Weaknesses. Exploits. Everybody has them. And then there are people like Elliot, who know just how to zero in and twist the knife where it hurts the most.
Mr. Robot Season 1 Episode 5, while not exactly as thrilling as last week's hallucinationpalooza, had some fantastic character moments and great exchanges of dialogue.
I can't quite explain how much I love Elliot Villar's performance as Fernando Vera, the creepy, pseudo-philosophical drug dealer/gangster spouting existential nonsense at every turn.
I adored the disorienting, spiraling music that crescendoed during his realization scene in the jail cell (when he figured out that Elliot was the one to turn him in). Chilling.
Fernando Vera: I ain't pleading anyway. Men can't sentence me. That is a cosmic responsibility. Someone is going to get hurt for this. That's how we get square with the universe.
Lawyer: Fernando, we need to discuss strategy, you don't want super max.
Fernando Vera: Nah. If they lock me up the kind of door they close don't matter.
There was a very purposeful scene near the beginning of the episode, showing Mr. Robot physically interacting with the customers at the cafe. There was a similarly pointed scene near the end, where Mr. Robot screamed at Darlene. Both seemed design to "prove" that he is a real person.
I did notice, though, that whenever Mr. Robot is "in control" of a particular situation, Elliot hangs back. This was most noticeable during the Mr. Robot-Darlene confrontation back at fsociety headquarters.
It's looking more and more likely that Mr. Robot and Elliot are two sides of the same coin – it is not as simple as one being a hallucination and the other being the "real" person. I think they are one person split in two, dual sides of the same man.
I enjoyed the literalization of Mr. Robot as a voice in Elliot's head during Elliot's trek through Steel Mountain, particularly when Mr. Robot egged Elliot on to tear down poor, kind, hapless Bill Harper.
That scene was completely horrifying. From Elliot's superimposed memory of being berated and pushed around by his hateful mother, to the completely heartless way that Elliot ripped into Harper, all of it was terrible to watch.
Honestly, I had to look a way a few times because the actor playing Bill Harper was conveying so much with his facial reactions to Elliot's diatribe. And to top it off, he didn't even attempt to stand up for himself, instead being completely cowed by Elliot's totally out-of-left-field spewing of vitriol. Very upsetting.
Angela, on the other hand, was much more awesome than Elliot this time around. Though she had a limited amount of screentime this week compared with last, she absolutely made her few moments count. I loved seeing her completely tune out Ollie's lame attempts to keep her from leaving, which ranged from asking her to marry him, to trying to berate her and make her feel stupid for considering leaving.
Ollie: You're ruining your life.
Angela: Maybe. But I also ruined yours.
Angela's reveal that she had used Ollie's badge and computer to infect Allsafe was epic. I wonder what the consequences will be for him – he is certainly convinced that they'll be dire and life-destroying. I don't think his deplorable, adulterous actions called for quite that brutal a retaliation but I can't say I hated watching it.
And we learned where Angela got her greatness from: her really cool, supportive father. My theory is that Angela's awesomeness was camouflaged for the first few weeks because of that lame old relationship with lame old Ollie. I'm glad that ship has sailed and hope it stays out of port for the foreseeable long-run.
At the end of the episode, Angela discovered that her father was massively in debt to E Corp and came to a literal fork in the road during her evening jog. Will Angela join up with Elliot? Or try to take them down on her own? She is clearly not an Evil Corp fan, so it wouldn't be a surprise for her to desire to take them down.
Tyrell returned with two big scenes after being virtually absent last week.
First up, the big reveal that Tyrell knew Elliot framed Terry Colby and was working against Evil Corp.
Tyrell: I know you framed Terry Colby.
Elliot: I didn't --
Tyrell: Your father worked at Evil Corp before he died, that's a matter of public record. I'm not turning you in, if that's what you're thinking. I don't even have proof and even if i did i don't care. Just wanted to know your weakness. Now I do. Revenge. How ordinary.
Tyrell continues to be the most fascinating character on the show. He is clearly not a good person, and cares for nothing but his own interests and success. It was extremely telling to hear that he honestly didn't care about Elliot's plans for revenge.
At the same time, he can't possibly be fully aware of Elliot's plan and not care at all. If he knew that Elliot was looking to take down Evil Corp and initiate a global-scale redistribution of wealth, he would definitely stop it – his entire game plan (thus far) seems to revolve around acquiring power for himself.
If Elliot took down the company Tyrell is maneuvering to the head of – well, there goes the power.
The second big Tyrell scene was at the Knowles' dinner party. I can't tell how much Mrs. Wellick knows about Tyrell's methods. They're clearly on the same page about his ambitions, but I'm not sure whether she's aware of how far Tyrell has gone/will go to get where he wants to be.
And unfortunately, we're all human. Except me, of course. I'm joking, Elliot. Enjoy your long drive back home. I'm having a helicopter take me back to New York. Take care, Elliot.Tyrell
Tyrell took the risky route to seduction by belittling Scott to Mrs. Knowles. Gotta say, that's not a method I saw working. But who among us can resist a smarmy, attractive Swedish businessman intruding on your bathroom alone time, am I right? Not Mrs. Knowles, apparently.
Shayla has a new job at the creatively named Wingstravaganza. Her conversation with the girl training her as a server was a quick little funny moment – Shayla's claim that she had been in "pharmaceutical sales" until Obamacare pushed her out was fantastic.
On an unfunny note, it appears that Shayla is in real danger at Vera's hand. I really hope nothing bad happens to her, but the fact that she was in a relatively good mood and making a go of it at her new job makes me wary. Nobody is allowed to be happy on TV. Plus I don't think she appears in the promo for next week.
I'm beginning to find Darlene very grating. At first, her quirky, shrill-voiced, histrionic shtick was just that: a quirky shtick. Now that she's been around longer and that continues to be all she's done, it's getting a little old. It's especially obvious when she's juxtaposed against a distinctly even-keeled person like Trenton.
The end of the episode, with Elliot talking Darlene down from initiating the temporary takedown, seemed to suggest that her character would be deepening soon. Laying her head on his shoulder definitely suggested a softening. Now we just need her to keep toned down the whole shrieky-tantrum thing.
Speaking of Darlene's tantrum: what the heck is going on with the Dark Army? Cisco is super sketchy about the whole thing, and it was very rude and mysterious of Dark Army to pull out of the E Corp operation at the last minute.
What's their angle? Why did they suddenly drop fsociety? How does their now-fulfilled demand for Ollie/Angela to infect Allsafe's servers tie in to the larger Evil Corp takedown? Are they working on something sneaky of their own, and looking to exclude fsociety for reasons unknown? These are the pressing questions from this week's Mr. Robot.
What did you all think of "Exploits" overall? Chime in with your thoughts below!
Remember that you can watch Mr. Robot online and catch up on anything you missed right here at TV Fanatic before Mr. Robot Season 1 Episode 6 premiere next week.
Caralynn Lippo is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.