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Mr. Robot - eps2.2init1.asec - Review: "Siblings"

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Last night's fourth episode of USA's Mr. Robot was another "supersized" hour of the critically acclaimed drama series, grabbing around 64 minutes of airtime excluding commercials. Like last week's instalment, a lot was covered, but the heavily cerebral nature of this episode made it a bit of a grind. "eps2.2init1.asec" was, like all previous episodes, written and directed by showrunner and executive producer Sam Esmail.

The opening 10 minutes of this episode was the overall highlight for me. We watched as Darlene knocked on Elliot's apartment door while he was busy filing the CDs containing data on people he had hacked before opting to bring Evil Corp to its knees. Since late in Season 1 we've known Darlene and Elliot were siblings, but it's a rare occurrence to see the pair behaving as such.

Please hang out with me tonight.

Surprisingly, this opening scene took place in past tense. Elliot was yet to join Allsafe, and in among that we learned Angela had been at the now defunct cyber security firm longer than Elliot, and that she was responsible for him getting a job there. The duo's mother was mentioned briefly as they watched a brutal classic horror film. Darlene mentioned how she had hacked a restaurant's coupon system to collect coupons when other customers placed orders. However what topped all that was Elliot digging into his closet and retrieving his father's old "Mr. Robot" jacket - the one he wore at work many years earlier.

This all coincided with a Halloween night, and Darlene had arrived at Elliot's apartment with the now famous mask adopted by fsociety. Last week we saw how the hacking collective got its name, and this week we saw how fsociety got its trademark appearance. Excellent storytelling here.

Representing law enforcement in last night's episode was FBI agent Dominique DiPierro. She was prominent last week and I was looking forward to more from her this week, but Sam Esmail wasn't forthcoming. As expected, Dominique had the arcade swarming with other agents conducting a scene examination, but little more was offered on that front, though she had correctly figured out how the arcade was getting its electricity supply. Darlene later learned the arcade was compromised, but even from her perspective it wasn't a huge deal thanks to her foresight in the season premiere.

Again absent in present tense this week was Tyrell Wellick, the man the media and law enforcement alike have pinned the attack on Evil Corp on. His wife, Joanna, featured throughout though, with her main objective being getting hold of her husband's severance package. Scott Knowles wasn't having a bar of it despite her unwelcome entry into his home. Knowles rejected Joanna's offer to pin the death of his wife on Tyrell in exchange for the severance funds as well. She made some interesting remarks to a bartender she was spending time with earlier too. What this woman does next is anyone's guess.

I mentioned in the opening paragraph how I found this episode a bit too cerebral. This came courtesy of Elliot and has been a strong theme so far this season already, but not being a fan of chess or petty mind games in general didn't help me here. Elliot's fresh acquaintance, Ray, doubled as a second shrink for Elliot in this episode, eventually persuading Elliot to learn chess and play against his intellectual enemy Mr. Robot as a way to banish him for good. It was all a bit of a blur for me in the end, but I didn't find it surprising when witnessing Elliot and Mr. Robot come to a stalemate several times in the "game to end all games" of chess.

Before that showdown, Elliot asked his qualified psychologist, Krista, for her opinion on destroying Mr. Robot. While Ray was for it, Krista took a much broader, yet negative view:

You are agreeing to destroy a part of yourself.

This was brushed off relatively quickly by Elliot, who countered via narration by saying "annihilation is always the answer", but this was a clever way for Sam Esmail to plant the seed in the viewer's mind that Elliot would definitely not be the same if Mr. Robot no longer existed. Elliot's issue is that he is biased, while a more holistic view from Krista aims to convey the point that, in a broader sense, having flaws can be a good thing.

The cerebral theme I found much more entertaining was Elliot dreaming about true happiness. Like dream sequences attempted previously in this series, this episode's number didn't disappoint either.

Will I finally connect with those I deeply care for?

We watched as Elliot played several scenarios through his mind, questioning each one. He was close with Angela, interacted with former work colleagues, watched his sister become engaged, met Tyrell and Joanna and their son, who had a few years on him by that point, and perhaps most remarkably, the man he deceived into allowing him access to the Steel Mountain, where Evil Corp's backups were stored. Then everyone sat down at a long table in the middle of a street stacked with a delicious banquet. Elliot even left an empty chair for the viewers. The gathering watched as the massive Evil Corp tower was demolished in the distance. The whole scene was very entertaining viewing.

As for Darlene, on top of the time she spent with Elliot in past and present tense, she hooked up with former boyfriend and Dark Army associate, Cisco, who warned her that she may be being followed. There's never been a lot of chemistry between the pair, but that's largely due to some decent acting. It didn't prevent them from having sex in the bathroom of a dimly lit restaurant. It will be interesting to see whether Cisco turns up again, possibly drawing fsociety and the Dark Army closer, which was more or less the intention at one point early on in the series.

After some intriguing interactions in last week's episode, Angela came to the realization that Evil Corp CEO, Philip Price, was being accommodating towards her so he had leverage to use at a later date. The information he fed her on two other Evil Corp executives and their dealings with Terry Colby last week turned out to be true, with the pair both arrested as Angela watched from a distance. Wanting to identify Price's endgame was next on her agenda, but assistance from her lawyer, Antara Nayar, followed by a demand for a better job and office location straight to Price's face didn't achieve the desired outcome. Price is still very much in control.

I was thrilled to see BD Wong's name appear among the opening credits. His character, White Rose, appeared right on the halfway point, and while doing his makeup he discussed business with Price. True to prior form, he kept track of time with utmost precision. White Rose pored over a classified FBI report concerning Dominique DiPierro's fsociety headquarters discovery. He instructed an assistant to look into the report further.

I'm here to help you with that computer problem you've been having.

The episode's final scene rivalled the first for my favorite scene from the episode. Elliot stated that he was there to fix a computer problem Ray had been experiencing. Ray sat at his computer, using it in a fashion similar to older generations. He talked to Elliot about other famous prophets from history having also heard voices on a regular basis. He then invited Elliot to sit down, but made sure to mention that he hoped Elliot would respect his privacy.

Did you know that Moses heard voices too?

Rather than fix the issue, Elliot launched a telnet application and connected to a session used by fsociety to communicate. Darlene had announced the arcade was compromised, the FBI were involved and using illegal surveillance software, and that Romero had been murdered. With his sister his primary concern, Elliot wasted no time, and announced to Mr. Robot that he was hacking the FBI.

While it was a bit long and a bit cerebral for my liking, this was another pretty strong episode of Mr. Robot. The story continues to progress nicely but never feels rushed. The supersized episodes are allowing Sam Esmail to pack a huge amount of stuff in, so when the normal 42-ish minutes of running time resumes, it'll be interesting to see how these elements change.

Thanks as always for reading! The comments section is below for you to leave your thoughts and theories - it's always interesting hearing what others are thinking! Next week's episode promo looks awesome - make sure you check it out here.

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