Well... that was intense!
On Mr. Robot Season 1 Episode 4, we saw the plot continue to move forward while it still managed to deepen our view of Elliot, his world, and his friends/enemies/hacker cohort.
Overall, this highly stylized and experimental hour was another fantastic episode in a string of great ones.
Obviously the highlight was the point midway through when Elliot's increasingly bizarre series of hallucinations during his withdrawal began. I, for one, was thrown completely off-kilter once it became apparent that Elliot was hallucinating.
It's difficult to pinpoint exactly where the hallucination began. Did it start back at the hotel room? Did Mr. Robot ever even take Elliot to the drug den for "just one more hit"? Or did it start as he took the hit at the drug den?
I am still completely unsure whether Mr. Robot is a real, separate person, or an extension of Elliot's mind (or Elliot's alter ego). Notably, he was distinctly addressed as a separate person by the man right outside of the drug den (who told him he couldn't go in with Elliot unless he was also "partaking" in the drugs) -- but who knows whether that was even real?
While I'll be sorely disappointed if it turns out that Mr. Robot is nothing more than a figment of Elliot's drug-addled brain, I have to give the writers credit for keeping us on our toes about it. They have dropped as many hints that he is an hallucination as they have provided uncertain "clarifications" that he is real. And that is definitely keeping me engaged in the show!
There's a saying -- 'The devil is at his strongest while we're looking the other way.' Like a program running in the background silently. While we're busy doing other shit. 'Daemons,' they call them. They perform action without user interaction. Monitoring, logging, notifications, primal urges, repressed memories, unconscious habits. They're always there, always active. You can try to be right, you can try to be good, you can try to make a difference. But it's all bullshit. 'Cause intentions are irrelevant. They don't drive us, daemons do. And me? I've got more than most.Elliot
Many things about Rami Malek's performance are incredibly impressive, but his voiceover work for Elliot's persistent inner monologue was particularly fantastic this week. In the drug den, in particular, the withdrawing Elliot's chaotic and random train of thought was great.
We only saw Tyrell for a minute, and he was an unfortunately silent part of Elliot's hallucination (namely, he was overshadowed by a sassy talking fish).
The hallucinations were, overall, disturbing, intriguing and very important to developing Elliot's character. (If you had any doubt Elliot loved Angela as more than a friend -- well, there you go!)
Speaking of Angela -- I am a total fan now! Portia Doubleday was fantastic as part of Elliot's hallucination. Her monologue to Elliot post "proposal" scene was beautifully written and performed. The actual staging of that scene was one of my favorite things about this hour, too (and one of my favorite bits of the show overall so far).
Those people in there. I just told them what they wanted to hear. You're not gonna do it, are you? Change the world. Figures. You were only born a month ago. You're afraid. Afraid of your monster. Do you even know what it is?Angela
I had to actively resist the urge to start screen-shotting moments from that scene (Angela in the wedding dress in front of the arcade wall was so perfectly framed, I could hardly even handle it).
There were many bizarre lines throughout Elliot's hallucination sequence that seemed to be potentially important, but the one that may have stuck out the most was hallucination-Angela's, "you were only born a month ago." The show began a little under a month ago, so my ears pricked up at that. What does it mean?
Angela struggled with the decision about whether to give in to the hacker's demands and infect Allsafe's network. It was a smart decision for the writers to show Angela at least attempt to contact Elliot for help. His absence and their distance (emotional/physical) definitely put a interesting complication in their relationship.
Plus, Elliot's absence allowed the Angela/Shayla interaction to happen. That was easily the most random part of the installment. I didn't hate their hang out or their conversation, but I don't particularly understand why the whole thing was necessary. It seemed very out of left field, but I guess Angela is spinning out at a bit at the moment so it fit.
Shayla's "go with the flow" mentality against Angela's worrywart personality was an interesting clash, though.
Since they went ahead and threw in that Angela/Shayla kiss, can they at least go on with that and have Angela break up with Ollie for real now and just date Shayla? Shayla is great! And Elliot doesn't really deserve her (or Angela) at the moment. She's come leaps and bounds since her first appearance as Elliot's enamored drug-dealing neighbor.
As expected, Ollie/Angela's hacker dilemma converged with Elliot's fsociety plot this week. The hip-hop street peddler/undercover hacker was revealed to be Cisco, Darlene's recent ex-boyfriend.
Trenton and Darlene searched for Cisco for the better part of the hour, and it was definitely nice to see members of fsociety interact and character-build in a separate, not-Elliot-centered context.
I want to know more about Cisco and Darlene's relationship, and Darlene herself as a character. We have gotten a bit about Shayla and Angela so far (the other two female leads) and hardly anything about Darlene.
She's so abrasive and weird and stand-offish that it's hard to not be curious about her. Her passionate declaration that Cisco knew how much the fsociety plot meant to her caught my attention. I wonder why she cares so much.
The other fsociety members are slowly but surely picking up character traits, which is definitely a good thing. Romero, in particular, was strongly characterized as the group pragmatist. As much as I love Elliot as a character, I can't understand why anyone would put the whole operation in the hands of an obvious junkie either, so Romero and I were absolutely on the same page there.
I think there were some missed opportunities to inject Trenton with a bit more of a personality, but we did get some glimpses of who she is as a person. I can't fault the writers too much there, the same way I can't fault them for the lack of Tyrell; the entire production was very busy.
What did you all think of "Daemons"? What was your favorite interaction? Your favorite Elliot hallucination? Did anything stick out as having deeper meaning that will become relevant in Mr. Robot Season 1 Episode 5 and beyond?
Sound off in the comments below and remember that you can always watch Mr. Robot online right here at TV Fanatic!
Caralynn Lippo is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.