S2 episode 9
Warning: Recap Contains Spoilers
The brownouts happening throughout this episode of Mr. Robot are symbolically apt as a way to sum up what’s starting to happen for Elliot, Darlene, Cisco, Angela and even Mr. Robot now that Elliot is out of jail. From the way this episode builds, it seems like everything is about to go haywire…for everyone.
Through a flashback we learn what happened to Elliot when he was first arrested. The key takeaways are that 1) he was arrested because Lenny Shannon, a.k.a. Michael, a.k.a. Krista’s creepy ex, reported Elliot for hacking his computer and stealing his dog (poor Flipper), not anything having to do with the 5/9 hack; 2) Elliot pleaded guilty despite his public defender’s counsel otherwise; and 3) even though his sentence was for 18 months, he was let go after 86 days because the 5/9 hack prompted the early release of many non-violent offenders. There’s also a fun “who’s who” from the last several episodes—Ray as the warden, Lone Star as a correctional officer, Magda as another officer, Leon as, well, Leon, but pre-Seinfeld.
The New Normal
After Darlene picks up Elliot from jail, she brings him up to speed, including that she hacked her Dark Army contact (a.k.a. Cisco) and came across something called Stage 2, and that Trenton and Mobley are AWOL. Darlene is freaked that the Dark Army is cleaning house but Elliot says that doesn’t make sense because he thinks they’re behind his early release. After a quick stop at a nursing home to visit the real yet much aged and incommunicative Magda, they head to Cisco’s to pressure him to give up his Dark Army contact. He grumbles a lot as usual but caves. This is when Mr. Robot and Elliot begin to experience their own version of a brownout. They both sense something’s off, but Elliot doesn’t have time to figure out why his hallucination-slash-alter-ego feels like he’s “overheating,” or why Elliot keeps seeing Mr. Robot talk to other people. Elliot hacks Xun’s phone but also wants a F2F with Xun. Elliot thinks once they see him, the Dark Army will talk. However, it doesn’t exactly play out that way. At the library, Xun doesn’t seem to give two craps that Elliot’s standing in front of him, even after Elliot demands to know what Stage 2 is. Basically, Xun says nothing and leaves.
Whiterose, in the guise of her/his official alter ego, Zhi Zhang, has come to New York to meet with Phillip Price on the down low. They talk about Phillip’s “pet project” that involves a “she” (Angela perhaps?) doing “the right thing in the end.” Phillip says it’s too bad that everything “she’s” done won’t matter. Because the bailout didn’t come through, the federal government will be taking over the Washington Township plant as of Friday because E Corp can’t maintain it anymore. This does not please Whiterose, who apparently has some stake in that not happening. Whiterose says that Phillip’s actions remind her/him of Phillip’s predecessor’s. But Phillip is all too aware that that’s a barely veiled death threat. (In an earlier scene, Whiterose pees on the grave of Lester Moore, the former E Corp head honcho who tried to shut down Whiterose’s “project” and paid the “price,” so to speak, with an untimely plane-related death.) The only way for Whiterose to prevent the feds from taking over the plant, Phillip suggests, is for her/him to get the Chinese government to pony up the bailout money, interest free, no less, so they can look like the benevolent power in the U.S.’s eyes and then Phillip can push their agenda with the President. Phillip has backed Whiterose into a corner and she/he knows it. “I would rather see you lose than win myself,” Phillip says before walking off.
Angela has clearly learned a thing or two from hanging around with her hacker friends! She uses Mobley’s Rubber Ducky to hack her new boss’s computer to copy the Washington Township files. She takes them down to D.C. to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission and shares the report with a guy named Jeff Gunther. He tells her that if they move forward, then as a whistleblower her anonymity will be guaranteed. Great, she’s game. But as soon as Jeff turns over the matter to his Deputy Director, Willa Phelps, from the Office of Investigation, Angela smells trouble. Director Phelps seems to know a little bit too much about who Angela is. Angela makes tracks before she gets herself locked in an interrogation room only to find Dom waiting for her in her apartment. Dom knows about Angela’s little “field trip” and tells her that she’s got one hand left to play and that’s Dom.
The Case of the Missing Cassette
While monitoring Xun’s so far trashy but not especially useful conversations, Darlene realizes that uh oh, she doesn’t have the physical VHS tape from her last Mr. Robot video. With an eye roll, Cisco agrees to go look for it at the Smart House. Cisco finds the tape at Susan’s but then hears someone wheezing, like they’re gasping for air. The scene ends before we find out what that’s all about. Meanwhile, back at Cisco’s, Darlene’s ears perk up when she hears Xun telling another guy that he met Elliot, who wanted to know what Stage 2 was. The other voice responds, “What do you mean? Stage 2 was his plan.” Darlene’s eyes practically pop out of her head. Just as the lights flicker from another brownout, someone starts banging on Cisco’s door. Darlene slowly opens it…and more eye popping but no intel on who’s there.
You Can Never Go Home Again
Darlene notices that Elliot looks burnt thought it’s Mr. Robot who agrees that he’s not feeling right as Elliot looks on from across the room (another moment of Mr. Robot even-more-than-usual weirdness). As Elliot approaches his place, his voiceover says, “How can I return to normal when the SUV of the man I murdered is parked outside of my apartment?” As he approaches the vehicle, the window rolls down, revealing Joanna. “Hello Ollie,” she says, before we smash to brown, we mean, black.