Mr Robot S02E10 “h1dden-pr0cess.axx” REVIEW
Essential Plot Points:
- Terry Colby is visiting Phillip Price at E Corp headquarters. He’s brought him a book: The Last Honest Man by Terry Colby.
- Price wants Colby to visit Winston Campbell, to talk to him about the Congo. Apparently Campbell has the President’s ear and Price is looking to influence a vote on China’s plans to annex the Congo.
- Joanna and Mr Sutherland are in the SUV waiting for Elliot outside his apartment. They take him back to Joanna’s house.
- Joanna wants to know where Tyrell is, but she believes Elliot when he tells her he doesn’t know. She shows Elliot the phone, saying Tyrell called her last night, but didn’t speak. She wants Elliot to trace the phone calls.
- Darlene is at Cisco’s apartment; the knock at the door last episode was Cisco, carrying Vincent, the one-legged hacker from the smart house. He’s in a really bad way; he’s going to die unless they take him to a hospital. Darlene is all for just leaving him to die because he knows all about their operation, but Cisco sees through her coldness, telling her she’s out of her league.
- The FBI is all over Susan Jacob’s house, which fsociety had commandeered. DiPierro is there. Another agent tells DiPierro that the DC activists were involved in a police chase, which ended badly. The arrested activists gave up that the house was supposed to be the meeting place. She has a sketch of Vincent and someone who was seen helping him into a cab.
- DiPierro goes to see her boss, Agent Santiago. She has a composite sketch from Olly Parker’s testimony of the man who gave him the CD. She also has the sketch given to her at the house. They both show Cisco. Santiago has put out a BOLO (be on the lookout for) for him. DiPierro thinks this is a bad idea, that the Dark Army will go after him to clean house. Santiago doesn’t listen, but he does tell her that they may have a lead from the cab company about their destination.
- Elliot stops at a Micro Center to stock up on hardware; his was confiscated by the police when he was arrested.
- As he and Mr Robot are shopping, the phone Joanna gave Elliot rings. He answers it to hear only breathing at the other end. Mr Robot disappears at the same time as Elliot answers the phone.
- Cisco and Darlene have taken Vincent to hospital. Darlene has relented; she admits that she isn’t special, that it’s Elliot who’s the driving force.
- Elliot and Mr Sutherland arrive at Elliot’s apartment.
- The episode then intercuts between Elliot unpacking and setting up his new equipment, while Darlene tells Cisco a story of a family outing to Coney Island when she was young. At some point Darlene became lost, and was picked up by a random woman. The woman took her to Nathan’s and let her choose whatever she wanted, then drove her to her house, where Darlene’s new room had a fancy bed. Darlene felt like a princess in her new life. When she awoke the next morning, the police appeared, arrested the woman, and took Darlene home.
- Angela is sending Elliot messages asking to meet up. He’s ignoring them as he attempts to trace the phone calls. He impersonates a police officer (via fax) to get them to track a call, telling them it was a suicide threat.
- Angela’s messages are becoming more insistent.
- Mr Sutherland talks to/at Elliot; Elliot talks to us to drown him out. Elliot talks about Mr Robot; he’s suspicious that Mr Robot was insistent that he come back to the apartment straight after leaving prison. Elliot asks us to check the apartment for him, to see if we can find what it is Mr Robot was after. The camera pans around Elliot’s apartment so we can check.
- At the hospital, the nurse tells Darlene and Cisco that Vincent is stable. They’re waiting for some tests to come back, which will take about an hour. The pair go out to find something to eat.
- Elliot is on the phone to the police station, asking them to find the phone’s location, telling them it’s for a suicide threat. They give him the coordinates. It’s a residential address on the upper East side in New York.
- Mr Sutherland seems to recognise the address, but he isn’t saying much about it.
- The FBI breaks down Cisco’s door, but there’s nobody home. DiPierro finds Cisco’s library id card, with his name on it: Francis Shaw.
- Back at the hospital the nurse who helped Darlene and Cisco sees Cisco’s sketch on the TV.
- Darlene and Cisco go to a diner for something to eat. Darlene wants out – she’s sick of looking behind herself all the time, being worried about the FBI and the Dark Army.
- Dipierro and Santiago are at the hospital questioning the nurse. Santiago thinks Darlene and Cisco saw the TV news and bolted, but DiPierro isn’t convinced and surmises they are still nearby.
- Elliot meets Angela on the subway. She questions Elliot about fsociety, and tells him that the FBI came to visit her. She tells him she’s going to confess everything to the FBI, but she won’t mention anyone else.
- DiPierro is walking around near the hospital looking for Darlene and Cisco.
- The subway pulls into a stop, Elliot kisses Angela before leaving. As the car moves off again, we see two people approach Angela.
- DiPierro finds the diner where Cisco and Darlene are eating. She calls for back-up before going in herself.
- We see the diner from a fixed angle across the street. DiPierro goes in and seems to argue with Cisco. As she does so, two people pull up on a motorbike. The passenger dismounts and walks towards the diner. They open fire with an automatic weapon, spraying the diner with bullets. DiPierro returns fire, injuring them. As they stagger back to the motorbike, the police appear, and the rider takes off. The now stranded injured gunman shoots themselves in the head as the police approach. DiPierro emerges from the diner, covered in blood. We hear sirens and police radio chatter as the titles roll.
Mr Robot has always been a series about duality: about the dual personas of Elliot and Mr Robot and the dual sides to everyone, good and evil. But it goes even deeper than that, with the show itself having a dual nature: what you see on the surface, and what you can find if you look beneath. There are clues and trails hidden within each episode if you know where to look: an IP address, snippets of text, even images encoded as audio. You don’t have to play detective to enjoy the show, but for those that do it adds an extra layer of engagement. There are numerous forums where devoted fans discuss their own conspiracy theories.
This episode is slightly different, in that Elliot actively asks us to look for clues at one point, but like a lot of things in this show, this itself might be an act of misdirection. And while previous episodes may have concentrated on visual clues, this one is all about the audio. There’s a constant hum of noise during the whole episode: Mr Sutherland’s weird white noise chatter box, the sounds of the FBI and police radios, noises from the streets, sirens, sounds of the subway. Which is not to say that the visuals are in any way neglected; in fact, this episode has some of the best shots this season, the final scene being especially well composed. But we dare say that if you took all the audio from the episode, and analysed it somehow, you might find some interesting clues.
And at this point, clues are what we need, as some of the characters are starting to act with very unclear motives.
Starting with Angela, who has become something of an enigma this series (although we have a new theory about this, see “Random” below). Her final scenes with Elliot this episode, seem very, well, final. It looks like she may have been backed into a corner, by either the FBI or her own guilt. As the subway car moves off after Elliot leaves, two mysterious figures approach her. There are two obvious possibilities here: one is the dark army has come to silence her before she can confess all to the FBI; the other is that it’s the FBI, and she was wearing a wire to try and entrap Elliot. Of course at this point it’s just as likely to be Trenton and Mobley…
Next up is Darlene, who gets a fair amount of screen time this episode. Carly Chaikin takes this and runs with it, especially in the scene where she speaks of the time when she was abducted as a child. This should, of course, have been frightening experience but in a typical Mr Robot twist, the young Darlene embraced the experience. Her new fantasy life as a princess away from her family feeds into the fact that both she and Elliot had a dysfunctional upbringing. That she’d be happier being abducted by some random stranger and never seeing her family again speaks volumes.
Now we can finally get to Elliot, and, of course, Mr Robot. However, Elliot’s imaginary friend is noticeably absent from about halfway through the episode; from the point, in fact, that Elliot answers the phone to his other dead friend, Tyrell. Tyrell’s fate is becoming less clear – is he actually dead? As Elliot locates the source of the phone calls, Mr Sutherland seems to recognise the address. “Is it him?” asks Elliot. “Trust me, he wouldn’t be calling from that house,” replies a nervous-looking Sutherland.
Then there’s the odd scene where Elliot addresses us directly and asks us to help him. He thinks Mr Robot is after something in his apartment but he doesn’t know what. To drown out Mr Sutherland’s banal ramblings, he asks us to have a look around. It’s distinctly odd, but not in a bad way, drawing us in ever closer as we scrutinise the dark corners of Elliot’s apartment looking for clues (and we came up blank – leave a comment if you actually found anything!).
And he finally kisses Angela, after fantasising about a life with her at various points in the past. But again, maybe there’s more to this that meets the eye as well; if he suspects Angela of wearing a wire, maybe he has some way of disrupting it.
Nobody knows what Mr Robot is up to now, least of all Elliot, or us, which brings us closer to Elliot, strengthens the bond we have as his other (slightly less) imaginary friend.
The whole episode has an incredible feeling of building tension and unease, the constant background audio is unsettling, which makes the scenes without it seem even more strange, like the pan around Elliot’s apartment for us to look around. It reaches boiling point with the final scene, with that phenomenal fixed camera angle of the diner. The static long shot is both magical and maddening, reminding us that we’re a passive observer, not showing us what’s really happening, or letting us hear what’s going on at this point.
There are only two episodes left, and we already know they’re parts one and two of a double, making this in effect the penultimate episode. You can analyse, second guess, or you can just let the experience wash over you, whichever way you go, you can’t help but be absorbed by it fully.
- The last scene is masterful.
- It’s all about the audio this episode.
- We find out who was at Cisco’s door (it was Cisco and Vincent, the one-legged hacker).
- Everybody might be dead?
And The Random:
- As Elliot looks for wifi to piggyback on, there are some classic wifi names: “i did it for the lulz”, “it hurts when IP”, “itslikeURalwaysstuckin2ndgear” and “pretty fly for a wifi”.
- We know Whiterose wants access to the Congo for the Coltan mined there. Now what does he want with the Coltan? Maybe he’s building an army of Terminators, known for using Coltan in their endoskeletons… and… Whiterose and Phillip Price talk about Angela as their pet project! If she’s actually a Terminator, that might go some way to explaining her odd silent stares.
- Using a Pringles tube to extend wifi range is known as a “cantenna”.
- The first thing Elliot does with his new computer is download and install Kali Linux.