This week’s Mr. Robot was unlike any other episode of the series, so suffice it to say it was unlike anything else on television. Creator Sam Esmail has crafted a narrative that is reminiscent of a fever dream, and dared us to come along for the ride. The frenetic pacing, non linear story telling and an unreliable narrator makes it a hard sell—but after a near perfect season one- he has garnered our trust.
With that in mind, and I chose that word carefully let’s attempt to peel back some layers from last nights episode.
The episode’s title, “init1,” is a reference to a quip Darlene makes in the opening scene. Init is a process launched when booting up a Unix system.
This episode opens with a flashback as we see Darlene paying a visit to her brother on Halloween night, back when he still remembered who she was and before they’d taken over the world. They get stoned and watch an Eighties slasher movie that Elliot torrents called, hilariously, The Careful Massacre of the Bourgeoisie. “This is definitely the root of all of our psychological dysfunction,” she says as they watch a serial killer in a Monopoly Man mask murdering teenagers.
Okay what the heck? So the mom is still alive, according to Darlene; Elliot was fired from his old job because he blacked out and destroyed a bunch of network servers. Most importantly it is this night when the idea behind Mr. Robot was hatched, as Elliot, wearing the mask and their dead father’s jacket, decides to destroy Evil Corp.
Back in the present Darlene is on her way to visit Elliot, and that visit begs the most important question. ‘Where the hell is Elliot?’ I tried to dismiss the fan theories that all of Elliot’s new world was an illusion. But this scene seemed to grant them credence:
“I will never understand why you did this,” Darlene says to Elliot as they sit at the dining room table while their mother(?) is watching TV in the next room. “It’s better for me here,” he replies.
It seems pretty clear It would make sense that Elliot is in a psych ward or the like, and that Leon and Ray are in there with him. However, that seems a tad lazy and if we have learned one thing, it’s that Esmail is not lazy. Mr. Robot intentionally distorts reality, but that doesn’t mean that everything is simply an illusion—it seems more likely that the audience is witnessing more jaded perception, than deception.
Angela continues to listen to affirmations as she plays hardball with Phillip Price and seems to lose, all as we see Joanna Wellick as almost like-able. It’s hard to believe that Mrs. Wellick is capable of sincerity but Stephanie Corneliussen is sublime. It’s not surprising that casting is one of the 6 Emmy’s Mr. Robot is nominated for.
This episode truly belongs to Carly Chaikin, she is always phenomenal, but Darlene carries this episode. Not only do we learn about her own neuroses—a panic disorder, we find out that she doesn’t remember her father very well. Darlene drives the action in this 65 minute long episode (plus commercials), as she reaches out to Elliot and her dark army contact. She is the moving part that sparks a reaction in Elliot.
Elliot’s for getting back into the thick of things. In short, he wants a life where his family and friends find happiness. And we got a montage of these desires set appropriately to an instrumental version of Green Day’s “Basket Case”—if there’s anybody’s mind that’s playing tricks on them, it’s Elliot’s. The music seriously gets better with each episode.
After finding out about Romero’s death—and the fact that he was looking into the FBI’s top-secret “Berenstain” surveillance mission—Elliot came up with a brand new plan: He’s going to hack the FBI and fight for his future, all this as he contacts his sister on Ray’s computer telling her to wait for further instructions.
Will next week bring us closer to the form of season one, will we see Tyrell, is Tyrell even alive? I am not sure, but even at 65 minutes Mr. Robot is still the most exciting show on the air.