Mr Robot Season 3 Episode 4 “Metadata” review
Meta, the devil you know
One of the most fascinating things about this thrilling series is the split-personality conflict going on between Elliot and his alter-ego, Mr. Robot. What exactly are the rules of this system? Does one operate during specific hours, and can the other 'come forward' at will? Does the elder have ready access to the younger hacker's memories and thoughts, like an unlocked hard drive? Or does Elliot have his own private partition – a place where he's free to formulate plans that will thwart his malevolent Tyler Durden?
In this episode, Elliot posits to Darlene that Mr, Robot is a purely nocturnal creature. She, by the way, has snuck back into his circle of trust by expertly hiding her trail; no amount of dumpster diving or metadata snooping by Elliot gives her up as the FBI's mole. (She totally still is, though, and is feeding everything back to the feds via Dom.) For the time being, this rat's running in safe mode by leveraging their sibling bond and their shared distrust of their father (or, at least, Elliot's mental projection of him). Convinced of her loyalty, Elliot reveals that the stage 2 of the 5/9 hack – Operation: Murder The Evil Paper Files – is still in effect.
To get one step ahead of his alt-self, our Dr. Jekyll hero asks his beloved sister to take up residence in the apartment left empty by Shayla (RIP). The plan is to have her tail his Mr. Robot Hyde in order to better understand how he works (and Darlene is into the idea because it allows her to secure useable intel that will keep her out of jail). Sure enough, later on, Darlene watches Mr. Robot meet up with Angela, and now Elliot' sister knows how the latter is playing her brother.
Speaking of Darlene, there's an interesting scene in this week's ep where she attempts to bond with her FBI handler, Dom. Maybe she does this due to a bit of good ol' fashioned Stockholm Syndrome, or perhaps it's just because Darlene recognises her own symptoms of loneliness in another woman. More likely, and this may be the worldly cynic in me talking, with Elliot she's had decades to learn how to manipulate loners who are laser-focused to a task. If this is the case, could the handled become the handler here? Manipulated, Dom would be a worthy ally in whatever scheme Darlene is hatching. She could use the help – said plan seems to come with a low percentage chance of survival.
Meanwhile, at the Dark Army hideout, all hell breaks loose when Mr Robot and Angela arrive. Tyrell is still wrapping his head around the whole “Elliot is two people” concept. He loses all faith in his object of worship when it comes to light that Elliot has been working to thwart stage 2 of the hack. Tyrell attacks Mr. Robot (for Elliot's actions) and here's where it gets interesting: Elliot's personality flickeringly reawakens during the assault. He can come forward in times of high stress – something that fundamentally changes our understanding of his condition.
Before the situation can escalate further, he's promptly knocked out by Angela (who's packing a tranq), and then she forcibly keeps him in her apartment. For good measure, she also requests Phillip Price to fire him from E Corp, because of the danger he represents to the hack.
Speaking of the much advertised stage 2, Tyrell, Angela and Irving finally agree upon a date, Monday, September 29th (read: 10 days from when this episode is set). Irving, being the expert puppet master that he is, manages to calm down Tyrell, who is in freefall now that he knows his “fellow God” of a hacker is any extremely flawed being, a two-faced Janus of a deity.
Playing to this batshit crazy Swede's delusions of grandeur, Irving plants a new seed in his mind: You are the one true God now, and this [crazy plan we have to destroy the world as we know it] is the moment you were born for. Tyrell swallows it, hack, line and server. His one stipulation: he wants himself and “his family” shipped to safety in Ukraine after he does the deed and the defecation hits the oscillation (I wouldn't think so, but apparently it's safe in Ukraine now).
And that's the kicker, really, isn't it folks? An in the dark Tyrell is being lied to about his recently murdered wife, and the fact that his infant son is now a ward of the state. This talented and pivotal-to-the-plan whackjob is still very much the wildcard of this series, a ticking time bomb that could go off at any moment and in any direction. I'm on the edge of my seat, waiting to see what happens when current events catch up with him. Hot damn this is good television.
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