Previously on Mr. Robot, “eps2.3_logic_b0mb.hc”
Mr. Robot - S2E6 - eps2.4m4ster-s1ave.aes | Rami Malek, Christian Slater, Portia Doubleday, Carly Chaikin, Michael Cristofer, Stephanie Corneliussen, Martin Wallström, Grace Gummer, Gloria Reuben | Writer: Adam Penn | Director: Sam Esmail
Master/Slave n. COMPUTING: A model for a communication protocol in which one device or process (known as the master) controls one or more other devices or processes (known as slaves).
“Mom, Elliot’s hearing voices again!”
“What else is new?”
Before “m4ster-s1ave” aired Wednesday night, Sam Esmail proclaimed it to be his favorite episode of Mr. Robot (so far), and one would be hard pressed to disagree with him. “Always expect the unexpected” is a mantra that Mr. Robot has imbued in its viewers since the first handful of episodes and the second season has taken this notion to its extreme. Everyone was awaiting a dismal result to Elliot’s thrashing by Ray’s goons but the unforeseen journey through Alderson’s mind in sitcom form was a whimsical odyssey that quickly circled into nostalgic lunacy… and it was absolutely fantastic.
The ’90s fantasy sequence has left a few fans perplexed and even upset at Esmail’s turn into the absurd; as much as the series has been praised for its dark imagery and biting discourse of contemporary society, it’s not Esmail’s fault his audience expected the same funereal content in the tech drama week in and week out. If anything, Mr. Robot’s creator should be praised for venturing out and experimenting with dissimilar genres and old tropes, twisting them to his own end. In fact, this very special episode of “The Aldersons” was an excellent example of Esmail’s prevailing themes in season two: the illusion of safety and the truth behind the masks we wear.
As for the delivery of Elliot’s dreamscape it was, for lack of a better term, perfect. From the clothing, excessive use of green screen, corny transitional music and aspect ratio, to the use of ’90s commercials and retro cuts for current USA series and the amazingly disturbing opening credits, “m4ster-s1ave’s” first 20 minutes was a solid discourse on how nostalgia has a thoroughly lasting impression on our psyches, despite realizing in hindsight how prosaic yet significant our attachment is to the entertainment industry.
While everyone had a brief respite in playing their perpetually dour characters, Elliot had to contend with the possibility that he was trapped in a bright and shiny low-res hell for the rest of his days. Of course Mr. Robot was to blame but he couldn’t allow his “son”/lead personality to take a bashing that would shatter his confidence and most certainly his desire to live. Sadly, Elliot wouldn’t know that the laugh track and slapstick humor would be welcome distractions from the pain and fear he’d face once regaining consciousness.
It was nice to see Tyrell again, even though he was only a manifestation in Elliot’s fever dream. Sadly for us, Mr. Robot strongly alluded that Wellick is no longer with us as he overtook Elliot’s body and was responsible for “removing” the former Senior Vice President of Technology from the equation. It wasn’t entirely confirmed, but Mr. Robot’s blood soaked khakis was some mighty damning evidence.
Eventually, Elliot’s insistence in knowing what’s going on (a quality of his that’ll never be quashed despite a massive beating) forces Mr. Robot to reveal the saccharine sitcom he designed was to dull the physical trauma Alderson was currently experiencing in reality. Finally, Elliot was appreciative of Mr. Robot’s efforts to protect him and affirms that in spite of his radical suggestions and intrusiveness in his daily schedule, this side of his personality would never harm him or his sister. It would rather be erased from existence in the service of Elliot then throw him to the fires. It was a costly lesson to be learned but now that Elliot knows nearly everything, all he can do is bide his time and fashion the ultimate plan for revenge with Mr. Robot.
Meanwhile, Angela and fsociety continued to butt heads. With Darlene, the FBI, and the shadowy threat of the Dark Army breathing down her neck, Moss has no other option but to cover her tracks - along with fsociety’s - through illegal means.
Like she was in Elliot’s disturbingly awesome sitcom nightmare, Angela is no more prepared to face the cold hard facts of her potential future. To the dismay of Mobley and Trenton, all their hopes (and their freedom) rests in the incapable hands of Ms. Moss. Darlene and her band of digital revolutionaries have all exhibited patience for Angela, but she wasn’t able to pick up simple coding instructions as well as they hoped. As Mobley mentioned a few times, their operation would be difficult for any of them to accomplish and Angela has practiced expert code for only a day. Granted she had nothing else to do but type it, the tension involved in infiltrating one of the world’s largest law enforcement agencies would be immense.
In typical Esmail fashion, the “caper” was directed with stylish aplomb. All of Angela and Darlene’s nerves were thrown out the window once the ladies were in the field, effortlessly sidestepping obstacles like creepy FBI agents who intimidate women into dates and lost wifi signals.
All their efforts could be for naught with the sudden appearance of Dominique DiPierro at Angela’s workspace. Her hawkish behavior is something fsociety hasn’t confronted before and if she even caught a hint from Moss, who knows how the Agent would react. After four of her colleagues were murdered by contract killers, the FBI wants her off the case and in therapy. Never one to take orders so smoothly, Dom is determined to find out who’s responsible for her friends’ death, one way or another.
Still, DiPierro’s gruffness is nothing compared to the unpleasantness the Dark Army is willing to inflict on any that obstruct their vision. In a few short lines, their endgame may have been finally revealed: Whiterose and her hackers are in league with Phillip Price (it is known) and have subcontracted/sponsored fsociety to disrupt the economy to gain exorbitant profits via bailout. Problem is, Price wasn’t completely in on the grand plan. The bailout will not be approved, leaving the CEO flapping in the breeze and devoid of Whiterose’s favor.
Concurrently, the Dark Army is deeply invested in fsociety’s success in acquiring FBI data. Although it will possibly save Darlene, Mobley, Trenton and Angela’s skins, the hack’s purpose goes much deeper than any of them realize: The Dark Army will be able to piggyback into their system and have direct access to the FBI’s databases. Whiterose will only be that much closer in gaining a solid foothold in America’s economy and intelligence networks and manipulate them at her whim.
- While a few real world luminaries like President Obama and the economists Phillip Price harangued made brief appearances, Price once again invoked the name of another well-known person - NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton - hoping he’d pull some men off their beats and round up the protesters outside E Corp HQ. It must be nice to have that kind of influence.
- The co-creator and voice of ALF, Paul Fusco, is a big fan of the show and had no problem granting Mr. Robot permission the use of the lovable cat-eating alien to commit vehicular manslaughter. RIP x2, Gideon.
- Alderson’s theme “Imagine A World Gone Insane” was sung and produced by Bennett Salvay and Jesse Frederick, the duo responsible for essentially all of the early 90s TGIF theme songs we know by heart.
- The website shown during the 90s E Corp commercial is currently undergoing “temporary maintenance” (kek)
- One of Darlene’s passwords was “Joshua”, an obvious nod to the supercomputer that nearly destroyed the world in WarGames. Also, if one compares Darlene’s stylish disguise to another famous hacker, it’s apparent both have excellent taste.
Now, on to the next level shit.
- When Darlene is giving Angela instructions on how to manually restore wifi, she relays a series of commands, the last of which ends with a domain address - http://l4713116.e-corp-usa.com Click that and you’ll be sent to the femtocell Moss installed on E Corp’s 32nd floor. Ta daaa! Now go create some mayhem.
- A few eagle-eyed viewers noticed the one exit featured during the Alderson family road trip was for Washington Township, the location of Elliot’s first hack. The numerical sequence of the highways and county roads forms an IP address - 18.104.22.168 - leads you to a BBS for ‘TV Today’.
Here’s where it gets tricky: You can look around but to find hidden material, type “G” for guest log-in, followed by “A”, “P”, “B”, “A”, “P”, and “B”. If done correctly, instead of being sent back to the Bulletins page, you’ll see Affirmations. Type a number and a new window will open to reveal motivational posters that have been seen since the series began, mainly around Angela’s belongings and office space. There may be more to the first image: it’s larger than the others so it’s presumed to be encrypted. Stay tuned!
Mr. Robot S2E6