After three episodes that left us unsure of the show’s direction, Daniel Montgomery and I reconvened to recap the latest episode of USA Network’s “Mr. Robot,” entitled “eps2.2_init1.asec.” Did this week’s installment, written and directed by series creator Sam Esmail, ease some of our concerns?
In this week’s episode the conflict between Elliot (Rami Malek) and his alter ego Mr. Robot (Christian Slater) reached a boiling point, culminating in a chess match for control of Elliot’s mind that gets them no closer to a resolution. By the episode’s conclusion Elliot, both as an assertion of control and to protect his sister, is drawn back into hacking by the mysterious Ray (Craig Robinson), whose benevolence may hide more sinister intentions. And what do we make of Angela (Portia Doubleday) conspiring at E-Corp, or the mysterious relationship between the corporation’s CEO Philip Price (Michael Cristofer) and the mysterious Whiterose (B.D. Wong)?
I highlight the use of music in the episode, particularly an excellent fantasy sequence that features a fantastic, lullaby-style version of the Green Day hit “Basket Case.” I also offer praise for Robinson, who added a new layer of malevolence to his mysterious character this week. “Robinson has been such a welcome addition,” I argue, “and you still can’t quite figure him out.”
Montgomery singles out Wong for praise as Whiterose. “He doesn’t have to do much in the character to be fascinating and the characterization by Wong is so mysterious, sinister, and compelling. You just kind of get lost in this character in such a great way.”
Some concerns still remain, particularly the show’s running time, as this was the third week in a row that an episode ran to 90 minutes or longer. Montgomery hopes the lengthy installments maintain their tension and don’t become “languid and overstuffed.” The constant use of super-sized episodes risk being seen as indulgent, but Esmail, who directs every episode this season, has proven he knows how to build and maintain tension.
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