Picking up from the traumatic end of episode 6 “BR4VE_TRAVELER.ASF,” we are treated to the backstory of Elliot and Shayla in the opening scenes. This is not immediately apparent, playing off the series’ numerous unknowns to help create a feeling of stress. When we do realize this is a memory, the blow is shocking, as we see the humble and happy beginnings that lead to the climax of episode 6. Call it fate, serendipity, or tragic circumstance; all are likely true, and in the end, little of it matters. This is a memory, and only a memory; we’ll never see what could have been, only what has been. The scene continues to humanize Elliot, a tactic that at times is desperately needed, as his nigh paralyzing awkwardness leaves him feeling quite mechanical without these touching moments to help balance the scales.
Shayla is filed away, her existence labeled under The Cures “Disintegration,” an appropriate epitaph if one looks deep enough. She is entombed in the binder with Elliot’s other hack targets, little more than a memory, with a CD-R headstone. That she shares space with her presumed killer and other ilk that Elliot has come across sends a message about his perception: in the end, we all end up in the same place.
It has been a month since last we left our dour introvert “hero.” He muses about time dilation, about Shayla (or her concept) becoming anecdotal. Reduced to a topic of conversation about a girl he used to know, little more than a footnote now in his life, less than that in the grand scheme of the universe, where she is, was, and always will be simply a blip. It goes a long way to make the viewer feel what Elliot does: feelings of ineffectiveness, loneliness, and lack of a reason to be.
Back in meatspace, Elliot has attended his required number of therapy sessions, and has the ability to discontinue his relationship with therapist Krista. Elliot seems to have made his decision there, and leaves her with parting words that speak volumes about his perception. “You should clean your sockets,” he notes as he leaves, focusing on a lint-like fiber hovering perilously close to a live outlet. He is constantly focused on the dangerous details of our existence, and his statements reinforce that.
Angelas agenda of bringing responsibility to Evil Corp for its hand in the Washington Township scandal progresses. She and her lawyer face down Colby’s assorted legal team, making demands dressed as offers, in an attempt to get some answers. Colby’s team (and eventually the man himself) do their best to throw up obstacles to dissuade the young Ms. Moss from her course. While she almost falters (particularly after a lewd and revealing one-on-one with Colby), she gathers herself and presses forward. Her plan is not without it’s dangers, however, as a deal she strikes with Colby threatens the entirety of AllSafe, resulting in a heated dialogue with Giddeon.
A kind word from Giddeon to Elliot results in another fevered, techno-philosophical monologue from Elliot, this time recalling how he would steal website designs by viewing the source. This has the effect of overlaying signs on the rest of his coworkers at Allsafe, with each depicting that person’s deep dark secret, whether it be thievery, bulimia, or hating ones family. “Everyone has a secret,” he states.
Mr Robot and Darlene, meanwhile, have set about rounding up the troops again, after their daring yet ultimately futile attack against Steel Mountain. Mr Robot confronts Romero, who has taken to playing with interesting chemistry to pay the bills, and is not eager to go back. Mr Robot responds with crazed threats, which I have come to expect. My brother was fond of a quote from Steven King’s The Gunslinger that seems apt for the evolution of Mr Robot’s character: “First comes smiles, then lies. Last is gunfire.” I find it interesting that the quote is so fitting for Mr Robot, as it is often used to describe corporatism and government as well, both of which Mr Robot claims to be vehemently opposed to. I suspect he would not take the comparison lightly.
Darlene’s interactions this round are significantly less confrontational. She meets with Cisco, her former boyfriend and contact with the Dark Army. In the intervening month, Darlene has taken to using his handle to attempt to set a meeting with White Rose. While dangerous (and spelling the end of their relationship), Cisco tells her she was ultimately successful, for better or worse. Darlene also makes contact with Trenton on a scenic academic campus to loop her back in with Fsociety. During the discussion, Trenton picks apart why each member is involved in the plan, touching on their reasoning and motives. Her involvement in particular is complex, as she recalls her parents flight from the inequality in Iran, only to be sold (and force fed) the same system dressed up as free market capitalism here in the states. While her parents are happy, she laments that they will both die drowning in debt, a situation all too real for many in this day and age.
Ollie is fortunately not given much air time this round (fortunate because, honestly, I hate him, which should be taken as a ringing endorsement of Ben Rappaport‘s acting talent). Still reeling from his break-up with Angela, he is approached by Cisco for reasons unknown. While Ollie initially tries to threaten him with police action, Cisco bats that away with the reality of Ollie’s own poor decision-making (albeit not before Ollie throws Angela under the proverbial bus).
Who are we missing? Ah, yes, Tyrell Wellick, our other resident psychopath. Wellick’s role in this episode is.. difficult to quantify, to say the least. In his first appearance, he seems distracted. When he finally snaps out of his 1000 yard stare, it is for the sole purpose of exerting powerful, terrifying control on his fellow man (who, in this case, certainly deserve it, given their statements, behaviors, and attitudes, some of which describe Wellick’s actions from previous episodes). Wellick’s other appearance is during a welcome aboard party for new CTO Scott Knowles. Spurred on by his wife Joanna, Tyrell takes another swing at Mrs. Knowles, with consequences that are both surprising and shocking.
We wrap this package of memories with one last scene from Elliot, who has returned to therapist Krista for reasons unknown. After checking that doctor-patient privilege is still intact, he discloses his hacking activities to her, flexing his nigh omniscience as he retraces her day up to that point, and shares private details about her life. In the end, both Krista and Elliot want the same thing: a way out of loneliness.
Catch MR ROBOT on USA Network Wednesdays at 10/9c, or stream full episodes at their site.