Daniel Montgomery, David Buchanan and I recently discussed our varying reactions to the August 10 episode of USA’s “Mr. Robot,” entitled “eps2.4_m4ster-s1ave.aes” (watch above). This week’s installment, written by Adam Penn and directed by series creator Sam Esmail, took some creative risks, some of which paid off more successfully than others.
The episode opens with an extended fantasy segment, modeled after 1980s family sitcoms, in which Elliot (Rami Malek) is on a family road trip. The sequence, which features cameos from the recently murdered Gideon (Michel Gill), as well as everyone’s favorite ’80s alien, ALF, is eventually revealed to be a fantasy created by Elliot’s Mr. Robot persona (Christian Slater) to protect him from the trauma of the vicious beating he received on the orders of Ray (Craig Robinson) at the end of the previous episode.
We debate the merits and the effectiveness of the opening sequence. I found it to be too lengthy, and I contend that the episode’s emotional payoff was not earned. But Montgomery was “in love with the first 20 minutes,” so much so that he was somewhat “disappointed that the rest of the episode took over from it.” Buchanan agrees, claiming that he loved that the sequence appeared to model itself after a traditional 20-minute-long sitcom episode.
We all agree that with only five weeks of episodes remaining the show need to pick up its momentum. Montgomery remarks that it appears as though style is overtaking story, with many dangling plot threads yet to be resolved. Buchanan agrees that “they’re treading a lot of water in the middle of the season.”
We close the recap looking ahead to the final weeks of the season. Will Tyrell Wellick (Martin Wallstrom) finally make an appearance outside of brief phone calls and fantasy sequences? Will Elliot find a way to escape Ray’s clutches? What will happen now that we know that “Mr. Robot,” the name of Elliot’s father’s business, came from Elliot himself?
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