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Mr. Robot - eps2.7init5.fve - Review: "Knock Knock, Who's There?"

1 Sept 2016

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Season 2 of USA's gem of a series, Mr. Robot, hit its three-quarter mark last night with the ninth instalment, leaving three more episodes - including a two-part season finale - to come. It was quite a jerky hour in terms of its composition, and completely different to last week, and overall story progression was down compared to recent episodes, but there wasn't any shortage of entertainment nonetheless. "eps2.7init5.fve" was written by Kyle Bradstreet & Lucy Teitler and directed by Sam Esmail.

Things got underway in rather unusual fashion right from the get-go. In a move which I've not seen executed before, the recap reel which catches the viewer up on recent events somehow merged into the normal episode events with amazing seamlessness. In most television episodes - including in Mr. Robot - there's normally a black or splash screen which ends the recap reel and paves the way for the actual episode. Instead, inside that recap reel, we watched as Elliot responded to a stern knock on the door before being arrested, which was the first step in confirming the long-held theory that Elliot's time of late has been spent in the slammer.

This was very cool, and the concept was executed perfectly - almost as if it was an optical illusion of some kind. What followed next were a few interesting scenes depicting Elliot's trip to jail. He spoke with an attorney, and by video conference he pled guilty to the many crimes he was being charged with, which led to the judge sentencing him to 18 months in jail.


In jail, Ray the warden appeared, as did his enforcer, Lone Star, who was indeed a prison guard. In the yard, Elliot talked with Leon, though - and I'm sure this was by design - much of what Leon said was a blur and didn't really register. This foreshadowed some interesting stuff which occurred later on, and it also let me take in the impressive set and extra cast doing their best inmate impressions. There was also a nice one take in there too.

Esmail could have gone all out and re-enacted everything we've seen in previous weeks whereby Elliot was working for Ray, but the environment wasn't an actual prison because it was all an illusion. Thankfully he didn't do that because he had already played with the viewer enough here, and he's aware most viewers are bright enough to connect the dots without having to be spoon-fed other information.

That's how it happened. That's all you missed. That's everything.

Due to the 5/9 hack (though Elliot believed the Dark Army had something to do with it), Elliot was released after serving 86 days of his 18 month sentence. In one of the series' most poignant moments to date, Darlene greeted Elliot upon his release, and the pair shared a deep and meaningful hug. At times it's difficult to remember that Elliot and Darlene are in fact siblings, and it's great to see that the pair sometimes remember that too. Elliot went to visit his mother, without Darlene's approval. That was a one-way conversation to say the least, as she just sat in her armchair like a statue, staring out the window.

Not too much more happens with Darlene and Elliot. Mobley and Trenton are still in the wind, and it seems their next move is to track them down. Cisco was more prominent than usual, and went with Elliot to meet a Dark Army agent to discuss what 'Stage 2' - the next part of the plan to bring down E Corp is. During the interaction they managed to hack into the agent's phone and eavesdrop on his conversations with other Dark Army members. Cisco also returned to fsociety's former headquarters, the home of the now deceased Susan Jacobs. He retrieved a tape containing a fsociety video which was left behind in the cleanout. While there, he could hear something breathing rather heavily, but the episode ended before its source could be unveiled.

Angela's storyline this season has consistently been more interesting than most of the other storylines being covered, and last night's episode saw it progress even further to dangerous new heights.

She broke out the 'rubber duckie', a flash drive given to her by Mobley which could copy information such as passwords from a computer and posed as a junior partner for a law firm to talk the personal assistant of Joseph Green away from her desk to personally collect some highly sensitive files from her in the reception area. Angela succeeded, and made a beeline for Green's office where she inserted the rubber duckie. After returning to her own office, she logged in as Green on her own computer and copied files to a flash drive relating to the Washington Township Leak.

It was far from the perfect heist, however - and to be fair, attention to detail when committing these sorts of acts isn't one of Angela's strengths. What appeared to be a friend of Green's noticed Angela at his desk. She acted as his personal assistant, but it's one person that can put her face in a particular location, and that's all the evidence that's needed in a court case at times.

Angela traveled to New Jersey, and stopped by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, where she passed on the evidence she had obtained from Joseph Green. She rightfully backed out of one hell of a shifty situation with that lot, as a woman tried to coerce her down a rather ominous hallway to meet some other people. I wouldn't be surprised if the Nuclear Regulatory Commission was on E Corp's payroll, allowing them to turn a blind eye to the real issues and protect E Corp's interests however necessary.

Later that evening, FBI agent Dominique DiPierro stops by Angela's apartment and barges her way inside.

The next person's not gonna offer you food. They're gonna drag you off the street and throw you in a dark cell. But you still have one hand to play. That's me.

This was right on the money from Dom's perspective, and it hit home for Angela as well. Adding to that, Dom also told Angela that her ex-boyfriend, Ollie, spilled the beans almost immediately, and disclosed his run-in with the CD which launched the chaos. Dom has also had Angela tracked, too. I don't think it will be long until Angela either gives up or makes a critical mistake. fsociety or Elliot are the only ones who can reign her in before she does further damage.

Lastly. Minister Zhang, a.k.a. Whiterose, made an appearance in last night's episode. Though his penchant for clocks and time wasn't on display aside from one bit of dialog, the character continues to become even more mystifying. In his first appearance of the hour, and while dressed as a woman, Whiterose visited the grave of a former E Corp CEO, Lester Moore, who held the role from 1986 to 1995. It appears Whiterose and Moore weren't on the best of terms, as he urinated over the gravestone in disgust. It's good to know there's some deeper history there to be explored at some stage, even if it's also likely to be super bizarre.

I'm a mercenary. I don't play fair. I play what I want.

Whiterose also met with current E Corp CEO, Phillip Price. Dressed as a man this time, it became clear that Price may not weild as much power as I first thought, since the 5/9 hack has strengthened China's position in the world. With earlier talks between Price and the Federal Reserve appearing to have fallen through, the Washington plant the pair both seem to have vested interests in is under threat, and Price put to to Whiterose that the Chinese government might like the opportunity to prop his conglomerate up while it rebuilds. The plant they refer to is quite mysterious. I'm picking it has a part to play in the upcoming season finale.

That was the end of much of the storyline progression, but there's still a few other interesting elements to this episode worth exploring. Scary door knocks was something which was emphasised. In two of the known instances (Elliot's and Angela's), law enforcement were on the other side, but Darlene's remains unknown as hers served as the hour's cliffhanger.

There were also several instances of brownouts, where the power would momentarily surge. The characters seemed familiar with them, but the audience is yet to be enlightened as to their cause.

Perhaps most mysterious of all, however, were the unusual disconnects Elliot and Mr. Robot were having. On multiple occasions, Mr. Robot would take Elliot's place in the room while Elliot was somewhere else. When he realised he wasn't there, he zapped back into place, but had missed the whole conversation, and was basically staring into space. The pair have been so tight and unbreakable no matter what Elliot has tried in the past, so this level of disconnection is very strange. I'm at a loss to explain it at this point, as well as what 'Stage 2' entails.

Finally, in addition to Darlene's doorknock cliffhanger, Elliot had a pretty epic one himself. He noticed Tyrell Wellick's SUV parked outside his apartment. Tyrell wasn't inside, but his wife Joanna was. Judging by the look of next week's episode promo, Elliot and Joanna could be a thing - although it could also be an illusion.

In all, this was a solid episode of Mr. Robot all round. I hardly mentioned the excellent cinematography in this episode so now's the chance to do that. There were some spectacular camera shots, with less emphasis on the characters and more on their surroundings. There were a lot of really abrupt, jerky cuts in this episode as well, which kept me on my toes. The story progression was slightly stunted, largely thanks to Elliot's big prison reveal. There's some juicy stuff coming next week, so I'm really looking forward to that. The use of music was also interesting - it was very prominent at the start, but tapered right off in the latter part of the hour.

Thanks for reading! As always, please head down to the comments section below to share your thoughts and theories on the episode, along with who you think is knocking at Darlene's door. You can find out all you need to know about next week's final 1-hour episode here.

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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