Essays · TV

Mr. Robot: Personality Crisis

By  · Published on September 1st, 2016

Elliot returns home to a split team and an increasingly split mind.

Season Two of Mr. Robot has admittedly been suffering from a small sophomore slump. Despite a few twists and genuinely shocking moments, the season’s big reveal – Elliot really being in prison – wasn’t terribly shocking for most fans, who have significantly honed their conspiracy theory chops after Sam Esmail pulled the wool over everyone’s eyes in Season One. But with “eps2.7_init_5.fve,” Season Two returned to form, once again bringing a sense of danger and urgency that has thus far been lacking.

The episode opener closes the remaining loopholes from Season One’s finale and colors in the details of Elliot’s arrest and imprisonment. That knock on the door? The police arresting Elliot for hacking Krista’s boyfriend and stealing Flipper – we weren’t going to get answers about Tyrell that easily.

Elliot daydreams his way through meetings with his lawyer and goes against his advice, pleading guilty to charges. It turns out Flipper was pretty expensive for a scruffy dog and Elliot is charged with a felony. After being stripped and logged into the prison system, he meets Leon, who is keeping the dream of the ‘90s alive by binging his way through NBC’s “Must See TV” staples.

And so we’re back where we started in the end, but since we’ve already seen Elliot’s time in prison (we’re given a quick confirmation that Ray was indeed a warden), we quickly cut to him being released into the arms of his sister. But is this really all that happened to Elliot in prison? Knowing his penchant for keeping a wild card up his sleeve, maybe not. But for now, it’s all we need to know.

Although Elliot is back home and reunited with Darlene, something isn’t right. We’re given multiple fake outs where we see Mr. Robot and Elliot beginning to split – Mr. Robot is talking to Darlene and Cisco while Elliot is in the bathroom, the two riding in separate, locked train cars – before Elliot snaps back into place, replacing Mr. Robot and reuniting the two as one. But even Mr. Robot is concerned, telling Elliot that he feels they are overheating.

Later on, as the Dark Army confirm that it is Elliot who has planned Stage 2, it seems Elliot may have done more than just black out the whereabouts of Tyrell Wellick. But if he truly doesn’t remember planning Stage 2, did a third persona take over and do it? Maybe the Elliot is Tyrell crowd has a point after all.

Finally, after being released, Elliot also takes a detour to see his mother, who is alive but seemingly catatonic and living in a care home. Although her condition isn’t explained, it could be possible that the effects of the Washington Township toxic leak, which killed her husband and Angela’s mother, could also have also taken a toll on her. If this is the case, could Elliot’s (and perhaps now Darlene’s) psychosis stem from this too?

But the Alderson twins aren’t the only ones fracturing. Whiterose isn’t just straddling two identities but also two sides of the Evil Corp. In her Dark Army persona, Whiterose visits the grave of the former Evil Corp CEO and explains to her associate that she is directly responsible for his death because he tried to block her plans for what eventually became the 5/9 hack.

Whiterose then meets with the current CEO, Price, and the two catch up on the state of Evil Corp, who are not receiving any bailout money from the government, which means giving over control of the Washington Township planet.

This is unacceptable to Whiterose, which indicates that the motivations behind the 5/9 hack go beyond just a personal vendetta for the Aldersons. Price uses this as leverage to earn bailout money from the Chinese government and, in a truly satisfying moment, he declares to Whiterose that he has run out of time, walking away with what seems to be the upper hand. But knowing Whiterose (and remembering the China attack), Price won’t have this for very long.

Although we get sidetracked with Elliot’s fuzzy brain and Whiterose’s schemes, the majority of the episode once again centers on the women of Mr. Robot and the increasing danger they find themselves in. Although she is still a sucker for power, money and self-help pep talks, Angela seems to still have her heart set on using her new position in risk management to expose Evil Corp’s hidden wrongdoings.

Having picked up some tricks from Darlene, Angela dupes an executive assistant into leaving her computer unattended and, using Mobley’s rubber ducky device, she lifts the logins and passwords of some of Evil Corp’s bigwigs. Hacker Angela then logs in as her boss and copies over sensitive documents about the Washington Township incident, which she later gives over to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

But things don’t turn out too well for Angela, as she realizes she has made a huge mistake in turning over the secrets of people with a lot of power and influence in the government. Although she is able to walk away from the encounter, Angela seems to have made herself a target.

The arrival of Dom at her doorstep doesn’t do much to salve her paranoia either as she learns that the FBI has been tracking her for months after her ex-boyfriend, Ollie, told them about the infected CD at All-Safe. Angela knows she is busted but Dom offers her help, making it a given that she will turn on fSociety to save her own skin.

Likewise, while Darlene has averted danger and any obvious betrayal by Cisco, she does realize that she has left behind a VHS tape at Susan Jacob’s house that shows her face. She convinces Cisco to go back to the townhouse to retrieve it, but it feels like a set-up. As she calmly monitors a Dark Army conversation, Cisco not only finds the discarded tape but also something else – perhaps Mobley or Trenton?

Darlene is then disrupted from the revelation that Elliot has planned Stage 2 by a loud banging on the apartment door. Just as with Elliot at the end of Season One, we don’t see who is on the other side, but it seems unlikely that it will be good news, especially with both the Dark Army and the FBI closing in.

The episode ends with Joanna Wellick waiting in an SUV outside of Elliot’s apartment. Is she the key to unlocking the mystery of what happened to Tyrell for Elliot? Maybe, but considering their last conversation, Joanna could spell danger for Elliot – but so could Angela and Darlene.

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Jamie Righetti is an author and freelance film critic from New York City. She loves horror movies, Keanu Reeves, BioShock and her Siberian Husky, Nugget.