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“It’s almost as if something’s come alive.”
Tyrell Wellick (Martin Wallström) speaks these words, dripping with wonder, awestruck as he watches the fsociety hack against E Corp take shape. In that very moment, Elliot Alderson (Rami Malek) sticks his hand into a nearby popcorn machine, where a gun was stashed in season one. Is he grabbing a handful of snacks to munch on as the world burns? Is he going for the firearm, to take care of the cold-blooded loose end sitting in front of the nearby computer monitor? Either way, something’s about to pop.
Indeed, something certainly came alive, and something certainly popped, when USA Network and the creators of Mr. Robot stealthily dropped the first hour of the two-part season two premiere online late on Sunday evening, days before the show’s official premiere on Wednesday. Only the most dedicated fans were able to watch the hour early, as USA scrubbed the episode entirely after a short period of time — slightly longer than the lifespan of a small handful of popcorn.
The aforementioned opening act of the episode was just one of many mind-blowing, heart-pounding scenes, giving viewers their first look at a flesh-and-blood Tyrell since his disappearance at the end of season one’s penultimate installment, among several other highlights. Here’s some of what we learned in the hour.
1. The Perfect Little Loop
What’s Elliott been up to since “The 5/9 Hack,” as it’s come to be known? The episode dives into that answer moments after two flashback scenes, showing Elliot and Tyrell’s exchange at fsociety, and another showing the infamous moment Elliot fell out a window during his childhood. These days, Elliot’s living a life further off the grid than ever before. Every single day involves a strict routine of household chores, watching local basketball games and regular meals with his new friend Leon (Joey Badass). He even lives with his cruel mother, one of the nightmare figures in his life. (“Better the devil you know than the devil you don’t,” he justifies.) Most importantly, Elliot has completely disconnected himself from the internet, trading in his computer and keyboard for a pencil and a marble notebook, all in an effort to suppress his inner demon: Mr. Robot (Christian Slater).
2. Control is an Illusion
Try as he might, Elliot can’t keep his dark passenger completely at bay. Mr. Robot lives in the loop with Elliot, taunting and railing at his flesh-and-blood vessel to get back to a terminal and reclaim their shared role at the head of fsociety. Elliot’s delusions have grown so violent that Mr. Robot appears to shoot Elliot in the head with a handgun — and it’s not the first time this has happened. Later, when Gideon Goddard (Michel Gill) shows up at Elliot’s seeking help in clearing his name from the fsociety hack, Mr. Robot muses about killing the man with a knife: “If I sliced open his neck right now, would it be me doing it, or you doing it?” Elliot storms out of the room before any further damage can be done, but nevertheless, it’s clear that the tension between these two warring personalities has never been higher, and never bloodier.
3. Time to Stand Up
Elliot and Mr. Robot are not the only ones at war with one another, of course, as fsociety continues the crusade against E Corp. Darlene (Carly Chaikin) stands at the head of the movement, publicly barking commands at the foot soldiers and privately nursing emotional wounds when nobody’s looking. (“Why does it feel like they’re still winning?” Darlene confesses later in the episode.) Meanwhile, those involved with the movement are living it up, partying hard and celebrating the hack, wielding the severed nether-regions of the Financial District’s Charging Bull as a trophy. Darlene disrupts the party vibes and hands out new marching orders, putting their next plan against E Corp into action.
4. The Cost of Evil
For their next act, fsociety hijacks E Corp’s banks, threatening to release untold amounts of money if their demands are not met. Those demands? Just a small thing, really: $5.9 million in cash, to be paid in person at Battery Park City by an E Corp chief executive. CEO Phillip Price (Michael Cristofer), CTO Scott Knowles (Brian Stokes Mitchell) and corporate counsel Susan “Madame Executioner” Jacobs (Sandrine Holt) debate back and forth whether it’s worth paying the blackmail, with Knowles ultimately volunteering for the job: “I’ll do it. I’m the CTO. If we’re going to pay these bastards, I want to be the one who faces them.”
5. The Great Unknowns
The episode ends after Knowles’ decision, leaving several question marks still hanging in the air. The opening hour of the premiere completely ignores major questions like who knocked on Elliot’s door at the end of season one, what is White Rose’s (B.D. Wong) true plan when it comes to the Dark Army and its relationship with “Evil Corp,” and more. The biggest wildcard: Tyrell, who goes completely unseen outside of the opening scene, if not completely unmentioned. (The words “Tyrell Wellick” are uttered by no higher an authority than President Barack Obama, linking Tyrell with fsociety and The 5/9 Hack.) Mr. Robot refuses to tell Elliot what happened to Tyrell, but how long can that information remain locked away? The answer to that question and so many more will have to wait for the second half of the season premiere, if not later.
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