Monday, October 28, 2019

REVIEW: 'Mr. Robot' - Elliot, Tyrell and Mr. Robot Go on an Exhausting Journey Through the Woods in '404 Not Found'

USA's Mr. Robot - Episode 4.04 "404 Not Found"

Elliot, Mr. Robot and Tyrell walkin' in a winter wonderland. Darlene meets a bad santa. Dom is DTF.

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.

"404 Not Found" was written by Kyle Bradstreet and directed by Sam Esmail

This is a long and agonizing night for the protagonists. It ends fatally for one of them. It leads to several revelations and perhaps hopeful inspirations as well. It too signals that the end is coming. Everyone is preparing for it. They feel trapped in their current situations with no way out guaranteed beyond death. Tyrell feels as if he is finally in a position to achieve everything he has ever wanted with Elliot. And yet, he truly doesn't know what's actually going on until the very end. That has been a consistent part of his character. He always projects a certain image. He acts how others expect him to act. He has no true sense of self. It's all just a posture to appease the world around him. That's why he loves Elliot so much. He makes that confession here. He admires how Elliot just doesn't seem to care what anyone else thinks about him. He lets his work speak for itself. Now, the audience knows that isn't true. He cares about so many and has been distraught because of the bad things that kept happening to those who got too close. He wants to make the world a better place. He just does that as the convenient outsider who is continually alienated from the world. He pushes people away too. He would rather scream and deflect than dig deep to explain where his strength and resilience come from. Of course, he is given no other choice but to release all of these pent up emotions in the hopes that he can ensure survival for someone else who deserves it. Elliot and Tyrell believe they are fated for death. If Tyrell's outburst makes it way back to the Dark Army, then their deaths are assured the moment they arrive to a place with cell service. They thought the operative in the van outside Elliot's apartment was dead. He wasn't. He may not have gotten backup to go after these threats. But he still proves to be deadly. All it takes is the right shot. He can still commit suicide than allow any information he may have be used against the organization he has pledged his loyalty to. Tyrell also walks with the understanding that he is nothing. He serves no interests. He was a puppet who would be used by the Deus Group to maneuver the pieces around nicely following Price's resignation. He has trust in Elliot but also recognizes that this guy doesn't care about him at all. There is no reason for him to keep fighting for survival. There is nothing in this world relying on him. There is nothing that he particularly cares about. He has a child who may actually be better off without him. There is no reason why Whiterose should keep him around. The same argument could be made about Elliot. He could be marching towards certain death with the awareness that his efforts will not have amounted to much. There is still more work that needs to be done before the Deus Group meeting in the hopes of Elliot successfully executing his hack against Cyprus National Bank. Darlene points that out here. She too feels the freedom to express herself. She goes on quite a journey with a drunk man dressed as Santa Claus. Tobias presents as suicidal. Darlene listens and engages with his worldview until it's revealed that he is perfectly fine and happy with his life. She has been projecting her fears and insecurities onto him. The only way to alleviate the pressure is to release some of that frustration about her brother and how she continually worries that he too has been taken from her. She hates him but she loves him too. Elliot feels the same way. He wants to at least warn her that she needs to disappear. That may be the only hope keeping him alive. It's enough to motivate Tyrell too. But in the end, he simply must take a walk to his death. Now, the show has certainly struggled keeping Tyrell as an engaging character across its run. However, it's significant that the show is proving just how lethal the stakes truly are this season. There is a major cost to pushing back. Angela and Tyrell are gone. Everyone is searching for their own personal freedom with no sense that it will amount to anything. Even Dom's fantasy can be corrupted by the violence of the world. She may emerge refreshed and with a new perspective. But that may just be a momentary reaction. The stakes of the world haven't changed during this night. Things have simply grown more complicated. Tyrell can no longer be seen as a savior. Instead, he is wrapped up in a mystery about what happened in the woods during this fateful night heading into Christmas. It's transformational and emotional. But it serves as the latest loss Elliot endures that helps fuel his motivation to take down Whiterose.