The contrasts between episode 4 and episode 5 are important, as they represent the two different extremes and risks that can both make Mr. Robot an extremely memorable show and one that is very excruciating to watch. The fifth episode of Mr. Robot is, no surprise great, but an interesting take on how Elliot can manipulate others as easily as he hacks computers.
In this episode, Elliot and fsociety are attempting to break into ECorp’s Steel Mountain, and the plan immediately goes awry, as Elliot’s social anxiety clamps down on him and causes an immense nervousness that forces him to break away, relenting and telling Mr. Robot that he can’t do this. Rami Malek’s Elliot has, up until this part, been largely absent of human interactions outside of those people he meets with on a regular basis, which is interesting, not good or bad. The suspense heightened as the sales associate left Elliot and his only way to get into Steel Mountain. It’s an intriguing way to invoke a level of suspense without so much as teasing the threat of immediate death.
The idea of an entire episode dedicated to examining the threat and possibility of human exploits also has it’s cons. When Elliot approaches the sales associate, he assaults him with a level of verbal cruelty that depicts Elliot as nothing more than an extremely knowledgeable hacker-troll. Up until this point, Elliot had not been depicted as even remotely close to the corporate suits of ECorp. And I don’t think this cliche comparison has any part in this story. Elliot, stating at the beginning of the series, has no interest in money, power, or personal vindication over others. Elliot simply wants to bring people to justice, a noble cause that helps define his character for the episodes to come. I don’t think, by showing Elliot as a potential future Tyrell or ECorp employee, does justice to the groundwork laid for the character.
Angela also had an important and substantial solo character arc this episode, as she moved back with her dad. It’s a careful depiction of how precarious of a financial situation young adults are often left in while residing in New York City. Angela depended on the financial assistance of Ollie to live in their apartment together, but she was forced to move back with her father, furthering the emphasis on the younger generation Mr. Robot has provided throughout the course of this series.
Tyrell was also depicted as a more villainous figure, but the episode felt more rewarding and simply fun to watch as he and his wife Johanna attempt to get under the skin and personal life of the new CTO of ECorp. The dinner party oozes a level of sensuousness that is not usually seen throughout the series. When Tyrell walks into the bathroom, he menacingly stares at the woman on the toilet. It underlines how sex and basically any interactions Tyrell has can end in a violent interaction. He doesn’t do anything to the CTO’s wife in the bathroom. It’s interesting how menacing he seemed while he was gunning for the CTO job, only to be completely declawed and left harmless due to his own mistakes.
The overall tone of the episode did include a noticeable shift, as both fsociety and Tyrell attempted to pull off some clever “heists,” be it for information or a more physical construct. Tyrell and Johanna tried to find blackmail or a sense of control over the new CTO and his family. Meanwhile, Elliot and fsociety had to literally infiltrate Steel Mountain, seemingly an impossible task. I liked how different this felt in comparison to previous episodes. This meant the dialogue was snappier, the character interactions were carefully picked, and the overall episode felt fresh.
However, Tyrell and ECorp still remain slightly more interesting than fsociety, which could be a real problem since ECorp are the villains, and I don’t want to end up accidentally rooting for them. This episode makes some serious strides in rectifying fsociety’s one dimensional anarchist vibe, without really removing it from their character. When they send Elliot into Steel Mountain, they immediately realize they made a big mistake. They don’t admit to being such an amazingly intelligent crew, but rather one with rationale emotions, wants, and needs. I’m confident the remainder of the series will feature a fsociety that more realistically reacts to their surroundings, and thus makes me want to care for them more.
More notes of discussion:
-Mr. Robot seemed to give Elliot a fatherly admonishing when he tore down that sales associate.
-I hope Elliot never tears down someone like that again. But I hope Tyrell gets his time in the sun to tear down someone like that.
-That ending was unexpected. Great setup for a different kind of villain
Overall, Mr.Robot’s fifth episode is great, as it pushes the main story back on track with a unique take on heists and infiltration, and leads to more a more plot-driven narrative. I like the turn over events, in that Mr. Robot turned into an interesting and clumsy heist.