Mr. Robot: “eps2.8_h1dden-pr0cess.axx” Season 2 Episode 10 Review

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Mr. Robot might be the most masturbatory show on TV. We’re treated to two opening scenes tonight, both of which amount to nothing. The first is the big heads at E Corp talking with as much cartoonish villainy as comic book supervillains. This may not be the most grounded series, and these characters have displayed this characteristic before, but the show just has them doing so little that watching them twirl their mustaches merely feels like an empty threat. The second of tonight’s opening scenes goes back and shows us Joanna getting ready to meet Elliot as we saw at the end of the last episode. Why do the writers think this switch in perspective is necessary? It doesn’t add much value to her character, it’s really just an attempt to be edgy and cool, which is a lot of what Mr. Robot has become.

Here’s an episode where Darlene starts to regain her humanity and Elliot and Angela share their first genuine, honest moment all season. So why does it feel so hollow? Mr. Robot likes to trick you with its openings, making you think something their not before revealing you were right to be suspicious. It’s so desperate to have us on our toes, but what it’s missing is emotional resonance. Take Elliot’s scenes mid-episode this week. The filmmakers here make that empty Micro Center feel genuinely haunted. The gimmick a few scenes later of Elliot asking us to look for whatever Mr. Robot is looking for before we essentially take the point of view of a security camera and pan the room a few times was very cool on the surface. But who is Elliot right now? He’s a human fighting for free will from the other side of himself. But what’s he fighting for? Season two hasn’t convinced me Elliot is passionate about fsociety’s cause anymore. It hasn’t even tapped his feelings for Angela or his relationship with Darlene to emotionally boost his character. They mostly just stare blankly at him in the few scenes they share together.

Time is currently against Mr. Robot. These high-emotion scenes are starting to crop up as the season draws to a close, but it’s difficult to buy into them when the show hasn’t provided a gateway to who these people really are all season. The end of Darlene’s cold leadership was another example of this. Are we to believe her humanity is suddenly tapped after it was so quickly tossed aside a few weeks ago? And is this arc supposed to make us feel something when the Dark Army attacks and possibly kills her right before the end credits roll? It’s an exciting moment, but not one backed up by anything other than the audience screaming “holy shit!” and being forced to wait until next week to see what happened. It all just feels hollow, hollower than Elliot’s blank gaze through just about anyone who speaks to him. A show can’t succeed communicating to us as Elliot does, which is why Mr. Robot‘s second season has become such a profound disappointment. Grade: C+

By Matt Dougherty

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