“Better the devil you know, then the devil you don’t,” well part two of the Mr Robot season premiere certainly threw all my applied logic out the window. The second installment proceeds to externalize the mask metaphor, while introducing us to some new faces. Both Ray (Craig Robinson) and FBI Agent Dipierro (Grace Gummer) are potential antagonists for Elliot (Rami Mallek) this season. “Eps2.0_unm4sk-pt2.tc” really contrasts part one, as this episode highlights the threat behind unknowns in life. Elliot continues to wage war against Mr. Robot (Christian Slater), over the mystery behind Tyrell Wellick’s (Martin Wallstrom) present whereabouts. The episode begins with Scott Knowles (Brian Stokes Mitchell) dropping off the payload in Central Park, cracking under the tension of meeting an anonymous fscoiety representative. The scene quickly deescalates through situational irony, as an E-Corp chief assumes the fsociety mask then burns $5.9 to the ground. Just another anonymous political statement, where’s the harm?
Current E-Corp CEO, Phillip Price (Michael Cristofer) certainly understands the harm behind all of society’s political acts; it’s all about the con. During an all too familiar scene Phllip Price pleads his case for a government bail-out, he even relates these events to the Great Depression financial crisis. A government instituted bank holiday allowed our economy the time to get back in sync, “It worked, because the public believed that the government had everything under control, and that it the business model for this great nation of ours.” Phillip Price maybe this story’s “big bad” but the man sure knows how to craft a compelling argument. Is the business man persona just another mask he wears? Beneath the mask is an old school generation con-artist. His perspective on life certainly seems to be aligning with Angela’s this season. Between an intense negotiation with journalists wanting the latest scope on E-Corp’s crisis, and a late night drink with Antara Nayar (Sakina Jeffrey); she has certainly assumed a new life. I especially love the scene between Angela and Antara, as they both proudly stand on opposites side in this war. Angela displays confidence in her decision, but there’s a flash of regret shown, while listening to the punchline of Antara’s joke, “What kind of woman do you think I am? We already figured that our, now we’re just negotiating.” Angela practically proves Anatara’s point as she quickly jumps into bed with a friendly male bar patron. Remember, our naive Angela Moss is currently under Phillip Price’s tutelage, “and there is no con without confidence.” I wonder if Phillip Price introduced her to the self help series Rebirth, just another trick in the con game that we call life.
While Angela is repeating Rebirth mantras, Elliot continues follow his daily “regimen” that keeps him from going off the rails; or that’s what he thinks. Enter Ray, a neighborhood “godfather” who has recently learned about Elliot’s skills and activities prior to the 5/9 hack. After striking up a friendly conversation, and alluding to his knowledge about Elliot, our over-eager Mr. Robot friend appears to cast his vote. I love the camera work allowing Mr. Robot to effortlessly appear in scenes; it’s a big difference from season one. Following the events in part one, the war between Mr. Robot and Elliot continue to escalate as both fight for dominance. “Cause I’m going to make you realize that they see me,” states Mr. Robot after Elliot refuses to take Ray up on his job offer. Cut to Ray showing up at the basketball game again, “We spoke last night…you really don’t remember.” Oh no, another break in consciousness that even Elliot’s journal can’t account for, maybe his regime isn’t working? Mr. Robot met with Ray last night and agreed to partake in an illegal plot, this will mean trouble. Really, his new employer is the least of Elliot’s worries considering Mr. Robot’s ability to go rogue, even under the regimen. The season two premiere part one contains glimpses into Elliot’s insanity bubbling under the surface, but in this episode it erupts; into a maniacal laughing fit. Christian Slater’s reaction really sells this scene, as he shares in our own discomfort in seeing Elliot behave in this manor. His plan worked, but it’s left Elliot even more unhinged then when we started.
In comparison to the unclear beginnings found during “Eps2.0_unm4sk-pt1.tc” this follow-up installment contains some pretty great ending points. FBI Agent Dipierro barely appears in the episode, but the brief clip of her entering an integration room holding Gideon Goddard (Michel Gill) is very important. No clue what information Gideon gave to Agent Dipierro, as a deliberate editing cut serves as a viewer’s break in consciousness to occur. Then in a very surprising, but almost “you served your purpose” way, a random stranger shoots Gideon at a bar, “This is for our country.” Slow pan out to good intentioned Gideon Goddard left bleeding out on the floor. Prior to the premiere there were teases about a major death, but I didn’t really suspect Gideon. I had already drawn the conclusion that the death would be Tyrell Wellick; not this episode. Instead, Gideon sells out Elliot and we catch up with Joanna Wellick (Stephanie Corneliussen). She has a new beau, but is receiving presents from an unknown sender. This person soon becomes an unknown caller as she quickly discovers a burner phone taped to the bottom of the music box. I applaud Sam Email’s uncanny ability to leave me surprised with all of these hidden clues to one character’s demise and another’s rebirth.
Tyrell Wellick is alive…maybe. The episode concludes with Elliot attending church group, quick jump cut to his mother’s house and answering the phone. This crescendo of events really left me geeking out over the entire sequence; rewind. The church group is reading scripture, “I shall be his God and he shall be my son,” almost a call back to Mr. Robot’s line, “I am only supposed to be your prophet, you are my God,” said during the finale (1×10). Then the same jump cut technique was used to transition into the AllSafe hack sequence in “Eps1.7_wh1ter0se.m4v.” Finally, nothing pleases me more than the Mr. Robot season two premiere ending with the same infamous line found at the end of it’s pilot episode, “Is it really you…bonsoir Elliot.” Boom drop the mic, because all my story logic just got thrown out the window. Tyrell Wellick is still a major player in this overall con, an unknown variable to Elliot, but a known devil to Mr. Robot. Seriously, what happened during those three days prior to the 5/9 hack?
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