S2 episode 6
Warning: Recap Contains Spoilers
“Just go with it,” the advice Mr. Robot gives Elliot during an extended hallucinatory sequence, could serve as the theme of this episode, both for the characters and the viewers. From Elliot finding himself in a twisty version of a ‘90s sitcom to Angela sweating out the prep and execution of her part of the FBI hack, this episode of Mr. Robot calls on everyone concerned to suspend disbelief and roll with it from beginning to end.
Master and Slave
In the wake of getting the crap kicked out of him by Ray’s henchmen, Elliot is stuck in a laugh-tracked ‘90s family sitcom version of his life, co-starring his entire family and guest starring Angela Moss, Tyrell Wellick, Gideon Goddard and Alf. (Because if you’re going to have the equivalent of a ‘90s-themed fever dream, of course Alf needs to be in it.) In this “episode,” the Aldersons are on their annual family road trip. Many inappropriate-for-family-viewing things occur along the way, including holding up a convenience store, Alf running over “Officer” Goddard, and Mrs. Alderson punching Darlene in the face more than once. But the most telling pieces of the sequence surround the “very important businessman” who is bound and gagged in the trunk of the family car. The VIB is none other than Tyrell and, after he tries to hop his way to freedom, Mr. Robot takes a tire iron to Tyrell’s head. Mr. Robot responds to Elliot’s incredulity with, “When the truth is painful, the only remedy is a lie. Cuz too much truth, too much honesty -- that’ll kill ya.” The moral of this very special episode is that Elliot comes to the realization that Mr. Robot has won.
Or has Ray won? Because when Elliot awakens bruised and battered in a hospital room, he is forced to listen to another of Ray’s parables that basically conveys the message that Elliot is no longer his own master. He now belongs to Ray.
Back on U.S. soil, Santiago, who was safely in his hotel room during the terrorist attack in Beijing, tells Dom that Agent Ramos is recommending that she takes a month of psych leave. But Dom isn’t like, “Cool! Paid vacay!” Instead, she contends that if she’s out for that long, the Dark Army wins. He explains that the Chinese are pointing to a group of violent Uyghur Separatists and, by all reports, the Dark Army are just hackers, not killers. Dom argues that violent separatists would’ve taken more victims. Because of the way the shooters behaved -- the one Dom hit took himself out and the other had her cornered and instead put the gun to his own head as well -- means that the Dark Army carried out the attack in order to disrupt the FBI investigation and leave nothing behind, not to slaughter them. Maybe she has successfully convinced Santiago to let her stay.
Backing Out of the Bailout
The Speaker of the House delivers the bad news to Phillip Price that the bailout is not going to happen. Revenge is on the public’s mind for what happened in Beijing. The Speaker can’t advocate borrowing money from them in this climate because he’ll look like a traitor. Even Phillip’s threats and insults hold no sway. After he gets off the phone, he barks at his assistant to keep trying to reach Minister Zhang. Has the Master of the Universe finally been backed into a corner?
“No One is Ever Handed a Win”
With the FBI on high alert of the attack, the difficulty level of fsociety’s hack of the FBI has risen exponentially. It also means that, ready or not, they have to execute because the FBI will be vacating the E Corp building the next day. Mobley has been running Angela through her paces to enter the script that will enable the attack non-stop but she’s still not getting it. “You can’t teach someone to hack in one day,” he complains to Darlene and Trenton. But they have no choice. Meanwhile, Cisco isn’t exactly earning the “Most Popular Hacker” award with the Dark Army. They don’t like him making demands for a femtocell on behalf of fsociety. With a scary long needle in his index finger, they remind him where his loyalties lie and that he’s just a “foot solder” who needs to follow orders, not give them.
The next morning when Cisco arrives at the Smart House with the femtocell, Angela’s eyes register that she recognizes him, but she plays it off when Darlene questions what’s going on.
As lunch hour approaches, Darlene -- dressed like “Susan Jacobs” in a blond wig and white skirt suit -- steals card key access to a strategically positioned hotel room across the street from E Corp from an unsuspecting maid. Over at E Corp, signaled by Darlene at the appointed hour of 11:30, Angela heads to the 23rd floor and strides with purpose across a nearly empty floor to the women’s bathroom. She goes into the last stall and takes out her laptop to execute the script but something isn’t quite working. Mobley walks her through the fix on a three-way call with Darlene. And voila! They’re in. Outside the bathroom, Angela artfully deflects the flirtatious advances followed by suspicious questioning from a young handsome agent and presses on to her next task: plugging in the femtocell at a cubicle on the floor. All seems to be working… until it isn’t: Darlene has lost the Wi-Fi connection. Darlene instructs Angela to get to back her terminal and bring it back up. Angela refuses since she’s already done her part but Darlene explains to her if Angela doesn’t do what she asks then Darlene can’t wipe the security footage of Angela on the 23rd floor. As Darlene walks Angela through the last steps over the phone, Dom suddenly appears at Angela’s desk.
A Heartfelt Ending
Lone Star and his goon drag Elliot to Ray’s empty basement, throw him on the floor, and deadbolt the door. A contrite Mr. Robot appears and tells him all he was trying to do was take those punches for him. It looks like Elliot is going to lose it on him but instead, with tears streaming down his face, he says thank you and then hugs Mr. Robot. Yes, hugs.
We then go to a flashback of Elliot as a young boy, sporting a shiner in the passenger seat of his dad’s car. Mr. Robot is surprisingly understanding about the incident that occurred at school. His dad then confesses that he has lost his job and that he’s sick -- but no one knows that, not even his wife, so Elliot must keep the news to himself. But Mr. Robot promises he’s never going to leave Elliot and that he’s going to open his own computer store. Elliot asks if he can work there. Mr. Robot says his son can even name the store -- whatever the first thing that pops into his head will be the name. Elliot closes his eyes and…the episode cuts to black.