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Review: ‘Mr. Robot’ Dances With Boundaries and Bullets

In Season 2, Episode 5, "2.3_logic-b0mb.hc," everybody’s got a line they won’t cross (even if that line is in a really weird place).

Grace Gummer in "Mr. Robot."

Grace Gummer in “Mr. Robot.”

Peter Kramer/USA Network

LAST WEEK’S REVIEW: ‘Mr. Robot’ Struggles To Activate Single User Mode

In Elliot’s Head, Two’s A Crowd

This week, we get Mr. Robot telling Elliot to not get involved with Ray’s secret site, and we also get Elliot resisting Mr. Robot’s push to use Angela in a hack against the FBI. This is the kind of episode where the Elliot/Mr. Robot dynamic starts to wear a little bit thin. This show is great at dizzying reveals, perspective shifts and bravura sequences, but if you take those away it leaves you with a guy being constantly nagged by his mental projection to do things he doesn’t want to do. We don’t believe for a second that he’ll heed any of Mr. Robot’s warnings, and it makes those scenes fall a bit flat. Which might be why we didn’t see a lot of Mr. Robot tonight.

Positive Reinforcement Guy

If you were betting that Ray’s secret site was a Silk Road-type black market dealing in human trafficking, contract murder, weapons and drugs, then you win a prize. Elliot, of course, cannot resist looking, and like the logic bomb that gives the episode its title, once he sees it he must do something about it. Naturally, Ray drops his genial facade to reveal a ruthless businessmen, ordering his goons to beat Elliot bloody. Again, this is not much of a surprise, but at least the show has moved this along quickly and not dragged out the mystery of Ray’s intentions through the whole season.

Hack The Planet

The show needs to find more ways to get Darlene and Angela together, since those scenes are usually compelling. Darlene is unable to recruit Angela’s assistance in hacking the FBI, until Angela’s disastrous drink with ex-boyfriend Ollie makes her realize that she’s vulnerable and she agrees to help. Darlene takes the seemingly-momentous step of inviting Angela into the commandeered smart house that is still serving as fsociety’s headquarters, where she meets Mobley and Trenton. An Angela more directly involved in fsociety is an exciting prospect, given her position deep inside E-Corp. Darlene is so focused on hacking the FBI that she delegates leadership of the long-teased Washington, D.C. action to one of her bro-flunkies. Will we see this action next week?

Portia Doubleday in "Mr. Robot."

Portia Doubleday in “Mr. Robot.”

Michael Parmelee/USA Network

Swedish Psycho

Joanna Tyrell is still hoping to reconnect with her husband, as cryptic phone calls seem to come from nearby and a gift baby rattle arrives. But she’s still got plenty of time to order the death of Kareem the parking attendant, to continue covering up for Tyrell and Elliot. And she has a very particular morality about how to kill someone without becoming a “ruthless murderer.” Seems pretty ruthless.

READ MORE: Why ‘Mr. Robot’ May Really Be Ruled By Its Women

Alert The Authorities

The centerpiece of this week revolves around the meeting of Agent Dom and Whiterose, who in zir official position is revealed to be the Chinese Minister for State Security. An FBI trip to China seeking more evidence from the Five/Nine hack brings Dom to Whiterose’s attention when she impetuously mentions the Dark Army. When ze gets her alone at a party, the two have a long, fascinating interaction — Whiterose plumbs Dom’s history to learn why she joined the FBI, and shows her the beautiful dresses that belong to zir “sister.” But Whiterose’s intentions are anything but benevolent, and the episode culminates with a shocking attack by masked goons on the FBI’s hotel. Dom watches her friends and colleagues get killed in front of her; she wounds one of the gunman who, once realizing that he can’t get away, does not hesitate to kill himself. We cut away with Dom still in the middle of the attack, and so have yet to see the full scope. But it seems clear that Whiterose and the Dark Army will go to any length to keep the FBI from seeing their facilities.

Reality Bites

When Elliot is IRC chatting with Darlene, we see her screen name is “D0lores Haze.” With her matching heart-shaped sunglasses, it seems that Darlene is a big fan of Lolita.

When Angela meets with Ollie, she walks past a TV showing the news that same-sex marriages have been legalized across the US — this would place the date as June 26th, 2015. Perhaps relatedly, when Dom is telling Whiterose the story about refusing her partner’s marriage proposal, she deliberately uses non-gender-specific pronouns.

There are Five/Nine truthers. Of course there are. Ollie also mentions “Crisis Performances, Frank Cody-types,” which don’t seem to be a real-world thing, but if you know what the reference is, put it in the comments.

Standout Lines and Moments

  • It’s a thankless task to try making somebody typing at a keyboard seem exciting. Which is why stories about hackers and writers are always challenging. The opening sequence does a decent job of making Elliot’s hacking seem dramatic, with multiple window switching, lots of zooms and some theatrical lighting.
  • Darlene: “Penetration test. You failed”
  • Kareem: “Who are we protecting? Some scrawny kid in a hoodie?” We still don’t know the exact particulars about how Tyrell and Elliot collaborated on the Five/Nine hack, but it is interesting to see that Joanna is actively protecting Elliot.
  • Dom doesn’t dream, saying it “never interested me.” You need some better dreams, Dom.
  • Ollie brought his resume to give to Angela, in case she could help get him a job at E-Corp. While betraying her. Sorry, Ollie. No more Josh Groban nights for you.
  • Joanna: “Killing a man instantly robs him of explanation. He has no time to process his final moments….You let him die with answers. Otherwise, we’re nothing but ruthless murderers.” Kareem would disagree.

Grade: B-

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