TV Reviews

Mr. Robot Season 3 Episode 5: eps3.4_runtime-err0r.r00 Review

If you would like to read my review of the last episode, click here.

Synopsis: E Corp is in chaos; Elliot is on the run; Darlene tries to help. (IMDB)

Writer: Kor Adana

Director: Sam Esmail

Rating: TV-MA

Runtime: 49mins

I need to start by saying that I am a sucker for anything that is or resembles being shot in one take. This was the episode that propelled an already good season to greatness. Mr. Robot’s third season has been enjoyable so far but all the while there hasn’t been the same feeling of engagement and interest as its first and unpredictability of its second season. That might be partially due to becoming comfortable with the vicious cycle that has been Elliot constantly fighting Mr. Robot, but nevertheless, it has been entertaining television up until this point.

Then came this episode.

Words cannot accurately express my increasingly amazed reaction as last night’s episode progressed without interruption. One would think that a commercial was eventually coming to break its continuity and at times it was desperately needed because the amount of tension that had been progressively building was near unbearable, but no reprieve came. This was an ambitious and genius move by creator/director Sam Esmail that turned what would normally have been a solid episode within a good season into easily one of the best and most memorable episodes of this entire series.

As it begins, we find Elliot at work slowly realizing that he is being fired. As the authorities seek him out in order to escort him off of the premises, the camera follows him as he ducks and dodges his way to relative safety from floor to floor all in the midst of helping his co-worker, Samar, to realize his self-worth, getting schooled by a presumed senile woman who knows her computers and helping Sean, Head of Sales at E Corps, not let the pressure of corporate deadlines get to him. This sequence of events was amazing because it wouldn’t allow the viewer to look away, thus seeing and feeling the same anxiety that Elliot was going through in real-time. Ultimately, security caught up to him and escorted him out of the building, but just as that moment was over another began with Darlene’s confession that she had been working with the FBI all the way back to the initial 5/9 attack. There is a tense exchange between the siblings, but put in perspective it is the least of his worries at the moment. Darlene also states that Mr. Robot did, in fact, leave last Friday and meet up with Angela who knew it was him and not Elliot.

The story seamlessly leaves Elliot in favor of the rioters and protesters outside of E Corps that we later find out were organized by The Dark Army as a cover in order for Mr. Robot to continue with Stage 2 from inside the E Corps building. This order is given by Irving to Angela, Mr. Robot’s handler, in order to ensure that the recovery files building will be blown up and due to the E Corps building being ransacked by rioters it will be impossible to trace back to The Dark Army. With Elliot’s unavailability, Angela assumes the responsibility of carrying out the task as the camera now follows her as she makes her way up to the servers through all of the chaos.

It was during Angela’s scene that a random thought of remembrance as to why she had started down this path in the first place came back. It’s easy to forget that both she and Elliot had dreamed of taking down E Corps as revenge for the death of their respective parents in the early episodes of the first season and now we are finally seeing the possibility of that chapter of revenge close. Angela’s unwavering motivation has been clear from the very beginning while Elliot’s has changed and even manifested into a completely separate entity and so to see her complete the sequence needed to blow up the recovery building brought about an oddly satisfying feeling. This was quickly followed by a question of dread, “What’s going to happen now?

   I just need to remind everyone still reading that everything mentioned above was shown as ONE CONTINUOUS SHOT!

For one, Stage 2 is happening (thanks to Angela) and the rest of this season looks to now deal with the oncoming fallout of the already tenuous relationships between those that carried out the attacks. WhiteRose’s irrational decision in wanting to see Phillip Price be destroyed was completely understandable. It’s a personal move that is very atypical of her character, but it has been the crux of this entire season. It’s almost a certainty that a group such as The Dark Army will leave no witnesses and are planning on using Elliot, Darlene, Angela, and Tyrell until they have no need for them any longer, but that might be an issue for future seasons.

As mentioned, this season has been enjoyable so far, serving as a great return to the form similar to Mr. Robot’s first season where as a viewer you question everything because much like Elliot’s unraveling sense of reality, you aren’t sure what you’re being shown, by who’s perspective and whether or not it is even real. This now iconic episode managed to create an incredibly vast feeling of tension as the crisis of Stage 2 developed in real time. In terms of story, there was not a lot that occurred to further the narrative other than Stage 2 actually being implemented and Darlene’s confession through guilt, however, it managed to accomplish so much more to the viewer because it kept a completely unique and fresh approach to a show that had teetered on becoming formulaic. It will be exciting to see what lies ahead and how this will affect the many characters differently and if the teaser for next week’s episode is any indication there will be a major fallout to come as a result from this episode’s actions. Until then, I will continue to have an internal debate on whether or not this was the greatest episode of Mr. Robot or not. The only one that could come close is the actual reveal of Mr. Robot in the show’s first season, but it’s extremely close. Nevertheless, the ambition to show this episode as completely one shot is amazing and is a lasting testament to how a show, given a creative opportunity, can continue to push the boundaries of conventional programming.

Score: 9/10

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