Mr. Robot: Crime Lord, Agent, Hacker, Spy

Mr. Robot forsakes psychological horror for political intrigue and ticking clocks, but with time running out and the FBI drawing near can fsociety pull it together fast enough to keep up?

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Mr. Robot: “eps2.3logic-b0mb.hc”

Back at a terminal, Elliot is back in his element. He feels powerful again as he scripts malware fsociety needs so they can infiltrate the phones of federal agents working at Evil Corp. He works and chats with Darlene whenever Ray’s goon Lone Star isn’t looking. They’re forming a plan. When Lone Star’s tired of waiting, Elliot tells him he needs the former IT in order to complete migration of the site.

After finding fsociety’s raspberry pi at Steel Mountain, the FBI concludes New York’s a dead end. Moving forward with the case, Dominique and her team head off to China to investigate Evil Corp’s backup servers. She makes an impression on the Minister of State Security Zhi Zhang (Whiterose) during their meeting as he boss tries to navigate the political minefield before them. Of course Minister Zhang is willing to give the FBI everything they need on the hack and the Dark Army, the enigmatic hackers at the top of their suspect list.

To celebrate the cooperation between America’s top cops and the Chinese government, Zhang invites the feds to his home for a dinner party. Dom finds her way to Zhang’s hall of clocks where she’s probed on her reasons for joining the FBI. Embracing their budding friendship, Zhang shows Dom more of his home, including a collection of silk dresses he claims belong to sister, one she knows he doesn’t have. She’s subjected to his metaphysical musings on a theory of the multiverse, where similar people are free to live different lives in wildly different circumstances. It moves him to tears, but chiming clocks force him to lead Dominique out of the room.

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Though Elliot forbids it, Darlene reaches out to Angela. They need an inside woman to plant their malware. But despite the simplicity of her role in the operation, and that FBI knows someone at Allsafe installed Cisco’s CD which connects to 5/9, she’s too much the company woman to get involved. That changes when Angela agrees to meet with Ollie. FBI interviews have him spooked and he attempted to record their conversation as evidence to clear his name.

After Elliot agrees to see her, reluctantly, and promises to do his part to protect her from reprisals, Angela decides to follow Darlene’s instructions. Panicking from cab to train to sidewalk, she makes her way to fsociety so they can plan their next move.

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As the FBI prepare to look into China’s data facility, they’re blindsided by masked gunmen storming their hotel. Dom manages to scramble behind cover and defend herself with the gun of a fallen agent. After wounding a gunmen, he turns fanatical and takes his own life, leaving Dom in a standoff with the last shooter.

RT, Ray’s old IT, works with Elliot to decrypt drives. It’s clear he’s competent enough to migrate the site on his own. So why hadn’t he? Elliot gets RT to chat on a blank document without Lone Star seeing and learns something sketchy is up with the site. Rather than say, RT gives Elliot log-in credentials before leaving. When he’s alone for a moment, Elliot peeks into Ray’s cache. His new friend, this private businessman, is running a deep-web black market, moving guns, drugs and people.

Elliot likes Ray and considers his options for rehabilitating his friend. Does he turn him in to the cops? Try to show Ray the harm he’s doing to people? Mr. Robot tries to dissuade this pattern of thinking, but before he can decide, Elliot is yanked from bed by Ray’s crew. RT was tortured until he spoke. Ray knows Elliot snooped, and he’s beaten as punishment.

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The distinction between seasons was lost a bit in this episode. As Elliot breaks his regimen and falls back on old behaviors he finds himself walking a familiar path. Mac Quayle scored that sameness perfectly with music reminiscent of season 1, and the screen was back to it’s lower-quardrant framing. It’s a not so subtle way of saying we’re leaving the therapist’s couch for more hacking intrigue. Only this time it’s feeling a bit more like a spy novel.

Learning Whiterose’s real status feels like Esmail’s delivering on his AMA claim of wanting to “finally bring cyberpunk to TV.” The incestuous relationship between corporations and governments, blurring the lines between public and private sectors now present in Mr. Robot ties a clear thread back to work like Deus Ex. Whiterose is a high level government official, head of a crew of mercenary hackers, in bed with corporate power and who knows what else. But some people think Whiterose is the key to making sense of it all.

Rami Malek has claimed that the cast and Esmail spend some time lurking around /r/MrRobot checking out the theories there. A popular one concerns the Berensta(e)in Theory of alternate realities. It references the FBI’s listening program in Mr. Robot and Whiterose’s view of the many paths people take in life. This could just be metaphorical, seeing as how Whiterose is a different person to many different people. But does this mean they have as many agendas? Whiterose has dealings with Evil Corp and fsociety. And now that Darlene and Angela are going up against the FBI in Evil Corp’s house, who’s the Dark Army going to back?

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Written by Daniel Rodriguez
Daniel Rodriguez is a freelance writer and author from New York City.
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