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Mr. Robot - eps3.5_kill-process.inc - Review: "Stage 2"

With last week's truly groundbreaking episode behind us, technique-wise it was back to business for the sixth episode of Mr. Robot's third season, but this hour was just as good on many levels as the 5/9 hack finally became a reality. "eps3.5_kill-process.inc" was written by Kyle Bradstreet, with Sam Esmail directing as per usual.

Instead of picking up immediately where last week's episode left off, we first went back in time to a young Angela, whose terminally ill mother had thrown a farewell party as her date with death due to leukemia beckoned. It was heartbreaking to watch Angela simply fail to understand what was happening and why - the first time I've been moved on an emotional level by this series. This wasn't significantly emotional, but in the context of this series, it is. Sitting with her in front of the TV and attempting to console her was Edward Alderson, who had come to the party minus his son, and Angela's friend, Elliot. Their dialog tells us that Elliot was much the same in a behavioral sense back then as he is now, as he didn't want to come to the party. Angela admitted she didn't ether.

Other small but important elements in this scene included Antara Nayar, Emily Moss's lawyer, who Angela talked to later in life about suing E Corp over her mother's death, and the interesting fact that Emily had refused further treatment for her leukemia despite it being funded by an anonymous donor. Of key importance was the emphasis that this terrible experience early in life was connected directly to her willingness to partake in the destruction of Evil Corp, and Edward's plea to Angela to look after Elliot if he wasn't able to. Both of those points would come into play as the episode's present day events unfolded.

Somewhere down the road, if Elliot needs some help, and I can't be there for him, just give him a little push too, OK?

That flashback was the only one in this episode, with present day events immediately picking up where last week left off. Angela and Elliot had a highly tense exchange of words, with Elliot managing to pry a confession from her as to what she had been up to in the building.

We need to let today happen.

What essentially followed was Elliot's crusade to stop Stage 2 from occurring, and destroying the building housing Evil Corp's paper records. While this was happening, his mind was being corrupted by Mr. Robot, who would take over briefly numerous times to do things like destroy computers, move him away from the scene, bang his head into walls, fall down stairs, and many more self-harm acts. A battered and bruised Elliot did eventually succeed in preventing the New York Evil Corp building he was in from being destroyed, but we discovered Stage 2 was monumentally larger in scale than Elliot had imagined. News reports in the episode's closing seconds showed a further 71 E Corp buildings had been successfully targeted and destroyed by the Dark Army and Whiterose, meaning the New York building Elliot had spent weeks protecting was essentially insignificant in terms of the bigger picture.

Darlene once again featured, and the return of FBI agent Dominique was also welcomed, but both were powerless to stop the attack. With somewhat more control over proceedings was Irving, who left Tyrell Wellick behind in a back room of the Red Wheelbarrow diner, the location in which we were introduced to Irving in the season premiere. The same worker we saw back then was there as well, with Dom being far more polite to her than Irving was.

Dom was unsuccessful when she snooped through the back rooms in search for Tyrell, but she didn't have to look much further as Tyrell sprinted out onto the street where he was promptly arrested. He realized Irving had in effect betrayed him, and had now sided with the Stage 2 prevention camp, though his effort, like everyone else's, was in vain.

There's a few other more minor pieces of interaction and dialog in this hour that were somewhat important, but they need to give way to a couple other topics. Firstly, in Darlene's interaction with Angela late in the hour, Angela seemed convinced that the Evil Corp paper records were being moved to the New York facility, but Elliot had been sending them on detours - and this had still worked, with nothing in the building at the end of the day. Despite this, the vast majority of the paper records will be gone anyway, with a much higher building and body count. To my knowledge, blowing up multiple buildings has never been part of the plan we were made aware of. Only Whiterose (definitely) and Irving (possibly) seemed to be aware of that. Tyrell wasn't, Angela wasn't, and Mr. Robot also wasn't.

Though this season - and the series - is no stranger to twists, this is perhaps the biggest yet in terms of storylines. Though one building would have been significant, the destruction of 71 buildings is a massively different scenario to deal with. On a macro level, Sam Esmail and the creative team could be aiming at a complete destruction of the United States at the hands of the Chinese, which is one of a multitude of possibilities. E Corp CEO Phillip Price was completely oblivious to what was happening to his company, and was again seen speaking to the mastermind, Whiterose, who was celebrating his UN vote victory as well as the 5/9 event.

What was Whiterose's real plan? Does she know something I don't? Does everybody know something I don't?

This above quote from Elliot is critical. In addition to not knowing what Whiterose's plan is, have we as viewers, and Elliot, missed a clue? The internet sleuths will be hard at work, I'm sure.

In all, though technical prowess was down a bit from the usual level this series brings, the intensity was there throughout at a similar level to last week. The score was beautifully arranged, and the acting was excellent as usual. Mr. Robot has reached a turning point now that Stage 2 has occurred, and I can't wait to see how the season's final four episodes play out.

Thanks as always for reading! What do you think everyone is missing? I'd love to hear your thoughts and theories on this episode as usual so please drop them in the comments below! See you all right back here next week.

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