Tonight's episode of Mr. Robot was one of the best episodes of the season, and it's no coincidence that most of our characters were having a miserable time. If last week was about the lengths these characters will go to get what they want, "Init 5" was about how far they can fall when things don't go their way, and we tend to learn more about people when they're at their lowest points.
Elliot (Rami Malek), Darlene (Carly Chaikin), Angela (Portia Doubleday), Philip Price (Michael Cristofer), Whiterose (B.D. Wong) and the rest of the world were feeling the suckitude of a life without credit but with rolling brownouts. No one seemed to enjoy it. But hey, we did, thanks partly to Elliot's release from prison (for those of you who are conspiracy board completionists, Ray was indeed the prison's warden), which put him right back in the orbit of the rest of crew. It's insane that Season 2 went this long isolating Elliot, but now that he's back, Mr. Robot got back on track with one of the things that makes the show so good: a crippling sense of paranoia.
For Elliot, getting out of prison meant locking himself back in the jail of the outside world and more work with fsociety. Sure that included getting to the bottom of the Dark Army's Stage 2 plan and the bombshell that Stage 2 was Elliot's plan (well, probably Mr. Robot's plan) all along, but the real question was what was going on with Elliot and the glitches he experienced with Mr. Robot (Christian Slater)?
Is Elliot experiencing some form of splintering from Mr. Robot because he needs to go back on some meds? Now that Mr. Robot has regained Elliot's trust, could Mr. Robot secretly have regained control of Elliot and he's trolling him with these "splits" by making Elliot think he's going crazy? A weakened Elliot would mean an easier to control Elliot, but that would shatter the equal-partner dynamic between the two that I love so much. But I'm thinking I might have to say goodbye to that relationship, because as Elliot said in the opening, every relationship is a power struggle and we may be seeing Mr. Robot's best work yet.
Darlene isn't faring much better. She killed someone last week, and this week she remembered the VHS tape she left behind (girl, you gotta learn to tidy up a crime scene better). It was cool of Cisco to let the ground-rule double she hit with his head slide and even offer to go pick up the tape that she left behind, but for all his kindness all he got was a grunting, mystery find at the old smarthouse. My bet is it being our pal Mobley in a lot of pain, possibly as a message to fsociety left behind by someone who wants to get their attention. At this point, it's anyone's guess though as Mr. Robot has been great at asking questions that won't have any answers for weeks. Either way, whoever came knocking on Darlene's door isn't there to sell her Girl Scout Cookies, and if I had to bet, Darlene won't escape her predicament scot free.
Raise your hand if you know what Angela is up to. Nobody? Cool, me either. She's either trying to climb the ladder of a company she's also trying to destroy, which is just a bad career strategy if you ask me, or she's been fooling us all along and has been working to uncover this Washington Township Plant mess all by herself. Is it possible to do both? Does it make any sense for her to do both? Maybe the material rewards are tempting her some, but I always prefer the Angela we saw in this episode.
She's sneaking around empty office floors (how does she keep finding the perfect time when everyone is out to lunch?) and using her own hacks to further her investigation. And when she brought the evidence to the regulatory commission, the deputy director was more than a little fishy. As Mr. Robot progresses, it seems like everyone is in on this conspiracy, and Angela was right to high tail it out of there. Now she's got no one to turn to, which is exactly what Dom (Grace Gummer) knew, which is why it was the perfect time to bring over a sandwich and lay an offer on the table.
Even Philip and Whiterose were having a terrible day. Whiterose was this close to killing Philip — he alluded to offing the previous Evil Corp CEO when Whiterose's "project" was nearly killed — but found himself unable to. See, Whiterose, who has her fingers in everything it seems, is clearly invested in the Washington Township Plant, and Philip noted he was the key to keeping the Washington Township Plant out of the government's hands. What's going on there, we don't know, but I have to stick with my theory that Whiterose is involved in some weird "time hacking business" — whether that means something as insane as time travel or pursuing immortality, time will tell — and I'm thinking most of that research is going on in the plant. That would explain why Philip never wanted a third-party investigation to snoop around the place and could even help explain why people living nearby were succumbing to cancer. There's no way Whiterose is playing god without some collateral damage somewhere.
What we see here in "Init 5" is that no one is winning this war, not even the presumed people in power. Philip said he wanted to rain down chaos, but maybe he should take a look out the window of his penthouse office, because it's already here. And in Mr. Robot's universe, that makes for excellent television.
Mr. Robot airs Wednesdays at 10/9c on USA.