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Review: ‘Mr. Robot’ Does Not Want To Say No To Us

Season 2, Episode 10, "eps2.8_h1dden-pr0cess.axx" pushes another fan theory into the spotlight.

MR. ROBOT -- "eps2.8_h1dden-pr0cess.axx" Episode 210 -- Pictured: Stephanie Corneliussen as Joanna Wellick -- (Photo by: Michael Parmelee/USA Network)

Stephanie Corneliussen in “Mr. Robot.”

Michael Parmelee/USA Network

LAST WEEK’S REVIEW: ‘Mr. Robot’ Throws All Decorum Out The Window

Swedish Psycho

We start right before last week’s episode ended, with Joanna Wellick waiting to confront Elliot. To him, everything about Joanna is off. He thinks she can hear his conversations with us, and Mr. Robot feels like she can see him. This week poured fuel on a smoldering fan theory that Tyrell is yet another one of Elliot’s personas — Joanna continues to address Elliot as “Ollie,” using the wrong name but with an air that she’s in on the joke. Does that mean she’s also playing along with Tyrell-as-Elliot, too? Even the name of this episode, “Hidden Process,” points towards the idea of another persona hiding in Elliot’s head. This show has made some outlandish plot turns work in that past, but this one strains credulity. If they really are going this route, it may cause more trouble than it’s worth, and invite the audience to question the reality of every person, place or thing in the show.

When Elliot finally uncovers the location of Tyrell’s phone at a home on the Upper East Side, Sutherland recognizes it immediately. The obvious inference is that it’s Wellick’s own address, but Sutherland’s reactions — photographing the map, the line “trust me, he wouldn’t be calling from that house” — seem to indicate another explanation, one the show chooses to withhold for now.

In Elliot’s Head, Two’s A Crowd

Mr. Robot wants nothing to do with the hunt for Tyrell. And when Elliot gets a call on Joana’s phone from what seems to be Tyrell, it prompts Mr. Robot to vanish. Is this another hint that maybe they have a deeper connection, or that only one of them can be present at any given time?

Before disappearing, Mr. Robot urges Elliot to go home. But why? Elliot even wants our help, asking if we can see anything that Mr. Robot might secretly want. (You can’t, at least not on this screener. If you’re watching on a big tv, do you notice anything?)

Hack The Planet

For a moment the show lets us think that, in the wake of killing Susan Jacobs, Darlene is cold enough to let one of her own people from the D.C. “teabaggers” diem rather than put herself at risk of getting caught. But she discovers that it’s a line she’s not willing to cross.

Darlene reveals even more layers to her damaged childhood, with her own story about getting abducted from a family trip to Coney Island — especially the idea that even at age five, she wished she could stay with her kidnapper rather than go home. We’ve already seen that Edward Alderson wasn’t a great father, but how terrible must that home have been to create two people like Darlene and Elliot? It also highlights the moment a few weeks ago, when Darlene made a joke about this not being the “Stranger Danger episode.”

READ MORE: ‘Mr. Robot’ Launches Text-Based Hacking Game to Accompany Season 1

It Gets So Lonely Being Evil

Angela is ready to turn herself in to the authorities and confess to placing the femtocell in the FBI offices. Like Darlene, she seems to have reached a point past which she can no longer pretend to be heartless. Her time undercover at E-Corp has taken a heavy toll, especially in the wake of her failed attempt at whistleblowing. She pleads with Elliot to realize that he can’t accept help from Mr. Robot; sorry, Angela, much of this season has already been spent getting Elliot to work with him, so we’re not about to abandon that so quickly.  On the bright side, a mutual breakdown in the midst of a world-shaking financial collapse becomes a great time for them to finally share a kiss. But after Elliot leaves, who are the two people who confront Angela?  FBI? NRC? At least they didn’t knock on the door of the subway car.

MR. ROBOT -- "eps2.8.h1dden-pr0cess.axx" Episode 210 -- Pictured: Michael Cristofer as Phillip Price -- (Photo by: Peter Kramer/USA Network)

Michael Cristofer in “Mr. Robot.”

Peter Kramer/USA Network

Phillip Price may not have the tics and alternate personas that Elliot does, but that doesn’t make him any less insane. Price makes his megalomania seem matter-of-fact. As he calmly asks Colby to assist in letting China annex the Congo, he sounds bored, almost reasonable — making him a perfect illustration of the William Gibson quote that “the exceedingly rich were no longer even remotely human.”

Alert The Authorities

Dom continues to play John McClane, as the only investigator who can ignore the extraneous and the political to get the job done in the face of the FBI’s “new direction.” He persistence allows her to track Darlene and Cisco…just in time to repel a hit team from the Dark Army.  The show probably won’t let Darlene be killed off, but Cisco has no such plot armor.

Reality Bites

  • The noise-rock used over this week’s opening titles was the puckishly named “The Head That Controls Both Right and Left Sides Eats Meats and Slobbers Even Today” by Bleach 03. Catchy.
  • Elliot goes shopping at Microcenter, probably the Brooklyn location.
  • Terry Colby’s book, screamingly-titled “The Last Honest Man,” is doing very well on Amazon’s Movers & Shakers list.  I don’t suppose we’ll get an official tie-in, like we’re getting with Elliot’s no tebook.
  • Here’s how you can make your own wi-fi antenna out of a Pringles can.
  • Dom finds Cisco’s library card, which reveals his real name to be Frances Shaw — named after Frankie Shaw, the actress who played Shayla in Season 1.

Standout Lines and Moments

  • Colby on Trump: “If I wanted, the things I have on him… could put me on his ticket.” Who wants to see Tim Kaine spar with the patented Terry Colby wit.
  • Another Price monologue gem: “I always asked the question, ‘Am I the most powerful person in the room?’  The answer needed to be yes. To this day I still ask that question. And the answer is still yes. In every room in the entire world, the answer IS yes. With the exception of one…or two. And that drives me. I intend to leave a legacy, the standard of which was set by God when he created the Earth and man after his own image. Anything less is not worth mentioning.” If they ever decide to reboot Network, he should have dibs on playing Arthur Jensen.
  • Joanna: “Do you really want to say no to me?” Why does this one line make Elliot change his mind and help track down Tyrell? Hopefully it’s not because Elliot really is Tyrell.
  • Darlene: “We went to Nathan’s and she said I could have whatever I wanted. My parents never asked me what I wanted. Ever. It was the first time I ever really felt special.”
  • Elliot: “No one in the world uses faxes anymore, except cops.” If only we were so lucky.
  • Elliot’s wifi network is named “ItslikeURalwaysstuckin2ndgear.” Spot on, for someone with lots of imaginary Friends. Other visible wifi networks include “I did it for the lulz,” “it hurts when IP” and “Pretty Fly For A Wifi.”
  • Angela: “It’s a long way from getting high and watching ‘Back To The Future 2.'”
  • Angela recalls a time when she found Elliot at the Queens Museum, ranting at an unseen person, and she asks if it was his father, or “someone else.” Another nod to Tyrell being one of Elliot’s personas or projections?
  • If you’re listening to the podcast “The West Wing Weekly,” you may be familiar with a term they coined — a “flentl” is when the end of a tv show rolls credits, while the audio from the last scene continues to play underneath. This episode ends with a nice flentl of NYPD sirens blaring in the wake of the Dark Army hit.

Grade: B+

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