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Mr. Robot - eps3.4_runtime-error.r00 - Review: "Truly Groundbreaking"

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Wow. What a spectacular ride.

Need I say more about last night's episode of Mr. Robot. The incredibly ambitious task of shooting an episode comprised of several long takes and combining them damn near perfectly into a single take, 44.5 minutes long, absolutely paid off. This was film-making at the very highest level. "eps3.4_runtime-error.r00" was co-written by Kor Adana and Randolph Leon, with Sam Esmail directing as per usual.

To sum up this feat, we follow Elliot as he arrives at Evil Corp on the Monday after the events we saw last week. Elliot is struggling to remember the basics, including what day it is, because Mr. Robot stayed at Angela's for the entire weekend, effectively meaning all that time is blank. Last week, Angela asked Phillip Price to have Elliot fired so she could continue with the Dark Army's Stage 2 plan. Elliot couldn't log into his computer, and it wasn't long before he was a rat being hunted among the floors of the building.

Elliot was eventually cornered and escorted out of the building where he met with Darlene. In a surprising move, she came clean about her involvement with the FBI and confirmed that Angela was involved with Tyrell, so Elliot joined the protesters outside the building, who managed to break in - they were a distraction organized by Irving. They ran riot throughout the building, destroying everything in their wake - including the security guards. Boy, you wouldn't want to be resetting that set to shoot it again.

Angela was tasked with copying some data from a rack on a secure level, so we followed her through the chaos as she got that done. She was spotted by another Evil Corp employee, who now has a target on her back to keep Angela's activity a secret. One of Irving's enforcers met her in the building, and she gave the copied data to him. The episode's final seconds saw Angela and Elliot bump into each other, with the following line from Elliot closing the hour:

Angela, is there something you wanna tell me?

I'm struggling to express how superb this episode was. It was an enthralling, spectacular ride from the first second right up to the last. With no cuts, and shot in real time, everything inside and outside the Evil Corp building became so much more real. I didn't look away once because there was simply no time - or opportunity - to switch off. There was nothing in the way of less interesting subplots to give me reason to look away.

From a technical perspective, this episode was several long takes spliced together, and where those takes began and ended was reasonably obvious but by no means poorly done. I expected a lot of steadycam use as typically seen in long takes the series has pulled off before, but the seamless incorporation of dolleys and cranes was incredible, with the pass over the cubicles early on in the episode, and the crane over the edge of the building while Angela was inside being my particular highlights.

The audio was also beautifully engineered, moving between loud and quiet, Elliot's narration and real interactions, and the range of sound effects that were included was also impressive. The set design was superb, with the use of elevators as transition points and time tracking according to the news coverage a nice touch.

I often find that the best episodes in a series to review are either very difficult or very easy, and this one is definitely very easy because not a lot else happened. Elliot, Angela and Darlene were the only main characters featured, with Mr. Robot making a brief cameo to give Elliot some advice about what to do next. From how I read things, that wasn't Mr. Robot in his current state - its the first time this season him and Elliot have interacted directly together.

The only minor plot point which was detailed in the news seen in the elevator was the UN vote allowing China to annex the Congo, which came out in favor of China. What happens as a result remains to be seen.

I'll say again. Everything about this episode of Mr. Robot was top notch. From a technical perspective it is truly groundbreaking, and undoubtedly the best episode of television I've ever watched, and overall it's right up there with the best as well. I'm really buzzing about it, and I know I'll be buzzing about it for a long while yet.

As always, thanks so much for reading! I'd love to hear what you thought of this episode in the comments below - don't be shy! See you back here next week.

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