Mr. Robot: eps2.3_logic_b0mb.hc
August 3, 2016 9:55 PM - Season 2, Episode 5 - Subscribe

Elliot can't quit the game; Dom and the FBI head to China to investigate 5/9; Joanna is haunted; and Darlene calls on Angela for help.
posted by sparkletone (27 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I feel like anyone who's been somewhat put off by the last couple weeks of somewhat loopy drifting will be pleased this week. I'm still digesting it, but at least at first blush, the scene with Dom and Whiterose was a favorite of the season so far. And the reveal of Whiterose's public persona explains kind of a lot about what we've seen about that character so far. Fun episode, just please don't shoot Dom! She seems nice for a cop.
posted by sparkletone at 10:02 PM on August 3, 2016

I probably just missed it in the past, but the sound editing in this episode was great, supporting the larger story. In particular, I noticed a few instances of (audible) fire and time-keeping. The (mentions of) fires I noticed:
  • A lady was burning a small pile of something in a red wagon at the basketball game,
  • A newscaster on the TV in the FBI-controlled portion of E Corp said "Firefighters are already battling fierce blazes...",
  • There were quite a few fires in fireplaces throughout the estate of Minister Zhang/Whiterose, where
  • Dom told China's minister of state security about her "old flame"
As for the clocks, there were the obvious ones throughout Whiterose's place, but then the clock struck [something], and we cut to Eliot and Angela in his mom's house, where it sounded like time had slowed down, but that could be because there was only one clock ticking off the seconds, or perhaps because it was his mother in her rocking chair, slowly rocking back and forth.

But back to China: what was Whiterose doing, telling Dom about his sister? I'm sure Whiterose has full intel on who the FBI agents all are, and if it's not clear how direct and insightful Dom is earlier, Whiterose should know once Dom cuts through the pleasantries and asks directly about the Dark Army. We didn't even see Dom digging into Zhang's profile to find out if he had a sister, so it could even be something Dom knew before coming to China.

And for the technical aspects of this episode, here is The Verge's Mr. Robot Hack Report for this episode.
posted by filthy light thief at 7:36 AM on August 4, 2016

what was Whiterose doing, telling Dom about his sister?

Uh. Given what we know about Whiterose, those are definitely her dresses and she almost certainly doesn't have a sister. She was being honest in a certain sense without outing herself as a trans woman to some FBI agent who's come sniffing around about the dark army.
posted by sparkletone at 12:21 PM on August 4, 2016

what was Whiterose doing, telling Dom about his sister?

If the attack on the FBI was sanctioned/planned by the Dark Army or the Chinese government then perhaps White Rose felt safe telling, or almost telling, Dom about the dresses because she was supposed to have been killed the next day. It would also add some poignancy to their conversation about limited time in life.
posted by roolya_boolya at 12:35 PM on August 4, 2016 [2 favorites]

she almost certainly doesn't have a sister.

Dom even says at the end that the minister doesn't have a sister.
posted by Pendragon at 12:50 PM on August 4, 2016

The interesting question there: Dom's intuition or was Whiterose actually careless enough not to have some fake shit ready to go on that? (My vote is the former.)
posted by sparkletone at 4:39 PM on August 4, 2016

Dread Pirate Roberts and Teh Dark Web?
The very first episode hinted at Tor vulnerabilities.

That seemed a little hackneyed to be honest.
posted by fullerine at 4:45 PM on August 4, 2016 [1 favorite]

My feeling is that Whiterose felt comfortable showing Dom those dresses because the hit on the FBI agents was already planned. I was surprised that that hitman killed himself, because that sort of loyalty in a henchman has to be pretty insane.

Did anyone else get a Big Trouble in Little China vibe when Dom was going down the escalator and saw those two guys in masks? It made me wonder if she has green eyes.
posted by Catblack at 7:10 PM on August 4, 2016

Yup, those are Whiterose's dresses, and Dom definitely knows (during the discussion or after, it's unclear). Here's what she says to a co-worker:

- But he did take me to his sister's bedroom and show me her clothes.
- That's sort of weird.
- Mm-hmm. Even more so when you consider Minister Zhang doesn't have a sister.

Catblack: My feeling is that Whiterose felt comfortable showing Dom those dresses because the hit on the FBI agents was already planned. I was surprised that that hitman killed himself, because that sort of loyalty in a henchman has to be pretty insane.

I can now see the "villain tells the hero the truth right before the villain is going to try (and fail) to kill the hero" in Zhang's lie. As for the hitman offing himself, I took it as the hitman not wanting to be caught and interrogated, or there's a worse fate than death. After all, if China's minister of state security is also the head of the Dark Army, you know you can't get away with failure.
posted by filthy light thief at 7:48 PM on August 4, 2016

And there was a weird line that caught me:

- You know, I heard the dude that shot him was, like, off his rocker. One of those, uh, Five/Nine truthers. Some people even say that the whole thing was, uh, like, a put-on. Like a... like one of those, uh, crisis performances or whatever. You know... you know, those Frank Cody types. Anyways, tragic for sure.

I couldn't find anything on "Frank Cody" that seemed relevant, until I searched for "Frank Cody Mr. Robot," and I found EW's recap for the first episode of this second season:
The water runs scalding hot. The air turns freezing cold. The lights flicker. The McIntosh stereo blares. The big screen TV remains stuck on a cable news talk show called “Let’s Be Frank,” the professional provocateur i.e. “frank” host named Frank Cody going on and on about Five/Nine and the future of democracy and how America is at risk of becoming the crumbling Weimar Republic in the days before Hitler, just like that alarmist Facebook friend of yours that you want to unfollow but can’t because man, so negative, and yet maybe so right! Susan tries to quiet her rioting house by entering the “Foundation” code — 22381 (probably her birthday) — but it doesn’t work.
A nice bit of in-universe world-building, I wonder if this thread will continue.
posted by filthy light thief at 7:55 PM on August 4, 2016 [3 favorites]

I gotta say I totally zoned out during the beginning of the episode with Elliot doing the leet haxxorz or whatever, mostly because I was busy contemplating how ridiculous it was that I had just spent all day buried in code at work and have now chosen to unwind in front of my laptop screen, watching Rami Malek type-type-typing away...
posted by btfreek at 10:27 PM on August 4, 2016 [2 favorites]

> I was busy contemplating how ridiculous it was that I had just spent all day buried in code at work and have now chosen to unwind in front of my laptop screen, watching Rami Malek type-type-typing away...

> apparently NBC hopes people will sit through 3.5 hours of guys sitting behind desks, after spending 8 hours sitting behind desks themselves.

8 hours hacking at a desk, 1½ hours watching hacking, 3½ hours watching people at desks: a good day. deskology couldn't have been 8 years ago already.
posted by morganw at 3:50 PM on August 6, 2016

Real talk: are folks liking this season? I'm struggling. I love it stylistically, the individual scenes are beautiful and the emotions are intense. But the story just makes no damn sense. Nor do the characters. I feel it's very deep in the weeds. Help me out here!
posted by Nelson at 5:47 PM on August 7, 2016 [2 favorites]

Angela is the only character I am actively interested in watching right now.
posted by btfreek at 9:59 PM on August 7, 2016

I questioned whether Mr. Robot really needed any more seasons after 1, since I felt like it said everything that needed to be said. But then, I feel that way about a lot of series. ;)

What about Elliot's mom? I can sorta see her ignoring her son talking to visitors here and there, but doesn't it seem totally weird that she would completely ignore Angela and especially Darlene? What about just eavesdropping?
posted by bitterkitten at 10:24 AM on August 8, 2016 [1 favorite]

Real talk: are folks liking this season?

I'm keeping an open mind. Like you I've found it stylistically satisfying. This episode got back on track in terms of moving the plot along and giving me some idea what was going on and I'm willing to wait a bit longer to see how things turn out.
posted by roolya_boolya at 11:39 AM on August 8, 2016

Real talk: are folks liking this season?

I'm liking it, but keep in mind we're only on episode 5 of 12, still plenty of time to grab you.
posted by Pendragon at 1:07 PM on August 8, 2016 [1 favorite]

Thanks for the encouragement. I'm just really lost. I've watched the first three episodes twice and am still lost, need to watch the 4th and 5th again. I loved the first season and have a high tolerance for oblique video entertainment, but like I said I feel we're pretty far in the weeds.

Agreed that Elliot's mom is a very confusing thing. She's explicitly mentioned as not being home when one of either Angela or Darlene visits, and I think she's not present for the other either. Given the way Elliot's shrink also asked "why your mother" I have to believe the world we see Elliot living in is not consensus reality. But boy it sure is confusing, and then whatever is actually happening sure is menacing.

(I agree with fullerine that the whole Dread Pirate Roberts / Silk Road / Tor thing is a bit hackneyed, a bit too on-the-nose. But it serves the plot well.)
posted by Nelson at 4:16 PM on August 8, 2016

I'm pretty sure that in every scene where Elliott is now in his mom's place, talking to Angela / Darlene / whoever, in the sort-of-downstairs? front room? - she is sitting in a chair, smoking? watching tv, out of focus in the next room, behind the shoulder of whoever is talking to Elliott. *This* is what seems extra weird. ;)
posted by bitterkitten at 7:23 AM on August 9, 2016 [2 favorites]

She was visible at the beginning of Episode 1. Elliot came down the stairs, looked into the living room, she turned to glare at him, turned back to the TV, and Elliot left.

Whether it's actually his mom and whether she's really there? I don't know.
posted by mmoncur at 2:12 PM on August 9, 2016 [1 favorite]

Yes, I think his mom is really there, but she's less active in his life than his imaginary dad is, which is another comment on ... something. How awful his mom is that he doesn't see her / she doesn't hear him? His lack of connection to the living and his [undesired, uncontrollable] imaginary dad?
posted by filthy light thief at 7:28 PM on August 9, 2016

Just watched episode 4 again; Mom is definitely in the background in the other room when Darlene visits, but she is silent and not acknowledged. There is a scene earlier (in the flashback to ~2 years before) where Darlene talks about how awful Mom is and she never wants to visit her, which confirms that Mom is a real person at least. It still all feels very weird though.

Also weird is the way every episode has a new person visiting Elliot at his Mom's house. It really feels like scheduled mental hospital visits.
posted by Nelson at 7:05 AM on August 10, 2016

Doesn't Darlene ask Elliot a question like "How's the She-Devil?" when she visits? I thought this was about their Mom and tells us Elliot has recently been in touch/is actually living with her.
posted by CMcG at 8:38 AM on August 10, 2016 [1 favorite]

The opening of this episode with the bouncing between views of Elliot and consoles was a great riff on tiling window managers, loved that.

And, it showed some software running that I was involved in writing, which was fun.

There were two technical bits that didn't work for me though. One sequence of commands included "su onion" and then as that user, "sudo apt-get", which leads to an unncessary password prompt. The bigger problem was plot relevant: He's in this tor hidden service, but never looks at the website until the other guy enters its onion address. But, the onion address is the public key; it's right there to see when you're administering a tor hidden service.
posted by joeyh at 5:27 PM on August 10, 2016

Holy fucking shit, episode 6. Watch it with the commercials if you have the option.
posted by a box and a stick and a string and a bear at 7:27 PM on August 10, 2016 [1 favorite]

I just watched this again. Darlene visits Elliot at mom's house, but mom is not present this time. That's the bit about the "She-Devil" CMcG mentions; for whatever reason mom isn't in the house. Later in the episode Angela also visits, and mom is again visible in the back silently in her chair. I've got no idea what this all means but it's really disorienting.

Watching every episode a second time the basic plot all makes sense to me now. It's kind of simple really. Elliot and Darlene are coping with the fallout of their global hack. Elliot's also tied up somehow with Ray, the second coming of the Silk Road. Angela is trying to make her way in Evil Corp and arrange her revenge. Swedish lady is trying to hold it together and get her husband's severance pay, also mourning his absence. And Dominique, the new FBI lady, is investigating crimes with an amazing amount of good luck stumbling into clues. That's the story.

The part that's magic in the show is the disorientation. Elliot's break from reality and how everything in the show is off-kilter. Because Elliot is generally the narrator, an unreliable narrator, the whole show is told through the lens of his perception. His alienation. That's the part that makes the show so confusing for me, but I think stylistically the show is just telling its basic hacker story through this distorted mirror that's Elliot's fucked up mind.

(No talk here if you've seen episode 6 please!)
posted by Nelson at 9:48 PM on August 10, 2016

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