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Mr. Robot - 404 Not Found - Review: "The Season's Least Enjoyable Episode So Far"

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If you were attempting to get a first time viewer interested in Mr. Robot, last night's episode would not be one to recommend they try as a sampler. Maybe there's a bigger purpose to this episode that will be made clearer in coming weeks, but right now it seems as near enough to pointless or filler that this series has produced. "404 Not Found" was written by Kyle Bradstreet, with Sam Esmail directing.

The start of this hour was the highlight for me. The follow-on from Tyrell meeting Elliot in his apartment at the end of last week's episode was really well done. It was shot from the perspective of the Dark Army operative camped in the van outside the apartment, with the conversation slowly becoming more distorted to the point where the operative attempted to exit the van to fix it, only to cop a hammer over the head from Tyrell.

The focus shifted to Darlene, who had followed through with role of hacking into the Cyprus National Bank using the credentials Elliot obtained from his one night stand with Olivia Cortez. Unfortunately for Darlene, Olivia's privileges weren't good enough to make any transfers. Virtual Realty is Darlene's next proposed target which, if infiltrated, will allow deeper access inside Cyprus National Bank. But she can't find Elliot, and nearly left a spectacular rant of a voicemail message.

In terms of wider storyline progression, the episode ended here, barely 5 minutes after it began. From then on, time was split between Elliot and Tyrell's piss poor attempt at disposing of the Dark Army surveillance van, Darlene's journey with a very drunk Santa, and Dominique's sexual fantasies.

Jesus fucking Christ, woman. Where is the shortcut? How the fuck do we get to town?
With the van disposal, Tyrell and Elliot were joined by Mr. Robot. The trio stopped by a deserted gas station with the intention of using a jerry can to torch the van. The shopkeeper held the trio up long enough for the Dark Army operative to wake up and nick off with the van, so it was back to the shopkeeper to ask for directions to the nearest town. That led to a long walk through some snowy woods, which, on its own was a bizarre decision to make, especially after the shopkeeper offered an alternative.

After walking in a circle and ending up where they started, they ended up walking along the road, which was where they found their missing van. The Dark Army operative was well and truly awake, firing several shots at the trio before shooting himself, which was another strange moment. Unfortunately, Tyrell was hit in the chest, and opted to head into the woods on his own where he stopped at what could be a portal to the center of the earth for all I know.
Why do you wear that hoodie? I've never seen you anything else.
The point of all of this likely comes through the dialog between Tyrell and Elliot. Tyrell asks Elliot a question I'm sure many fans have been wondering, which is why Elliot always wears the same trademark clothes. The problem with this though, is that Elliot doesn't really give an answer - instead he rolls along with Tyrell's suggestion that it's because he doesn't care. A somewhat saving grace came when Elliot and Tyrell somewhat agreed that they might be the only people that each other likes, which is nice, but like I said earlier, hopefully the point of this episode in general becomes clearer later this season because those two points alone weren't enough in my opinion.

Darlene's stint was weird on so many levels. After scouting Virtual Realty, we next came to her while she was partway through stealing a car by accessing its engine diagnostic computer, which was smart and fits the theme of the series, but who walks around with the correct cables for connecting to cars? Maybe I answered my own question, but its surely not common.

Anyway, the supposed owner of the car, a drunk man dressed as Santa, interrupts Darlene, but he's too drunk to care, so Darlene eventually makes a deal with him: she drives him home if she can borrow the car. The conversation between the pair didn't flow too well because drunk Santa was pretty drunk. Drunk Santa did manage to elicit some details on what Darlene was going through, and she managed to get a few words along the same subject out of Drunk Santa. Aside from that it was all rather bland, with the biggest surprise coming when the pair arrived at Drunk Santa's house only to find his car in the driveway, which prompted Drunk Santa to remember that he caught a lift to the function he was at, meaning the car belonged to someone else. Oh dear.

Of the three filler storylines, Dom's was the most watchable, but not because she was first seen masturbating to an image of Darlene. Her stint, in my opinion, was largely shaped out of the loneliness and isolation that being a Dark Army pawn has inflicted on her. She spent time on a chatroom and began chatting to a girl masquerading as a guy. Dom invited her over, but instead of a fling the girl donned a Dark Army mask and attempted to drown Dom in the bathtub. Just as she was dying, Dom woke up from her dream.

Count me as relieved, despite having a feeling that we were in dream sequence territory given Dom was in bed at the time. This was a classy bait and switch by the creative team. Dom did awake to find missed calls and messages from her mother, who was sad Dom didn't spend Christmas Eve with her.

Regardless, I'm betting Dom masturbating to Darlene's image is some foreshadowing. Neither of them have interacted with each other yet this season, but they're bound to eventually.

Despite the storylines in this hour not being particularly enjoyable, the overall production quality of the episode was of a tremendously high standard as always. Elliot, Tyrell and Mr. Robot's walk through the woods was beautifully shot and colored in a way that reflected isolation first and foremost, but minimized the feel of cold and horror that would naturally come in a scene of its type. On the other side of the coin, Darlene's stint with Drunk Santa brought a darker tone to the otherwise joyful subject of Christmas, so by the time they arrived at Santa's wonderfully decorated house, they were just decorations, and didn't generate the more pleasing responses one would otherwise get. Neither character paid any attention to them, aside from when Santa was pointing out the decoration which his wife hurt her back putting up. Dom's stint didn't provide the same flexibility for production quality, but nevertheless it couldn't be faulted for what it did contain.

All up, this was the least enjoyable episode of this final Mr. Robot season by far from my perspective. I don't need to list the reasons here again, but in summary, despite the strong opening 5 minutes, the rest of the hour was a write-off, unless the contents of the remainder of the hour gain more relevance later on this season.

Maybe you saw things differently? If you did I'd love to hear about it, so be sure to be heard in the comments below. Thanks as always for reading, and I'll see you back here next week for what looks to be another trailblazing special episode according to the promo.

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