In Elliot’s Head, Two’s A Crowd
The episode opens will Elliot attempting to induce a lucid dreaming state so he can switch places with Mr. Robot and discovers what he’s planning. This dream-like quality extends to the rest of the hour, a brief, fitful pause between the high-action end of last week and next week’s season finale. Elliot is so far from in control that when he trails Mr. Robot to a secret meeting, he temporarily forgets that they are the same person. When the rendezvous turns out to be a surprise meeting with the long-missing Tyrell, Elliot genuinely cannot tell if Wellick is real or another projection of his mind. And though Tyrell behaves as if he’s real, the show doesn’t give us confirmation; instead, we get a dreamy background rendition of “Earth Angel,” a Casablanca quote, and the promised reveal of the Stage Two plan that it now seems was built by Elliot, Tyrell (real or not) and the Dark Army working together.
It Gets So Lonely Being Evil
Elliot may be the one who’s dreaming, but it’s Angela who seems to have entered her own dream world. The people who apprehended her on the train at the end of last week’s episode turn out to not be from Dom and the FBI, but agents of the Dark Army who bring Angela to a seemingly-typical suburban house. But inside, Angela is brought to a dark room containing a glowing fish tank, a Commodore 64 computer with a floppy disk drive, a red rotary phone and a paperback copy of Lolita.
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What follows it one of the most compelling “locked in a weird room” scenes on TV since the advent of the Red Room on “Twin Peaks.” A young girl arrives to walk Angela through some kind of Infocom-style text adventure game called “Land of Ecodelia,” which turn into some strange kind of Voight-Kampff-like test. When Angela passes the test, she is rewarded with a conversation with Whiterose.
In the middle of all the Lynchian weirdness, Whiterose delivers a fairly by-the-numbers villain monologue where zhe tries to persuade Angela to not release her information about the events at Washington Township. Zhe even suggests that her mother and Elliot’s father “died for a reason,” although we don’t yet know what that reason is. Angela decides to go along with Whiterose’s request, and informs her lawyer to forget everything she’s discovered — however, she delivers this in the same monotone that she’s used while digging into E-Corp, so maybe she’s not quite ready to totally believe Whiterose.
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The Most Powerful Man In The Room
Phillip Price is inching closer to his endgame — maneuvering the Treasury Secretary into allowing E-Corp to be the sole manager of America’s approved cryptocurrency, while taking an unprecedented multi-trillion dollar no-interest loan from the Chinese government. Price seems to be on the verge of controlling the entire fiscal infrastructure of the country, and nobody is left to stand in his way. Or could the Stage Two plan be the last opposition to Price’s dominance?
Alert The Authorities
Dom saved the day by interfering with the Dark Army’s hit. Or did she? We get no details about the fate of Darlene or Cisco, only a reference that “people” (plural) died. And rather than getting a commendation, she’s pulled off the street by her boss Santiago, who squashes her self-image as a righteous officer of the law with the political reality of their situation: With China’s bailout of E-Corp, nobody in power will sanction a move to bring the Dark Army to justice. A shattered Dom retreats to her empty apartment; her exhausted inability to sleep adds another layer of demimonde dreaminess while she has another round of existential conversation with Alexa, her Amazon Echo.
Tyrell may have finally reappeared, but we still have no answer to lats week’s question of where his phone calls to Joanna are coming from. However, after asking Sutherland to show her the address again, she calls it “the greatest [gift] we ever received.” Perhaps it leads to E-Corp CTO Scott Knowles, who has been holding up Joanna’s access to Tyrell’s severance money.
- The Commodore 64 screen shows a list of files, including classic games like “Maniac Mansion” and “Pitfall.” There are also a list of books with different colors in their name, which is yet another reference to the movie “Hackers.”
- Mr. Robot decodes his secret message using a suite of tools well-familiar to hackers, crackers and ARG enthusiasts, including a ROT-13 decoder and an ASCII2Hex translator. The show producers go to extra lengths to make sure their hacks and code are possible in the real world, although they do admit that they usually skip a few steps — like here, where the phone number actually decodes to “251ASECRET!”
- The secret code is written on a menu for Red Wheelbarrow BBQ, a callback to Elliot’s Red Wheelbarrow notebook. There is no real barbecue restaurant in New York with that name, but Red Wheelbarrow is the name of a famous poem by William Carlos Williams.
Standout Lines and Moments
- Santiago: “We need to start finding a way to walk in between the mines and not on them.” Dom thinks she’s in an episode of “CSI: Cyber,” while Santiago knows that they’re in “The Wire.”
- Girl: “Are you a giraffe or a seagull?” Just don’t ask her about a tortoise.
- Treasury Secretary: “You can’t make your own currency. That is the federal government’s job!” Are you sure about that Jack?
- Price: “You wanna regulate it? Be my guest. Regulate the shit out of it. I’ll give you back doors, side doors, traces…whatever you want. Just don’t shut it down.” Price shows an unusual about of vulnerability with this plea, which probably means that he’s very close to his ultimate goal.
- Dom (to Alexa): “Because I wasn’t asking you a question, you dumb bitch.” Human-on-machine micro-aggressions are going to be the next big thing.