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Mr. Robot - eps2.3logic-b0mb.hc - Review: "The Season's Best Episode So Far"

The fifth episode of Mr. Robot's second season gets my nod for the season's best outing so far. "eps2.3logic-b0mb.hc", written by Kyle Bradstreet and directed by Sam Esmail, saw Elliot in a much more familiar position in front of a computer screen doing some hacking, while choreographing one of the series' finest scenes between FBI agent Dominique DiPierro, and the mysterious Whiterose, and ending with a spectacular one take scene in which hell broke loose.

At 51 minutes, last night's episode was closer to the normal standard duration compared to the previous few weeks, but content and story development did not suffer at all - in my opinion both aspects were better handled in this episode than any predecessors this season.

Step 1: Identify the target and its flaws.

The action kicked off in a fashion more akin to the USA Network series' first season, which saw Elliot on a computer, narrating to the audience his thoughts and feelings. He recalled the time he first cut his teeth in the seedy underworld of hacking when he took control of a public library at age 11. He described the three steps he uses to order his work, and the reasons why he does what he does.

I live for this shit.

What made this scene even better was the outstanding directing and cinematography, with the use of lighting to temporarily bring Elliot out of his mental processes and into reality as the lights brightened, and dimmed again once reality was dealt with and his mental processes allowed to continue once more. Lighting and direction have always been managed exquisitely in Mr. Robot, and this was just one of many examples in this episode where this was the case.

Elliot's return to a more familiar headspace also meant his father, Mr. Robot, was seen little in this episode. A distinct trend between the two seasons has been the sizable reduction in screen time for the show's namesake, but if anything less is more here. Mr. Robot can be quite intense and overbearing, and the reduction in the use of the character means he's more effective when needed, and frees up time for other characters to be developed. Hopefully this continues for the majority of this second season.

A fortnight ago I wrote about how much I enjoyed Grace Gummer's depiction of Dominique DiPierro. The character was very prominent in that episode but barely featured last week. Dominique - or Dom as she's also known (and it's quicker to type), spent some of the episode stateside before jetting off to China to dig further into the 5/9 attacks. She was at Steel Mountain briefly, where she recovered the Raspberry Pi placed in the air conditioning system which destroyed Evil Corp's backups.

The depiction of government agents in television varies depending on their importance to the storyline, but what the creative team at the helm of Mr. Robot have absolutely nailed with Dom is creating a character with depth and curiosity. While it's often the job of government agents to investigate and follow the letter of the law, it does make for a one-dimensional character in many cases. This isn't the case for Dom - as we saw in episode 3 and again last night. Her background isn't typical, and neither is her general demeanor, and one gets the feeling she's not well suited to the job, but her rebellious streak keeps her interested in it.

One of the series' finest scenes to date came courtesy of Dom and the cross-dressing Dark Army affiliated Whiterose. The pair first met when the American law enforcement touched down in the Chinese capital, Beijing. Whiterose introduced himself to Dom at a party later that evening as the Minister of State Security - no doubt a very important role in a country known for its "Great Firewall", used to manage the flow of information to its citizens.

As each second passes I push myself to keep moving.

Dom found herself wandering around Whiterose's home, and she stumbled across a room full of many types of clocks. We've known since day one that Whiterose has an obsession with the time, and the above quote sheds some light on the reason as to why. Dom wasn't able to evade the very personal questions Whiterose asked about her decision to become an agent. Dom's answer was that she once decamped from a relationship with someone who she thought was "the one" when he proposed to her, which partially explains some of what we saw in episode 3.

Later, Whiterose showed Dom his collection of fine traditional clothing. She was in awe of what he had, but later remarked to one of her colleagues that he didn't actually have a sister. It was interesting to see Whiterose play this card as an excuse for the clothing collection - it makes me wonder whether Whiterose's cross dressing is used as a form of disguise.

I loved what we saw from Angela in this episode. Since the start of the season her allegiance to Evil Corp has hindered any noticeable character development, but this changed completely last night, as Evil Corp wasn't in the picture at all.

Darlene first broke into her apartment - something she's well versed in doing - and, in a nutshell, blackmailed Angela into agreeing to assist fsociety in hacking the FBI. She was to take a device into the building where she worked, leave it, and think no further of it. Initially Angela wasn't having any of it until Darlene reminded her of what she did back in the days when she worked for Allsafe and inserted an infected CD into her then boyfriend's computer. Darlene knew about this thanks to her association with Elliot, and she threatened to leak Angela's involvement if she didn't consent to helping.

Either I act or I wait to get caught.

Later, Angela met with her ex-boyfriend, Ollie, in a bar they frequented when they were together. Ollie has always been talkative, but this conversation felt much more scripted from the beginning. He asked all the questions and Angela couldn't get a word in at all. She eventually smelled a rat, and Ollie's failure to discreetly place his phone on the table, which was recording their conversation, soon came back to bite him. It was then that Angela went to Darlene to confirm she would assist fsociety in hacking the FBI so they could remove any evidence that implicated her in the 5/9 attack.

This led to a scene which I'd been looking forward to all season, but took be my surprise: Elliot meeting up with Angela again. It was short and sweet, but it did show that Angela still cared deeply for Elliot, and that she had been trying for the last 5 weeks to get in touch with him. Despite Elliot wanting to distance her from his FBI hacking endeavours, Angela was already convinced that she should help, and went from there to the new fsociety headquarters to be briefed.

With Tyrell Wellick still out of the picture in person, his wife Joanna received a special gift in the mail. Her bodyguard wasn't able to trace it, but what he was able to do was kill Kareem on Joanna's behalf. In graphic detail we saw Mr. Sutherland break into Kareem's house and paralyse him with an injection before staging the crime scene and shooting him in the chest and head. When Joanna asked for the minute details of the hit, Sutherland reiterated them. He then asked why she wanted Kareem left alive, paralysed, instead of shot dead immediately. Joanna had this unbelievable thing to say:

Killing a man instantly robs him of explanation. He has no time to process his final moments. Now even though he was paralysed his mind was still able to understand why his life was ending. We let him die with answers, otherwise we are nothing but ruthless murderers.

This was just astonishing, and it takes the character to a darker level than I ever thought possible. She's obviously learned this from somewhere, but it doesn't seem right to have come from her husband. I really hope we get to explore this even further very soon.

The second-last major story development came courtesy of Elliot working on Ray's computer. This was where he set the scene at the beginning of the episode, but despite being warned last week that Ray preferred to keep his internet activities private, Elliot couldn't resist prying further. In his attempt to recover an encrypted database from the FBI's servers Elliot requested the help of the person who set it up originally. The guy turned up looking worse for wear - he obviously wasn't there by his own free will. With one of Ray's guards keeping watch as they worked, the pair used Notepad to exchange messages without verbally communicating. Elliot quickly figured out that the site Ray was running was akin to Silk Road, where illegal arms, hitmen and human trafficking were found.

Told you not to look.

While Elliot may have believed he had found the next person to hack and dob into the police, Ray had other ideas. Two burly men showed up while he was at home sleeping, and beat him up outside. Ray is a vastly different person to the one I expected him to be. Like Elliot himself, I'm questioning why Ray chose Elliot to work on his site. Blackmail looks the most likely at this point.

The final piece of brilliance I want to touch on from this episode was its second-last scene. It was a sublime one take in which we see Dom making her way to the hotel lobby slightly hungover. Suddenly two masked gunmen burst through the doors and shot several people, including Dom's colleagues. Unarmed herself and taking refuge behind a desk, another armed man who was shot hit the ground beside her. Dom reached out behind her cover and grabbed his gun, ambushing one of the gunmen as he walked into her line of fire. Hitting him in the leg wasn't fatal, but seconds later the wounded gunman killed himself with a bullet to the head. One other gunman is still active, and Dom is suffering from shellshock, but we will have to wait until next week to learn her fate.

Mr. Robot has pulled off some marvelous one takes but this one is one of the best. It was superbly directed and executed with absolute precision. Dom walking down to the lobby talking to a colleague looked perfectly natural, but things changed instantly. The camera work was stunning, as was the special effects. No background music was used either, allowing the sound of the gunshots to have extra impact, as well as the other sounds such as people being shot and glass shattering. At 100 seconds long it's a shorter one take than usual, but in terms of action and intensity, it tops them all.

In all, this episode was one which effectively resumed normal transmission for a series that has been highly cerebral since the premiere. Elliot back on a computer was great to see, as was a more normal Angela and the pair's reunion. Dom's development alongside that of Whiterose is another highlight, with BD Wong and Grace Gummer delivering sensational performances, and will provide some interesting material for next week.

Thanks as always for reading! Check out the epic promo for next week's episode here, and don't forget to share your thoughts and theories in the comments below!

About the Author - Jimmy Ryan
Jimmy Ryan lives in New Zealand, and works in the IT industry. He is an avid follower of drama television and has a keen interest for television ratings and statistics. Some of his favorite shows right now are Person of Interest, Scandal, House of Cards, Orphan Black, Mr. Robot, Suits, The 100, How To Get Away With Murder and Elementary.
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