Mr Robot S02E09 “init_5.fve” REVIEW
Essential plot points
- Flashback to the end of season one. Elliot is at home watching the hack unfold. There’s a knock at the door. It’s the police, come to arrest Elliot for hacking Lenny Shannon (Krista’s boyfriend) and stealing his dog.
- Elliot is arrested and processed.
- Elliot’s lawyer advises him to plead not guilty; he thinks he can get him off the charges and avoid any jail time.
- Elliot pleads guilty, and is sentenced to 18 months in county jail.
- As Elliot beings his incarceration, we see Lone Star, who’s a guard, and Ray, who’s the warden.
- Elliot meets Leon, who shows him the ropes and advises him to keep a routine.
- That’s all we missed; now we’re back to the present day.
- Elliot is being released; Darlene meets him outside the prison. She whispers something to him, but we can’t hear what.\
- Angela has the Rubber Ducky USB key that Mobley gave her. She uses it on her boss’s computer while he’s out of the way, then goes back to her own office. She uses his login to access the Washington Township leak files, and copies them to another USB stick.
- Darlene and Elliot take the subway to Cisco’s apartment. She tells him Trenton and Mobley are missing, and that she’s freaking out about the chat logs and images she found on Cisco’s computer.
- After becoming suspicious that they’re being followed on the tube, they (totally randomly) end up in the care home where their mother is staying. Elliot goes to visit her (on his own), and tells her what’s been going on; she doesn’t respond. Her clock is broken.
- Whiterose is visiting the grave of the former E Corp CEO who was killed in an allegedly accidental plane crash. Apparently before he died he was planning to shut down Whiterose’s project. She urinates on the grave.
- Elliot is enjoying urinating alone at Cisco’s apartment. Darlene and Cisco are arguing, Cisco seems unhappy about Darlene hitting him in the face with a baseball bat.
- As Elliot is washing his hands in the bathroom, he hears Mr Robot interject and tell them what to do. Elliot enters the room, confusing Mr Robot.
- Minister Zhang (aka Whiterose) and Phillip Price meet. Mr Price is unhappy about not getting the government bailout and E Corp is in trouble financially. He informs Zhang that the Washington Township plant will be taken over by the federal government, unless E Corp gets some money. Minister Zhang is sure that the Chinese government can help E Corps financial situation, but is unhappy with Price’s threats.
- Mr Robot isn’t feeling well; he thinks he’s overheating.
- Elliot hacks Xun’s phone, and gets a live audio stream from it, but he still wants to meet up in person.
- Angela has taken the files from the Washington Township case to the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission. He thinks that there is enough evidence for a “Substantial and Specific Danger to Health and Public Safety”. He wants to show the files to the Deputy Director.
- Elliot is on the subway on the way to meet Xun. The only other person in the carriage is a crazy looking old guy playing a cheap keyboard, badly.
- As Elliot looks into the next carriage through the window in the connecting door, he sees Cisco talking to Mr Robot. He tries to get their attention but can’t. As the train pulls into the stop, Elliot jumps back to Mr Robot.
- Darlene enables live voice translation on Xun’s phone and listens in. Someone on the TV is talking about the FBI’s operation Berenstain; they show a clip of the last fsociety video, which reminds Darlene to check they recovered all the VHS tapes from the hack house.
- The city is experiencing brownouts as Comet Electric is on strike.
- Elliot and Cisco meet with Xun, but Xun is unhappy as he didn’t know Elliot was going to be there. Elliot tells Xun to tell Whiterose that he wants to know what “Stage Two” is.
- At the Regulatory Commission offices, Angela meets Deputy Director Phelps, from the Office of Investigations. As they walk down the world’s longest corridor, Angela becomes increasingly paranoid. Even though she was promised anonymity, the Deputy Director already seems to know a lot about her. Eventually Angela leaves before meeting with anyone else.
- Back at Cisco’s Darlene tells Cisco she thinks she left a VHS tape behind at the hack house. She persuades him to go back and look for it.
- Elliot is feeling tired; he decides to go home.
- Mr Robot isn’t feeling right, he decides to go home.
- Elliot/Mr Robot leave.
- Angela is at home and she has a visitor. It’s Agent DiPierro, who’s brought her something to eat. Angela asks DiPierro to leave (which is rude, she’s only just got there and she’s brought food). DiPierro tells Angela that she’s been tracking her since Olly confessed all about the CD at Allsafe, and knows about her trip to the Regulatory Commission. Although DiPierro doesn’t know how Angela is connected to everything, she knows that she is somehow.
- Cisco breaks back into the hack house and finds the tape where Darlene said it would be. As he’s about to leave he hears a sobbing sound – he sees something, but we don’t.
- Darlene is listening in on Xun, who’s gone to see Whiterose to tell him he met with Elliot, and that Elliot asked about Stage Two. Whiterose is confused: stage two was Elliot’s plan.
- There’s somebody knocking on Cisco’s door – Darlene answers it but we don’t get to see who’s there.
- As Elliot makes his way home, he sees Tyrell’s SUV parked outside his apartment. As he approaches it, the window winds down, Joanna is inside. “Hello Olly,” she says, before the credits role.
We’re all friends again, right? I mean, we’ve forgiven Elliot for lying to us, and we can pretend last episode didn’t happen. Elliot wasn’t around so we weren’t included like we usually are; we didn’t get the whole story. Or perhaps the problem was, we did get the whole story, but not our usual Elliot edit. Either way, this episode sees us thankfully back in familiar territory, with the release of Elliot, and the return of Mr Robot.
We start the episode with a flashback showing us what we missed before Elliot went to prison. Which means we finally get to see who was at the door at the end of season one! It was the police, come to arrest Elliot for hacking Lenny Shannon (Krista’s slimy boyfriend from season one) and stealing his $1,200 dog. Against best advice Elliot pleads guilty, and is sentenced to 18 months in jail. We see him go through processing, meeting Lone Star (a guard), Ray (the warden) and Leon (a dark army ninja). He only ends up serving 86 of his 547-day sentence, and we still don’t quite know why he was released early. Elliot himself thinks it had something to do with the Dark Army. It’s nice to find out who everyone really was, giving us a sense of closure on the whole prison escapade.
Meanwhile, Angela is continuing her own mission of redemption/vengeance as she hacks her boss’s computer for more information on the Washington Township leak. In typical Angela fashion she’s ridiculously jumpy and guilty-looking even when she’s in her own office, at her own computer. Portia Doubleday is starting to look a little like a shop mannikin at this point, constantly wheeled out with the same vapid expression, and most of the time she doesn’t actually say anything, she just gives a baleful stare. It’s starting to get a bit tedious, unless it turns out she’s actually some kind of robot, in which case it’s probably genious.
Phillip Price discusses his pet project with Whiterose, which seems to be Angela. The pair agree that she’s done well, better than their expectations. Although this seems to be somewhat contradictory, given that she’s just brought the leak to the attention of the federal government, and the leak seems to be in what looks to be Whiterose’s plant. Although the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s Deputy Director does get a bit spooky about the whole thing while walking Angela down the most interminably long corridor, so maybe Whiterose is well aware of what she’s up to. Whiterose doesn’t want the government to get hold of his plant, but we don’t really know why, or what he’s up to with it. Philip Price plays a good game here, Michael Cristofer upping his sinister levels as he easily outplays Whiterose/Minister Zhang, for now at least: “I would rather see you lost, than win myself,” he quips, as he leaves Whiterose in the rain.
Elliot and Mr Robot are diverging again, and Mr Robot is hiding things from Elliot, and in turn they’re hiding things from us. Darlene whispers something to Elliot when he’s first released from prison, but we don’t hear what (Hail Hydra). A later scene on the subway is particularly effective at showing Elliot’s exclusion, with the crazy guy’s keyboard playing over Mac Quayle’s usual edgy score helping generate a frenetic sense of frustration. This feels more like the Mr Robot we know and love from season one, making plans without including Elliot, or us.
Darlene is now at the centre of everything that’s going on, and even though last week’s episode felt a bit off, the repercussions are probably going to be pretty far-reaching. It’s a month since the events at the smart/hack house and Cisco mentions she’s wanted by the FBI. This seems a little odd: wanted for what? Murder? Breaking and entering? Being part of fsociety? Maybe they just want a chat like they did with Mobley, who’s suspiciously absent this week, as is Trenton. And just as the first “who’s at the door?” mystery is solved, we have another mystery one! The closing scenes of Darlene alone in Cisco’s apartment are brilliantly handled, building a fantastic sense of tension and unease. The distorted Chinese audio from the hacked phone, Mac Quayle’s distinctive score, the flickering lighting as the brownouts occur, culminating in the jarring knock at the door.
More questions than answers, then; we’re not sure we even want to know what Cisco found at the hack house…
So Elliot and Mr Robot are back, and back on track, having been sorely missed last episode, now we can get back to business as unusual.
- We finally know who was at the door at the end of season one!
- Elliot and Mr Robot are back.
- More hacking this episode.
- Xun’s random phone chatter, including becoming upset at a model because “all five toes exactly the same length”.
- We don’t know who’s at Cisco’s door.
- We don’t know what Darlene says to Elliot when she meets him outside the prison.
- The scene with Elliot’s mother is absolutely random.
- We still don’t know where Tyrell is, and now we don’t know where Trenton or Mobley are either.
And The Random:
- Init 5 is a unix/linux command to start runlevel five, which is generally the full system including GUI.
- The Rubber Ducky USB is a real device you can buy.
- As is the Pwnie Express Pwn Phone – in fact, they have a post about appearing in Mr Robot, and instructions on how to create your own Pwn Phone (or you can just buy one for $1095).
- According to Yelp, Nia’s Gyros really are that good, so Angela definitely shouldn’t have thrown DiPierro out.
- Joanna says, “Hello, Olly,” at the end of the episode, not Hello Elliot, as he introduced himself as Olly when they met while Elliot was looking for Tyrell.
Review by Arthur Scott