Darlene looks into the Dark Army and the FBI while Elliot and Mr. Robot play for control.
Spoilers for “eps2.2_init1.asec”
Does anyone else’s head hurt after that episode? I’m not entirely sure I can fully recap it outside of the basics of basics. The FBI raid the arcade and find a shell casing for a bullet. Darlene finds out about the possibility of the FBI closing in on fsociety and the Dark Army is not happy with her either. Angela is looking to cash in on Phillip’s plan, but there is something more she hasn’t found yet because Phillip isn’t giving into her demands. Johanna is working to keep up appearances, but Scott Knowles is standing in the way of her comfort and the money owed for Tyrell’s severance. Elliot and Mr. Robot battle for supremacy with a chess game, but it will always come out as a stalemate. Mr. Robot can only make the moves Elliot tells him to make. To help Darlene and fight for his dream world, Elliot decides to cooperate with Mr. Robot and helps Ray with his computer problem. But will helping Ray make life so much worse for Elliot? And the mask (along with Mr. Robot) gets its origin story.
From there, all of the nuances and conversations make that very simple recap oh so much more complicated. For right now, I’m only going to dive into my thoughts on what is going on with Elliot.
The birth of Mr. Robot and fsociety:
The flashback at the beginning of the episode makes you think of the ending for season one. Elliot at his computer in his old apartment as someone is banging at his front door. But we don’t get to see who came for him at the end of last season. What we get is the reconnection of Darlene and her brother one Halloween night.
Elliot answers his door and it is Darlene wearing the mask. She found it at some Chinatown shop. “I didn’t know they made a mask from that movie. Did you?” At first Darlene plays her visit off like she wanted to see her brother on Halloween, “that used to be our thing…” and Elliot tries to blow her off by telling her he is going out. Darlene knows her antisocial brother better, but she needs help (something she doesn’t normally know how to ask for). She gives him their special code “Init-1. I wouldn’t say it if I wasn’t being serious… Hang out with me tonight… I need this,” she begs. (Init-1 is Unix for emergency mode and yes I had to look that up)
Giving into his sister’s needs, Elliot goes to find “that movie” to cheer her up. The Careful Massacre of the Bourgeoisie (a fake cheesy horror movie from 1984) features a man in the same mask stalking and killing a group of preppies at a New Year’s Eve dinner party.
Smoking and laughing, Darlene attempts to impress her brother with a minor hack she placed on her on-again-off-again boyfriend’s phone to scam coupons anytime he orders food. When it doesn’t get the nod of approval from big brother, she accuses him of being scared straight by his job. It isn’t that, he was fired from his job.
He was hired to continuously hack into the servers to expose any vulnerabilities so the techs could fix them, but he was a little too good at finding those issues. On the eve of a long Memorial Day weekend, Elliot found more problems which would ruin the plans for those he was supposed to be helping. So they locked him in the storage room with the servers. After falling asleep, Elliot woke to find the servers had been smashed. The company took legal action and he was placed in therapy with Krista for anger management. But it is all good, Angela might get him a job at Allsafe.
Talking about their mother and how she “still shits on dad,” Elliot brings out the Mr. Robot jacket that used to belong to their father. Darlene convinces him to put on the jacket and mask as a joke. With his face hidden, Elliot begins to reveal a plan that has been in the back of his mind for some time. (Did anyone else think he was going to say “greetings and salutations” as soon as he put the mask on or is that just me?)
Behind that mask, with the remnant of their father on his back, Elliot allows that sleeping part of himself to show while. That part which would become the hallucination of their father. The Id inside Elliot’s head that thinks bringing down the biggest financial corporation would usher economic freedom to the masses and not a meltdown that would only make the corporation stronger.
As Darlene goes to visit her brother in the present time it is curious to me that the daughter and mother do not interact with one another. Even when Darlene starts to address her brother, it is with “I will never understand why you did this.” If you don’t look too closely you would think she is talking about Elliot moving back in with their abusive mother, but I’m not so sure. The mother is sitting in her chair, something we rarely see her out of, and working on a crossword puzzle while watching the news (much like someone on duty would do). Darlene and the mother’s relationship may not be good, but it seems strange the two women do not acknowledge one another. No dirty looks, no passive-aggressive remarks, no aggressive-aggressive actions. This is not the relationship we have been lead to believe Darlene has with their mother in the beginning of the episode.
Darlene and Elliot sit at the dining room table across from each other much like the way Elliot and Gideon did when he came to visit. It makes one think of prison visitation, but I still don’t buy into the prison theory. I’m more open to the idea of Elliot in an institution and he is turning it into his mother’s place in his mind. Darlene’s bewilderment is not about why he went to his mother, but why he would commit himself. She even tells Cisco later that her brother is in a fragile state of mind.
Darlene asks for help, but she doesn’t give their magic world. She knows it will bring him out of whatever exile he has put himself into, but she can’t bring herself to expose that kind of vulnerability again. She also withholds the murder of Romero and the Feds finding of the arcade. Elliot warns her to just leave the plan behind, but she fires back this whole thing was his idea. “That wasn’t me. It was him,” he explains. “Well, maybe I need him right now,” says Darlene.
Having played and lost several games of chess to Ray, the
warden doctor friend encourages Elliot to play himself and take the opportunity to work out the argument he is having in his mind. The argument Ray is referring to is Mr. Robot pleading with Elliot to not confess all that he has done. Ray will turn him in and Darlene will suffer as a result.
In the beginning, Ray seemed like he was a fellow inmate of Elliot’s back when the prison theory was the most obvious. Eventually it morphed into him being a warden or guard of sorts. Keeping with the possibility of Elliot being in an institution, Ray may be nurse or maybe even a doctor Elliot has been assigned to see on a daily basis (with Krista only working with Elliot more intensely on a weekly or monthly basis). Ray is looking to gain Elliot’s confidence as a doctor would, probing into what Elliot is thinking. He could be doing this to get Elliot to want to work for him, but the way Ray says “I can help, if you want. What you say to me stays here,” (doctor/patient confidentiality?). Telling him the conversations Elliot continues to have in his head need to stop, “at some point, you got to try to make sense of it.”
Ray is patient as Elliot continues to argue with Mr. Robot. Of course his alter ego doesn’t want him to confess to Ray, he will go to the authorities despite the claim of it will all stay in the office. Is Mr. Robot so sure because legally Ray will have to go to the police. Doctor/Patient confidentiality is out the window when the patient confesses to a major crime, especially one on this scale. Eventually, Ray tells Elliot to take the chessboard and work out the argument. Mr. Robot uses the game to proposition Elliot. They play one another. If Elliot wins, he can confess all he pleases and Mr. Robot will go away forever. If Mr. Robot wins, Elliot slips into oblivion forever while is alter ego fully takes over.
Krista (in her therapy session) voices to Elliot annihilation is not the answer because he and Mr. Robot are one in the same, they cannot exist without one another. Leon advises Elliot to dream of what it is he wants before playing for his own existence. The Seinfeld obsessed friend asks Elliot “do you want to be here right now? … in the cosmic sense… Dream,” he implores Elliot, “you got to find out the future you’re fighting for… [or] you might as well fade the f—k out right now.”
In Elliot’s dream, he reunites with Angela, he celebrates Cisco proposing to Darlene, he makes good with the security guard he humiliated from the fortress last season, he becomes friends with the Wllicks. He imagines all of his friends (including Mobley and Trenton, but not Romero which makes me wonder if Elliot already knows of his former conspirator’s death) sitting at a table (we have a place setting!) celebrating the downfall of the E Corp tower. Even in his dreams, he still is saving the world. That plan wasn’t fully Mr. Robot’s, it was his too.
The next morning, Mr. Robot and Elliot meet for their game. Three times in a row things end in a stalemate. Mr. Robot can only make the moves Elliot tells him to make. “Fighting me is a waste of time,” Mr. Robot points out, “I want to be here. With you.” Elliot gets it, he can’t get rid of Mr. Robot, but maybe he can use him to save his sister. Elliot goes to Ray and much to Mr. Robot’s shock (and Elliot’s, I’m sure), he offers to help Ray with his website problems. He needs a computer to talk to Darlene and Ray’s is the best option.
Ray is happy, but there is one thing he needs for Elliot to understand. “My online business is very important to me… [don’t] look where you don’t need to,” Ray warns as his partner, Lone Star, comes into the room. Elliot realizes that he may have made a deal with the devil, but never mind that now. He needs to ignore that part of his brain that makes him want to be the hero. He logs on and talks to Darlene. She tells him of the arcade’s seizure and Romero’s death along with an illegal surveillance program named “berenstain” the FBI is running. Elliot has a plan, though. He is going to hack the FBI.
What did you think of this week’s Mr. Robot? I know there is a lot I didn’t cover, but those things are going to circle back around and probably make more sense down the road. Do you think Elliot is in an institution? What is berenstain? Let me know your thoughts in the comments section below.