Mr. Robot S03E10 <> Season 3

shutdown-r

The third season of Mr. Robot has come to a satisfying and utterly gripping end.

This whole season has been one of destruction. Everyone has splinted under the pressure and everything comes to a head. It’s in desperation that Elliot turns inward. He has to confront and talk to Mr. Robot instead of fighting and isolating his two sides. He goes to the Wonder Wheel at Coney island and they begin to rebuild their burned bridges. Elliot has feared Mr. Robot so his first instinct was to lock away Mr. Robot to try and keep himself whole. But they function better as one and they each hold pieces to the puzzle they are trying to solve. They can’t move forward, and save anyone, by not talking. Mr. Robot sits across from Elliot as the wheel spins and they start with the basics, what did Mr. Robot’s message about the FBI mean? What does Mr. Robot know?

Santiago is the Dark Army’s FBI mole. They go to his apartment and look for clues until Irving shows up and asks them (Elliot actually. I’ve fallen completely into the narrative of the show that Mr. Robot and Elliot are two people) to come with him.

The cat is out of the bag for Santiago. Dom finally catches him in a lie he can’t get out of and he physically strikes to keep moving. When Dom confronts Santiago in the car with Darlene, Santiago is at his wit’s end. She condemns him for being a traitor and his panicked reply is that she has no idea what the Dark Army has put him through and now he has no choice but to bring her to them. The meeting place is the property where they hid Tyrell.

It’s basically a horrible Mr. Robot reunion with Elliot, Leon, Dom, Santiago, Irving, and Darlene in a barn. Santiago takes charge first, pissed that he seemingly has to clean everything up. He wants the Dark Army to settles this one by turning Dom into a new mole. Irving takes Santiago and Dom outside and Dom quickly sticks to her ethical guns. Stopping in front of the stump with the ax in it changes the mood considerably, though. And it turns out Irving has had enough as well. He kills Santiago with the ax and makes it very clear to Dom that she has no choice but to take over Santiago’s role. When Dom comes back shell-shocked and sprayed with blood, Mr. Robot goes on red alert. Leon calmly lays down a hint at how this organization works: “She’s been initiated.” I think it’s safe to say at some point Santiago was put through a very similar ordeal that Dom just witnessed. Mr. Robot is panicked for a way out but Elliot sees a different scenario unfolding. He notes the security camera watching them from above and he deduces that they are fine, for now anyway and that someone important is coming.

Enter Grant. Irving has cleaned himself up and meets Grant and his security detail outside of the barn. After he states that now that he’s killed Santiago in favor of Dom, he’s taking off for some much-needed R and R. With his new found power, Grant flexes on Irving to pull rank and Irving defies him. “I was once you, many years ago.” A rare glimpse into Irving’s past, we now know that Irving’s been with Whiterose for a long time and he clearly feels like he’s paid his dues. Irving takes off leaving Grant to deal with things.

And we’re plunged into another life or death ultimate situation. Leon pulls a gun on Darlene to force Elliot to make his final move. Grant, on a mission to kill Elliot, wants to know of a single reason why he should spare his life, how is he any different the legionsn of capable people in the Dark Army. Elliot says he’s better than all of them. That he’s gained access to the Dark Army infrastructure and he rattles off a list of things they have done and can be exposed for. Grant shrugs it off, they’ll be able to survive a leak. With one card left to play, Elliot says he’s come up with a way to move the Washington Township plant to the Congo. He came up with a way to do it in a day where Grant and the rest of the DA have been idling for weeks. This is exactly what Whiterose wanted to here. Elliot figured out the one thing that no one else could offer her. Grant moves in for the kill when the phone rings and Whiterose speaks to Grant from her bathtub as she watches them all on a monitor. “It’s your jealousy that blinded you from seeing the value of Mr. Alderson.” She’s bet on Elliot for a lot, this guy that everyone thinks is simply unhinged and it’s paid off again. Grant gets made to look like a fool again and Elliot isn’t even doing it on purpose. Grant has framed this kid in his mind as his arch enemy and Elliot just found out Grant exists.

Whiterose is in control of everything! Pushing the pieces around to suit her needs, using every single person as she sees fit. Suddenly, Leon shoots every Dark Army guy and leaves Grant standing. Grant will not be allowed to kill Elliot. He’s shocked. And then she says “Know that I will find you as soon as our project is complete. But for the here and now, our time has come to an end.” She then says she loves him in Chinese and Grant says something to Elliot in Chinese just before he kills himself. With her last remarks, I thought she was just giving Grant the order to stand down so I was shocked when he shot himself. Whether she wanted him dead seems unlikely to me, but his anger and resentment must have pushed him over the edge. If he pulled on Elliot, Leon would have shot him before he could have pulled the trigger and knowing he’s second banana to Elliot must have felt insufferable to Grant.

Elliot comes through with his plan and the Congo move is put back in motion.

Angela thought she was being brought to Whiterose but it’s Price who picked her up. At his mansion, we get another big reveal: Price is Angela’s biological father. A lot of pieces came together right here and a broken Angela gets no better. He initially hired Angela to drop her case against the plant and he slowly watched Whiterose get her hooks into his daughter (that he stayed away from for 32 years). Seeing her so shattered, he felt he had to finally do something. In telling Angela Whiterose’s true motives, she pleads for a reason. Why were the deaths of all the people she was complicit to, necessary? What was the goal? And as Price found out a few weeks ago: spite. Nothing more. In the first line of fatherly dialog out of his mouth, Price tries to console and advise his daughter: “Find a way to live with what you did.” Well what now, she asks? Nothing from Price as he’s given up. It looks like Angela will spend some time at the mansion but will she pack it up too?

And that’s the question for everyone. As they leave the barn, Darlene tries to apologize to Dom and Dom lets her have it. Dom is now trapped by the Dark Army, her entire family a marked for death if she doesn’t fall in line. Darlene is an awful person and she’s taken everything from her. Dom’s life is upside down and ruined.

Dom gives Elliot access to Sentinal in order to try and get the keys that Romero backed up with the keylogger. He finds the material from Romero’s computer on the server and because he knew Romero (and the FBI didn’t) he’s able to figure out the password to get in. He finds a dead end though. The keys to decrypt E Corps backups isn’t there. Someone exported them to another location and it wasn’t Romero. They keyloggers weren’t his doing.

Once back in the city, Darlene and Elliot are able to talk on the subway where we get another reveal: Elliot’s dad didn’t push him out of the window. Elliot was having some kind of manic episode and jumped out the window himself. Elliot doesn’t remember it that way at all. Darlene answers that she’s here to remember for him. To be his back up. Just like Trenton did, Darlene trusts her brother. The siblings are back as a team.

This leaves Elliot alone with Mr. Robot. After 10 episodes of destruction, the finale ends with reconciliation. They have an honest talk about how their life works together. The guilt of the hack (not just Stage 2) is eating Elliot alive and he can’t handle the guilt anymore. Mr. Robot wants to hold off to somehow wait for some way to trap Whiterose, but Elliot simply wants to undo 5/9 as a start. For his own sanity.

Pulling from their Wonder Wheel conversation earlier, Mr. Robot admits that just like a piece of Mr. Robot is in Elliot, part of Elliot makes up Mr. Robot. When Elliot asks Mr. Robot if he knew he jumped out of the window, we don’t hear the answer because a subway train goes by. As frustrating that is for us, I get some comfort in knowing that Elliot got an answer.

Now that makes you wonder when Elliot created Mr. Robot. Clearly, he wasn’t well before his father was sick. Was that his first mental break? Did jumping create Mr. Robot as a coping mechanism beyond grief? Angela went through a similar ordeal with losing her mother because of E Corp (Whiterose) and ger mind navigated it differently (which at this point looks like she just hid the emotional damage longer, only to be exploited).

What Mr. Robot can answer, is that it was he who put the keyloggers on the fsociety HQ computers and exported them off the premises. And he did that because of the Elliot directive: what if 5/9 was a mistake and they were wrong? Having a way to undo it, a way to go back in time to change a mistake would be valuable. Mr. Robot sent the keys to their server at their apartment and burned them to an unmarked CD for safe keeping. Elliot is able to start the healing process.

Mr. Robot feeds brilliantly into the modern zeitgeist of the conspiracies of who really runs the world. Forget the Illuminati, the Stone Masons, and the Lizard People, it’s Whiterose. A mortal acting like God, pulling the political and economic strings of the world. Tech and politics whipped together in the darkest and most secretive ways possible. The finale accomplishes a lot. The motif of mistakes and the desire to go back in time to fix them (Angela’s bereavement and manipulation over her mother’s death, the Back to the Future and Superman references) came to a head. We witness both sides of Elliot being revealed as a source of good even if their methods have been mired in ethical peril and personal danger. He’s becoming whole again, as much as that’s possible for Elliot. It also resets the show to the beginning.

When we first met Elliot he was a white hat hacker using his expertise the go after the bad guys that no else could see. The 5/9 hack was initially created to recenter the balance back to the people and away from evil corporations. Now with one major problem fixed by getting the recovery files back in order, Elliot has a clear target. Whiterose is THE problem that needs to be solved. He now has a physical head to hunt for, someone who without a doubt does no good for the world. While resetting the world’s finances was a shot in the dark to change the world for the better, going after the creator of many of the world’s ills is a goal that will get results. Elliot has some measure of purpose and reason again. Something Angela needs too.

The stinger at the end of the credits reveal a personal monster of Elliot returning next season and I cannot wait to see how it unfolds.

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Shameless S08E06

Icarus Fell and Rusty Ate Him

This episode was more or less about each storyline treading water. I think some stories hit their plateau and we’re about to see a lot transition into their next phase.

Carl took a back seat this week as his biggest role was helping Lip. He’s still hustling to make tuition and when Lip asks for his help he’s quick to join his brother. Everyone has given up on Brad, Lip’s sponsor. He’s disappeared on a bender and Lip is the only one willing to look for him. When he gets a lead he tracks Brad’s wild night and ultimately finds him. Through the whole treasure hunt, everyone tries to talk to Lip into essentially abandoning Brad. “This guy doesn’t matter” and “a drunk will always be a drunk” the go-to reasoning. But it’s not that simple for Lip. He’s tied the success of his own sobriety to the mentorship that Brad has given him and seeing his hero crash and burn makes Lip scared for his own life. He shoulders a lot of grief and comes out on the side, I’m really proud of Lip, he’s showing a lot of character. While he gets Brad to stand up and walk forward again, Brad doesn’t get a happy ending just for showing up. I like the dose of reality the show sticks with.

Fiona goes to talk to Ian about the shelter to try and reason with him. She gives good reasons for undercutting the shelter (and why it all shook out the way it did) but Ian isn’t having it. He’s furious and says “I don’t know who you are anymore.” For now, the siblings will remain at odds. Fiona’s shut in tenant springs a water leak in her apartment and that forces Fiona to enter the apartment for the first time. This woman has pushed Fiona’s patience (more than a month past due for rent) and she’s greeted by piles of stuff and…a dead body. The woman died a few days ago, leaving her tiny dog to nibble on her body for survival. While cleaning up the apartment, the idea of turning out like this woman creeps up on Fiona. She finds some pictures in the apartment and manages to piece some parts of this lost life. It looks like she was at least happy a few decades ago. A niece shows up to take over the clean up and she ends up tossing everything in there. A whole life is thrown into a dumpster. Fiona, a similar soul watches on in distress. She ends up salvaging some pictures and takes in the woman’s little dog.  He might have eaten some human flesh but everyone is forced into bad situations.

Kevin becomes jealous of V and Svetlana’s sexual chemistry. Incensed at V’s “spaz-gasms” he claims it’s now his prerogative to explore his sexuality. V and Svetlana don’t object and let him go on his mission without saying much. He first asks Ian how/when he knew he was gay and from there, Kev keeps his eyes and ears open to catching homosexual vibes. This journey leads him to an experience with a gay man and he quickly cements his true feelings: he’s straight. He goes home to a not surprised V and she welcomes her husband home.

Debbie, like Brad, comes to the end of her weekend bender. Except she had unprotected sex with her buddy and that sends her into a panic to get the morning after pill. It doesn’t go too well. Probably the funniest storyline of the episode, Deb really Gallaghers it up.

Frank is riding high, getting his first (non-fraudulent) credit card. He buys a car with it and happily takes Liam to school in it. He cruises into work and gets a nasty shock: he’s out of a job. In another first, it’s not his fault. The entire garden center chain is closing down. Frank’s streak of success has hit its first obstacle and while his initial reaction is to stay positive, this is Frank we’re talking about. Debatury isn’t far away.

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Mr. Robot E3E09

Stage 3

With the devastation of Stage 2 done, the only way to try and turn things around is to make a new plan of attack. Elliot and Mr. Robot take two different roads to the same (or maybe similar) destination.

The episode starts with Elliot regaining consciousness in his bathroom. Mr. Robot used a bar of soap to write a message to him on the mirror before he lost control. “They own the FBI.” Elliot doesn’t know what the means exactly. Who is “they” and how did Mr. Robot get the information he did? He has no idea what Mr. Robot did last night. The only clues are what’s left open on his PC: an article about Tyrell being released. So back we go.

For his part, Elliot talks to Darlene about the message Trenton left him. If it’s true, they have a shot of undoing Five Nine, expose the architects and benefactors of the hacks. But getting to that info that Romero secretly stored is a monumental challenge. Darlene has an in with the FBI, Dom, and she thinks that’s the only exploit the have to get access to the offline system that’s storing Romero’s hardware. She goes off on her mission and Elliot works on his own.

First, he tracks down Irving to set up a face to face with Whiterose. He drops a term to stoke Irving into motion: “Stage 3.” In a smart move by Elliot, he wants to spook the Dark Army into talking to him, insinuating that he’s had something planned that they don’t know about and it’s something they want to be involved with. Then he goes to see Angela.

She’s a mess. Elliot’s been our unreliable narrator since the start and now we can add Angela to the list of paranoid and delusional characters. She’s a pale image of her former self. Unkept, wide-eyed, and twitchy. She has probably 6 locks on her door. Elliot goes to see her to talk about what she knows about Whiterose and he manages to convince her to leave her place for his. She sees Whiterose as her center of the universe so it’ll take some sensitive and careful talking to keep her trust and get her to talk. Elliot doesn’t get the chance to as Leon is waiting for him at his apartment. This freaks Angela out, swears never to trust Elliot again and takes off for home. At her place, she packs her things up like a crazy cat lady and as she’s walking down the street (I think she intended to go to where ever she thought Whiterose was) a white van with well-dressed men stops to pick her up. I have no idea where she’s headed now but Angela didn’t seem concerned about this usually-how-kidnapping-happens scenario.

Leon has come to deliver Elliot to his requested meeting…he comes face to face with Whiterose’s right-hand man, Grant, instead. Elliot drops a little more nuggets about his Stage 3 plans as the Dark Army copies data off of his laptop. He’s told Whiterose has no intentions of meeting him ever again and Elliot counters that Stage 3 is something they want to be a part of. “Are you in or are you out?” E Corp’s E Coin payment system is his new target. With that, the meeting is done and sometime after this, Elliot becomes Mr. Robot.

Angela goes to work on Dom. They meet at a bar and when a tech attempt to steal the access codes off of Dom’s security clearance ID fails, Angela decides to go the old-fashioned way: seduction. Dom is self proclaimed to be terrible on the social side of things so this seems like a decent enough plan B. Dom isn’t dumb though and catches Darlene stealing her ID card. So now Darlene is brought in and up to her eyeballs in trouble. She has no choice but to tip her hand about the info Trenton left, why she was trying to steal access to get into the countries highest level security. Santiago is there in the interrogation room so this puts him on red alert. Dom is once again gung-ho on the lead as they have nothing to lose. If Darlene is lying, they lock her up, if she’s telling the truth the case is cracked wide open. Again, Santiago scuttles what Dom wants to do and Dom becomes more suspicious. I want Dom to get Santiago so bad I can barely contain myself. His reactions have become more and more off and Dom is noticing, she just needs something to push her over the edge on him being on the wrong side of this.

And now for Mr. Robot. It turns out he went to Tyrell’s home to talk some sense into him. Mr. Robot is furious about what happened to his revolution and probably just as mad that Tyrell doesn’t see that he’s been manipulated this whole time. Tyrell blames Mr. Robot for his families destruction and Mr. Robot is having none of that nonsense. As they fight, Price comes knocking. They all sit down and Price isn’t surprised to see Elliot (Mr. Robot). So as Price tells Tyrell that he’s has been named E Corp’s new CTO, Mr. Robot comes to realize that his revolution was never a secret. The people in power knew about it from that start and let it happen. After the drubbing Price got from Whiterose in the previous episode, he’s rather comatose about the entire thing. It’s acceptance of his new world order. His power has been demoted, he lost to Whiterose. He makes it clear to Tyrell that his new title is in name only, he has no power.

So this brings Tyrell back to reality. He’s gained nothing and lost everything. He’s a puppet and locked into his own apartment by himself only to be used by others in whatever way they see fit. Mr. Robot now has a talented man back on his side though.

With all the little birds in the world listening for Whiterose, he quickly finds out about what’s happening from Grant. The plans for Congo are delayed because the entire world is on edge. The US is under martial law and all the people the Dark Army has paid off can’t help them move things through the restrictions that the cyber attacks caused. Santiago has sent word about Darlene and that sends Whiterose into a rage about an exploit in her plan she never thought of. Grant’s talk with Elliot disturbed him and it’s forcing his hand. He confronts Whiterose about her actions. He’s questioned her choices before and this time he’s not backing down. The problems that have come up are because of Whiterose’s decisions. Her revenge on Price changed the plan for the worse. Sticking with Elliot has been a problem that should have and could have been stopped a long time ago. And now that Grant knows about Darlene, he thinks Elliot lied to him at their meeting. He isn’t going for E Coin, it’s going to be them. Grant proposes that it’s time to send off Elliot like they did his father. Whiterose agrees.

This brings us back to the beginning with Elliot. He’s alone in his apartment and cleans off Mr. Robot’s message from the mirror. It’s time to get to work on Stage 3. He knew that the Dark Army would copy his data so he made his own spyware to get into their system when they copied the USB stick to their computer network. So the good news is that he seemingly has access to the guts of the Dark Army. The bad news is that he doesn’t know about Darlene. His plan is compromised and when talking to Grant, it sounded like Whiterose anticipated Elliot trying to do something like this eventually. So is the Dark Army actually prepared for this infiltration? I’m not sure Elliot is going to be able to do what he wants behind the scenes. He might end up being led to believe he is as a trap.

There is a ton of set up for next week’s season finale. It should be nuts.

 

 

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Shameless S08E05

The (Mis)Education of Liam Fergus Beircheart Gallagher

I think this is the longest stretch Frank has ever had with good behavior. He takes Liam to school I think everyday and he’s still employed at the garden center. He’s been getting job promotions too which is something to be celebrated but none of the kids acknowledge his achievements. An entire lifetime of cutting and running and other wise scamming will ingrain that in those around you I guess. When Liam gets a bad grade on a standardized test, Frank is quick to defend his son on account of culturally bias (“Foyer? How he is suppose to know what a ‘foyer’ is?”) Not only does that work but it further raises his status in the liberal elite libido game. Frank is firing on all cylinders.

While Lip remains in his own rather aggressive sexual relationship his sponsor, Brad, falls off the wagon. His newborn son pushes him to the limits of stress and sleep deprivation and ends up at a bar. Lip rushes to his side but a drunk Brad fights back and Lip loses control and track of him. It’s a big blow to Lip, who at first felt uneasy when Brad gave him a list of other full time sponsors who could help Lip in any future time of need because he’d be too busy. Brad is more than a mentor to Lip and seeing him crash like this is depressing. It’s a big loss of hope as it asks the question: if someone who’s been following the steps so well and for so long (and preaches that advise to me) can succumb like this, what chance do I have?

Carl has come up with his own detox plan for the purple heart thief he caught. Cut him off from the heroine cold turkey and keep up the positive reinforcement until the guy can think clearly. In the middle of his project, he finds out this his Army grant has been cut off and he needs to come up with $12,000 by August to go back. With his vigilant determination, Carl hits the pavement and does everything (legal) he can think of to come up with the money. He needs to make a small fortune fast and it isn’t looking good after a full day in the “gig” economy. He does let the junkie go though, 4 days of detox and Carl thinks he’s good to go. Unsure of what he’s going to do for money, Carl hits a windfall. The junkie comes back with his passed out girlfriend and the guy swears that what Carl did was better than any rehab he’s ever done. He gives thousands of dollars in cash to Carl from his parents and says his girlfriend’s parents will give him $2,500 if he can do the same for her. Carl just started a business.

Deb is also hustling. She’s at a high mark at the beginning of episode, her classes are going great, she’s got a major test coming up that could solidify her future, Frannie is happy and healthy, and she’s got some great friends from going to welding school. She aces her test and when she asks Frannie’s grandmother to babysit for a few days so she can go on a celebratory weekend trip, she gets a shock to the system. Derek is home. With his girlfriend, who is holding Frannie. Deb understandably goes on the defensive. Never mind the trip! She quickly grabs Frannie and says gotta go and bolts out the door. Awkward doesn’t do the scene justice. Does this mean Derek is “grown up” now and is going to try to co-parent? Good luck cutting through the rage made by abandoning Deb and your infant daughter, dude.

The Alibi is doing terrible. Only when Svet is working does the place make a profit. This makes cutting paychecks dicey (V and Kev say it should be split in thirds, Svet says 50/50) and V remains furious that Svet stole the bar away from them. V and Kev are clearly terrible business owners and Svet also has another upper hand on them: her sexual wiles on V are overwhelming. Svet is slowly making things go back to the way they were.

If Ian isn’t working as an EMT, he’s with Trevor. The youth shelter needs to expand and the abandoned church turned crack den could be a great space if it’s fixed up. Ian works with a donor (in the dark ways of Shameless) that Trevor knows in order to shore up funding. Fiona, unknowingly, is on the other side of the equation. The church is about 2 blocks from her apartment building and doesn’t want a homeless shelter going up there. It isn’t good for property value. She works her tail of to get 2 artists re-interested in the property and when it comes out that she and Ian are competing with each other, it doesn’t go well. Fiona stands her ground in siding with the art studio in spite of the good that could be done for the kids Ian knows and Trevor works for. Lines in the sand have been drawn and while I support them both for their reasoning, I don’t know who to side with. I also don’t know how this is going to shake out.

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Mr. Robot S3E07

Don’t Delete Me

What a poetic and moving episode! Often stunning to look at and incredibly meaningful storytelling for fans.

The last three episodes have been a whirlwind and this week the action is slowed down and the focus comes back to Elliot. The show opens with a flashback to a young Elliot and his dad at a movie theatre. Elliot’s arm is in a sling and his dad is clearly sick. He doesn’t look well and he’s coughing a lot. Elliot is not happy, he didn’t want to go to the movies and doesn’t want to be near his father. Elliot shuts down every compromise that’s offered and angrily shoots back that he will never for him for pushing him out of the window. This trip isn’t an apology, he’s just feeling guilty about being a crap father and being sick is putting a time limit on any attempt to make up for it. Elliot coldly walks away from his father when he collapses in the lobby (and takes his coat!).

It’s been a few weeks since the massive cyber attack and Elliot has given up. Darlene comes to visit him just after Elliot has completed a computer wipedown and their conversation does not go well. He’s furious about what’s happened, everything that they’ve done has only made the world worse. E Corp will be fine, it was all a waste of time and effort that ended up getting people killed. He can’t blame Mr. Robot either as it was himself there every step of the way. His other half didn’t think things through, allowing evil to co-op the mission. Darlene is scared at Elliot’s tone and says we can get Mr. Robot undercontrol again and Elliot says no, I’ve tried everything and it doesn’t work…

When Darlene brings up Angela, his oldest friend who stuck by him through his worst times, he gets angry. Bitter and resentful for her part in the attack, he swears her off. She’s not doing well? She’s breaking down? Good, she deserves it.

In cleaning things up, Elliot goes on about deletion. The decision one makes when you decide not to see something ever again. That annoying prompt that comes up to ask you: are you really sure you want to do this? Before deleting his files on Trenton and Mobley, he backs them up onto DVDs.

A defeated Elliot. The mirror he punched in his bathroom is still broken. He bought a replacement but it sits on the floor in its packaging. In the broken mirror, everything is distorted. It’s almost impossible to see anything clear with all the shards and missing pieces. Elliot has made a decision and it’s a drastic one. We follow him around as he takes care of what you could call loose ends.

He drops off Flipper at his neighbors. She’ll be taken care of. He goes to buy a shocking amount of meth pills. The dealer susses out what he’s going to do. He then goes to see the families of Mobley and Trenton.

Mobley’s brother lives in an affluent area. It doesn’t take long to find out that Mobley and his brother weren’t close and Mobley has been disowned for being a terrorist. His brother’s lively hood is in jepordy because of Mobley and he’s not going to be given a funeral. A repercussion of what Elliot and the Dark Army did. He goes to Trenton’s house (in a not so affluent area) and her parents are packing up. With Trenton being framed to be working with Iran, and being Muslim, Islamophia is in full effect. In fact, the nation is reeling. A curfew is in place, armed soldiers are all over the place. Trenton’s parents are terrified, her little brother Mohammed stands meekly behind them. The father tells Elliot they don’t want any trouble and the repercussions of the Dark Army frame up becomes very clear. This goes way beyond Elliot and the people he knows directly. The world is scarier now thanks to him. He quickly tells them not to believe the news. Their daughter is good, he knew her. Elliot, in a pit of depression, leaves them behind and heads for Coney Island.

On the beach, Elliot sits down on the sand and takes out the bag of pills. Mohammad suprises him, he followed Elliot because of what he said about his big sister. Moments away from commiting sucide, Elliot is annoyed and tries to ditch Mohammad but can’t. He’s a persistant kid.

The time Elliot and Mohammad spend together, on the beach, at the movies, at a mosque, and finally back to Trenton’s house stands apart from anything else done on the show. Elliot is in the worst headspace imaginable and a young person, who he directly affected, is what keeps him alive. Human contact. It’s so bizarre to think that something like this could be made funny, but how Elliot and Mohammad first interact is a scream. The younger sibling who has a million questions and won’t leave you in peace. The acting between Rami Malik and Elisha Henig here is what awards were made for. The utterly baffled and annoyed Elliot and the endearing need to belong by Mohammad. Elliot repeatedly says “I have something to do,” but Mohammad ignores it. He manages to delay Elliot’s plans just by being present, to be a guardian to someone in need. A last-minute burdon becomes a friendship when Mohammad tells him he’s never seen Back to the Future. Elliot is able to share a part of his life that made him happy (his favorite pastime of going to the movies, putting M&Ms in the popcorn bucket).

And then the emotional cords struck at the mosque. Mohammad sitting alone, angry and confused about everything. It’s here that Elliot beings to think about others. It starts with an argument, Elliot wants to leave right away and Mohammad doesn’t. It becomes a shouting match with Mohammad yelling “I wish you were dead” and Elliot screaming back “So do I!” And there it is, out in the open. Out of Elliot’s mind, made real. It makes them both pause and reflect. They are both in terrible pain. Mohammad says he wonders if he did something wrong that made his sister leave. A parallel to Elliot’s guilt not just about the hack, but about his own father. The topic of where they were born comes up, the possibility of being President of the United States. Mohammad is the first in his family who could become president (his sister wasn’t born in the US). Elliot says he was born in Washington Township and Mohammad reveals he was born in Trenton. His big sister talked about him all the time, her online handle a tribute to him. Elliot knows the truth of happened to Mohammad’s sister. She’s innocent of the crimes that have made the world hate her and Mobley.

When they go back to the house, it turns out Mohammad had the keys to his house the entire time. He didn’t want to be alone. Mohammad thanks him for staying with him, he had a good time. Elliot did too and he tells him that before he moves he’ll take him to go see The Martian since he wanted to see that instead of Back to the Future II. A commitment to another day. Mohammad goes into the house to get something for Elliot and Elliot breaks down while he’s gone. The guilt of everything, the shame of what he was going to do. Give up without trying to make things right. He pulls it together just before Mohammad returns. He gives him a lollipop “because you said you were sick.” A piece of candy and a thank you do more for Elliot than a bag of drugs ever could.

That confirmation prompt that comes up when you want to delete something? Elliot answers no.

Dispare is replaced with optimism. Elliot goes straight back to see Mobley’s brother and uses his tried and true blackmail hacking information to force him to plan a funeral for Mobley. He deserves it. Then it’s off to see his old friend.

Angela is alone, in the dark of her apartment. Elliot knocks on the door and she doesn’t open it. So he speaks to her from the hallway lit in red. He recalls their favorite “wishing” game as a kid. As he talks, she leans against the door and slides down to the floor. Elliot sits down too. We see the childhood friends leaning against each other, a barrier still between them. He asks her if she remembers what they said everytime they finished the game. She answers:

No matter what, everything will be OK.

The words of comfort Angela has been saying suddenly make more sense.

Elliot returns to his home, Flipper happily with him. He replaces the broken mirror in his bedroom and starts to build a new computer. He sets himself back up and when he checks his encrypted email, the emergency message Trenton put on a countdown is there waiting for him. Something Romero (R.I.P.) did when he first set up the arcade headquarters might be the way to undo the hack. Elliot has been given a thread to undo his mistake.

Absolutely brilliant. Two episodes remain in the season.

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Shameless S08E04

F…Paying It Forward

This weeks’ episode title refers to Fiona’s ordeal. She gets a surprise visit from Sean, who we haven’t seen since he showed up high to their wedding ceremony (where the kids through Frank into the river). That was a long hard fall for Fiona, Sean breaking his promise to stay clean (among others) turned her away from relationships and trust. Her relationships with men often found her looking at a different form of Frank. So he shows up looking healthy and clean, he asks if she’ll talk with him. Fiona tries to stand him up but the unanswered questions (and buried anger) push her to go. He offers her money for the wasted wedding and that makes her even madder. She assumes this is to make amends so they can get back together and it turns out Sean is married and he’s only there to say he’s sorry and try and make amends for how their relationship imploded. She goes nuclear, furious that he got clean for another woman and that she’s nothing more than a step on his recovery list. This boils over to her confronting his wife in a parking lot and…she rants to the wrong woman. Mortified and ashamed she high tails it out of there. On the plus side, it looks like this will be a short manic episode. Laying it all out, even to the wrong person was enough catharsis to bring her back to Earth.

Kevin and V meet Kevin’s (aka Bart) biological Kentucky family. It starts out pretty well considering the circumstances. He meets his aunt and uncle first and he’s told the story that he was left behind at a pit stop on a family road trip. The Home Alone defense of so many kids in the car that they didn’t realize he wasn’t with them. When they got back to his last location almost a day later, he was missing. Kevin has fun, getting to know his family and going on a hunting trip helps him bond with them. At the family BBQ to welcome Kevin/Bart, things unravel. The casual racism that’s been floating about gets a little too obvious and uncomfortable. One of the cousins lets it slip that Kevin was actually abandoned, no one went looking for him. Then the jealousy comes out. His brother’s think he’s the one that “made it out” and is doing the best. The rest of them never left their hometown and are just doing enough to get by. Despite his tragic start, Kevin has a lot to be thankful for in his life now.

Lip is struggling to stay sober. To be more specific, no sex life is driving him up the wall. He tries Tinder but quickly realizes that’s going to put him in dangerous relapse scenarios. Through all of his bellyaching at work to Brad, he ends up hooking up with the sexy and always brooding Eddie.

Ian helps out a homeless girl with a place to crash for the night and it ends up costing her the spot in the youth shelter that Trevor found for her. That makes Trevor mad and doesn’t help Ian’s chances with getting back with him. But it turns out Ian is a good influence on her and that wins some points back.

There’s been a lot of break-ins around the neighborhood and hearing that one of the victims is a veteran, that puts Carl on high alert. He dedicates his time to catch the crook and he ends up snagging a junkie with his copper pipe trap (heroine is a big problem in the area. One of Fiona’s tenants uses and the needles strewn around the back aren’t from him).

Frank (now Francis) continues to spend time with Liam. Since the other kids are all grown, Liam is his last chance at being a father. He makes a hilarious slash in the PTA and has found a new audience for his truth bomb “tell it like it is” rants. Liam also gets competition as the coolest kid in school. Another black student enters the picture and Liam quickly sees how his friends and the other kids react. One of the best moments is when Frank sees that the school put Liam in the promotional brochure and he immediately points out the use of his son as the “token black” to boost enrollment. We saw this blatant move a few episodes with Liam being trotted out for tours but this is the first time his family becomes aware. While frank calls it out, he doesn’t object as he understands the hustle the school administration is running. It’s a bit of respect the game on Frank’s part, we’ll see if he turns it around to take advantage later on.

Frannie takes her first steps but Deb isn’t there to see it. The grandmother (father’s side) sends her a video while Deb is at work. With Deb on the outs with Neil, she stakes out her claim back in the Gallagher homestead to no objection (she does immediately go into a whole spiel to defend her position to Fiona though). All of this working and being away from Frannie is now starting to worry Deb. Her daughter is growing, becoming mobile and will be making her first long-term memories. Talking isn’t too far off, Frannie’s personality is going to come out soon. She tries to get Frannie to walk to her but has no luck. She boogies over to Frank though. Maybe all the stories Frank tells them about their childhoods aren’t BS after all.

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Mr. Robot S3E06

fredrick+tanya

This show ties me up in knots!

I knew Angela would turn into a basket case after all the destruction of Stage 2. The shock has manifested into disassociation. Angela has lost touch with a significant chunk of reality. She’s glued to the news reports on TV and each hour that goes by, she seems to make up more things to try and make herself feel better. At first, I thought she was rationalizing the number of deaths. The estimated dead to be in the thousands and since that’s so bad, even if there is another thousand, the level of the crime and tragedy is still the same. After Darlene leaves to her place to gather somethings to stay with Angela, she returns to find Angela playing the same 10 second clip of one of the buildings collapsing. Over and over, the building falls down, Angela rewinds it to when it’s standing and plays it again. Darlene is obviously dumbfounded at what she’s doing and Angela sees her confusion. So she explains that everything is going to be okay because every time she rewinds time, the people are fine. Everyone is going to be fine. Much like myself, Darlene doesn’t know what to say.

Elliot goes to Krista Gordon in panic. Someone he can confide in, someone who knows about Mr. Robot. He tries to admit what he’s done but he can’t get it out and Mr. Robot takes over. He’s furious. First that Elliot is wasting time by going to see Dr. Gordon and then at those who hijacked his idea for their own heinous purposes. His revolution was stolen from him and perverted. He more or less confesses everything to Krista and then leaves to try to get some justice. Krista calls her associate and he tells her she can’t say anything to the police because of doctor-patient confidentiality. Plus he thinks Elliot is full of it as the police are already getting flooded with bogus tips about the next attack. Krista is sure that Mr. Robot wasn’t lying.

Mr. Robot finds Irving at his cover job as a mechanic only to get knocked out by the Dark Army goons.

Tyrell is in custody and is given a mug shot book to flip through to find his co-conspirators. Here he finds out from Santiago that his family is, in fact, gone. His wife dead by the gunshot of her lover and his kid shoveled into the foster care system. He has no choice but to continue with the path that the Dark Army has them on. Tyrell points out two people and his lawyer argues to Dom and Santiago that Tyrell did all of the work he did under duress. He was kidnapped and his family threatened in order to do what they wanted him. He’s going to cooperate as much he can, but he’s innocent. Santiago, of course, goes with it and Dom is furious. She says “something doesn’t add up” sure that the Dark Army is behind it all. It’s a semi-confrontation to Santiago who tells her to stand down as she gets into his face.

Whiterose is still at the wealthy hobnob with Price. In a public confrontation of the rich and powerful that will not soon be forgotten, Whiterose leans into Prices’ question with the utmost satisfaction and zeal. Why go through all of this, the level of destruction? Because Price didn’t do what Whiterose told him to do when he first asked. Corporate skullduggery like you wouldn’t believe.

Next, the return of Trenton and Mobley, who we haven’t seen since the end of the last season. They’ve been found by Leon in Arizona. He’s killed their roommate and brings them out to the desert to bury the body. He assures them that he’s only there to babysit since if he was tasked with killing them, they’d already be dead. Trenton makes a valiant effort to escape but they end up back at the house where the Dark Army has been setting things up.

Going back a little, Tyrell pointed out Trenton and Mobley in the book. A nationwide alert is put out on those to be believed to be threatening the world with a second attack. Their names and faces on the news, someone they work with at the computer store recognizes them and calls the feds. The hunt is on.

The last segment is a brilliant example of how to build suspense and tension. Mobley and Trenton are brought into the garage where all sorts of incriminating evidence have been placed. Material for the fsociety videos that have been being sent out recently and computers that make the next attack clear: airlines. With each step they go through, each horrific bit explained to them it becomes clear. Mobley and Trenton aren’t being asked to work for the Dark Army, they are being framed to take the fall for the attacks. We never see the violence but their last moments on Earth is the stuff of nightmares. The feds find their bodies in the garage.

The episode ends with Dom. She walks up to her whiteboard with all the suspects she’s been piecing together in this web of terror. She crosses off Mobley and Trenton and then looks at the center of the board. A piece of paper with Whiterose written on it. She says aloud what we’re all thinking. Is Whiterose going to get away with it? It looks like it.

Elliot and Mr. Robot are going to have to come together like Voltron to turn this around.

 

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Justice League (2017)

Justice League has been in the works and been worked over, for a while. A book could be written about the troubles this movie went through in post-production. A studio and director unhappy with the rough cut, rewrites, the director leaving the project due to family tragedy and extensive reshoots crammed in to meet a looming release date. That’s a lot inside baseball so let’s focus on the final product. As much as I can anyway. I’m going to get into it so SPOILERS are coming at ya.

I’m a mark for DC comics and The Justice League is one of the biggest and best works in the company’s stable. The animated projects, Justice League Unlimited to point one out specifically, is phenomenal. I had high hopes for this movie and came away disappointed but I did get to watch a fun comic book movie with some of my favorite characters.

Let’s me lay this out first: Justice League is without a doubt better than Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. The hard as nails negative stance some people are laying on it put in a much worse place than I think it is. It’s more coherent and way more fun than BvS. There’s a lot to cover here so I’m going keep this simple and break it into two sections: the good and the bad.

The Good

I love the cast. While I may have problems with some of the dialog here and there, I found the character portrayals to be spot on. I like Ben Affleck as Bruce Wayne and I think he embodies the cowl side of him well. He’s been in the grinder for 20 years and it’s taken a toll. His view of the world was skewed going into BvS and that experience changed him for the better (great line when he’s talking to Alfred about Superman, “He’s more human than me.” He perseveres in the name of good and while he’s always been a loner, he realizes that what’s coming is way too big for him. He needs help and he must work with others. Diana is that first bridge and I liked seeing them work together to assemble a team. His mentorship to Flash is awesome and one of the best character moments in the film. His opening scene is exhilarating and it looks amazing. The Batman: Animated Series come to life. It’s everything I’ve want in a Batman movie (much like the warehouse fight in BvS).

I loved Wonder Woman from this summer and she remains a bright spot in the DC film universe. She gets her own fantastic action scene, in the beginning, her spirit shines through when she tracks down Victor and constantly stands tall and proud through the whole movie. I love what she represents and she’s one of the biggest highlights of this universe. I’d just like to see her do more. When she sees villain Steppenwolf for the first time she doesn’t hesitate for a moment to throw down. She’s in there going to toe with this monster and it’s awesome.

I’m a big Ezra Miller fan and I love him as Barry Allen/The Flash. Perfectly cast and portrayed. He’s weird, funny, scared, and has no confidence. He’s just a kid with these new found powers when we meet him and he really comes into his own through the movie. The kid has flaws and a tainted past that makes him really human. The interpretation of his speed powers are brilliant, often the most impressive VFX in the movie. He probably has the greatest moments in the movie. I’m all about his upcoming solo movie (please don’t do Flashpoint. Much like pulling so much of The Dark Knight Returns into BvS, it’s way too soon to do that story. You have to build up to that, it’s too complex and major an event to do in a film right now. We have to see The Flash be comic book Flash first).

Jason Momoa rules as Arthur Curry/Aquaman. I knew it from the moment he was cast and it all came through for me. He’s such a fun guy to watch, his underwater scenes looked fantastic and I think he gives a lot of life and personality to a character most people easily dismiss. With James Wan behind the camera for the Aquaman movie, I’m really looking forward to it now.

The big surprise for me was how much I liked Cyborg. I’ve never seen Ray Fisher before so he’s a new actor to me and I’m rather lukewarm about Cyborg/Victor Stone. I’ve never read any of his comics and I know him more from Teen Titans where I think he’s overshadowed by other more interesting characters. His introduction in this movie is I think the strongest out of anyone. We meet him in an apartment hiding out with his father talking to him. He’s all covered up and you can see parts of him glowing in the dark. He takes heavy metallic footsteps around the kitchen and it’s an arresting introduction to a character that’s scared of himself. He doesn’t know if he’s human anymore, every day his robot parts are changing on their own giving him new capabilities (the shock from his father has he hovers with boosters in his legs is perfect). I really liked his part of the story and I think Ray Fisher really brought this tough to translate character from paper to real life. Most of the VFX work on him is very good too. There are a few suspect shots here and there but I’m happy with how he turned out.

I like Henrey Cavill as Superman but he’s often given the short stick on screen due to things completely out of his control. I’ll get to this in a bit.

Justice League also has the best action of any DC movie made to date. The aforementioned opening with Batman sets the stage. The present day sequence on Themyscira with the Amazons on defense is some of the wildest stuff I’ve ever seen. The most epic run of keep away imaginable and it’s another highlight outside of the Wonder Woman movie of how amazing these people are. They take their trusted roles in keeping the world safe seriously with a plan if they lose control of a situation. They do everything possible to keep Steppenwolf at bay, sacrificing themselves at every breach. I mean some of them lock themselves into the vault with a force of nature to buy the escaping Queen Hippolyta more time to get away. It’s intense. Then there’s cool full battle flashback of Steppenwolf’s first invasion attempt, the underground war of the Justice League meeting Steppenwolf for the first time, Superman going buck wild when he’s resurrected by the team (Flash vs Superman is a treat with one of the best reaction shots in movie) and the ultimate battle at the end with everyone team member using their special skills to contribute.

The Bad

I think most of the glaring faults are technical. This movie looks like it’s not finished at points and that’s a frightening problem. The reshoots apparently replaced a lot and it’s rather obvious what those scenes are. Insane close-ups the look like they were done really fast and done that way to cut corners (money) in production. Put a green screen behind the actors, insert a blurry background of nothing behind them in post-production and move on. You can clearly see what major VFX was planned and worked on from the very beginning (all the work done for Flash, Aquaman under water, the fight on Themyscira) as those parts look very good. The bad work is so bad it sucks all the attention away.

The worst is what they had to do for Henry Cavill. He was filming the next Misson: Impossible movie and he grew a mustache for the role. He was needed for Justice League reshoots at this time and (reportedly) Paramount wouldn’t let him shave it off. Since Superman never has a mustache (and you can’t grow one when you’re dead) they had to digitally remove the mustache. It’s going to go down as one of the worst digital effects in history. His mouth is too small, his nose is screwed up and you can clearly see the line where flesh ends and digital skin begins. A great actor (and character) looks inhuman. It’s so distracting it takes away from whatever Superman is talking about. The first scene in the movie is of him talking to the camera and the effect stares at you like a festering wound. It made me look at Henry Cavill’s mouth in every scene he’s in to see if it was fake, the most obvious tell of reshot footage. It crushes suspension of disbelief in many scenes. Josh Whedon obviously though the effect wouldn’t be a problem because he shoots Cavill so close many times. It just makes it worse, there’s no way to hide it.

And then there’s Steppenwolf. He’s also not finished at times. He’s completely CG (fantastic voice-over work from Ciaran Hinds at least) and he goes from good to what happened. His movement animation is very good, it’s up close where he can fall apart. In the beginning of the movie, there’s a section where it looks like his face is using temporary textures. Like blurry, low-resolution textures from a videogame made 8 years ago. And his lip movement doesn’t work at all! It looks like it’s the first pass at facial animation. You can’t take this thing seriously it looks so off. Ruins the illusion of a real character. This all as to come down to the digital teams not being giving good source material to work with and not enough time to do it.

The two best case scenarios that come to mind for these effects are easy to point out. Compare this mustache debacle to the work the nose replacement effect for Ralph Fiennes as Voldemort in the Harry Potter films. That’s how CG replacement is done. That complicated effect was planned from the very start and had enough time to be perfected. And let’s look at Hulk in the recent Marvel movies. He’s too big to not be CG. His body animation is very good (like Steppenwolf) but it’s the motion capture of Mark Ruffalo that sells him as a living, breathing entity on screen. He emotes in a way that a person can recognize and the lip-synching is correct.

Outside of these tech issues, there is also basic story complaints. The movie is too short, it feels compressed (which sounds like is a direct studio reaction to Zach Snyder’s movies tending to run well over 2 hours). The movie just races forward with little logic in mind. Characters just show up when they need to. Major plot devices get rushed through with side remarks. “Have you found the kid yet?” “I have a lead.” Cut to Bruce Wayne in Barry’s hideout. Could we at least know how you got that information? I’d like to see the World’s Greatest Detective be a detective. I’d like to more background of Flash and especially Aquaman (and I know the Aquaman stuff exists). While I appreciate skipping over the doldrums of covering lengthy origins, it’s often done in one sentence here (“So you were hit by lightning?”)

The plot is as bare bones as you can get. Steppenwolf’s motivation for collecting the Mother Boxes barely goes beyond, “I conquer worlds, that’s what I do. Now that Superman is dead, Earth is going to be easy pickings.” And when he gets mad that they are standing up to him, “Why are you bothering with this, you’re weak and will never win.” He’s a dude that’s used to getting what he wants. That’s it.

Lois is disappointing again. She doesn’t contribute anything and more or less stands on the sidelines. We see her in this movie still in mourning, retreated from her career as a journalist. At the start of the movie, we find out that people are being kidnapped. How about Lois digs into that and gets in touch with Jim Gordon? Jim Gordon is also more or less a cameo, I want more of him too!

Having Superman’s first scene back being a fist fight with the other heroes is a bizarre decision. That’s not the Superman people want to see and it more or less feels like it was shoehorned in just because it was a comic book what if? wishlist idea from some random person on the street. Like, “What would it be like for these guys to fight off Superman? That could be cool!” While the logic to get to the fight kinda works, it’s a reach. Batman’s emergency solution is for Lois to be there in case Clark cones back violent. But he waits to bring her out. The logic makes no sense. Why wouldn’t you have her there right from the start? That way she brings him to his senses right away or he’s fine and he gets reunited with the love of his life right away. No matter what, the “love conquers all” motif still works. And good lord is he mean to Batman when he comes back! He’s not supposed to remember things (hence his confusion/anger when he’s resurrected) but he certainly remembers the past when he says “Do you bleed?” to Batman (there are a few strange dialog choices scattered about the movie). And Superman’s face looks like a mess in the ultra close up with the digital mustache replacement. That makes it even more of a horror show.

After two major scenes defending the theft of the mother boxes, the third is stolen without much of a reaction. That third defense should be the action scene that replaces Supes v JL. If he just came back to life, he wouldn’t have been at full power because he hasn’t been in the sun for months. That’s the out for Supes not being strong enough at the time to keep Steppenwolf from taking the last Mother Box.

And In The End

There’s a ton of “why didn’t they do this?” everyone can come up and that’s easy to say when you’re not in the production, the one financing it, or the one with the deadline. It’s easy to look at this from the outside with 20/20 vision. All of the behind the scenes drama and resulting jumbled “fixes” make me want to see Zach Snyder’s full version of this movie. For better or worse (as seen by the choices made with BvS) the movie probably would have felt complete at least. I appreciate trying to get Superman back on course but it wasn’t handled well.

With all of this said, I ended up having fun watching this because I got to see the actual Justice League on screen saving the world. Even the stuff that I think is weird, I rather liked watching. For example, Superman vs JL is a wild action scene, to watch. Flash and Cyborg digging up Clark’s body is morbid as hell but their dialog is strong and builds them both as characters with a great fist bump call back in the final hero shot. I really like the quieter scenes. Barry with his dad, as brief as it is, is great. When Barry sees Steppenwolf for the first time and panics, Batman steps up as the veteran to give him the talk that cements why we love superheroes, regardless of how “powerful” they are. “Go in and save one.” “Then what do I do?” “You’ll know.” That’s beautiful! Cyborgs alienation and fear of the unknown is very poignant for today. I want to hang out with Aquaman, he’s a scream! I want to do volunteer work with Wonder Woman because she’s an inspiration!

I do think Justice League is a springboard to greater things. Let’s slow things down, get some more solo movies done in the spirit of each character and then we can come back for another team up a few years down the line. And a final note to WB for the best way to make everyone happy: Slow down. Hire comic book writers to write the scripts. They know the material, they know what makes the characters tick. A Paul Dini Batman script could get you an Oscar.

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Shameless S08E03

God Bless Her Rotting Soul

There was a few confrontations and eye opening moments this week.

It looks like Deb got her legs taken out by Lakisha. Having largely ignored Neil for some time now, Lakisha got her her in last week by asking Deb if she wanted her care taking duties taken over. Deb said yes not realizing that she’d let her relationship with Neil fall by the wayside, and even worse made it blatant that she was only using him as a means for extra money and shelter. Neil quickly fell in love with Lakisha and has no problems giving Deb the boot. Being called “a terrible person” seems to have struck a cord with Deb. Neil breaking up with her puts her whole life plan in jeopardy so I don’t think she’s going to let it slide and move back home.

Frank is holding it together and even has a moment of greatness at the end!

Fiona evicts the mother of 5 kids but she destroys the apartment leaving a mess behind for Fiona to clean up. In finding new tenants, Nessa’s girlfriend Mel decides to try and throw her weight around. She wants her friends to move in and Fiona tells her they can apply. When a guy comes in ready to pay the $1000 a month, Mel sabotages it and again pushes Fiona to let her friends have it. It’s an obvious powerplay that Fiona sniffs out right away and she lets Mel know exactly where she stands in the pecking order of the apartment building: below her. She tells Mel to knock the ghetto posturing off or she’s going to bring out the real Fiona on her. Infest her apartment with bedbugs, burn all her stuff and then evict her. Mel gets the message.

Lip’s mentor, Professor Youens, falls off the wagon and barrels through someone’s house. It’s really bad, his 5th DUI. Youens has given up and Lip struggles all episode to help his friend. It’s the strongest story this season with Lip crushed that the person who helped him get sober has lost himself and Lip doesn’t know what to do. Thankfully Brad is a phenomenal sponsor and is able to give great advice to Lip. Brad is a positive male influence on Lip, something he’s needed his entire life. It’s an exasperating time for Lip but he’s able to stay on his own two feet. Thank God.

Kev is worried about everyone’s breasts. His cancer scare has sent him into overprotection and he’s ready to give health advice to anyone who will or will not listen. In looking into his genetics (he’s worried about diseases he may have passed to his kids) he finds out he’s from an inbred community from Kentucky. Abandoned at a very young age, Kev has never known where he’s from and resents the people who let him go. V urges him to see if he can find his family to get some kind of closure and find his roots. When he reaches out to his possible biological parents, we find out Kevin’s birth name is Bart. This opens all sorts of doors as we know (as does Kevin) very little about his past and it puts us on the doorstep of a whole new set of wild characters and stories.

On the business front, Kev and V are up to their eyeballs in problems. They’re scraping by on money, The Alibi is getting few customers…the opposite of when Svetlana was running the place. Plus, Svet legally owns the bar, so from jail, she gets a realtor in there to sell the place. V can’t take it any longer and makes a B line to put things right. She goes to see Svet and they work out a new relationship. They won’t be a thruple again but it’s time they all get back to business together with Svet leading the charge and teaching V what she needs to know to provide for her own family no matter what happens. It’s a workable deal (Svet’s future was looking pretty crap, to be honest) and Svet leaves lock up, 3″ pumps back on her feet.

That leaves us with the Gallagher’s need to pay the piper. Frank first tells them that they just need to lay low to let this storm go by them, the guy doesn’t know where they live. And then he does. The left him with way too many leads to follow up on and Ian finds Carl being drowned in his own hot tub. Ian does his best to stop it and they’re given the ultimatum of paying him back what they stole are they’re all dead. The kids pull together as much as they can and it’s about 10k short. With no other choice, they have to go to Fiona. As mad as she is, Fiona is also a little happy about being right. She told them to leave the stolen drugs alone, that any plan that Monica and Frank is a good idea is a terrible one. After they all apologize to her (except Carl) she tells them what she did with the two bags of meth that Monica left her and Liam. It’s a trip to the graveyard for the Gallagher clan. In one of the more awful scenes in Shameless history, they dig Monica up and get the drugs out of the casket. Combined they have around 30k to give him, 40k short. The guy is not happy and guess who stands up and makes it work? Frank! With his newfound confidence and zen, Frank explains that if those drugs were Monica’s and his, that meant they were partners. They are giving back his share to him, what they can’t get back was Monica’s. Considering there’s nothing left to squeeze out of them, he takes it (and Carl’s hot tub).

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Mr. Robot S3E05

Kill Process

The hits just keep coming. It’s been one riveting episode after the next and I’m still buzzing from how intense this one was.

The show opens with a flashback. Young Angela is watching a Back to the Future cartoon while guests to her home mingle about. Her mother has decided to forgo any more cancer treatment so this is more like a goodbye party. Angela is understandably not happy and Elliot’s father sits down to talk to her. Going over to Angela’s mother (which I think is the first time we’ve seen her) she’s talking to her lawyer, Antara (who we’ve met before through Angela continuing the fight with E Corp at the beginning of the show). Antara asks if she’s really sure she wants to stop, as an anonymous benefactor would pay for her continued treatments. She’s so far gone that she’d rather enjoy what time she has with her family than drag out the pain more. Upon mention of the benefactor, Angela’s father leaves the room and Antara pauses, asking if she said something. Angela’s mother waves it off but there’s something hidden in that moment that I think we’ll see revealed soon. Angela talks to her mother about how upset she is and her mother reassures her that she’ll always be with her, they won’t be apart forever. It’s hard to tell if young Angela really believes her.

Back to the present, we’re back to where episode 4 left off. Elliot is staring down Angela, confronting her about working with The Dark Army. She’s all in with The Dark Army and it stuns Elliot. He’s shocked when she says she met Whiterose and that this is all for the revolution they wanted to start, they just need to see this to the end. Elliot calls Whiterose a terrorist, a lot of people are going to die from this. Angela has taken Irving’s word as gospel, assured that the building is being evacuated. She’s straight up cold blooded corporate mouthpiece. When she tells Elliot no one will be hurt, she says it with this:

including your father and my mother.

After weeks of watching Angela breakdown, she’s gone off the deep end and she even digs into Elliot with this line telling him how involved she’s been:

I heard you were let go this morning.

And the race is on! Elliot is frantic to stop Stage 2 and rushes to the building to stop The Dark Army’s plan at the source. This caper is cut back and forth with Dom working her end of trying to stop The Dark Army. Darlene manages to pass her info of where Tyrell is but her superior, Santiago, isn’t so sure about its credibility and doesn’t act on it. Dom takes matters into her own hands and goes out with her partner to scope out the Red Wheelbarrow restaurant.

After Elliot gets into the building, he manages to get his laptop onto the network and gets to typing. Mr. Robot fights back by taking over. Elliot regains consciousness 15 minutes later in a cab leaving the area. Elliot runs back in and it’s an all out war between the personalities. Mr. Robot resorts to physically throwing Elliot around to stop him while Dom sniffs around the Red Wheelbarrow and Darlene confronts Angela about exploiting Elliot’s condition in Angela’s apartment.

Cue insanity. Angela is defiant and cold to Darlene’s anger. Santiago is The Dark Army’s mole. Tyrell gets the truth about his family (about his wife at least, I think) from Irving. He’s furious he’s been lied to again and in a surprise move to I think everyone, Irving doesn’t kill him. Instead, he gives Tyrell what looks like instructions and leaves him in the basement of the Red Wheelbarrow. Tyrell starts drinking like a maniac, handcuffs himself to a cot and starts a fire. The smoke tips off Dom upstairs and she tries to get through the locked back door but can’t.

Elliot makes it into the room with all of the power supplies that will explode when the area floods with hydrogen. But he can’t get to the emergency fire suppression system (that will suck all of the oxygen out of the room) because of a locked door. Then he notices it: none of the records are here. They’ve “both” been played. He pleads with Mr. Robot to help him get in there by typing messages into Notepad on a computer terminal and blinks back and forth into conciousness. After 4 or 5 desperate messages, Elliot comes too with the electric lock on the door broken and the door swinging shut. He races into the room and pulls the emergency alarm, saving the building.

Tyrell freed himself and ran hysterically out through the door Irving used to get to the street. He’s screaming about stopping the attack where he’s apprehended by the NYPD and Dom, who’s in shock that she found the guy she’s been looking for for months and he’s a mess and can’t figure out what he’s babbling about.

Angela and Darlene’s argument is halted by an emergency alert on their phones.

Elliot emerges from the building happy he stopped the attack when he notices everyone around him is solemn and distracted. He joins a group of people on the street looking at TVs in a store window and sees it: 71 E Corp buildings “exploded or caught fire.” Thousands thought dead.

A slap in the face of gargantuan proportions. The ultimate chess move by Whiterose to subvert Elliot and use Mr. Robot and Tyrell’s work.  Fine, if we can’t destroy the physical records in one fell swoop with a single fault line, we’ll just exploit 71 fault lines. Elliot never saw it coming. He had tunnel vision on the initial plan he discovered (came up with, really) and never considered the plans would be altered.

Absolutely nuts. Stage 2 happened and Tyrell is caught. What was on the paper Tyrell was given? Is the final play by Whiterose to ultimately to pin this all on Elliot? The full frame up that he started and executed this whole thing? Angela just got body slammed back to Earth, I don’t know how she’s going to function knowing she aided in the death of thousands.

*This is my 1,000th post!

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Shameless S08E02

Where’s My Meth?

Frank manages to be good for the entire episode. Not only that, but he’s a productive human being. He’s motivated to get on with his life, blaming Monica for turning him into an addict and cheat. He tells the truth in his job interview and the guy sees himself in Frank so he gives him the job. Frank flourishes, turning his typical nonsensical rantings into positive motivation for others and actually working while on the job. It’s a Frank we’ve never seen before: positive about life and not working a scam. All the kids know it won’t last and so does the audience, the only question is what’s going to flip him back.

Ian is wrestling with his feelings for Monica. He goes to a gay bar with his ex for a quick “comfort” hook up and it doesn’t work. He misses his mother while the rest of his siblings have seemingly moved on without a second thought. Carl sells his portion of the meth and Ian gets a terrible tattoo and demands that Carl stop selling Monica’s stuff from her place/actually a storage unit. He got oddly attached to the bag of meth as it was the “last thing of Monica’s” before handing it over for Carl to sell so he figures maybe he can find a keepsake in the storage unit.

Lip hates Charlie’s guts (jealous) and thinks he’s nothing but trouble for Sierra so he puts a plan into motion to sabotage Charlie’s sobriety. He gets a bag of cocaine delivered to his house with a pizza thinking that’ll be enough to ruin him. It works as Charlie stands up Sierra for their date (Lip agreed to babysit again so she could go out) but he sees Charlie at the next meeting he goes to. Charlie didn’t use but it’s still in his apartments. This puts a major guilt trip on Lip who dashes from the meeting to dump the coke. He climbs through an open window, dumps the drugs down the sink and gets bit by Charlie’s dog on the way out. It all works out when Charlie confronts Lip at the diner a little later. He thinks Lip just went in there to help him after hearing his story at the meeting. He has no inclination that Lip set him up to fail.

Fiona gets her first rough taste of dead beat tenants as a landlord. She’s completely open to giving them chances, after all she’s missed more than her fair share of due dates for rent over the years. She tries to work with the mother of five kids but the woman turns nasty on her so Fiona gets fed up and starts the eviction process. Fair but tough Fiona is in the building.

Liam goes to a friends’ house for the first time and the place is a mansion. His friend then comes over to the Gallagher house and while the kid has a blast (jumping on the couch while eating whatever they want, no one there to tell them when to go to bed) the mother is mortified when she comes to pick him up. It’s a big class divide.

With Svetlana locked up, V swoops back in to restore The Alibi. Kev is petrified about his biopsy surgery. He’s trying his best to fight off the fear of death from the surgery or having cancer so he acts like he’s seeing everyone for the last time. In great news and a funny moment when he can’t remember what “benign” means, he doesn’t have cancer. Cue party at The Alibi.

Deb is going out more and more leaving Neil with Frankie. Neil barely sees her and it’s causing growing resentment from him. She clearly doesn’t think they are a couple and he does (she’s got her eye on a new guy who she’s been meeting for drinks with when she goes out with her group). She’s using Neil and has tunnel vision in her own life (things are going well) so she’s oblivious to what she’s doing.

And then the worm turns. Carl and Ian go to Monica’s storage unit to pick through what’s left and are greeted by a guy living in there. A guy who demands his 8 pounds of meth back. They are screwed. That free money is no longer free. Next week we’ll see how the kids decide to deal with this very bad problem.

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Mr. Robot S3E04

Runtime Error

Production went nuts for this episode, delivering a single long take journey through anarchy at E Corp! With some “stitching” to make the episode look like it was done in one take, we are now witnesses to one of the most riveting episodes of the series!

To start, whatever Angela injected Elliot with last week was some potent stuff as he seemingly comes to in the elevator at work. He’s having trouble remembering things. He feels off and his hearing is strange. Angela is standing next to him and it surprises him, he wasn’t expecting her there. Darlene calls him and demands that he meets her outside in 10 minutes.

When Elliot gets to his desk, he suffers through his neighbor’s obnoxious bragging about his weekend. In a message meant for us, Elliot says his real feeling known out loud. Elliot is really feeling off. The guy is at first offended but he turns it around to some self-reflection. Elliot tries to log into his computer and he can’t. He calls the help desk and while he waits, he comes to realize he’s not sure what day it is. What happened to his weekend…what’s the last thing he remembers doing? He starts to panic thinking Mr. Robot must have taken over…for days. He jumps on his neighbor’s PC to check his protections against Stage 2. His work has been found and pushed back.

Then he notices that the HR crew to give employees the boot is on the floor and the help desk says they can’t reinstate his access. He’s been made. We then follow Elliot from room to room, floor to floor as he tries to avoid capture. The only way he can fight back The Dark Army is if he stays in the building. He does his best but ends up pushed out the front door where Darlene is waiting for him.

He anxiously tells her they have to get back in to stop the attack and she blurts out that she’s been informing the FBI since Cisco was killed. He’s stunned into his isolation, the whole world goes on mute. When he gets angry with Darlene for her betrayal she tells him about seeing “him” leave the apartment at 2 am with Angela. It’s Angela who’s been betraying him. The memory of seeing Angela and Tyrell together rushes back to him.

We then zoom around the front of E Corp and go crashing into the building as rioters rush the building leaving Elliot behind. Following a group up, we’re brought to Angela who’s on the phone with her handler Irving.

He tells her to get a package at the front desk of her floor and she doesn’t need to worry much about the anarchy. With package in hand, Irving tells her that the plan has changed and she needs to get Elliot to use its contents to get some work done in the building. I found it weird that he thought she’d be near Elliot at that moment and she seems pretty incredulous about it too. She takes matters into her own hands and in some harrowing navigation and hacking, she does the work herself.

Angela makes a successful drop of the stolen material and Elliot meets her near her office. Standing opposed like two guns slingers Elliot says, “Do you have something you want to tell me?”

This episode was nuts. More great moments than I can write about, they all need to be experienced first hand. It was an amazing storytelling experience with such care put into each scene and transition. A lot happens with secrets coming out and machinations of The Dark Army on display. China annexes the Congo and the man Whiterose told to support Donald Trump for president a few weeks ago is on cable news doing just that.

While Angela has been in with The Dark Army for a while now, she really stuck her neck out for them here. She almost gets hurt in a riot The DA put together but can’t actually control and she was seen by a woman who will probably be killed for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. How she’s going to handle the confrontation with Elliot is anyone’s guess. I don’t even know what he’s going to do. Major turning point and the clock is ticking for the backup building from being blown up. Angela made a naive attempt to get the target building evacuated beforehand but I think she’s about to get the horrible reality check that she’s complicit in killing a lot of people. She’s going to become the exact person she hates and swore to stop.

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