Monday, October 14, 2019

REVIEW: 'Mr. Robot' - Darlene Wants to Feel Close to Elliot Again Even If It May Get Them Killed in '402 Payment Required'

USA's Mr. Robot - Episode 4.02 "402 Payment Required"

Elliot and Darlene come together. Dom gets Dark Army vibes. Wtf is deus group? Price has answers.

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 next episode of USA's Mr. Robot.

"402 Payment Required" was written by Kyle Bradstreet and directed by Sam Esmail

This drama has always presented as a giant puzzle that needs to be solved. It has conditioned the audience to always be looking out for clues on how everything may not be as it seems. Elliot has been an unreliable narrator. Of course, he is no longer narrating his story to the viewer. Instead, that responsibility has fallen onto Mr. Robot. He is worried about the person he shares a body with. However, they are both equally thrown when they realize that someone else is in this body with them. A third personality has been operating in this world. That is a huge shock. It establishes the final season as one built around this mystery. It should also make the viewer suspicious of whether or not we have seen this third personality operate before. It's clear that he has his own unique agenda. One that doesn't need to include Elliot or Mr. Robot at all. He has long been aware of their presence and conditioned his associates to know that there are multiple people operating from the same body. That mostly just serves as a tool to unspool drama that ensures everything remains just as intense as it has always been. But again, these twists are inherent to the narrative of the show. Some have worked and others have flopped. It was truly stunning when the audience learned that Darlene was Elliot's sister. Meanwhile, it was lackluster when Elliot was shown to be in prison and that Dom was already looking into Elliot and Darlene as part of her 5/9 investigation. In fact, the emotions that fuel the relationships between the characters has often been much more satisfying than the various twists the show has thrown our way. The bulk of this episode is devoted to Elliot and Darlene being forced to spend time together after their mother dies. Neither of them had a close relationship with her because of how abusive she was during their childhood. And now, they have the burden of packing up her life and feeling the need to feel something about all of this. Mr. Robot wants Elliot to take a moment to process the death as well as the grim reality around him. Angela was killed. His mother dies. He and Price feel like they are on a suicide mission to take down Whiterose. It's a precarious time for everyone in Elliot's life. He has been keeping all of his plans close. He only trusts Mr. Robot. They are working together but Elliot is always skeptical. He wants to believe they have the ability to pull off this great hack of the Deus Group to ensure their own destruction. That's what Price wants. That's why he is willing to work with Elliot now. It may have been cruel to kill him and promptly bring him back to life. And yet, he has much more information about the inner workings of the organization that controls the world than anyone Elliot has previously hacked. It's such an information dump at the top of this hour. That can feel like a drag. But it's presented in such an intriguing way with parallels to the real world that it all feels mystifying and special. Again, there is the hope that some of these characters are standing up and fighting back. But there is also the certainty that they feel confined to their current fates. Dom is trapped having to work as a mole for the Dark Army within the FBI. A man dies because she wasn't completely sure if she fooled him. She needs to be absolutely certain in this job. Otherwise, there are major consequences. Elliot and Darlene know that as well. They know it's perilous to go up against Whiterose. It's just a mission they are both willing to accept knowing that their lives may be coming to an end shortly. It may be unclear how the third personality plays into this ongoing conflict. What interest does he have in all of this? Does he have his own relationship with Whiterose? Moreover, the final scene seems to suggest that there is some form of time travel involved in this world. The way Elliot has always seen his mother in flashbacks is the woman who refers to "the other one." That too is a huge development. Or it could just be used to showcase how this entire world has been an illusion for far longer than anyone realized. Elliot suffers from these problems of never quite feeling whole. That can present as an allegory for life. The world is far more complex than anyone can ever truly understand or try to control. And yet, Whiterose has succeeded in doing so for the past 25 years. Her secret project just hasn't quite reached its completion though. And now, several people are hoping to disrupt that so long as they can work together and everything goes according to plan. But life is full of unexpected twists and turns. Elliot can still be shocked by them as well.