opinions about that childhood memory. The show’s editing remains on point as the camera zoom allows for a flawless transition from young Elliot’s brain x-ray to his present day old school journal. Did this physical trauma cause a brain injury that has lead Elliot down his own dark path of insanity? Then again, Mr. Robot informed us last season, that Elliot pushed himself out the window. I would like to point out that the fluidity between various points in time visually illustrates a stream-of-consciousness narrative structure. Elliot is trying to recount those missing ninety-six hours, but his own sub-conscious has defense mechanisms in place to prevent him from any emotional discomfort.
Elliot is also actively playing a defensive game during the season opener, as we learn about his new daily routine following the 5/9 hack. All set to Lupe Fiasco’s song “Daydreamin”, we watch Elliot meet up with Leon (Joey Bada$$) to discuss both Seinfeld and the human condition. They go to a basketball game, then it’s off to a therapy session with Krista (Gloria Reuben). Considering the impact of the revelations about Elliot’s hacking prowess, it’s a surprise to see her back so soon. Her appearance supports an argument that Elliot made at the end of “eps1.6_v1ew-s0urce.flv”; the notion that they share a connection through their loneliness . Not to mention the undeniable chemistry between Malek and Reuben on camera. During the therapy session, we learn more about Elliot’s attempt to control himself and destroy his delusions, including the fact that he now lives with his mother. The same woman alluded to throughout season one as being abusive towards Elliot following his father’s passing. I couldn’t help notice a ticking sound through the therapy session, a sound device that could allude to time, but in this scene it’s more reminiscent of a ticking time bomb. A nice sound cue for Elliot’s manic behavior currently bubbling up towards the surface, as he attempts to control himself.
Earlier in the episode, the tension between Elliot and Mr. Robot escalates to the gun-shot scene shown in the season two trailer. Since it’s Mr. Robot pulling the trigger, there are no physical repercussions to anyone outside of Elliot, or his other imaginary friends that can see. “Talking with your friend again, thought we were done with all that,” questions Mr. Robot after Elliot breaks the fourth wall during a brief inner monologue. Side note for future episode, Elliot definitely told Krista something during this specific session that will be more meaningful later on this season. Really, Sam Esmail does a great good job sprinkling clues, Easter eggs, and setup throughout this introductory episode. The payoffs are small in scope, but are brilliant for those viewers who are really paying attention. For example, Gideon Goddard (Michel Gill) appears in a plea for Elliot’s help following AllSafe’s tragic end during the season one finale. After loosing his company, he finds himself being watched by the FBI due to his possible involvement with the 5/9 hack. Plus, someone is actively working to setup Gideon to take the fall for fsociety, “was that you, or me, I get them all confused,” interrupts Mr. Robot from the corner. The scene takes a very frighting turn as Mr. Robot seemingly breaks Gideon’s neck, after he threatens to throw Elliot under the bus. Nope just another delusion, courtesy of Elliot Allderson. Even under a strict regime of control, Elliot’s own insanity continues to make him more enemies than friends.
“What happens when a mask stops being a mask?” asks Elliot during his final monologue in the episode; maybe your true nature is unmasked. Mr Robot season two is about being awake and seeing the world for what it really is, while “Eps2.0_unm4sk-pt1.tc” illustrates Elliot’s own inability to see himself. Mr. Robot may know where Tyrell is at the moment, but he’s an emotional coping mechanism for someone constantly on the edge of insanity. Remember, Elliot’s father always protected him as a child, so why stop now? “Once he’s gone, I can finally be me again,” or at least that’s what Elliot is telling himself these days.
Darlene (Carly Chaikin) came to a similar understanding in terms of fsociety. Once they take E-Corp down then it will all be over; but the war is only beginning. She continues to lead a growing fsociety against Phillip Price (Michael Cristofer) and other chiefs of our present economic fortress. They quiet literally neuter wall street and then narrow their focus on a single victim. In a very David Fincher manner the fsociety crew turns the smart home software against an unsuspecting homeowner. The inclusion of multiple horror tropes throughout this extended scene really escalates the tension to a point where it’s surprising that she leaves unharmed. Granted, turning her home into fsociety headquarters isn’t Darlene’s endgame, but what is? We later learn that Darlene knowingly set her sights on “Madame Executioner” Susan Jacobs (Sandrine Holt), E-Corp’s general counsel, tied to lawsuits involving deaths. I couldn’t help but suspect some more personal motives for Darlene were at play during her “mini-George W Bush” battle cry. There’s a strong possibility that Darlene is seeking justice for her father, too, and Susan Andrews may have been involved in the Allderson’s family settlement case.
After setting up a new home base, Darlene sets a new pay load in motion through some ransomware sent to E-Corp. There’s a good point of juxtaposition during this attack, as we witness a disgruntled patron argue about the lack of accountability for banks. The old lady came off as a modern day George Bailey in the scene. Really, this is just acknowledging some unsuspecting repercussions from the E-Corp hack; innocent casualties in the war Darlene continues to wage against E-Corp. The episode concludes with Philip Price, Susan Andrews, and Scott Knowles (Brian Stokes Mitchell) debating paying the $5.9 mil fsociety is currently demanding one of them deliver. Scott Knowles steps up, wanting to look one of these masked men in the eye. Remember, the current 5/9 hack investigation reported Tyrell Wellick’s known involvement in the hack, the same man who killed Scott’s wife in season one. During the opening scene, Tyrell was shown wearing the mask while recording the original 5/9 video hack, but rest assured, he will not be beneath wearing the mask sent to pick up the ransom.
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