S2 episode 4


Aired on July 27, 2016

Warning: Recap Contains Spoilers

It’s always good to have dreams…unless you’re one of the characters in Mr. Robot. Because no matter how ambitious (Angela), how optimistic (Elliot -- yes, really) or how determined (Darlene) you are, there’s always someone (Phillip Price, Mr. Robot, or the Dark Army) lurking in the shadows, ready to snatch those dreams out of your clutches and smash them on the pavement. Here’s how those dreams got dashed in episode 203 of Mr. Robot. 

The Careful Massacre of the Bourgeoisie

Through a flashback, we get another glimpse into the seeds of the revolution: Darlene bringing Elliot a mustachioed mask that appeared in their favorite campy horror flick (the aptly titled The Careful Massacre of the Bourgeoisie) on Halloween, Elliot filling in the blanks as to why he was ordered by the court to start therapy for anger management and Elliot relaying his vision to take down Evil Corp. Or was Mr. Robot inhabiting him even back then, carefully orchestrating Elliot’s eventual future? 

But in the present, Darlene visits Elliot at their mother’s house, trying to convince him to get back into the fight, and reminding him that even before they began, he knew the hard part would be the “after.” But Elliot says all that piss and vinegar came from “him,” which prompts Darlene to say that maybe what she needs right now is “him” -- a perfectly crafted dagger to her brother’s fragile heart. 

An Exit Strategy, Not a Mistake

Meanwhile Dom has the FBI crawling all over the arcade in Coney Island. She plays out for her colleagues (and us) what led her there. She found it curious that Romero only printed out a few pages of the FBI roster but then she figured out that each page had a name, including hers, of agents from the New York office who had interviewed Gideon Goddard, though she still doesn’t know what all that means. However, in her mind, all signs point to the arcade being the place where fsociety initiated the hack. Her colleagues Santiago and Jesse are still not buying her line of reasoning until she shows them her prize piece of evidence that the investigators found tucked behind the Mallard Murder game: a shell casing. 

Running Out of Dough

Joanna’s getting desperate. She’s running out of hush money to keep Kareem, the parking attendant from season one, quiet because E Corp still hasn’t released Tyrell’s severance package. Sutherland, her bodyguard, tells her it isn’t the FBI that’s to blame for the holdup. So she pays a surprise visit to Scott Knowles. How far do you think she gets barking up that tree? Nowheresville. Even after she offers to testify that she went home alone after the fateful party, Scott can’t get past his anger that he doesn’t have Tyrell Wellick’s head on a stick in his living room for murdering Mrs. Knowles to do anything to help Joanna or her baby. 

All of Her Dreams Are Not Coming True Right Now

Angela meets with Antara. It turns out that Angela had handed off the CD Phillip gave her to Antara yesterday and today Antara had them were arrested. This just proves Angela’s new theory. She thinks that the reason Antara’s attorneys haven’t found anything suspicious in the Washington Township settlement negotiations is because there’s something missing -- and that missing link is Angela, which means that Phillip is trying to negotiate with her. Antara thinks that Angela may be delusional but whatever. Maybe Angela’s right. 

Later, Angela hits up Phillip as he’s leaving work with demands for an executive office and a major promotion. She claims to have found a pattern in the settlements drafts for the Washington Township suit -- on a seemingly small point that they wouldn’t budge on when they gave up on other larger points. She tells him she’ll agree to get the class to remove the contingency that a third-party company must perform inspections on the Washington Township plant if he meets her demands. But the Master of the Universe tells her this is all in her head, swiftly crushing what he calls “her dreams” under his heel before getting in his car. 

The Master of the Universe and…The Dark Army?

Whiterose and Phillip Price are in cahoots! But Whiterose is annoyed. Phillip is playing another one of his famous long games with Angela, but Whiterose says, “time is of the essence” and “shutting down the plant is not an option.” Phillip replies by saying he didn’t start this game, Whiterose did, and “Rome may have burned in a day but it wasn’t built in one.” Which of course prompts Whiterose to hang up on him, because the last thing you tell Whiterose is that she’s being impatient. She says to her assistant that it seems like Phillip is opting for his Ecoin strategy so she wants to look into their stage-two schedule. Then the assistant shows her the latest confidential intelligence about the FBI’s discovery of the arcade. She tells him to stay on it -- she wants to know what they know. 

Checkmate Stalemate

Elliot concedes to a chess game with Ray but Elliot isn’t as good as he should be, so Ray suggests that he play himself to practice. Ray can tell Elliot is burdened by his thoughts and encourages Elliot to confess to Ray to relieve himself. Elliot ponders telling him the whole truth but Mr. Robot appears and argues against it because confessing won’t stop or save Darlene and will only hurt Elliot. But Elliot isn’t convinced. So Mr. Robot challenges Elliot to a chess game. If Elliot wins, he can confess and Mr. Robot will go away forever. But if Mr. Robot wins, he gets to be in charge of Elliot forever. Eventually, Elliot decides he wants to fight for the world he dreams of, filled with friends and family. So he agrees to Mr. Robot’s chess challenge. But even after three games, they keep hitting a stalemate, the odds of which are impossible. Elliot suddenly realizes he can’t beat Mr. Robot -- ever. They will always be at this impasse, because he can’t beat himself, which of course Mr. Robot knew all along. 

Init 1

Cisco surreptitiously intercepts Darlene on the street and tells her to meet him at nearby dive bar. He warns her that the FBI found her arcade and that she’s probably being followed. She asks if this is all the Dark Army’s doing but Cisco says it isn’t, as far as he can tell. He insists that she tells Elliot about Romero, no matter what kind of fragile state he’s in. Even a coital interlude propped against the bathroom sink doesn’t soften the final blow: Cisco’s contacts have told him that Romero was researching the FBI when he got killed and the Dark Army is nervous that someone flipped. She doesn’t believe it but he says that Romero had a printout of a roster of FBI agents attached to something called Operation Berenstain, something top secret with heavy surveillance. Her first impulse is to skip town but Cisco says that would be worse. Darlene calls Elliot and tells him she’s in dire straits through their code word, Init 1, the first command he ever taught her when her computer kept crashing. She needs his help now -- it’s become a matter of life or death…for all of them. 

Make Peace with the Enemy

Elliot returns to Ray’s house with the chessboard. Ray asks who won. “No one,” Elliot replies. Ray doesn’t seem surprised by that outcome. Then Elliot tells Ray he’s there to help him with his computer problem. Elliot settles himself in the chair in front of the computer as Lonestar, Ray’s heavy, comes into the room at Ray’s behest, to reinforce the need for discretion. After Ray leaves, Elliot opens an IRC window and logs in to chat with Darlene. She tells him everything Cisco relayed to her as Mr. Robot looks over his shoulder. Mr. Robot asks what he’s doing. With the glow of the screen bathing his face like a warm embrace, Elliot replies, “I’m hacking the FBI.”