Episode 4 is a whirlwind of real world drama and drug-fueled fever dreams.
Epds1.3_DA3M0NS.MP4 once again utilizes a technical computer term in such a way that it can be applied to life in general. In multitasking computer operating systems, daemons are programs that run in the background, generally without user input. As applied to life via MR.ROBOT and Elliot’s inner monologues, the term comes closer to “demons”, as a driving force in the background of our pysche, spurring us forward and directing our actions with an invisible hand, often through fear.
The episode opens with Elliot detailing his plans to F*Society to neutralize Steel Mountain’s archival tape backups of Evil Corp assets. Elliot’s new plan is to gain access to Steel Mountains HVAC system, and heat the campus to a point where the chemicals in the tape backups merge into an unreadable format. This plan is met with a certain amount of skepticism from the group, although it doesn’t necessarily seem to be any harder than the previous plan of blowing up the campus. During dialogue, the crew discover Elliot’s previous run-ins with Tyrell Wellick, adding tension and suspicion to an already volatile relationship. This discovery also offers them a glimpse at Evil Corps’ contingency plan for securing their data, and forces F* Society to move their timetables up by a large margin.
Elliot muses over the choices he has made that have delivered him to his current predicament. His actions against Vera have consequences, physically and mentally, and those consequences begin to have an adverse affect on him. Withdrawals take their toll, and Elliot is forced into finding a way to get through the pain while on unfamiliar territory. The sequence that focuses on him this round are somewhat hard to follow; the images and events disjointed and shocking, and it is difficult to determine what is real, and what is paranoid pharmaceutical fantasy. The end result is a sickening feeling that is passed on to the viewer. MR.ROBOT continues to exist on the fringes of the group, with most characters not addressing him directly. There are interactions that come dangerously close, but I feel as though some of these exchanges can be explained away using the Fight Club Durden scenario. Only time and new episodes will tell if this is accurate.
This episode also showcases some of the odd relationships present within the series. Angela seeks Elliot’s help with her “bug” (as explained in our review of episode 3), but when she is unable to locate him (as he is aboard taking action against Steel Mountain), she spends a day soul-searching with Shayla instead. This creates a great contrast, as Angela, the integrated corporate asset, lives the life of Shayla, hard luck pill pusher, for a day. This helps her gain some perspective, and galvanizes her, allowing her to engage in the course of action she began to address Ollie and her bug. Shayla, meanwhile, appears to be saying farewell to her old life, and begins dreaming of a future in a legitimate line of work.
Trenton and Darlene, the two female members of F* Society get a similar treatment. Left behind to work on assets required to pull off the Steel Mountain job, the two end up on their own adventure once their solution is uploaded to the F* Society FTP. They head out to try to track down Darlene’s contact with Dark Army, as they will need them to time their strike against Evil Corps’ Chinese datacenter, and have some problems in doing so. We finally find her contact, who appears to be the hacker leveraging Angela’s bug. What a tangled web. In this case, the two opposing roles are more spiritual: Darlene represents the angry, chaotic youth who believes in herself and not much else, while Trenton showcases the reserved and contemplative nature of those strong in spiritual faith. The two are closer after their escapade. One interesting note – Both sets of new besties seem to seal the deal on their expanded relationships with an exchange of pharmaceuticals. Whether this has a deeper meaning or not remains to be seen, although it may simply be a statement regarding the prevalence of cultured and constructed chemicals in our day to day lives.
Epds1.3_DA3M0NS.MP4 is a tough sell. There is lots of character development and some intrigue, but it is increasingly difficult to sort the real from the abstract, particularly during Elliot’s encounters. We see almost every character formulate a plan of action and begin to address their demons. If you’ve been watching the series, there is some interesting developments of characters and intrigues. If not…well, don’t start here. All the episodes are available to stream online from USA Network’s site.
Will F*Society be successful in their bid against Evil Corp? Will Elliot survive his break from his addictions? Is MR.ROBOT real? Only future episodes will tell.
Catch MR.ROBOT on USA Network every Wednesday at 10/9 Central