Mr. Robot opens in an odd place as Elliot and his family are trapped in a sitcom that lacks comedy. This unanticipated scene drastically contrasts from everything that preceded it. Mr. Robot is a dark show, both thematically and literally (second of which applying to the often dim surroundings lighting wise), and this strange entry of a moment on USA’s resume intentionally differs from this dark wavelength. It’s an innately unusual development since the background laughter is accompanied by spurts of violence, however, the unique nature of this opener is certainly inconsistent when it comes to effectiveness. I would venture to say this is one of the oddest and most unexpected scenes I’ve ever witnessed.
Of course, the satirical elements here are unavoidable. Elliot’s truth-based comments are met with immense laughter, and Mr. Robot’s take on the role of lies in our everyday lives makes for fascinating television. As it occurs, I can’t help but wonder if this is a hallucination or a dream. Is Elliot currently knocked out from the beating courtesy of Ray’s henchmen? After what seems like around 20 minutes of the aforementioned chaos, Elliot awakens in a hospital bed. Mr. Robot returns to its dark roots, literally (last time, I swear), and Elliot is a mess. One of his eyes is severely red, deep cuts surround his face, and an element of fear covers his aura.
Ray tells the hacker that their is work to be done. The assumption at this stage is simple – Ray lured Elliot into his corner in order to have Elliot sharpen the defenses of Ray’s illicit website. Additional details or wrinkles may be presented, for now, Ray’s motivation stands as cold but clear.
A news report comes on in the presence of Darlene about the gunned down FBI agents. Did Dom escape with her life? Her death likely wouldn’t occur off screen, although we still haven’t seen her since the cliffhanger moment of wounding a shooter but still battling with the other. Darlene and her comrades are more concerned with training Angela, however, than they are with the deceased FBI agents.
Moments later, we find out that Dom is completely fine, at least physically. Her superior suggests time off, a notion that Dom finds supremely upsetting. She wisely concludes that there’s a definite correlation between examining illegal hacking groups and being attacked at the same time. This development has seemed to stifle any progress made by Dom. Great news for Elliot and company, although Elliot has considerably deeper problems right now.
The brilliance of introducing Ray as a villain can be attributed to what it does to Mr. Robot’s stakes. As we witnessed during the show’s opening Season 1 scene, Elliot is a virtual vigilante of sorts. On one hand, Elliot’s motivation relates to financially evening the score within society and removing power from the corrupt leaders who cripple the innocent. On the other, it deals with the all-too-real evil that lurks within the web, a more sinister realm than most would like to acknowledge exists. Ray’s inclusion in the series has given Elliot a tangible one-on-one enemy in addition to the systematic nemesis that he’s already been battling.
Unfortunately, Elliot’s status under Ray’s control isn’t a priority of this Mr. Robot episode. The show has earned its right to rotate which faces receive primary screen time, and overall this episode stands as a quality showing, but it would’ve been better with more Elliot. How he fights back against Ray is a massively critical plot point, and not much is dedicated to this component throughout the episode.
We do receive major Angela moments here. She’s always been a somewhat slept on and underappreciated character. That’s solely my gut speaking, it could be that other fans hold her in high regard. Nevertheless, her screen time in the latest reveals how critical her role truly is – Angela is the only character who plays for both teams but has f-society ideals. With Elliot out of commission, Angela assisting Darlene is a vital grab for the team.
Finally back to Elliot, and his first inner thought rant of the episode. He’s never been in a more dangerous place. I mean that in terms of how far his sanity has slipped away and how dire the condition of his safety is in. The shot of Elliot lasts merely a few seconds before Mr. Robot hops back into Angela’s hacking pursuit. It was only a matter of time before an inevitable interruption occurred. For Angela, it’s courtesy of Dom.
Elliot is drug into a dark room (even by Mr. Robot‘s standards) with the only company being his father. A rare sentimental scene transpires when Elliot hugs Mr. Robot after the elder character reveals that he only took Elliot into that sitcom environment to numb the pain of the beating. Then we have a flashback of Elliot being driven by his father after apparently being involved in a fight. Mr. Robot tells the young Elliot that he’s sick, although he will keep battling, and he won’t ever leave his son’s life. The next reveal is the birth of the Mr. Robot store, and name.
In time of great need, Elliot had his father by his side. This was after a youthful scrap that left his face bruised. In current times and greater need, Elliot still has his father intimately close. The difference is, of course, Mr. Robot isn’t alive and the ramifications now are mental illness as opposed to childlike innocence. We didn’t receive enough from the Elliot/Ray storyline, but plenty was provided in terms of family background and character development information. This isn’t a breakthrough episode – it’s a foundational one.