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Mr. Robot - Season 4 Premiere Review: "All You Could Want, And More"

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There really is nothing else that comes close to the scintillating ride that a season premiere of Mr. Robot takes you on. Each of the previous premieres have been superb, but I think the creative team behind this one-of-a-kind series well and truly raised the bar with their fourth and final season premiere. "401 Unauthorized" was written and directed by showrunner Sam Esmail.

USA announced this premiere episode would run ad break free a few hours before it went to air. That's not unprecedented for this series, but the lack of a break from the action made this episode so much better. I'd even go so far as to say Esmail took advantage of a commercial-free timeslot better than any streaming series from the likes of Netflix or Amazon. The flow and pacing were both truly superb.

A fantastic and much-needed recap was first up. It's been nearly 2 years since Season 3 premiered, and not much less than that since the fantastic third season finale. I watched that finale again a few days ago to help refresh my memory, and while it probably wasn't necessary in order to keep up with this premiere, I'm still very glad I did so. But what made this recap different was that the flashback to Angela's conversation with Phillip Price on the expansive lawn tied to his mansion was continued right on through. Angela had talked to Price about seeking retribution for what Whiterose made her do over the course of Season 3, but despite admitting to her that he was her father, Angela would not back down. With Price still being firmly controlled by Whiterose, it came as no great surprise that he was wearing a wire. Angela knew her time was up, and was executed by Dark Army agents on the spot.

It was very pleasing to see several long takes in this premiere, and perhaps the best example of them in this hour was that which followed Freddie Lomar. Lomar, a lawyer who looked the other way and enabled Whiterose and the Dark Army to move money around, went from a boozy office Christmas party, to watching underage camgirls, to being blackmailed into copying the contents of his inbox onto a flash drive on the orders of Mr. Robot. A simply stunning set of scenes followed Lomar through to New York's famous Grand Central Station, where he was instructed to avoid Dark Army agents in pursuit, and deliver the memory stick to Elliot, who was waiting in a train. This was the first sign that Mr. Robot and Elliot would be working together to accomplish their new goal of taking down Whiterose and the Dark Army. Lomar ended up killing himself once he realized the Dark Army was onto him and Elliot couldn't protect him, but not before serving Elliot up a juicy honeypot courtesy of the name 'John Garcin'. Elliot was later abducted by Dark Army agents at Garcin's supposed apartment.

The hour came to a close after Elliot was given a large dose of drugs while being held in his apartment. Showrunner Esmail chose to make a superb cameo here, posing as one of the Dark Army agents - the one who injected Elliot with the drugs. After Elliot's life flashed before his eyes, including vision of his parents voicing their disappointment at how he had ended up, the credits began rolling, only for them to end abruptly, with Phillip Price showing up to look upon an incapacitated Elliot. The rest of the credits rolled, meaning we will have to wait until next week to find out how things pan out for Elliot.

Much more than that happened in this premiere, so let's roll back and cover off Darlene, Dominique and Tyrell.

Grace Gummer was truly spectacular in her time on screen as Dominique. We were reacquainted with Dominique in her mother's apartment, where she had been staying, albeit on extremely high alert given she was assigned to be the Dark Army's new FBI mole. After pulling a gun on the tradesman arranged to remodel the bathroom, her mother asked her to sit through dinner with her and her mother's new friend, Janice, who later turned out to be Dominique's new Dark Army handler. This was the most tense moment in the episode from my perspective, but it appears Dominique has no choice but to return to work and tidy up the mess left behind by the now deceased Agent Santiago as ordered by Janice.

In the Season 3 finale, Darlene featured in the post credit scene in which she was met by Vera. Though Vera wasn't to be seen in this premiere, Darlene certainly did, and began by confronting Elliot and Mr. Robot, claiming she'd seen Angela alive. Elliot knew Angela was dead, having seen photographic evidence provided by Whiterose, but he couldn't bear to show it to his sister and put her out of her misery. Later, a large number of drugged up people were at her apartment, and she promptly threw them out, perhaps as she finally came to her senses and started to believe Angela was really dead.

Tyrell's appearance was more of a cameo, but still interesting nonetheless. With Elliot providing the encryption key to E Corp in last season's finale, allowing the conglomerate to restore its systems and the wider economy to resume, Tyrell was seen to be a hero of some sorts by the media and his secretary, but Tyrell looked sick and tired of being essentially a puppet, so what he decides to do next will be interesting.

Rounding off a few loose ends, firstly moving back to Elliot's world, all his running about with Lomar and the Garcin dead end did lead to his presumed next step; the destruction of the Cyprus National Bank, which appears to be the central source of Whiterose and the Dark Army's finances. To take any action there he needs to escape the Dark Army who have him currently incapacitated. There was also a time jump, which I didn't pick up initially, but became clear following Whiterose's conversation with Price shortly after Angela was killed. Her plant needs a couple more months before it can be moved to the Congo, so time jumped forward from October to December, hence the Christmas theme appearing virtually out of nowhere.

I also loved this one-liner from Elliot so much that I thought it deserved a notable mention:

You told me once you don't take down a conglomerate by shooting them in the heart. They don't have hearts.
Mr. Robot has won awards for its cinematography, and this premiere was so full of spectacular examples that there's simply too many to list. There were a couple of superb camera transitions, notably when the camera followed Lomar into and back out of a taxi on the way to Grand Central Station. Some superb handheld camera work, which isn't seen frequently in this series, helped convey Price's rage at Whiterose in his phone call to him, and the same technique was employed early in Dominique's opening scene. There were many fantastic dolly and gib shots, but the clever use of very wide angle lenses providing top-down perspectives in several scenes were very impressive too. Last but not least, the steadicam crew earned their pay as well.

All up, this premiere episode had everything you could want from a Mr. Robot premiere, and then so much more on top of that. The main cast were simply incredible, and based on this episode alone there's some Golden Globe and Emmy-worthy performances in there. The guest cast were also fantastic, and definitely shouldn't be overlooked. After a near 2 year break I expected this premiere to be much harder to follow than it was in the end. I have to admit that Angela's death took me very much by surprise - I was looking forward to seeing how a potential storyline for her this season may pan out, but it was a stark reminder of how high the stakes are in this series. Nevertheless, the Mr. Robot universe is well and truly back at the forefront of my mind, and I'm right up with the play, which is very pleasing to be able to say.
Welcome back, Mr. Alderson.
Thanks for reading! It's been a long wait but I'm stoked to have Mr. Robot back on our screens. This final season is off to an awesome start. I'd love to hear what you thought of this premiere so please don't hesitate to share your thoughts and theories in the comments below. See you right back here next week!

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