Mr. Robot (S03E05) "eps3.4_runtime-error.r00"

There’s a Riot at E Corp

Note: This post contains spoilers


Picking up the Monday after he is tranquilized by Angela (Portia Doubleday), Elliot (Rami Malek) goes back to work, not realizing that four days have passed, and resumes his duties. It isn’t long, though, until he realizes that something might be wrong – in fact, something is wrong. He has no access to E Corp’s systems, and it’s not Friday, but Monday; the day of the UN Vote; the day of Stage 2; and he’s just been fired.

What ensues is half an episode of Elliot trying to figure out what’s happened to him and why he feels like he’s glitching out, (his runtime-error) while evading E Corp security. We haven’t had this tense a sequence in a while, so its refreshing (and partly hilarious) to see Elliot attempt to make his way out of the building. While avoiding security he crashes a boardroom meeting and tries to explain to some pissed off E Corp execs why he’s barged in on them, (let’s not forget, social interactions are his weak-point) and ends up buying time by spewing positive advice about surviving the rat-race, and awkwardly patting one of the members on the shoulder. It’s a good reminder of Elliot’s daily struggles and a comical interlude from the tension surrounding the first half.

He ends up meeting with Darlene (Carly Chaikin) outside, where she drops the bombshell that she’s been working with the FBI all this time, then revealing that Angela has been working with Mr. Robot (Christian Slater). It’s a difficult moment for Elliot, but unfortunately for him (and fortunately for viewers) he isn’t given much time to digest the news – at that moment, all hell breaks loose.

Since the 5/9 attack, protesters have picketed outside the E Corp building unabatedly, but today is different – whether they’ve been pushed over the edge by those pulling the strings, or are simply fed up, an entire crowd of rioters breaks past security, and storms the E Corp headquarters. We then cut from the perspective of Elliot, and view the riot from Angela’s eyes. Caught off guard, she’s given hasty instructions by Irving (Bobby Cannavale) to get Elliot to a server room and have him transfer some data, (important for Stage 2) but decides to do it herself. What follows is a glorious tracking shot that follows Angela through the chaos, using some genuinely novel camera techniques that allow us to keep track of her. The upheaval in the building feels almost apocalyptic, and to keep herself from being attacked by some seriously violent protesters, she dons a bloody fsociety mask to hide her face. The episode ends with the UN agreeing to the annexation of the Congo, and Angela successfully transferring the data – but she isn’t out of the woods yet.

Uncertain about the immediate future, and still in shock owing to of the events of the morning, Angela walks across an office, and comes face to face with Elliot – “Angela”, he says, “is there something you want to tell me?”

Thoughts and Analysis
I’m glad that we got some action. Since the beginning of Season 2, Mr. Robot has had some serious pacing issues, and while a lot has happened, story and character development has been segmented and spaced out; and we’ve waited half a season for Stage 2 to really kick off. I found the episode high octane, and very focused. We got to see the scary consequences of Corporate exploitation, and, while painful for Elliot, he finally got an update on who’s been betraying him – turns out it’s everyone, to varying degrees of betrayal of course. The episode lacked substance with regards to the views and intentions of its main characters, but I felt as though we’ve had enough of that lately, and I was happy to trade substance for serious action and plot progression.

Thus, while there isn’t too much for me to analyze regarding themes and potential plot threads, I’m optimistic about where the show is heading. This was one of the series’ best episodes to date, and now that China has the approval to annex the Congo – presumably so White Rose (B. D. Wong) has more space to work on his project – who really knows what’s going to happen. Tune in next episode, where Stage 2 will surely go down.

Best Scene
There was this little moment where Elliot is trying to get access to an E Corp computer on another floor, and sees an old lady as the perfect target. Playing on the joke that old people are tech-illiterate, he goes to her (under the guise of an IT guy) and suggests that she may have misused her computer in some way and that he needs to run some tests. The tables are turned, however, when it turns out that she’s quite a pro with her technology, and her spewing of IT and Computer Science lingo at him makes Elliot realize that he’s f*cked up.

Worst Scene
At some stage, Angela needs to find a USB for her data-transferring task and spends about 2 minutes searching for one in office-cabinets. Recall that this is in the middle of a riot, so while it adds a layer of suspense to her mighty USB search, it kind of feels unnecessary. I’d rather have spent more time watching Elliot awkwardly converse with E Corp employees, or have spent more time watching him ignore his desk-neighbor while the guy talks about all the made-up girls he’s been ‘smashing’.

Another Note: it’s been a while since a post on Mr. Robot, and as of right now episodes up to episode 7 have been released. I’ll be reviewing the remaining two over the next few days so that when episode 8 is released this Wednesday, it can be reviewed straight after.