Season 1 - Episode 7 "v1ew_s0urce.flv"
Regular airtime: Wednesdays, 10pm
US: 5 Aug 2015
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.
Just like Game of Thrones , Mr. Robot must now address the fallout of such a shocking final reveal. The last two episodes have been thrillers, each with its own self-contained story arc and each with a ticking-clock time constraint — the gang needed to infiltrate Steel Mountain today, Vera needed to be broken out of jail tonight.
Episode seven, “v1ew_s0urce.flv”, doesn’t follow this same kind of convention, and it shouldn’t. Intense dramas can sometimes make the mistake of hitting you with surprises too often. A twist isn’t as much of a twist if there is a new one to end each episode. “v1ew_s0urce.flv” is instead a transition episode. There have been some important developments in the last couple of weeks, but there have also been some issues put on the backburner while we saw Elliot become part secret agent, breaking into two seemingly impenetrable facilities. What “v1ew_s0urce.flv” does well is refocus these side stories, like Wellick and Angela, while still showing the repercussions and effects of Shayla’s death on Elliot.
Angela is beginning to set in motion her plan to get back at those responsible for essentially killing her mother and Elliot’s father. We saw a little bit of this last week as she reached out to a lawyer who she felt would help her in this difficult task, but overall we really didn’t know what she had in mind. “v1ew_s0urce.flv” sees this begin to take shape, and does so while telling perhaps the most interesting Angela storyline to date.
Part of the reason her side of the story works is because of the bad guy she is facing up against. While Fernando Vera is characterized by his unpredictable and erratic behavior; Terry Colby is almost the exact opposite. When Angela approaches him with a deal she believes will help him just as much as it helps her, Colby responds with incredible composure. A man surely seasoned by many a backroom deal, handles this wide-eyed do-gooder with ease, eloquently and cruelly telling Angela to “suck his balls”.
Part of the hideous beauty of Colby’s character comes from the way Bruce Altman, the kind of actor who you’ve definitely seen but probably don’t know what from, plays his part to perfection. Later on, as Angela finally explains her reasoning for going after Evil Corp, Colby retreats from his tough exterior and admits that the decision he and the rest of the team made does stick with him, despite his ostensibly careless outer demeanor. He appears to know that much of what he has done in the business is a bit evil, but also enlightens Angela on what evil really is in today’s world.
“Did we all have cigars and laugh hysterically as we signed the evil document,” he asks Angela after she insists he tell her about the specific meeting in which Evil Corp decided to ignore safety issues. “The world doesn’t work like that.”
Wellick, unlike Colby who, for a long time, has been at the top of the corporate ladder, is somewhere smack in the middle. This means that he must both be in control and be controlled, something that he doesn’t seem all too comfortable with. Coming off last week’s significant ego bruising, Wellick lets this frustration explode in a meeting with three of his underlings. Tyrell remains silent during much of the scene, which features three white business men behaving like misogynistic assholes. When Wellick explodes and fires all three it would be hard to argue that he is doing so because of their discussion — it doesn’t even appear as if he is listening. Instead, it seems more a desperate attempt at reclaiming some semblance of control.
Similarly, we see him going after the new CTO, Scott Knowles, by again attempting to charm his wife. Whatever Tyrell’s initial plan was when luring Sharon Knowles to the roof is unclear, but once she again shows she has the upper hand by assuring Wellick that her husband plans on firing him, all bets are off. In a fit of lust and rage, Wellick initiates what seems like a passionate love scene but what turns out to be a violent and incidental murder.
Wallstrom shows off some of his best acting of the season as we see him silently react with agony and panic to what he knows is a horrible and reasonless crime. For someone who has consistently seemed three steps ahead of anyone who dare challenge him, he is suddenly completely out of his element. Something about Sharon Knowles got under his skin, and how he is able to clean up after his mess will largely shape the rest of Wellick’s season one arc.
While all this is going on we see the first signs of the F Society coming back into the picture. The gang has been largely scattered since the dark army deserted them in their time of need, leaving them with no way to successfully fulfill their Steel Mountain plan. “v1ew_s0urce.flv” sees Mr. Robot doing the rounds and reassembling the team, some more willing than others. One thing is clear through his tour, Mr. Robot and F Society as a whole is not something that you can simply walk away from.
Both Tyrell and Angela make decisions in “v1ew_s0urce.flv” that will greatly affect them for the remainder of the season. Tyrell will likely be running from his emotional act while Angela has aligned herself, for better or worse, with Terry Colby. Elliot makes a similar decision, and like Wellick this seems to be one made out of emotion rather than reason. Elliot is submerged in guilt over Shayla’s death and does little else in “v1ew_s0urce.flv” but reflect on this guilt. In my recap of episode three, “da3mons.mp4”, I discussed that among Elliot’s many issues, loneliness seems to be his most pervasive, and when he finally breaks down over Shayla’s death to his therapist, he can’t help but admit this.
“I want a way out of loneliness, just like you,” he says through tears to Dr. Gordon minutes after explaining to her that he has hacked her life along with countless others’ along the way. It is his first moment of emotional weakness we have seen and it’s intriguing to see how this unprecedented honesty will affect Elliot moving forward. His monster doesn’t go away simply by naming it, but perhaps this is the first step in Elliot becoming a more emotionally healthy human being. The real question for viewers is whether a healthy Elliot will be nearly as fun to watch.