RECAP: MR. ROBOT S2EP6 - 90s SPOOFS, SATIRE AND SERIOUS SLAYAGE
ALRIGHT. WELL THIS EPISODE WAS A ROLLERCOASTER.
To start off, the 4th episode brings back memories you never had with Mr. Robot kind of breaking the fourth wall.
Nothing that new since he does talk to “us”, but this time...
The episode opens with some good ol’ 90s quality American cable TV credits to USA Network, the TV channel that airs Mr. Robot. The Aldersons, all four of them, pop up in a car driving in front of a moving screen. The colours are so bright. Everyone’s clothes are so vintage. The quality is so bad.
There are so many laugh tracks and the satire is so abundant that, if it were anything but in Mr. Robot, you could puke. But since it is Mr. Robot, it’s bloody ingenious.
The credits for the show start to roll and it’s in the style of Full House. They have the cheesy close ups on the cast members.
Gideon even makes an appearance?
A credit is even given to ‘The Man in the Trunk’, who makes noise incrementally through the scene.
There’s even a happy Alderson family photo to cap the credits.
I literally cannot get enough of this episode. It’s so good.
There are so many references to other famous 90s shows, with a cameo appearance by Alf. The world Elliot is currently in is still riddled with the E Corp logo. Angela makes an appearance as a gas station manager, making jabs at her situation and how she’s risen in E Corp.
Everyone’s characters here are like hyperbolised versions of what we’ve seen.
Elliot’s mum is still so abusive. Elliot’s dad is still dropping truth bombs. Darlene is still rolling her eyes at the world. Elliot is still asking so many questions.
But everyone makes their actions seem so normal and like they’re a normal family.
Elliot isn’t buying into it though and is being played out to be the craziest one in a family where the mother burns her daughter’s arm with a cigarette and the father is keeping someone locked up in the trunk.
To add to the entire 90s aesthetic, there’s even a break complete with E Corp Online and Bud Light advertisements in that grainy quality that everyone over the age of 18 tries to forget.
The art direction of this is on point.
In a more or less heartfelt moment, Elliot says that his dad has taken over and blames that for this utopian, 90s glory of a scene, but it’s clarified that everything is temporary. And so is this scene, because this is only Elliot’s dream while he’s waking up from the beating he got from Ray’s henchmen.
Though it’s only a dream sequence, it’s such a curveball. There was nothing to hype up to a scene like this.
Maybe it’s because I’m a sucker for the 90s throwback, but for the first time in the season, I’m actually completely and utterly enthralled by the show. This is one of the trippiest scenes I have ever watched and I am so glad that Sam Esmail made this Elliot’s dream.
This shows just how Elliot is caught in his childhood, and that when he’s knocked out cold, he goes back to the dreams and wishes for that normal family. But since his family is so dysfunctional, their true selves shine through, creating this satire sealed in by laugh tracks and gleeful sitcom-esque transition tracks.
Elliot wakes up to Ray and his henchmen in hospital; the dreary world of Elliot Alderson coming back to the screen to remind us that he’s not in a somewhat utopia.
And that we’ve got HD quality back.
In the world of Dom DiPierro, she’s trying to convince her superior in the FBI that the shooting in Beijing wasn’t to kill people but to distract them from completing their investigation of the Dark Army. She also has a cringeworthy encounter with the owner of her favourite bodega owner, trying to find things to smile about even though her investigation on E Corp is why he has to close his shop. Dom fails to be the dominant character she was in previous episodes and it’s kind of sad.
I also realised that when Mr. Robot does cringeworthy scenes, they really go all out and hit the nail on the head.
Carrying on from last episode, Angela is learning how to hack from the other members of fsociety and everyone’s losing hope in their ability to bring down the FBI. But to the grooviest heist-movie score, Darlene, decked in a blonde wig, and Angela carry it out. Darlene manages to get into a hotel room for lookout ever so effortlessly, and it just reminds you how GREAT Darlene’s character can be. She knows how to work it and get the job done.
Angela, somewhat calmly until the final sequence, handles all the work on the FBI floor of E Corp, even fighting off a weirdly flirty FBI agent who gets super touchy when Angela rejects his advantages (fragile masculinity, much?) by turning some tables.
But things don’t work out 100% and we’re left on a cliffhanger of Angela finishing off her hack at her desk, but interrupted by Dom.
Angela and Darlene are an impressive team. While Darlene stays at her usual confident, no-shits-given self, Angela’s character continues to progress into something great. She seems only a bit off her element here, trying her hardest to not let the team down, though she did stutter when Darlene told her that she needed to complete more than she was originally told. Also, the tracking shots of the two while they were carrying out their mission gave off some ass-kicking vibes.
Elliot finishes off the episode, by being kidnapped. Thrown against a wall while seriously injured, he finds solace in his father for the first time, collapsing in his arms. At this point, since his father’s just a projection, I’m wondering what real life Elliot is actually doing, and where he collapsed into.
They’ve thrown us back for the final scene, bringing us to a time where younger Elliot was beaten up at school. His father tells him that he’s sick and has lost his job, but introduces the computer store he plans to build up. At Elliot’s request to work there, his father assigns him his first job: to name the store.
And I guess this is where the official name of Mr. Robot came about.
We would've known for sure, if they didn’t immediately end the episode.
I don’t think I’ll be over this episode for a while. It was so ridiculously unexpected that I think this becomes one of my favourite episodes of this show to date. As I said before, I’m a huge fan of 90s throwbacks but as well, Angela and Darlene’s relationship is actually proving to be pretty great. The fact this episode was kept so simple, in a way, deserves a mention because Mr. Robot always leaves you so full with questions. It feels good to have time to process and think things through to be honest.