Mr. Robot Recap: “No More Playing God Without Permission”

December 3, 2019
Cole Sansom 0
TV, TV Recaps
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An action-packed episode sees the heist going down almost as planned.

This recap of Mr. Robot Season 4, Episode 9, “409 Conflict”, contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous episode by clicking these words.

They did it.

Elliot and Darlene pulled off what they have been planning all season. As of Mr. Robot Season 4, Episode 9, Deus has been robbed.

This season of Mr. Robot has leaned on the idea that a single group of individuals is responsible for most of the world’s ills — from the neoliberal turn of the 1980s to the current climate catastrophe and social-media mayhem. The first season portrayed ECorp in this way; a tactic that revealed surprising depth in subsequent seasons when the 5/9 hack failed to deliver the equity it promised.

While the premise of extreme income and power inequality is evident, it seems simplistic to manifest that within a single group. In reality, it is much more diffused through the world’s billionaires, but it’s easier for Elliot to take them on if they exist as a collective. It’s possible that in the next few episodes, Mr. Robot will move towards deepening this web of power, but I would be lying if I said I had any indication as to what would occur in the remaining four episodes of the show (see the note below)

As for the heist itself, it occurs in usual Mr. Robot fashion — a few hiccups and changes to the plan, but after some intense typing turns out ok.

Mr. Robot appears to carry out the plan, saying that Elliot is “mired in conflict. Price appears, giving them a USB which he claims contains the secrets of Whiterose’s “project”. He goes to the meeting, to find only Whiterose at a table for two. Whiterose is aware of his collaboration with Elliot, but Price still has one up on her — Tyrell. Learning that Tyrell will not be around, Whiterose snaps. She needs Elliot, but she knows Elliot has already beaten her.

The fragmented meeting forces Darlene and Elliot to split up; Darlene must go to the real meeting in order to obtain their phone numbers. A Goodfellas lite tracking shot shows the Deus group and Darlene struggling to find a way in.

Meanwhile, Mr. Robot decides to call Price. Whiterose picks up. In an emotional speech, she brings up Angela. Whiterose claims that she might not be dead, that there might be a way to contact her. The mention of Angela causes Mr. Robot to change back to Elliot. Saccharine music swells. Whiterose starts to convince Elliot to listen to her, saying, Aladdin-esque, “I can show you the world.” It seems like he is beginning to be swayed. Then, Darlene comes up with the plan.

Harking back to the first season, Darlene creates an fSociety video. Using the mask to anonymize herself, she turns the world on to the Deus group, using the threat of their presence becoming known to smoke them out of the building, so that she can obtain their phone numbers. Many get stuck as the crowd surrounds them. In an attempt to rob them, she has made the world aware. Although the skeptic in me might believe that most people would be unmotivated, a good enough number shows up. It works. The hack succeeds. We see a selection of oligarchs look shocked as their bank account disappears.

Whiterose, defeated, fills her promise from the episode’s opening. She pulls out a gun and murders Price. But before he goes, he gets to make a powerful speech. “Regret — you weaponize that and you use that weapon again to destroy that … with Angela, didn’t work. Angela lives on in the lives of the people who love her.” Angela has motivated Price to turn his life around. This hack, the heist, the destruction of Deus’s finances, all occur because of a father’s love.

The Wire pioneered the structure of the penultimate episode of the season being the climax, with the finale covering the fallout and tying up loose ends. By having the planned climax occur so early, Esmail opens up many possibilities to what the rest of the show will explore. 

Other things

  • It turns that the season is actually thirteen episodes long (rather than ten), a fact I apparently never double-checked, so apologies for every recap where I said, “only X episodes left”. Please add 3 to that number.
  • “409 Conflict” opens with a scene of Mr. Robot entering what I’ll call the “Elliot Roulette” — the personalities within his mind. Along with Mr. Robot, there is a woman who could be Mrs. Alderson (it’s been so long since we’ve seen her I can’t quite remember), and young Elliot. Mr. Robot tells them they need to help Elliot, and they decide to refrain from telling him until telling him after the hack. The woman says that Elliot “hasn’t woken up since,” and that only Darlene has been able to wake him. I’m assuming that the next few episodes will explore this.
  • Darlene takes inspiration from a poster for what looks like an fSociety inspired tv show. Is there a show within the show about the show? (similar to “American Hero Story” in Watchmen).
  • One of the figures in the Deus meeting is very clearly Trump. It’s a reminder that the show is still set in 2015, and seems unnecessarily clunky (if Trump were a part of such a group wouldn’t he already have blurted it out?).

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