Review: ‘Mr. Robot’ focuses on the ensemble this week, but Elliot still shines

Some thoughts on tonight's “Mr. Robot” coming up just as soon as I reject a revolution in favor of aroma profiles..

* Though this episode opens and closes with Elliot – first a flashback to the day he met Shayla, finishing with him telling Krista about the extent of his hacking of her and everyone he knows – there's not a lot of him in between, as the focus shifts more to Angela and the members of fsociety. That's a valuable thing not only for the longevity of the series, but for enhancing every future encounter Elliot has with these people. The trick when you have a show that is built so much on the personality of its main character is finding ways to make everyone else feel worth the time spent away from him or her. “Dexter” rarely managed that, but there was a lot of good character work and backstory crammed into this episode. In particular, Angela's someone whose scenes away from Elliot had felt like filler in a lot of previous episodes, but her meeting with Terry Colby had the same sense of isolation and ugliness that's so fundamentally a part of Elliot's stories. Angela's better able to function in the world than he is, but she's just as broken.

* All that being said, those bookend scenes (plus the one where he imagined a world where you could view other people's source code) were still significantly more compelling than everything that happened in between. As designed, the opening scene only gradually revealed itself to be a flashback (at first, I assumed some relative of Shayla's was packing up her belongings), and their conversation on the steps – revealing that he's the one that pointed her towards Vera in the first place, and demonstrating that even back then, he could connect with her in a way he can with very few people – was extremely poignant. And Rami Malek and Gloria Reuben were dynamite in the closing scene, as Elliot finally revealed his secret identity to a civilian because “I want a way out of loneliness,” while Krista had to deal with the complete shattering of the usual barrier between doctor and patient. As Dr. Melfi once explained to Tony Soprano, confidentiality doesn't necessarily apply to crimes that haven't occurred yet, so in telling Krista that he does this to everyone he meets, and will keep doing so, he could be giving her the wiggle room to report him to authorities. And in the real world, it's hard to imagine any therapist keeping on a patient who's breached her personal life like this. But I expect she will keep him on, reluctantly, because she does want to help him, and this confession shows that he's finally ready to be helped.

* This week in Byte Club: Both of Mr. Robot's scenes take place independently of Elliot, which can be read as a clear sign that he's meant to be an independent character, or just more examples where we're seeing Mr. Robot as an Elliot stand-in. And when Darlene and Trenton discuss what motivates the other members of the group, they don't mention either Elliot or Mr. Robot, which makes more sense if they're meant to be the same person – and the group's leader – than if Elliot is just another guy recruited to fulfill Mr. Robot's anarchic vision.

* This week in Tyrell Wellick, Mediocre Mastermind: Our man at Evil Corp's temper gets the better of him twice, first in impulsively firing the underlings who were laughing at the sort of man (unbeknownst to them, a man very much like Tyrell) who would sleep with other men to climb the ladder, then in strangling Scott's wife after she belittles him too much. You can see from his panicked reaction that this wasn't remotely his plan – though, oddly enough, I can see it having a faster benefit than if he'd actually managed to seduce her. Assuming Tyrell can avoid being charged with murder (and if the cops didn't investigate Elliot in any way regarding the prison break or Shayla's murder, then this show doesn't have a high opinion of its fictional law-enforcement), Scott might be so broken up over his wife's murder that he could inadvertently create the opening his young rival has been looking for.

* Gideon tries to dissuade Angela from her plan by pointing to all the Allsafe employees she'll be putting out of work, and all the families that will be damaged as a result – much like all the families, like Angela and Elliot's, hurt by Evil Corp's decision to ignore the leak. But neither of them knows that Evil Corp is planning to bring its computer security in-house, which will ruin Allsafe, anyway.

What did everybody else think?