Season two, episode nine of USA Network’s Mr. Robot begins with the first of several ominous knocks on doors. In a flashback, Elliot (Rami Malek) opens the door to law enforcement. They enter and place him under arrest for grand larceny, unauthorized use of a computer, and computer trespass. His lawyer tells him that he can get the hacking charge reduced and that Elliot should plead not guilty at the arraignment. He pleads guilty, however, and because the dog was worth $1,200, his theft makes it a felony. The judge sentences him to 18 months in county jail.
As suspected, Ray (Craig Robinson) is the warden and Leon (Joey Bada$$), under directions from Whiterose, quickly makes friends with Elliot. Interestingly, Leon is the only inmate wearing a white t-shirt without the orange shirt on top. Perhaps it signifies that Leon doesn’t belong or he, in white, is associated with Whiterose. Joey Bada$$ has achieved fame as a hip hop recording artist, but he is very convincing in the role of an inmate. In fact, he wants to act; in an interview he said, “It’s been my dream to act since I was in like the eighth grade. I always wanted to be an actor. And I feel like the music just made it a little bit easier for me to chase that dream.” He has charisma and it would be good to see him in more roles.
Elliot is released after 86 days and the early release is attributed to the 5/9 hack by a guard. Elliot, though, attributes it to the Dark Army. Darlene (Carly Chaikin) meets him outside the jail. As they hug she whispers something in his ear. Out loud, Darlene tells him that she believes that the Dark Army is cleaning house. She hasn’t been able to contact Mobley or Trenton; in fact, Trenton’s parents have filed a missing person report.
Later Elliot observes Mr. Robot (Christian Slater) talking to Darlene and Cisco (Michael Drayer). This is the same Cisco we thought that Darlene hit with a baseball bat in the last episode. Of course we didn’t actually see her hit him. We have no idea what happened in the intervening month; this is just one example of how the viewers are kept disoriented by incomplete information or alternate reality (see discussion in last week’s recap about collective memory). Elliot no doubt feels the same disorientation when Mr. Robot acts in his stead and Elliot is kept in the dark. Elliot observes Mr. Robot arguing with Darlene and Cisco about stage 2. He comes to the fore as Mr. Robot fades away saying that he feels off and that “something is happening to us.” Elliot and Mr. Robot trade places several times and there is what looks like glitches or signal transmission interference happening with both of them. The ongoing brownouts in the episode are analogous to what is happening with Elliot. He tells Darlene and Cisco that he wants to meet with Xun. After Cisco tells him that he could be killed, Elliot says that the meeting will be with Mr. Robot.
Meanwhile using a ruse, Angela (Portia Doubleday) gets into the Risk Management department head’s office. Among the files that she then copies from his computer is the Washington Township leak file. Offering these stolen files, Angela meets with a Nuclear Regulatory Commission staffer. He wants her to meet with the Deputy Director. Deputy Director Phelps (Caroline Strong) takes her down a long hallway lined with security cameras to meet her colleagues who Phelps says are interested in what she has to say. Seeing the red light at the end of the hall along with the fact that Phelps knows that she works for E Corp, Angela is spooked and leaves.
There are a couple of very interesting scenes with Whiterose (BD Wong). The first one takes place in a cemetery and he/she appears as a woman accompanied by an assistant. They peer at the headstone belonging to Leonard Moore, the former CEO of E Corp from 1986-1993. In the course of a discussion between Whiterose and the assistant, we learn that Whiterose is responsible for his death because Moore tried to shut down her project. Whiterose then urinates on the headstone.
Later, Whiterose (as a man) meets with the current CEO of E Corp, Philip Price (Michael Cristofer). Price angrily tells Whiterose that because of the fallout from the 5/9 hack, E Corp can’t keep all of their plants and that the federal government will take over the Washington Township plant. He needed bailout money but because of the Beijing shooting, doesn’t have it. He wants the Chinese to loan E Corp money at 0% interest rate. Clearly Price has the upper hand because that plant is important to Whiterose. He tells Whiterose that he is a mercenary who doesn’t play fair and even threatens WWIII. Since Angela went to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the Washington Township plant must be a nuclear power plant or something else dealing with nuclear materials. As further proof that Price has the superior position, he closes the discussion with a reference to time, a peculiar obsession of Whiterose’s.
Switching back to Darlene’s subplot, she wants Cisco to go back to Sharon Knowles’ house to recover the defective VHS tape that has Darlene’s face on it. Cisco finds the tape but as he is leaving he hears panting and looks in that direction. Meanwhile there is a knock on the door where Darlene is staying. When she opens the door, she looks surprised as she appears to see two people there.
FBI Agent Dom DiPierro (Grace Gummer) knocks on Angela’s door and Angela lets her in. She tells a scared and silent Angela that Ollie told them about the CD at AllSafe. Dom adds that they have been tracking her ever since and admits that while she can’t connect the dots yet, it will catch up to Angela and then she will be thrown in a dark cell. However, Dom lets her know that she is Angela’s “one hand to play.” Angela looks on the verge of tears as Dom leaves.
The episode concludes with a SUV approaching Elliot. Joanna Wellick greets him with a “hello, Ollie.” When they previously met, he introduced himself as Ollie.
This episode leaves viewers with many questions. Among them are: who did Trenton see coming in the coffee shop; who are the people at Darlene’s door; who did Cisco see; where is Tyrell Wellick; and does Angela decide to work with Dom.