S3 EP6 eps3.5_kill-process.inc Spoiler Alert
After last week’s breakneck pace with no commercials, viewers hoping to catch their breath this week are in for a disappointment. Jumping around in time and in plotlines, episode six of this season does not pull any punches. “Kill process”, Elliot tells the viewers, is when an unwanted process is running and you want to terminate it.
Why Do We Always Cut These Things So Damn Close?
The episode opens with a flashback to preteen Angela watching a cartoon version of Back to the Future in her childhood home. A cake reads “See You In Another Life” — it’s Angela’s mom’s “celebration of life” party. She clearly knows she is dying, and is putting her affairs in order. An anonymous donor has offered to pay for more treatments, but Angela’s mother has refused, preferring to spend her remaining time with friends and family.
Mr. Robot — really, Elliot’s dad and not the villain viewers now know him as — sits down next to Angela by the television. It’s off-putting to see him in normal Dad clothes, a plaid button down and khakis. He persuades Angela to talk to her very sick mother, foreshadowing or perhaps providing justification for her later affection for and willingness to help Mr. Robot. He asks Angela “Somewhere down the road if Elliot needs some help, give him a little push for me?”
Angela’s mom promises, “I’m always gonna be there for you, no matter what,” and swears she believes this isn’t the end, and there’s another world where they will see eachother again. As the music swells a skeptical preteen Angela smiles and her reticence evaporates. Her mother asks, “will you believe with me?”
Back in the present day at the ransacked eCorp office, Angela tells Elliot “we need to let today happen”, her resolve to aid in the destruction of a building and the possible death of hundreds justified by remembrances of her mother. Elliot panics at the realization his friend has been manipulating him all along, but his instinct to protect her still kicks in when he pushes her out of the way of a rioter and into an office. Angela in turn pushes Elliot in a metaphorical sense, attempting following through on the promise she made to Mr. Robot all those years ago.
Angela’s fanatical resolve and near worshipful trust in Whiterose is beyond anything seen from her character thus far. When she makes outrageously claims like “everyone is going to be fine, including your father and my mother,” it seems likely that she has been brainwashed by Whiterose and the Dark Army. Indeed, in season two viewers witness Angela undergoing a strange interrogation sequence led by the Dark Army and culminating in her introduction to Whiterose. Could this experience have addled her mind in some way that would explain her newfound determination this season?
Spotting the Red Wheelbarrow bag, Elliot recalls Tyrell quoting the William Carlos Williams poem, “So much depends upon a red wheelbarrow/glazed with rainwater/beside the white chickens”. And so much does depend upon Elliot, himself merely a tool but a requisite one, the only one who can prevent the ominous attack from happening. He calls Darlene, who’s got the FBI listening in. Dom wants Darlene to get Elliot to come to them at the safehouse, but Elliot is singularly focused on getting to the backup facility to prevent the attack. When he hangs up, Dom accuses Darlene of hiding information from her. “What aren’t you telling me?” Dom probes. Darlene says nothing.
Dom and her partner go to their boss Santiago to get permission to send a swat team into Red Wheelbarrow to potentially capture Tyrell, but Santiago — Dark Army mole that he is — says he needs more concrete evidence to make a move like that.
Meanwhile, in a tacky hotel banquet room in China, “Girl from Empanada” plays as Price meets up with Whiterose to collect on the terms of their agreement. Now that China has annexed the Congo, Whiterose will surrender to eCoin’s world currency domination. Their talk is oddly casual, as they make a strange attempt at social conversation, rather than the tense, adversarial repartee in which they usually engage.
Elliot arrives at the back-up facility and easily pickpockets a badge to get inside. It’s a terrifying place for him to be, considering the entire building could be blown up at any moment. The interior has a bunker feel to it, no windows, dim fluorescent lighting, long dark hallways made of cement cinderblocks. Elliot’s stolen badge gets him access to an empty conference room with a creepy mint-colored fish mounted on a mint-painted wall. He plugs in his laptop and begins furiously hacking, trying to undo the damage Angela just did. But his finger halts above the “enter” key. Mr. Robot is glitching in and out, trying to prevent Elliot from executing the kill process. For a brief moment, Elliot even sees himself in the Mr. Robot jacket, then suddenly finds himself in a cab. It’s now 15 minutes later. Mr. Robot took over Elliot’s body and forcibly ejected him from the premises, but not for long. Elliot gets out of the cab and races back to the building, quoting Back to the Future II when he asks the viewers, “why do we always cut these things so damn close.”
Back at the office, a relentless Dom has Red Wheelbarrow up on her computer. She convinces her partner to “get lunch,” with her — conveniently at the very place she wants to investigate.
Meanwhile, Irving and Tyrell finally come to blows. Irving reveals the truth about Tyrell’s family, “Your trip to the Ukraine is not going to work out the way we discussed it,” Irving admits, before handing Tyrell an envelop and instructing him to read the contents, then burn them. Tyrell clearly thought Irving was going to kill him, but Irving says “I’m afraid the situation is more nuanced than that.”
Elliot makes it back in the creepy fish room, and the laptop is gone. He tells us, the viewers, “yeah, I agree, this is f***ing confusing”. Elliot attempts the hack again, but the glitching intensifies. He begins to rapidly switch between himself and Mr. Robot, with the lag of lost time between episodes of consciousness growing shorter and shorter. He’s running out of time. Elliot decides to try to talk instead of fighting, but Mr. Robot resists. When Elliot begins to type “people don’t need to die for –” a glitch cuts away from the note, and then reveals Elliot standing over a broken computer. Abandoning his efforts at stopping the explosion from behind a terminal window, Elliot decides to go physically disable the detonation, beating himself up Fight Club style the whole way.
Back at FBI HQ, Santiago calls his mother and says not to leave the house. The unheard mother on the other end of the line jerks heartstrings, saying she needs to pick up more Ensure, and her loving, terrorist-abetting son, says he will have it shipped to her.
Angela, having left eCorp, is now on the train, across from two old ladies discuss “pooling their resources” by moving in together. On the other side of the car, a tweaking-out guy in an F-Society mask whips out a gun and starts mugging people on the train at gunpoint. Angela refuses to hand over the purse, simply staring the gunman down until he eventually leaves. The old women can’t believe her. They say “what are you doing, you could have died” and Angela responds, “no, no one’s gonna die”. Is Angela truly fearless now, or just brainwashed? Does she know something the viewers do not about the nature of reality and mortality, or is she just another Whiterose-zealot, willing to sacrifice her own life for the Dark Army’s cause?
Dom’s lunch outing to Red Wheelbarrow pays off — she discovers a back room leading to a dark basement — Tyrell’s hideout. Dom brings in Santiago and the rest of the FBI crew, who explore the space but find Tyrell has gone. It isn’t until moments later when Dom is getting a coffee before heading back to work that Tyrell himself comes running down the street, shouting that they need to “stop the attack”.
Elliot makes one final attempt to get Mr. Robot on his side and prevent the detonation, and finally manages to gain the access he needs to a server room, where he pulls a fire alarm effectively disabling any chance of an explosion. Triumphant music plays as Elliot exits the backup facility. He has won.
Darlene shows up at Angela’s apartment to confront her, but they are interrupted by an alarm from their phones. The backup facilities across the country that Elliot had been secretly rerouting paper to have all been blown up. In the end, it wasn’t the bac-up building in NYC that was the single point of failure. It was Elliot himself. The credits roll over a news report that thousands are estimated dead as a result of 71 separate explosions in buildings across the country.
Perhaps most importantly, this episode drives home the point that F-Society and the Dark Army are terrorist organizations. They caused the death of thousands, far more than anyone anticipated. This is not just a group of dorm room hackers — it’s an internal organization determined to accomplish their mission at any cost, including human life. While the true motives of Whiterose and the Dark Army are not yet clear, what is transparent is that they will not spare a single soldier in pursuit of them.
Mr. Robot, written and directed by Sam Esmail, continues its 10 episode season Wednesday nights on USA at 10 p.m. ET.
Missed the previous Mr. Robot week recap? Read it here.
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