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.