Mr Robot S02E01 “unm4sk-pt1.tc” REVIEW
Airing on Amazon Prime Video, new episodes every Thursday
Writer: Sam Esmail
Director: Sam Esmail
Essential Plot Points
- Tyrell and Elliot are in fsociety’s fairground fortress, initiating the hack. Elliot takes the gun from the popcorn machine…
- …cut to young Elliot lying in the snow, just fallen from his bedroom window, pushed by an angry father. In hospital the Doctor assures his parents Elliot will be okay; we see a scan of his brain which segues into the cover of a journal.
- It’s one month on from the great hack of 5/9, and Elliot still can’t remember what part he played in it.
- Tyrell Wellick is still missing.
- The stock markets are in freefall, there are riots in the streets and the banks are in trouble. But people have no debt.
- Obama is on the news telling people that Tyrell Wellick and fsociety are to blame.
- Elliot is living with his mum because she has no computer or internet access. He spends his days hanging out with his new friend Leon, going to a church group and keeping a journal. A well-ordered life to keep Mr Robot at bay…
- …but Mr Robot is not that easy to get rid of. He wants Elliot to continue the work of fsociety. Elliot wants to know where Tyrell is, and what happened during the hack.
- Mr Robot isn’t telling, so Elliot isn’t playing. Mr Robot proceeds to shoot Elliot in the head, to no great effect.
- Gideon Goddard, former head of Allsafe, is being investigated by the FBI for the hack. He’s sure he’s being framed and comes to Elliot for help. Elliot refuses and Gideon ends up threatening to tell the FBI that Elliot was behind the hack.
- Darlene and Mobley are the only remaining active fsociety members. Darlene is continuing the cause, trying to change the world. They hack a “smart home” and oust its occupant, who just happens to be E Corp’s chief counsel, Susan Jacobs.
- Mobley installs ransomware on E Corp’s systems. Fsociety is asking for $5.9m to be brought to them by “one of the chiefs” (a C-level exec).
- Intermission (time to get an albatross).
The last we saw of Mr Robot he was telling Elliot he would never leave him from a giant billboard screen in Times Square. By this point we knew for sure that Mr Robot was Elliot’s dead dad, a figment of his imagination. “I am Mr Robot,”proclaims Elliot.
Because of this, season two was always going to be a bit odd; the fun of season one was not quite knowing for sure if Mr Robot was real or not (even though we always suspected he wasn’t). Now we know he’s a figment of Elliot’s imagination, and that anything Mr Robot does is actually being done (or imagined) by Elliot, things start to get a little patchy.
Mr Robot and Elliot’s interaction and effect on the world still isn’t clear. We saw Mr Robot making deals for himself with Tyrell at the end of last season, and various other things Elliot wasn’t party to. Now he’s shooting Elliot in the head and slicing Gideons throat. The shock value of these scenes is lost somewhat, as we know it isn’t really happening.
Elliot’s current regimen to retain an illusion of control is interesting enough; writing a journal, going to church, watching basketball and hanging out with his new friend Leon. Rapper Joey Bada$$, who plays Leon, seems a little inconsequential at this point, although his philosophical Seinfeld based rants are amusing.
Elliot’s shrink Krista still gets a look in, but this too seems a bit pointless, and even she looks a bit fed up with Elliot. Although he did confess all to her at the end of last season so maybe she’s just mad that he knows she likes watching porn.
Darlene and Mobley are the only returning members of fsociety, and Darlene seems to have taken the reigns. Trying to retain control of the now über-popular hacker collective is taking its toll on her; we see her curled up on the floor crying at one point, much like Elliot was prone to doing in season one. She delivers a rousing speech to the rowdy hackers, who are less interested in hacking the planet than they are in partying and taking selfies with the freshly removed testicles of the bull of Wall Street.
We only really have one interesting hack for this opener. The takeover of E Corp’s chief counsel Susan Jacobs’ connected smart home is at the same time great fun to watch and somewhat worrying. How easy would it be for a hacker to take over our new internet connected thermostat and plunge us into the cold? Jacobs looks to be a new character, one of E Corp’s C suite, attempting to rally the company in the face of the hack.
Even E Corp’s head honcho Phillip Price seems to be somewhat impotent; odd given that at the end of season one he was confident he knew who was behind that hack and that they would be “dealt with”.
Sam Esmail has said that this season is going to be more filmic and less episodic, so you have to question Amazon’s decision to release it piecemeal. This is perfect binge watch fodder, akin to an extended movie, not best suited to being consumed in small bites. Hopefully part two will bring back the tortured Tyrell and pick up the pace a little.
- Rami Malek and Christian Slater are back on form, and more antagonistic than ever.
- Having Obama on the news blaming Tyrell and fsociety is a nice touch – is it really him?
- There’s not a lot going on yet; it’s the equivalent of the first ten minutes of a movie.
And The Random:
- Because we’re not seeing everything from Elliot’s point of view, E Corp is now E Corp again, and not Evil Corp.
- Darlene is running Kali Linux, the Black Hat Hackers distro of choice.
- Darlene uses the “Social Engineers Toolkit” (SET) to create the E Corp ransomware attack; the SET is real, and has been used in the show before. One of its releases is even code-named Mr Robot in honour of its use in the show.
- We still don’t know who was at the door at the end of the last episode.
- Christian Slater is now an exec producer (maybe he was worried he was going to be written out now that we’ve found out he doesn’t exist).
- Does Mobley have a missing leg? When Darlene enters Jacob’s home she walks up the stairs with someone who has a prosthetic leg, but we can’t tell who it is.
Review by Arthur Scott