Elliot had a lot of tough choices to deal with this week -- and was even forced to revisit a particularly upsetting episode from his own devastating past.
There were two major themes prominently weaved throughout Mr. Robot Season 1 Episode 2: serendipity and choices.
Serendipity came into play almost immediately -- Tyrell tried to explain to Elliot that he felt it was serendipitous that the hackers attacked when they did. It allowed him to be promoted to interim chief technical officer. And he was really happy about that development (to put it very lightly).
Later in the episode, the phenomenally awful Fernando Vera the drug dealer echoed a very similar idea. He tried to explain to Elliot that his having met Shayla was all thanks to Elliot, who had needed the withdrawal pills that only Vera, Shayla's (and by extension Elliot's) drug supplier, could provide.
It's parallel moments like this that make me really appreciate how well-crafted this show is. Both men who had this idea couldn't possibly be more different, and yet they arrive at the same theory -- both feel that, thanks to Elliot and some lucky happenstance, their lives were changed for the better.
(Granted, it's unclear whether Tyrell actually knows for sure Elliot is one of the fsociety hackers.)
How do we know if we're in control? That we're not just making the best of what comes at us and that's it? And trying to constantly pick between two shitty options. Like your two paintings in the waiting room. Or Coke and Pepsi. McDonald's or Burger King? Hyundai or Honda?Elliot
The other theme was morally ambiguous choices. One choice involved Vera directly -- the choice whether Elliot should turn the criminal Vera in, or turn another cheek in order to keep his steady supply of drugs.
I loved this subplot. Obviously, it was a horrible thing, and Vera is a terrible, morally corrupt character. But it provided deeper humanization for Shayla (a very one-note character in the last episode), demanded that the audience empathize with her, and allowed a glimpse into Elliot's morality and how he relates to others.
In "hellofriend.mov," Elliot was not particularly kind to Shayla, which made his reaction to her rape at the hands of Vera all the more moving.
His decision to turn Vera into the police (a decision he viewed as tantamount to his complete emotional destruction) came across as selfless and very profound, given our glimpse into his reasoning about what would happen if he no longer "allowed Vera to exist."
You remind me of me when I was younger. Depressed and sullen. Matter of fact, tried to kill myself a couple of times. Never could get that shit right. Biology wasn't my strong suit. I hated myself, man. Still do. Thought that shit was a weakness, for a long time, and then I realized that shit was my power. People walk around acting like they know what hate means. Nah. No one does until you hate yourself... I mean, truly hate yourself. That's power.Fernando
Another choice was presented in the first few minutes of this episode - Tyrell wants Elliot to choose to work for Evil Corp (like really, really passionately wants Elliot to work there).
Later on, Elliot is asked to decide whether he wants in or out on Mr. Robot's disturbing and downright sinister plot to blow up a natural gas plant in order to destroy off-the-grid backup files of all the major corporations -- killing innocent civilians in the process.
I was surprised at how quickly things became very shady with Mr. Robot and the fsociety crew. Between Mr. Robot's newest idea to take out the corporations and Darlene's borderline-crazy attitude, it's clear that we aren't dealing with a clear case of good guys vs. bad guys.
This is a show that specializes in the morally grey middle ground.
That video created by fsociety was deeply disturbing. The idea they had to throw in the bit about releasing "their leader" Colby was a stroke of genuis -- these people clearly know how to play the system in more ways than one, which is what makes them so dangerous.
I would be lying, though, if I didn't mention how hilarious I found Christian Slater dressed as the monopoly guy. This was probably not the intended reaction, but there you have it.
Give a man a gun and he can rob a bank. Give a man a bank and he can rob the world.Tyrell
Tyrell Welleck is clearly not a good guy, either. He inspires intense amounts of paranoia in Elliot, who actually goes and takes apart / partially destroys his computer at the mere thought that Tyrell knew that Elliot would hack him and allowed him to hack.
I do love the way this actor is portraying Tyrell -- I have no idea what his deal is, and it's one of many factors driving my desire to keep watching.
As an aside, I wanted to take a minute to appreciate the episode's opening credit sequence, following Tyrell and Elliot's conversation. It was so well shot and scored, and in particular it strongly reminded me of the opening credits of FX's Fargo. It was just fantastic, and the quality of this show seems so far beyond most other shows currently on this network.
Ollie is such a minor, unimportant character but he bothers me immensely (on purpose, I'm sure; the writers are doing a phenomenal job of making me hate him).
Angela was much less grating this episode (especially when juxtaposed against wacky Darlene), so it was that much more painful to watch her fret over Elliot while Ollie snuck off to cheat with Stella B. Ollie is a selfish jerk but his one-off line about tweeting to his 48-strong (and growing!) Twitter following was hilarious.
Speaking of Angela: I have no idea what is going on with this rapper/CD-peddler/camera hacker subplot, but I'm definitely intrigued and want to see more.
Was anyone else taken completely off-guard when Mr. Robot shoved Elliot off the boardwalk rail? That was a great scene, and Elliot's explanation of his story about keeping and then breaking his dad's cancer secret to his mom was extremely well-acted.
Elliot: We were close, very close. He was my best friend. Worked at Evil Corp his whole life. He was one of the best computer engineers they had and out of the blue he got fired -- no one knew why. One day he told me: he had Leukemia. Made me swear to never tell anyone. Especially my mom. So I didn't. A few months go by, he got sicker and sicker. Finally I got so worried I told my mom. When he found out, he got pissed, started yelling. I remember I tried to hug him, tell him I'm sorry. He kept shoving me away and shoving me so hard. I fell backwards out the window. I fell and I broke my arm. He never spoke to me after that. Couldn't even look at me. Even the night he died.
The show-runners are doing a spectacular job of establishing all facets of Elliot's character without being ham-fisted about it, and Rami Malek is doing an equally spectacular job of bringing all of these complex characteristics to life. We're only two episodes in and Elliot is already incredibly fleshed out.
I hope that they end up exploring Elliot's alternate not-murder-y idea for destroying the backups and don't set their sights on blowing up the natural gas facility and taking out tons of people. I definitely have no desire to see fsociety go full-anarchist on anyone!
In an otherwise strong episode, I was a bit disappointed by the Krista/Elliot scenes. Elliot saving Krista from Michael Hansen in last week's premiere was one of the best parts of that episode. This week, it seems like all Krista did was lecture him about his father and demand that he open up to her. Talk about unsubtle psychological techniques!
What did you all think of Mr. Robot's follow-up to the premiere episode? Now that we have seen more of the supporting characters, what are your thoughts on each of them?
Let's discuss in the comments below and be sure to watch Mr. Robot online to catch all of the latest episodes!
Caralynn Lippo is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.