Mr. Robot: 405 Method Not Allowed
November 5, 2019 5:37 AM - Season 4, Episode 5 - Subscribe

Whooo boy, *what* a ride! I was not expecting what turned out to be one of the very best hacking+heist sequences ever filmed. And that music! That staircase shot! Mr. Robot not skimping on the cardio! So much fun.
posted by adrianhon at 5:40 AM on November 5, 2019 [1 favorite]

This episode gave me several adrenaline rushes, even though half my brain was trying to concern me with details and reality.

(Mainly, why the hell was Dolph the security guard moving so damn slow? Maybe don't run around the server room, sure, and you don't know exactly what you're dealing with, but it could be a good idea to do your systematic sweep with a little bit of pep in your step. Also, I didn't buy that the cops outside Virtual Realty wouldn't be checking any person who came out of the building, whether or not it looked like they could've been on a bike.)

Dom's intersection with Elliot and Darlene is going to be very interesting. She's scared for good reason, and she's already disconnected from everything she has to lose, so why wouldn't she throw her cards in with the folks who haven't tried to kill her?

(Although maybe they have? I don't remember.)

Overall, I really liked this. E Corp still doesn't have a CEO to appoint, though, and I can't stand any more scenes of Phillip Price sniffing.
posted by minsies at 7:12 AM on November 5, 2019

Well that was a fun episode. Leaving aside the trick of having no dialogue, just all the great action sequences. I loved the elaborate heist setup inside Virtual Realty. I love heist films and this delivered.

Also the glimpses of Dom's miserable life as a Dark Army waldo. Even when she's home it's grim. One thing I liked about the no-dialogue gimmick was how well that reflected on her finally being at home with her family, her father asleep, she and her mother not talking. I sure hope Dom get some sort of revenge or redemption.

The no-dialogue thing has a long history, particularly in heist films. The most famous (and first?) is Rififi, the centerpiece being a 30 minute sequence not just with no dialogue but almost no sound at all other than very precise foley work of men trying to move and act silently. The effect there is to create almost unbearable tension in the theater, the audience holding their breath so as not to give the silent robbers away.

There was plenty of tension in this episode too. But I thought the no-dialogue rule here played a different role, for the show reators to demonstrate just what a rich and emotionally layered set of characters and situations they've created. I understood every single glance between Eliot and Darlene, no need for words to explain it, they're like my own siblings already. I could see the taste in Dom's face. Even Philip's wooden bumbling through life is fully clear without his patrician accent stinking up the room. I'm just sad Whiterose didn't get any enigmatic scenes, I could spend 10 minutes just watching BD Wong smiling cryptically.

The only implausible thing in this episode was the idea of New York cops running 20+ blocks chasing a suspect. Forget the obvious thing of "why not use your radio?". What cop has that kind of fitness, especially carrying 30 pounds of gear on your belt? For that matter exactly when has Eliot been building all that cardio capacity? Maybe back when he was in the joint.
posted by Nelson at 8:22 AM on November 5, 2019 [5 favorites]

Yeah, the cop chase sequence was ridiculous to the point where I assume they were making it silly on purpose, what with tripping over the pram of cans and the ice skating sequence. To be fair, at least they did corner him in the end.
posted by adrianhon at 8:45 AM on November 5, 2019 [2 favorites]

I assumed the pram can was a Potemkin reference, although it is missing the steps. But is the ice rink also a nod to some other film / video?
posted by Nelson at 8:48 AM on November 5, 2019 [2 favorites]

Redditors have made the connection to Home Alone 2 for the ice rink and French Connection (or Speed) for the pram ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
posted by adrianhon at 8:53 AM on November 5, 2019 [3 favorites]

The only implausible thing in this episode was the idea of New York cops running 20+ blocks chasing a suspect.

Well, that and them not just shooting him in the back.
posted by Ragged Richard at 8:57 AM on November 5, 2019 [4 favorites]

adrianhon: Mr. Robot not skimping on the cardio!

I was going to say it's interesting that this episode contained none of Mr. Robot, it was all Elliot.

minsies: why the hell was Dolph the security guard moving so damn slow?

That felt like another movie trope/ call-back, the tension of the "hunter" who might become the "hunted" if they stumble on someone who is armed. Or more generally, heightened suspense.

adrianhon: Yeah, the cop chase sequence was ridiculous to the point where I assume they were making it silly on purpose, what with tripping over the pram of cans and the ice skating sequence.

Besides the movie call-backs, it was also silly because going through the ice skating rink, then tumbling down the hill, still kept him a few feet ahead of the cops.

Vice: Hackers Dissect 'Mr. Robot' Season 4 Episode 5: ‘Method Not Allowed’

I love that the the hacker discussion goes from "I'm looking forward to the film geek breakdown of this episode," to Emma Best outlining how they could have improved evidence destruction via fire:
Under the circumstances, it was nearly the best they could do. I would've tried to keep the doors secured shut but broken any side and rear windows (leaving the front windshield intact if possible). That guarantees airflow and maximizes convection, raising the temperature. We're dealing with digital data, and physical damage to the medium helps, but the data can be reconstructed out of heavily damaged materials in ways that it couldn't a few years ago.
And then pivoting to how some of the co-location security holes might be period-appropriate references, then citing what could be current security gaps in 2019.

The more you know.
posted by filthy light thief at 9:19 AM on November 5, 2019 [1 favorite]

Jason: Yeah, I think the physical security would fail most audits.

Social engineering FTW.
Yael: 20/20 hindsight, but I feel like the guard had bad peripheral vision, and he was super slow.

Trammell: He moved at the speed of the plot.
I'm going to repeat Trammell's line in the future.
posted by filthy light thief at 9:24 AM on November 5, 2019 [1 favorite]

The slow security guard didn't bother me much – I'd probably be that careful/scared if I was in his position. I did wonder why he wouldn't have heard Elliot and Darlene typing and moving around, but apparently server rooms can be very noisy so I'll chalk that up to dramatic licence.
posted by adrianhon at 9:36 AM on November 5, 2019 [1 favorite]

I didn't realize it was a silent episode until I spotted it on twitter during a commercial break.

I LOVED how the sprint occurred the same day as the NY Marathon (in real life).

I haven't been that tense since the end of Breaking Bad. SO GOOD!
posted by armacy at 10:13 AM on November 5, 2019 [1 favorite]

Yeah, it took me like 20 minutes to catch on to the "method not allowed" being dialogue here. I really liked this, it reminded me of The Five Obstructions and was a welcome burst of action in what can, at times, be a pretty mopey and static show.

I enjoyed the heist sequence, but it did seem like Elliot and Darlene suddenly went from "brilliant hacker" to "international super-spy" levels, doing a lot more stuff in person when I see them more as typeity-typeity types. Also yeah, Elliot is pretty fit for a guy who just OD'ed on heroin a few days ago. I didn't any of that stand in the way of my enjoyment of this episode, though.
posted by whir at 11:41 AM on November 5, 2019

Sam Esmail: My bad. Sorry Monica!
posted by 1970s Antihero at 12:22 PM on November 5, 2019 [6 favorites]

I am embarrassed to say I didn't notice how little dialogue there was until reading this thread. I was so caught up in all the drama and tension. I thought this was an amazing episode.

I totally agree with whir that Elliot and Darlene were suddenly super spies, but it was enjoyable!

How about the nativity scene on the bus? I still think the Christ imagery is heavy handed this season, but at least that was funny.
posted by CMcG at 5:11 PM on November 5, 2019 [1 favorite]

I was also late on noticing the lack of dialogue. Perhaps easy to overlook with the texting to serve the same purpose in some scenes, but it did add a tension that seemed odd or awkward, albeit very effective, in the scene with Darlene and the security guy.

Also, the NYT review noted that Vera's red-coated helper was played by rapper, Young M.A. Guess I'm officially old as I never heard of her but her video has 300M+ Youtube views.

Super fun episode though; I actually want to watch it again now, which I almost never do for TV shows.
posted by p3t3 at 6:54 PM on November 5, 2019

So we're not going to talk about him sprinting at least a mile, landing on ice, falling down a hill/cliff, straight-up getting run over, falling down another hill/cliff, maybe four hours after almost freezing to death in the woods, and living to tell the tale? New headcanon: elliot = clark kent

(In fairness, Mr. Robot has been known to mess with Elliot's senses, so he may have been making himself useful as a VR pain-suppressor or whatever, but even so.)

Meanwhile in Olivia's apartment: "I can't believe I opened up to that guy and now he doesn't even have the decency to text me back and holy balls that's him on the evening news"
posted by queen anne's remorse at 8:12 PM on November 5, 2019

Darlene, at the beginning of the episode: "It's cool, dude. We don't have to talk."
posted by queen anne's remorse at 8:26 PM on November 5, 2019 [10 favorites]

And then Vera at the end: "It's time we talked."
posted by mabelstreet at 9:03 PM on November 5, 2019 [8 favorites]

I did notice the no talking, but that's only because I happened to have closed captioning on because the previous show I was watching had that terrible sound mixing where all the talking is quiet and any scene with action is super loud. So I happened to notice that I wasn't reading anything.

I really really enjoyed this whole episode. The silence, that shot down the staircase was amazing, the spy stuff was cool (even if I didn't believe that could be that organized in like 2 hours), Darlene being just smart as hell getting herself out of there.

The police chase I chalk up to adrenaline and survival instinct, but Darlene's really lucky that car hasnt been reported stolen yet. Also, I really hope Elliot and Darlene stay away from their homes now. Thats just too easy a place to get caught.
posted by LizBoBiz at 12:07 AM on November 6, 2019

it's really interesting that Mr robot didn't show up in the episode that Elliot doesn't have to talk - I sometimes find it hard to talk in some situations, so I can really relate to the idea that Mr robot was created as a way to interact with others when Elliot is unable to.
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 3:03 AM on November 6, 2019 [5 favorites]

Loved this episode. I am a huge fan of silent movies and immediately caught what Esmail was up to when Darlene announced the show’s intent. The only particular thing I have to offer with regard to old-time silents is that absurdly extended chase sequences were a thing, with Buster Keaton probably being the auteur best-known for them today. Chuck Jones credits silent chase sequences with inspiring his Road Runner cartoons and has interesting things to say about them, as well.

Buster Keaton, Seven Chances. Chase starts at about 36 minutes in. It lasts for about 14 minutes.

Anyway, I noted after the first episode that the show seemed to be announcing an interest in pursuing some formal stuff in film, and this episode would appear to have upheld that view.
posted by mwhybark at 5:17 AM on November 6, 2019 [3 favorites]

queen anne's remorse, when Elliot got up from getting hit by the car, I did think to myself: is it possible that elliot CANT die in this show?
posted by CMcG at 6:16 AM on November 6, 2019 [2 favorites]

(In fairness, Mr. Robot has been known to mess with Elliot's senses, so he may have been making himself useful as a VR pain-suppressor or whatever, but even so.)

Or maybe the mysterious third took over during the chase?
posted by Ragged Richard at 8:56 AM on November 6, 2019

The best writing in the season so far is the episode where no one talks.

This was really, really good. I thought "oh, that's clever" several times throughout the episode.
posted by slimepuppy at 12:29 PM on November 6, 2019 [1 favorite]

Wow! I watched this episode a few nights ago and only realized now that there was nearly no talking.

I loved the music and the heist, this was an amazing episode! Much better than last week but then again I think last week set up the situation for it pretty well.
posted by mmoncur at 11:44 PM on November 6, 2019

Watched this a second time, enjoying more of the decisions surrounding the no dialogue game. Like right after the "We don't have to talk." line, the opening credits start along with some big full-throated operatic holiday choral music. A lot of choral and vocal (mostly Christmas) music throughout between the tense heist music scenes. Not sure if this was to help keep it from getting TOO silent, or just the director being cheeky, like in this verse used: "Do you hear what I hear? A song, a song, high above the trees, with a voice as big as the sea."

Also most of the times the characters check their text messages, they give an audible sigh afterwards. Normally I doubt I'd notice, but without other dialogue, it started to really stick out.

The chase scene with the cops was borderline absurd, but good call on the Buster Keaton reference there, or Keystone Cops even. I think it was a nice subtle reference without breaking the drama by going full-on comedy.
posted by p3t3 at 6:12 PM on November 7, 2019 [1 favorite]

Yes, cops chasing Elliott on foot was super silly. I don't think we're supposed to believe Elliott's got any real cardio chops, I think it was just supposed to be more of him doing his "I gots to get away! Gah!" thing that he does in most of the seasons where he is physically busted and wigs out.

Agree with the guard not checking the whole data center. Sure, it's xmas and boring, but he did say somebody authenticated with his *own id*, and the data center is not the size of Google's.

I would have thought at some point in the series, perhaps, Elliott would have pondered picking up some self-defense knowledge besides laying low, but maybe it just doesn't interest him at all. Not necessarily krav maga or what not, but cultivating a few tricks, carrying something in his laptop bag, etc. with his lock picks, I dunno.
posted by bitterkitten at 6:33 PM on November 7, 2019 [1 favorite]

big full-throated operatic holiday choral music.

Beethoven’s Ode to Joy, lol. It actually cuts in right when Darlene in the car spots the plume of smoke, the two throbbing precursor chords that set the stage for the vocal ruckus. It’s an actually hilarious, but also subjectively accurate, choice. It’s hilarious because it is SO OVERUSED, often in advertising, that it almost necessarily has an ironic edge. Neither Beethoven or Schiller, of course, meant it that way.

Freude, schöner Götterfunken,
Tochter aus Elysium,
Wir betreten feuertrunken,
Himmlische, dein Heiligtum!
Deine Zauber binden wieder
Was die Mode streng geteilt;
Alle Menschen werden Brüder
Wo dein sanfter Flügel weilt.

Joy, beautiful spark of Divinity [or: of gods],
Daughter of Elysium,
We enter, drunk with fire,
Heavenly One, thy sanctuary!
Your magic binds again
What custom strictly divided;
All people become brothers,
Where your gentle wing abides.

It obviously references Darlene’s emotions on finding Elliott, but what is she but a daughter of Elysium?
posted by mwhybark at 10:01 PM on November 7, 2019 [1 favorite]

Thanks, myhybark. I was thinking Ode to Joy, but couldn't remember if that was the right one, so went for a vague, yet detailed, description, lol. But the intro definitely read as a borderline trope with the overt drama and a heavy dash of irony. A recurring pattern for the title screen with this show.

For me, a lot of the subtle humor, irony, and details stuck out a lot more on second viewing, since I'm usually grasping just to remember all the main story threads on first watch. Definitely a lot going on with this show; I wish there were a companion podcast like the Breaking Bad one to address all those little details.
posted by p3t3 at 5:26 PM on November 8, 2019

Fairly certain the Ode to Joy was the same recording as the one used in Die Hard, to similar effect. Considering it is the best Xmas movie and the guard was watching it, I'm pretty sure this was a deliberate choice.
posted by nushustu at 1:09 PM on November 10, 2019 [4 favorites]

Number one thing that annoys me about high tech heist films is their unfamiliarity with real world tech forces them to invent "real-ish" looking security & methods of bypassing them. Not so Mr Robot. Kali is their attack platform & they use it fairly well, certainly realistically. And I appreciated how they applied "living off the land" by 3D printing the guard's thumbprint onto a molded rubber thumb. I've yet to see an attack in the show I thought was completely implausible. Props to whoever they've replaced cDc Ninja Strike Force's Marc Rogers with.
posted by scalefree at 3:10 PM on November 10, 2019 [1 favorite]

This makes the only thing I've ever watched where I got an alert on my watch about my heart rate being way too high for over 10 minutes with no activity. That probably speaks for something.
posted by MysticMCJ at 5:41 PM on November 13, 2019 [2 favorites]

OMG, that printing sequence. I'm so used to seeing Makerbots in TV and film that it was refreshing to see a long row of Ultimakers lined up, but when it came time to print and they set up the job on the Creality machine-- friends, I was fucking cackling.
posted by phooky at 5:17 PM on October 20, 2020

Dolph's slowness wasn't a problem for me. I don't know how much building security guards get in NYC, but here in the midwest it's 10-15 / hr. No one's going to risk their lives for that. Besides, the monitor-watching security guard in Die Hard gets killed almost instantly at the beginning of the action. I'm sure that was in the back of Dolph's mind.

Plus, with Manhattan being fairly safe, I would imagine the worst thing Dolph has ever had to deal with was a drunk who wandered through the door. Maybe some yuppie at the gym got a bit unruly. An average day would be trying to stay awake while absolutely nothing happens. A heist of this nature would be truly alien and frightening. Probably best to take it slow.
posted by Teegeeack AV Club Secretary at 11:51 PM on September 20, 2021

« Older Movie: Shrek...   |  Letterkenny: Season 7... Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments