Mr. Robot: Freedom is Fleeting

The hit to the economy is testing the government’s ability to manage the day-to-day needs a country has, like keeping the lights on. But corporations still manage to flex a little muscle and remind everyone who matters that they’re still in charge. It’s a dance for power, and it seems everyone’s got a partner.

Mr. Robot 2x9 2


Mr. Robot: “eps2.7_init_5.fve”

Elliot finally sets the record straight with us, from the arrest following 5/9 (Blame Krista’s ex Lenny and his cop buddy) through his filtering process that made him feel like he was at home. The Dark Army had been protecting him from the start, putting Leon at Elliot’s side to give him all he needs, including protection, and assisting his early release. Though a non-violent conviction and a country with no funds to house criminals helped as well.

Not one to be outsmarted by her superiors, Angela takes apart the rubber ducky Mobley had given her as a safety precaution during the FBI hack. With it she clone’s her boss’ hard drive, and from her own computer is able to mine for his credentials. Logged in with his account, she finally accesses Evil Corp’s records on the Washington Township plant.

Upon release, Elliot’s greeted by a party of one. Darlene fills Elliot in on what he’s missed, primarily the missing fsociety members and the Dark Army’s Stage 2.

Mr. Robot 2x9 1

Darlene’s finally able to confess to someone that she’s freaking out, and fears the Dark Army is taking out fsociety one hacker at a time That doesn’t make much sense to Elliot now that they’ve given him reason to trust Whiterose. As they move about, taking detours to throw off any tails, the Alderson kids cut through a nursing home where Magda (Mrs. Alderson) is living. Darlene refuses to see her, but Elliot needs to. He tells his comatose mother that her presence helped him survive the two months he spent in prison, but mom offers no response.

As Darlene and Cisco chew each other out over the specifics of his Dark Army responsibilities, Elliot finds himself stuck in his head, watching Mr. Robot brokering for peace between the angry couple. Mr. Robot claims to have taken over when Elliot went blank, but what is clear is neither of them feel particularly well.

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Whiterose pays their respects to the Evil Corp CEO prior to Price, another executive who denied the Dark Army the use of the Washington Township plant. After desecrating his grave, Minister Zhang meets with Price who informs him that soon the federal government will take control over the Washington Township now that Evil Corp can’t foot the bill for all its properties. And with a vote of no confidence, the US government won’t provide Evil Corp with the money it needs to limp forward. Price suggests China hand over the money to help, and though Zhang is reticent he’s ultimately promised the cash. But Price makes it clear that they are not on equal footing, and if necessary he’ll see China, the US and Evil Corp fall before he’s denied his ambitions, which may involve the use of his latest hire.

Angela takes her stolen documents to DC. She comes to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission as an anonymous whistleblower, and all seems to be going well until she’s made to wait hours to meet Deputy Director Willa Phelps. As Phelps walks Angela down a dark corridor to meet with a council of government officials, it’s clear that that she knows more about the whistleblower than she should. Sensing this headed somewhere she doesn’t like, Angela turns and runs back to New York, and Dom isn’t far behind. The agent knows about the trip to DC, and tells Angela that the FBI has been on to her from the beginning thanks to Ollie. It’s not enough for an arrest, not now, but the Bureau is watching. Angela doesn’t have long before the niceties stop and some serious repercussions come her way.

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Using a Pwnie, Elliot hack’s Xun’s phone, Cisco’s superior. Darlene puts herself in charge of monitoring the audio while Elliot and Cisco to set up a meeting at the library. On the way there Cisco lays down the rules of engagement to Mr. Robot, and only at the last minute is Elliot able to jump back into his body. The loss of control puts Elliot on edge but he’s still moving forward.

Xun does show up with masks in tow, but when Elliot asks to meet with Whiterose so they can tell him what Stage 2 is about, the Dark Army falls back.

As Darlene monitor’s Xun’s phone, the news reminds her of the last fsociety video. It triggers her memory, pulling her back to Jacobs’ house and a messed up tape she’d left there. It doesn’t take much convincing, but she gets Cisco to agree to head back to Jacobs’ to find the VHS. When he does, Cisco finds an unexpected guest sobbing uncontrollably.

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Mr. Robot and Darlene decide that he’s not looking too great and it’s best if Elliot heads home and lives normally to keep anyone from watching, including the police, and thinking he’s involved in anything he shouldn’t. Elliot watches the conversation from within his own head, and through glitching manages to regain enough control to get up, leaving Darlene to monitor alone.

It doesn’t take long before Xun reconnects with Whiterose. The Dark Army’s general seems confused at Elliot wanting to know more about Stage 2, especially since it was his plan. Before she can act on this information, someone calls for her attention by banging on the door.

Elliot comes to the realization that routines or a return to normalcy as Darlene suggests is not something he can do. He’s an anomaly in this world, highly incompatible, and to solidify this complicated realization is Joanna, sitting in Tyrell’s SUV, has been waiting for him to come home.

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Angela’s rendition of “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” seems like it would’ve been a better fit for this episode. Everyone seems to have laid their cards bare to their opposition, hoping to intimidate the other into giving in. Price suddenly remembers that being the CEO of the world’s biggest conglomerate means something, and the government has slowly built up it’s intel on its suspects since 5/9. But the divide between power and powerless isn’t as clear between Elliot and Mr. Robot.

The two came to something of an agreement to work together in order to finish the work they started in dismantling Evil Corp. But circumstance–whether that’s his health or the jitters of interacting with the wider world again–Elliot doesn’t seem to know what’s going on with this loss of control. His other half doesn’t seem to know either. This is a manifestation of Elliot’s dissociation that we’ve never seen before. I mean, we’ve seen Darlene, Romero and Tyrell talk directly to Mr. Robot in place of Elliot, but watching Elliot’s brain glitch, switching the places of personalities from background to foreground is completely new. And it seems appropriate now that Stage 2 is being implemented.

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We’ve known for some time now that Whiterose’s Dark Army has been working towards an end that only they could see. Even some of their soldiers don’t know what’s in store for them. But to learn that Elliot planned Stage 2 both makes sense and raises new questions.

Following the triggering of 5/9 and shooting Tyrell, there’s three days stripped from Elliot’s memory. After that he wakes up in the SUV while economic collapse throws New York into disarray. There’s been some talk of those missing days from Mr. Robot but not much in the way of clarification, and that’s probably because it would’ve been the perfect opportunity for someone like Whiterose to entertain the idea of meeting with either of those personalities and muse on where their relationship could go. But the security measures taken to remove even the slightest possibility that Elliot could be listening in makes it clear that such a partnership comes with conditions. And I’m willing to bet it has everything to do with Washington Township.

It’s not one of Esmail’s better secret-keeping methods. Unlike other plot points the obfuscation here is more of withholding and misdirection. Angela now knows what’s going on at Washington Township, now so does Dom, and Price and Zhang are fighting about it at every turn. So it’s a little less about guessing from the audience than waiting for someone to say what we already know that they do. If the plant has anything to do with Stage 2 it might explain where Mobley and Trenton have gone to, and who’s targeted Darlene. but the bigger question is whether it was set up by Elliot or Mr. Robot.

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Written by Daniel Rodriguez
Daniel Rodriguez is a freelance writer and author from New York City.
  1. This is so good. I wish Reddit posted at this caliber 🙂 the only thing I want to note is that Angela used the rubber ducky on Joseph Green, I believe he’s a partner at a law firm that has access to the damning ecorp files. But honestly, this is one of the best episode recaps I’ve read.


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