S4 episode 3

403 Forbidden

Aired on October 20, 2019

Warning: Recap Contains Spoilers

Forbidden love, forbidden access, forbidden interaction…this episode covers all those bases. First we take a trip back to 1982, which helps explain a lot about whiterose. Then Elliot bumps into Krista, has an intimate encounter with a stranger, and a visit from a familiar face. It’s a busy Christmas Eve! 

A Young Zhang Kills It at Work

In a flashback to 1982, a young “Director Zhang” lands a major deal with IBM for them to build their first facility in Asia—and basks in the glow of a secret love affair with his male translator. After the meeting, the clandestine couple has a private celebration in their hotel room. His translator-lover thinks that Zhang is a shoe-in as the next ambassador to the United States, which means they can move somewhere where they can be their true selves. While his lover goes downstairs for another next meeting, Zhang hangs back “to prepare reports.” When he returns, Zhang is wearing one of his mother’s evening gowns, a wig and makeup, revealing his “true self” to his lover for the first time. 

White Roses for a White Wedding

The second part of the flashback shows Zhang’s translator as nervous wreck prior to his wedding…to a woman, whom his father is forcing him to marry. Zhang tries to calm his lover but when Zhang tells him about being offered the position of Minister of State Security, which would keep them in Beijing, his lover breaks down. There’s no life he wants in China. In response to Zhang asking him to be patient, he says, “You should know by now. If someone is asking for your patience, they are asking for your surrender.” Zhang promises to find a way to make this world better, for them. As Zhang leaves, his lover says this world will never be good enough for him, grabs a knife and slits his throat, spilling blood all over the WHITE ROSES that Zhang bought for him. Boom. Now we know!

Dress For Success

Back in present day, Zhang tells Wang Shu that he’ll be wearing that very same gown from the flashback the day his project ships. Wang Shu says for him to hold his horses on the celebration since it seems like Elliot is up to something. Not to mention, it’s probably not a coincidence that the timing of Lomax’s suicide has coincided with Price trying to resign. At first Zhang says to refuse Price’s request but then after recalling that exchange with his former love about patience, he decides to not only grant Price’s request to gather the Deus Group members but also to make it happen the next day, a.k.a. Christmas Day, thereby forcing Elliot’s hand. Zhang will just install Tyrell Wellick as Phillip’s replacement. Wang Shu is like, whaaat? But OK. She’ll let Tyrell know the “good” news.

Unhappy Reunion

With a paranoid Mr. Robot looking over his shoulder, fearful of a sneak attack by Vera, Elliot bumps into Krista on the street. She makes it crystal clear that she doesn’t want any further contact with him at all or she’ll be forced to take legal action. He’s sad because he just wanted to thank her. But what neither of them realize is that someone has been watching their interaction….

Over at the “Nerd Factory”

At Allsafe, Darlene has found out the name of Susan Jacobs’ contact at Cyprus National Bank. Olivia Cortez is the bank’s only U.S. account manager, so she’s their way in. From having hacked some of her personal info, they deduce a few salient details about this woman, such as she’s divorced and has a delicate custody situation subject to her getting randomly drug tested. But they can’t access anything CNB-related without getting physical access to her laptop. Seeing that Olivia has plans to be out that evening on an OkCupid date and the ex has their kid for the night, Elliot starts heading out. He refuses to let Darlene handle it or come with him, though, which sends her into yet another funk.

Love the One You’re With

In Olivia’s apartment, Elliot and Robot find pretty much everything they need, except for her two-factor authentication device so that he can log into her CNB account, which she must have with her. (Elliot has also found a bottle of Oxy in the bathroom but that isn’t useful…at the moment, at least.) Their only option is for Elliot to crash her date and swipe the fob. When they get to the bar, they see that Olivia has been stood up. Elliot’s plan is to blackmail her about the bottle of Oxy he found in her apartment. Mr. Robot, however, thinks a softer touch will work and convinces Olivia to have a drink with him. Elliot spies the fob hanging from her bag. The awkwardness between them dissipates as they share some personal stuff, so by the time the missing date arrives, Olivia wants nothing to do with him. When she bolts to get away from the blind date, Elliot runs outside and kisses her. They go back to her apartment. After she falls asleep, you know, after, Elliot removes the fob, goes into the bathroom and texts Darlene the 2FA code so she can log in. Olivia joins him on the bathroom floor where they divulge their innermost thoughts, discovering they have more in common than Elliot ever could’ve anticipated.

Vera Clearly Isn’t a Chicken

Just as Mr. Robot has been worried about, Vera is in fact circling—or at least having his henchman circling–but not to flat out kill Elliot. He’s been biding his time doing small-time drug deals (hidden inside fresh chickens) out of the kitchen of Adalina’s Restaurant, but Vera’s bigger ambition is to be “King of New York” and in order to do that he needs a “brilliant architect.” Vera’s clearly inept associate, who has very few salient details to share, just wants to put a gun to Elliot’s head and make him do what Vera wants. But Vera wants Elliot to be a partner, not a prisoner. “A visionary like him don’t work like that.” Vera’s henchman finally produces a photo of Elliot with Krista on the street, but gives Vera no context. Annoyed that a little kid can read more into the photo than his associate can, Vera shoots his guy in the gut. Then he studies Krista’s photo more closely. 

Bon Soir (Again), Elliot

Elliot notices that a white van has been following Mr. Robot and him since they got out of the subway. It must be Dark Army. Mr. Robot is immediately suspicious that whiterose could be on to the fact that they have a plan. Elliot suggests that they show her they don't have one by going back to Elliot’s apartment instead. However, the door has clearly been forced open. Elliot slowly walks in to find Tyrell (whew!), who excitedly starts telling Elliot that they want him to be CEO. Elliot shushes him and writes, “They’re listening” on a piece of paper as the camera pushes out the window to the van parked outside.