Monday, October 7, 2019

REVIEW: 'Mr. Robot' - Elliot and Mr. Robot Work Together to Uncover Whiterose's Secrets in '401 Unauthorized'

USA's Mr. Robot - Episode 4.01 "401 Unauthorized"

Xmas time. Elliot and Mr. Robot are BAK. Darlene deals with real sh*t. Tyrell's bored. Dom's paranoid AF.

In 2018, there were 495 scripted shows airing amongst the linear channels and streaming services. The way people are consuming content now is so different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, there is less necessity to provide ample coverage of each specific episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site is making the move to shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the season premiere of USA's Mr. Robot.

"401 Unauthorized" was written by Sam Esmail and directed by Sam Esmail

Elliot has long argued that the world is bleak. The elite control the world at the expense of the majority of humanity. Over the course of the series, that core statement has been made even more plain. Nothing Elliot can do will fundamentally change the balance of the world. The elite will always find a way to profit off of the suffering of others. He may rail against the system and just how corrupt it is. But he will always be working against power players who will maintain control for as long as they like. It may be simple for him to blackmail certain individuals in order to get vital information from them. It's much more difficult to bring about systemic change to the world. He sees the failings of his own actions and how he was played by Whiterose. He sees the importance of reversing the 5/9 hack. It will allow others to prosper while he can focus his attacks on those who truly desire it. He views Whiterose as the true evil of the world who can be blamed for all of human suffering. Now, the blame for every single problem can't simply be put on one person. One individual simply does not have that kind of power and influence. Whiterose may always present as very controlling and influential. However, she isn't invincible. The world would likely keep on moving without her. She simply has the systems in place to make any attempt at destroying her grand ambitions nearly impossible. This premiere dials up the despair even further. The opening scene features Angela passionate about getting vengeance on Whiterose for coercing her into helping with the cyber bombings around the world. She may believe in her goal of reuniting with loved ones from the past. However, she can't condone the destruction she caused. Because she speaks that way though, Angela is killed by Dark Army operatives listening in. Phillip can no longer provide any kind of protection for his daughter. Everyone wants to make the argument that this was her choice. This is how she truly felt. No amount of time would ultimately get her to change her mind. That's why they have to take this action now. It's tying up a loose end. It just ensures that the fates for the protagonists continue to become more and more dire. Darlene is lashing out at the world and consuming any drug she can get her hands on. She still wants to hold out hope that Angela could return to her apartment at any moment. She is even seeing her friend on the street in the same clothes she last saw her in. Elliot knows that there is no reason to hope. The only reason why Whiterose hasn't killed him as well is because she still needs him to execute the final details of her plans. She still needs to transport all of her resources to the Congo. Again, her motivation and grand ambition is shrouded in secrecy. There is no telling what exactly she is hoping to achieve. It's just clear that many people have died in the pursuit of one person's goals in this world. That is so chaotic and destructive. Here, life and death essentially becomes a game that can be played. Elliot is lashing out and disrupting plans in order to get as much information as he can about Whiterose and the Dark Army. He knows that they are closing in and time is running out. He and Mr. Robot are working together again after a season that saw them become adversaries who couldn't trust each other. They have a collective goal at the moment. And yet, Elliot is shutting everyone out of his life. He is compartmentalizing his emotions in order to remain focused on the task at hand. He's not dealing with Angela's death or Darlene spinning out. His need for personal connection though is what fueled his desire to change the world in the first place. There is so much suffering. Dom feels trapped and paranoid about her life. She has a right to be because the Dark Army is threatening her mother. But she can't be inactive either. That too permeates throughout the show. These characters have to remain passionate about changing the world. They can't grow too exhausted because then the corruption will only increase and become emboldened. Sure, their actions may easily get them killed. But it's all that they may have left. Mr. Robot proclaims that Elliot needs a friend now more than ever before. It is certainly debatable whether the viewer should see themselves as Elliot's friend. However, the show is firmly coming to its conclusion by reminding its viewers just how intense this allegory about corruption and technology can be. It can be so powerful but so crippling at the same time.