So all it took was getting Elliot behind a computer.
While Mr. Robot has always been a show that can go from meditative, metaphorical chess games, to hyper-absurdist overdoses; it’s bread and butter remains these characters at work. It takes no time at all for Sam Esmail and Co. to find the pure exhilaration out of a strained-eyed Rami Malek, alone in the dark, his face illuminated only by the familiar blue glow of a monitor.
Describing his plans to hack and take down the FBI of all things, it’s clear (his words indicating as much) that Elliot lives for this shit. And in turn, the show lives too. Propulsed by the energy of work, we’re bombarded with plot bomb after plot bomb. Our ears perk up when Karim asks Joanna why they’re protecting some scrawny kid in a hoodie. We recall the show’s pilot when Elliot discovers the true nature of Ray’s sinister website.
It’s not just Elliot who is central to the show’s invigorating fifth episode, but our friendly neighborhood detective uninterested in dreams and prone to vomiting on planes. In ‘Logic Bomb,’ Esmail puts Dom to work, accomplishing what any other detective in film or television constantly seems to struggle with: being good at the job. In a matter of episodes, Dom pieces together fsociety’s plot to take down Evil Corp as we find her briefly visiting the now-renamed Steel Valley, not missing a beat in the FBI’s 5/9 investigation.
Dom is just plain good at her job, better at her job (it seems) than any other character on this show. Her prowess sends the FBI to China, a party with the Minister of State Security, and eventually a house tour with said Minister Zheng, someone we’ve only known up until know as “Whiterose.”
The reveal, in its shock, is carefully measured by the meeting of these two powerhouses. Whiterose is immediately taken aback by Dom’s brazen charge, asking about the Ministry’s intel about the Dark Army. Standing in the clock room, it’s easy to see that Dom’s met her match as Whiterose explains the importance of the collection to her life, a constant reminder of the “great work” left to do.
Overall, the joy of ‘Logic Bomb’ is a simple message, as simple as Darlene’s task for Angela making her complicit in the hack. These characters — for as fraught and troubled and just plain sad the first four episodes have shown us they can be — are good at what they do.
But however good they are at their jobs, the limit always exists and it’s always easily crossed. It’s the true logic bombs of life, coded not by hackers to insure the safety of their hacks, but by some natural order or potential higher power.
It could manifest as burn out, working too hard for too long. Or sometimes it’s finding yourself caught in a shootout with what is presumed to be the Dark Army, knowing that the Minister of State Security doesn’t have a sister, knowing an implied secret shared in the comfort of certain death in the morning. It could even be a kidnapping all because you broke Ray’s number one rule (“I told you not to look”) compelled by your underlying sense of justice. Whatever it might be, wherever you might find yourself in the middle of the night, the bomb will eventually blow up.
With such an explosive return to first-season from, questions about the first four episodes remain: was it all worth it? Was this portrait of Elliot’s deafening and near-deadly mental state worth the time invested?
Some will immediately say no. And they’d be right. We push so hard into the season two’s plot this episode that it’s only natural to question why we’re reaching some sort of resolution with the lingering plot questions just now.
But, my guess (as always with Esmail) is that we’ll never know until this whole season is over. And to be even more of an apologist, it’s easy to see how the first four episodes echo throughout Mr. Robot’s fifth.
It’s in moments like Elliot and Angela’s reunion — a scared, vulnerable Angela going to her closest, equally lonely friend, someone she believes in more than anything.
It’s her attempt at mending whatever bridge had fallen apart due to neglect, a plea that she can be a friend — “Someone to talk to. Someone who cares about you” — that she can help him as much as he’s about to help her.
It’s his response: “How’s QWERTY?”
Maybe that’s the real work, safe from bombs and explosions.