Mr. Robot “Kill process” review

Adam Mathew 20 November 2017 NEWS

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Hitting the wall with your imaginary frenemy

Quick tip for all you budding TV writers: if you're going to do a flashback, best make it as blindingly obvious as possible for the viewer. Sam Esmail achieves this with a young Angela watching an episode of the Back to the Future cartoon spin-off, circa 1991. (You cannot get more obvious than Huey Lewis crooning about going back in time.)

Welcome to her mother's wake-in-advance party. We're here with a young Angela as she's emotionally distancing herself from everybody. Elliot's father, Edward Alderson, hunkers down next to her and tries his best to console Angela. He successfully uses some Marty McFly logic to push her back towards cherishing her mother while there's still time. He asks that if something ever happens to him, could she please do something similar with Elliot – he'll need guidance. It's an important reminder to us that despite her later betrayals, Angela and Elliot have a strong history.

Angela and her mum have an interesting chat about life and death. Mrs Moss firmly believes that there's another world out there after this. Is this merely a mother reassuring her child, motivated by faith, or denial? Is it a hint of something deeper going on with her secret research? Is this just one big red herring?

Snap back to reality. Angela is where we last left her, back in the E Corp building with Elliot asking her to own up to her deceit. He saw her up on level 23 at the code-signing machine doing the job fsociety had designated for him. Elliot is disgusted, both by her breach of trust, and her nonchalance when he reminds her of the stakes. A building is going to blow up and people could die. Whiterose is a terrorist out to ruin the world, not save it.

Angela is delusional, and her response is chilling: “No, everybody is going to be fine, including my mum and your dad.” Allll-righty then.

Elsewhere, Darlene is getting grilled by the Feds about what she did on her wireless errand to see Elliot. Speak of the devil, he calls and delivers the address of Tyrell's lair, knowing full well it's going straight to the FBI's ears. Dom and her partner rush off to raid their local Red Wheel Barrow, but not before Darlene is brow-beaten by her handler for going off the reservation.

Special Agent Santiago listens to Dom's new intel but plays it sceptical and whips out a big roll of red tape to slow things down. Later, he hops onto a burner phone and fires out a warning to Irving: "Location burnt – need to take care of Wellick". There's that ominous term again. Is somebody about to get a new blowhole installed and some concrete shoes?
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Meanwhile, at the Mar-A-Lago, puppet masters Whiterose and Price are sharing a drink and going over their accomplishments. Gentlemanly barbs are exchanged. Price mentions that he's unfazed about his poor little wounded E Corp and says he expects China will sign his economic accord. Whiterose responds that “all will be done, end of day.” With that matter settled, they break from their brinksmanship and enjoy the moment with a bit of bitching about the surrounding décor. The buffoon that owns this joint has offered to take Whiterose boating and loves to “hang brain”. Now that's some Trump trivia I could have done without, Mr Robot.

Desperate, Elliot arrives at the E Corp record building to see that his previous bomb threat was taken seriously, but has now been debunked as a hoax. Basically, the FDNY had no idea what to look for; they went in looking for something ticking, not a complex hack that'll turn batteries into hydrogen bombs. The only person who can stop this is Elliot, and with balls of steel, he sticky-fingers a security card and slips into the building.

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Sneaking his way into a break room, Elliot whips out his laptop and, in layman's terms, he tries to put the poop back in the donkey. In more technical terms, Elliot can still counter Angela's cloned HSM by rolling it back to the clean version to overwrite Tyrell and Mr Robot's malware. It's a solid plan, right up until the point when he cannot physically push the enter key and the world falls out from under him.

Now we're in a taxi. Mr Robot has stolen 15 minutes. Once again, Elliot shows incredible courage and/or stupidity by running right back into the building. But this time his laptop is missing. Which begs the question: Is Mr Robot in total control here, or can Elliot seize the reins when he wants, too? Elliot's firmware replacement resumes, but, once again, control is ripped away from him, though he only loses five minutes this time. Thus begins a game of consciousness tug-of-war in a building set to explode. To his credit, Elliot never considers running.

Speaking of gutsy moves, Dom decides she could really go for some lunch. And do you know what would really hit the spot right now? Some Red Wheel Barrow. She and her partner zip downtown to Tyrell's little love nest and pretend to look at the menu. Downstairs, Irving has cleaned house of all tech, but there's one loose-end to be handled.

Surprisingly, Tyrell receives an apology and an envelope, instead of a makeover that turns his head into a canoe. The troubled hacker reads this communique alone and calmly burns it, starting a fire. Dom sees the smoke and goes down to investigate, but Tyrell has used some secret tunnels to make an escape.

After a self-punch up that makes Fight Club's Pitt vs Norton brawl look like a cuddle-off, Elliot finally reasons Mr Robot into helping him. He's been played. There are no paper records here. Tyrell and the Dark Army have corrupted his revolution. The former has even managed to get himself caught while blathering to Dom about stopping an attack.

Which attack, you ask? The America-wide one. Elliot wasn't thinking macro enough. E Corp's New York buildings are safe, thanks to him, but 71 other facilities across the country have become infernos, right on cue.

VERDICT

Not as slickly filmed as last week's episode, but packing the sort of intensity usually reserved for a mid, or even full, season finale. Tyrell Wellick is out from under his rock and Elliot's warring halves may be about to unify into one purpose. Mr. Robot continues to deliver.


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