Mr. Robot ‘402 Payment Required’ Review
It has been a while since I reviewed Mr. Robot. The show starring Rami Malek and created by Sam Esmail has been a favorite since the beginning, but also hard to review. This episode was however very enjoyable and easy to follow. The latter cannot be said often of this show, which I think has alienated many viewers. If you want an easy intro to season 4, then this is your review to read.
Mr. Robot will be ending with its fourth season. After this episode there are only 8 more to go, not much time left to fully conclude all of the storylines. At the end of the last episode Elliot was drugged and dragged away by man working for Phillip Price, father of Angela and CEO of E-Corps.
The best intro for Mr. Robot yet
During the first 5 minutes of this episode Phillip explains how the world got to be what it is. Zhang (Whiterose) started the Deus Group after the collapse of the Soviet Union, turning it into a world-wide shadow government of which E-Corps is only one part. Elliot suggests Price should help him bring down Whiterose’s special project. If funding is cut Zhang would be doomed as nobody from Deus really wants it to succeed.
Phillip Price admonishes Elliot for even suggesting going after Whiterose. He believes it is suicidal and that there is no way in. Elliot reminds Price of everything Zhang has taken away from Price and the latter relents, but states there is only an 8 day window of opportunity. Price tells Elliot that only Susan Jacobs (missing since season 2) had access to the Deus funds. Elliot promises he will find a way and Price promises he will bring the Deus Group together to allow Elliot to hack them all.
And so Elliot has his orders, and so does Phillip Price. They are both reliant on each for this endeavor to succeed and both are well aware the other could easily betray them as there is little chance of success. Throughout the episode Elliot pensively waits for a breakthrough in hacking Susan Jacobs online accounts. In the meantime the viewer is obligated to watch a series of other scenes. Domonique for example is under orders to trash her former boss Santiago, telling a fellow FBI agent she think he worked for the Mexican drug cartels. That particular plot fails when she states to her taxidermist handler she is 99.9 % sure the accusation made impact. In return her handler has the FBI agent suicided, as 99.9 % isn’t enough.
Death of a mother
Other scenes of this episode involve Elliot and Darlene dealing with aftermath of the death of their hated mother. They clear out her room, but end up in an argument when Darlene questions his cold response to the disappearance and presumed death of Angela. The argument culminates at their mother’s memorial service when Darlene questions why Elliot is trying to access Susan Jacobs’ E-wallet. Darlene reveals she murdered Susan. Elliot agrees to allow Darlene to help him with Whiterose, but not before she states she saw Vera return. Vera was of course Elliot’s former drug supplier. Darlene reminds Elliot she told him before about Vera’s return.
After Darlene leaves Elliot accuses Mr. Robot, his alter-ego masquerading as his father of not telling of the return of Vera. When Mr. Robot denies knowing this they come to a conclusion – there must be a third person, another alter ego. By the end of the episode Price has convinced Zhang he wants to retire, this forces Zhang to bring together the Deus Group.
This episode of Mr. Robot was pretty straightforward. It also wasn’t confusing and it wasn’t boring and as such this makes it one of the best in the series. Mr. Robot is as such a strange series – you either love it or hate, or both. When Mr. Robot is at its worst is when it is full of melodrama and bullshit. Now, don’t get me wrong, I like the show, but there have been moments when I fast-forwarded sections of previous episodes.
During season 1 I did it when Elliot was having his episodes. During the latter seasons I did it when the characters did nothing but stupid things on-screen. So far season 4 has been devoid of these problems. This episode in particular appears even keeled, except for the scenes with Dominique.
The wonderful intro to the episode, enhanced with parts of the soundtrack for Watchmen, did much to set the stage for the coming season. With Angela out of the way the cast has become just a bit smaller and more manageable. It was a shame not to see Tyrell this episode, but it must be clear he will play a part in aiding Elliot and Price in taking down Zhang.
Speaking of Zhang, not for a moment did I think he did not see through Price’s efforts to bring together the Deus Group. Whatever is going on, Elliot and Price will no doubt have to revise their plan.