We officially have it, the moment that most of season one of Mr. Robot has led to: the twist. We may have had some awesome moments up to this point — the heists, the hacks, the reveal — but they all pale in comparison to last night’s landscape shaking twist. Most of the episode revolves around the first meeting between the head of the “dark army”, the only collective more secretive that F Society, and Elliot (Rami Malek). Mr. Robot and team hope to convince the army to help them finally take down Evil Corp.
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This season of True Detective maddens the viewer with its baroque inconsistency. Writer and creator Nic Pizzolatto has thus far created a slew of compelling characters, clichés, conveniences, complications, and schmaltz, with the final episode, directed by John Crowley, including more of the same.
At its best, mixing these contradictory elements created compelling television. In one scene, a major character is stabbed and left to die in the dessert. Pizzalotto puts a nice spin on the classic “my life passed before my eyes” cliché by having the character walk by a series of hallucinations. Ghosts of the character’s past pop up, ending with a final mirage of the victim’s partner. There is a nice little detail whereupon seeing the second character, the first goes from walking with a limp to his signature confident stride—tipping the viewer off that it’s not just a vision, but that even the walking was a dream. The character turns to look at the corpse and then the camera cuts to a wide shot of the body falling and then disappearing.
Last week’s Mr. Robot episode, “br4ve-trave1er.asf” ended with the most “Game of Thronesian” moment of the show’s first season. It was the kind of episode that, if the show was more popular, would have lit up the Twittersphere with analysis and insight within moments of its conclusion. However you break down last week’s many twists and turns one thing is for sure; Shayla is dead and it was largely, if not completely, Elliot’s fault.
“Man is always prey to his truths. Once he has admitted them, he cannot free himself from them.”
In a scene near the end of Michael Curtiz’, 1942 classic movie Casablanca, the main protagonist Rick Blaine (Humphrey Bogart) meets with Captain Louis Renault (Claude Rains), in a scene that ultimately sets up the end of the movie. Dissected from the rest of the film, this scene seems rather improbable: Rick proposes a scheme that requires the buy in of other players. This is, of course, totally and completely irrelevant to the plot, and yet leads into one of the best and most quotable final scenes in film history.
Indeed, the plot of Casablanca was just a necessary element to allow the characters to react to each other. Episode seven of season two of True Detective, “Black Maps and Motel Rooms”, serves the same function. Writer Nic Pizzolatto needs to merge as many of his loose strings together as possible to lead into the season finalé.
“I, Elliot Alderson, am flight. I am fear, I am anxiety, terror, panic.”
Thus begins episode six of Mr. Robot, “Br4ve-Trave1er.asf”. Last week we saw Elliot in what turned out to be his most triumphant moment in the series so far. Having successfully infiltrated the “impenetrable” Steel Mountain, Elliot, still on a visible high from his caper, calls his girlfriend Shayla to, well, just talk. It is one of the first times in the series that we see Elliot both completely sober, and seemingly content. Even Shayla remarks that he sounds different and new to her.