Mr. Robot: “eps2.7_init_5.fve” Season 2 Episode 9 Review

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Finally, Mr. Robot hints at getting interesting again. It doesn’t quite get there, but at least the main characters were interacting. And the cliffhangers were legitimately interesting. Is Elliot really behind the Dark Army’s master plan? It sure seems like it, and that’s a plot point that really starts to put the wildly scattered pieces of this season together.  

The opening scene did a wonderful job showing us, as Elliot puts it, “what we missed” concerning his prison sentence. We finally know who showed up at his apartment in season one’s finale, the FBI, who then arrested him for hacking Lenny Shannon. Elliot pleads guilty and gets 18 months. We see Ray as a worker at the prison, given a brief line indicating everything that went down between he and Elliot still happened in a way. This brisk run through of Elliot’s short time in prison, thanks to the Dark Army, was one of the better opening sequences in a season full of great ones. Granted, it shouldn’t be in episode nine of the season that we’re just getting caught up, but it was done really well and answered questions in an assembly line of fun details.

From there, his reunion with Darlene upon getting released seems to initiate a jumpstart to the season. One that only comes through really in the closing moments of the episode. The question of what Stage 2 is is most definitely alluring, but it can’t carry the majority of an episode on its own. This is where the true problem with Mr. Robot reveals itself. These characters just aren’t all that compelling. Angela is great, no question, but Elliot and Darlene struggle to find screen presence that isn’t off-putting. It’s been too long since the show took the time to remind us what it is that draws us to these characters, let along develop them.

The cliffhangers at the end are pretty much perfect. What role does Joanna have to play exactly? And I love how the knock on the door for Darlene mirrored the knock on Elliot’s this very episode finally resolved. I like the idea of the show stubbornly retaking one of its mysteries just after solving it. But these moments could be powerful moves against the characters if everything wasn’t so dry. Maybe Mr. Robot has no reason to show us any heart. Writers delivering a solid thriller plot over 12 episodes can still be captivating, as this episode proved. But the opportunities to care about this story beyond just being shocked by its manic twists and turns are simply being missed. Grade: B

By Matt Dougherty

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