There is a lot going on for Elliot, fsociety, and everyone else inhabiting Sam Esmail’s Mr. Robot in Season 2. But their personal dramas took a backseat to the show’s terrifying and efficient simplicity of a mass shooting in this week’s episode “eps2.3_logic-b0mb.hc.” A single-shot scene set at the FBI’s outpost in Beijing, it focuses on series newcomer Agent Dipierro (Grace Gummer), who is trapped in a corner by masked men firing guns in an absolute no-nonsense and anti-Hollywood shoot-out. This is not only fitting for Mr. Robot’s moody paranoia but also for just how fucking horrifying it is to be in scenarios that are all too common right now.
Mr. Robot, devoted to portraying the world of hacking with exacting accuracy, painstakingly crafted a violent sequence that rightfully omits all the whiz-bang in action movies and shows, effectively creating two minutes of heart-throbbing terror. It is a counterpoint to all the films and shows that suggest these situations are opportunities for good guys with guns to become John McClane IRL.
One-take action scenes are aplenty, and the most immediate comparison to Mr. Robot is the longer, one-take in True Detective (the good McConaughey season, not the bad Vince Vaughn season). But even Cary Fukunaga couldn’t resist amping up his action like a video game. On the other hand, Mr. Robot took no stylized inspiration from third-person cover shooters. There are no clear influences in Mr. Robot and its shooting, as a matter of fact: It’s brutally efficient in the idea of “mass shooting” and does it all without trying to evoke any other form escapism.
Impressive as Mr. Robot’s shooting was, it remains to be seen how much it changes Dipierro, which will beg the question: how necessary it was for her to endure something as awful as this in the first place? This week is very much about Dipierro; we finally get to know her better through expository dump in a moody backroom of Zhang’s (BD Wong) lavish home. She’s someone who ran away from normalcy, driven to the FBI after leaving her boyfriend’s proposal. She’s friendly to her bodega but intimacy is difficult. What can a mass shooting do for her when she comes out the other side?
Sadly, or fortunately, the shooting is brief, ending the episode in a cliffhanger; you can make as many guesses as you want as to who is behind the shooting, but I’d bet my savings it’s the Dark Army because it probably is. On the other side of the world, Elliot (Rami Malek) is caught by Ray (Craig Robinson) for snooping in his illegal black marketplace — underage human trafficking, assassination contracts, you name it — in the dark web. Elliot’s discovery is another big moment for the week, one that adds dread to the already-exhausting nihilism that permeates the show. But Elliot’s snooping in a place where he simply doesn’t belong.