The third episode of USA Network’s MR ROBOT opens with a focus on Tyrell Wellick, practicing a speech to further his own goals within Evil Corp. Wellick’s image begins to show the fraying threads at the edges of his carefully manicured outer image. His initial power play in the opening moments of episode 1.2_d3bug.mkv do not go to his liking, however, and this pushes him to reveal a facet of his personality that only hints at the disturbed depths his suit and power tie contain. This manifests itself as a violent response to humanity, including both himself and others, and gives us a glimpse of how he feels about the rest of the human race. His particular vice and how we are introduced to it are somewhat jarring, and might instill just a bit of fear and loathing.
The overarching theme in d3bug.mkv is, well, bugs (as you may have guessed based on the title). Although this term applies to application development and quality assurance, here we see it applied to life in general. “Most coders think that debugging software is about fixing a mistake,” Elliot muses, “but that’s bullshit. Debugging is all about finding the bug. About understanding why the bug was there to begin with. About knowing that its existence is no accident.” Elliot continues this inner monologue as we find him confined to a hospital bed.
Elliot’s character continue’s to develop within the episode as we begin to see his support system in action. We learn that Elliot’s paranoia has prepared him for waking up in medical care, having created instincts within himself as well as technical structures within the hospital system that allow him to continue preserving his little bubble of reality. This struck home with me in particular, as the statements about medical IT and its under-funding are well within the wheelhouse of my day job, and ring true to the machinations of the industry.
Elliot continues his disappointing habit of lying to his female friends. We finally see some interaction between Darlene (of Fsociety) and Shayla (Elliot’s drug dealer), shattering the theory that FSociety is a construct of Elliot’s psyche (MR. ROBOT’s existence as anything other than an illusion is still plausible following this episode). Elliot spends the remainder of the episode attempting to throw up walls of faux normality in order to distance himself from the actions of FSociety.
Angela and Ollie find themselves slipping further out of control, with Angela beginning to realize that the road to hell is paved with good intentions. Ollie continues to engage in poor decision making, compromising Angela in the process. Her private life is the victim of his collateral damage. While Angela seemingly recommits to Ollie despite the damage, Ollie becomes increasingly two-faced and self serving. The episode ends with both of them effectively held hostage by a remote cyber criminal and considering their limited options for resolving the situation.
Elliot’s continued experiences with MR.ROBOT are increasingly confrontational. Their dialogues are equal parts philosophical and menacing. I find it interesting that MR.ROBOT continues to make power plays to control Elliot, in much the same way that his adversaries in white collar do. I’m honestly not sure who Elliot gets it worst from: MR.ROBOT or Wellick. This is almost balanced out with his human connections with Shayla and Angela. Almost.
Wellick consequently represents the other end of the spectrum, applying a strange strategy of business prowess, sex appeal, and technical know-how to further his own naked ambitions. If he has boundaries, we haven’t really seen them yet. We are introduced to a woman in his circle, with the mystery piled high (you’ll see when you watch it. Promise). It’s hard to say how things will go from here, although the predatory nature of Wellick seems a good enough indicator of where we are headed.
The theme of finding bugs and then exploiting them remains predominant throughout 1.2_d3bug.mkv. Each character within the episode is either looking for a bug, exploiting that bug, or being blackmailed by their own bugs. It draws some conclusions regarding the exploitative nature of capitalism on a species wide level. While lighter on the action/thriller scale than previous episodes, we do get to see multiple characters becoming fleshed out, and if you like human drama, you’ll find it here in spades.
Catch MR.ROBOT Wednesday nights at 10pm PST on USA network. Catch up online with full streaming episodes.