Elliot in “eps1.5_br4ve-trave1er.asf” appeared obsessed with the idea of “fight or flight” or the “zero-sum Game.” These binaries cloud his mind, as he is dealing with real life-or-death conflict. The drug dealer, Vera, who got locked away in an effort to help Shayla, calls upon Elliot to break him out of jail. Vera and his two right-hand men (Isaac and Fernando) kidnap Shayla, forcing Elliot’s hand. Elliot keeps saying the task is impossible, but that doesn’t prevent him from attempting to find a way to save his girlfriend.
What was deemed impossible for Elliot is of course entirely possible with enough time. However, that isn’t the issue. The problem that arises is all of different worlds converging on one another at the worst time. Darlene agrees to help him try to crack the police department’s security system, but Elliot’s kidnappers discover her and she’s dragged further into this plot. Angela rushes to Elliot’s place because believes she found what could bring E(vil) Corp down, which Elliot usually would be ready to hear. But with all of that going on around him, he shoos her off so as not to add anyone else to this sordid plot. Once Elliot gets in the jail and tells Vera about the plot to release him, Vera is overjoyed because he knows there is a mark on his head and the sooner he is out the quicker he can deal with that threat.
Elliot was the episode’s central focus, but Angela also got a few moments to shine. After discovering that her father is massively in debt and that her boyfriend was a cheater, she decided to go back hunting through anything that might be able to nail E(vil) Corporation on the death of her mother. She eventually meets with a former lawyer on the case and after a bit of pressing, Angela feels she might be able to make real headway in a case against E(vil) Corp. The opposite feeling of success hit Tyrell, who was dressed down confronting a higher-up about the CTO position. His wife, who similar to Vera appears three steps ahead of people that always appear two steps ahead, wasn’t so disappointed in his failure and appeared to relish seeing her husband squirm in defeat.
Mr. Robot tries to convince Elliot to run away from this problem because there is no guarantee that Shayla is even alive, but there is a guarantee that Vera will want him dead once out. Elliot isn’t interested in running away from his problems and seeks to find a solution. His endgame plays out, but once Vera escapes jail, he reveals he’s been playing Elliot the entire time. Isaac, Vera’s brother, earlier was about to kill Elliot until Elliot says that he knows of his plan to kill Vera. What Elliot didn’t realize was that he was just a pawn to get Vera out and have Fernando kill Isaac.
Vera’s plan works perfectly, and he throws Elliot a set of keys to release Shayla. Except he opens the trunk to discover Shayla’s been dead the entire time. The binaries he constructed were never in play. Elliot spends so much time in the cracks and spaces where people aren’t supposed to be that he should’ve realized that Vera decided the terms of their deal before picking up the phone to call.