Mr. Robot, S01E05 – “Exploits”
Episode Number: S01E05
Original Air Date: July 22, 2015
Time: 44 minutes
Synopsis: Fsociety works to infiltrate Steel Mountain, the location of Evil Corp’s tape backups. Vera waits in jail for his release, Angela changes her living situation, and Shayla gets a job.
Fernando Vera, now awaiting trial, learns from his lawyer that someone provided the NYPD with an anonymous tip and massive amounts of electronic information on Vera’s gang and their alleged criminal activities—every tweet or social media post. His younger brother Isaac didn’t think their “code” could be broken, but the lawyer says the code was simple. Later, Vera figures it out—Elliot hacked his gang and exposed it to the authorities.
Notes: Vera’s lawyer references The Imitation Game, a 2014 film about Alan Turing and code breaking during World War II.
Characters: Issac Vera, Fernando’s brother, is played by Rick Gonzalez.
Elliot and the other members of fsociety wait in a coffee shop as Mr. Robot bumps into a guard who works at the Steel Mountain facility, using an electronic device to replicate the man’s access card information. They drive onto the grounds, searching for employees they can use as “exploits” to gain entrance to the building. They choose to target Bill Harper, a level one sales associate who provides facility tours.
Posing as invented tech billionaire “Mr. Sam Sepiol,” Elliot follows Harper on a tour of the massive facility, then asks to speak to his supervisor Wendy, who can get him into Level 2, the area of the facility where he needs to plant the circuit board that will allow fsociety to hack the environmental controls and destroy Evil Corp’s tape backups. But Wendy doesn’t show—it’s Trudy, another manager. Mobley sends her a fake text and Elliot, trying to access Level 2, runs into Tyler Wellick, the Evil Corp acting CTO.
Notes: Steel Mountain’s tag line is “Impenetrable.” Elliot refers to the Steel Mountain employees as potential “exploits,” the name of the episode. Steel Mountain has it’s own fire department.
Characters: The fictional character’s name “Sam Sepiol” may be an amalgamation of the first name of show creator Sam Esmail and the last name of USA Networks development chief Alex Sepiol. According to the in-show Wikipedia page for Sam Sepiol, he’s an “American computer programmer and businessman widely known as the co-founder of tech start-up company Bleetz,” which went public in 2014, earning “Sam” $17 billion after the IPO. During the Steel Mountain tour, Elliot has a flashback of his mother calling him “worthless.” Bill Harper, the tour guide at Steel Mountain, is played by Tom Riis Farrell.
Filming Location: The “Old Forge Beans” coffee shop is a fictional location created for the show. The exterior shots of “Steel Mountain” were filmed at the 800 Westchester Avenue complex in Rye Brook, New York. According to Wikipedia, the massive complex was built to serve as the headquarters for General Foods.
Angela is packing—she’s leaving Ollie, who’s begging her to stay. She tells him she uploaded the virus using his PC and ID. At Wings Extravaganza, Shayla is training for her new waitress job, then calls Elliot to chat. Later, Angela visits her father and asks to stay at his house for a while. Settling into her room, she finds boxes and bags of past due bills.
Notes: Shayla says she used to be in “pharmaceutical sales,” but the job ended due to “Obamacare.”
Characters: Angela’s father Don is played by Don Sparks, an actor and published songwriter.
Terminology: “Marrying ketchup” involves balancing two bottles on top of each other, the open ends facing each other. Ketchup moves from the top bottle to the bottom, filling it. Be careful when you take the top one off if the bottom one is filled—it can make a mess!
Wellick is chatting with the financiers of Hezbollah and ISIS while Elliot waits—he’s watching a promotional video about Steel Mountain—and joins Wellick for lunch in the cafeteria. Mr. Robot tells him to exploit Wellick’s pride and hubris, and Elliot asks if Wellick really eats in a company cafeteria, prompting Wellick to take him downstairs to an executive lounge—on Level 2. Elliot sneaks off and plants the Raspberry Pi device in a utility room light switch. Wellick comes into the bathroom and tells Elliot that he knows Elliot framed Terry Colby, probably because Evil Corp was responsible for the death of Elliot’s father. Wellick thinks he’s got Elliot all figured out.
Quotes: Tyrell: “I know you framed Terry Colby.” Elliot: “I didn't.” Tyrell: “Your father worked at Evil Corp before he died. That's a matter of public record. I'm not turning you in, if that's what you're thinking. I don't even have proof, and even if I did, I don't care. Just wanted to know your weakness. Now I do. Revenge. How ordinary. Just like our waiter. But even extraordinary people, and I believe you are, are driven by human banalities. And unfortunately, we're all human. Except me, of course.”
Tyrell Wellick and his wife Joanna have dinner with Scott and Sharon Knowles. Wellick has heard Knowles might get the CTO job and wants to find some kind of leverage on him. Joanna feigns interest in Scott’s wine collection while Tyrell hits on Sharon while she’s on the toilet—and she subtly returns his interest.
Characters: Scott Knowles is played by Brian Stokes Mitchell, and Sharon Knowles is played by Michele Hicks.
Quotes: Tyrell: “So they tapped you for CTO, yes? Don't be surprised.” Scott: “Suspicious is more accurate. I was beginning to wonder why you set this dinner. Four people in the world know about my conversations. Somehow you're number five.” Tyrell: “Then I'm exactly what you need in a right hand.” Scott: “So that's what this is about.” Tyrell: “Isn't everything about something?”
The fsociety members return to Coney Island in a good mood—the Steel Mountain hack actually worked—but get bad news from Darlene: the Dark Army has backed out of their part of the hack. Darlene wants to start the hack anyway, but Elliot stops her. Back at his apartment, he finds the Shayla’s door open and a strange phone on the floor. It rings: the caller is Vera. He knows Elliot turned him and his crew in to the police.
Quotes: Elliot: “My father picked me up from school one day and we played hooky and went to the beach. It was too cold to go in the water so we sat on a blanket and ate pizza. When I got home my sneakers were full of sand and I dumped it on my bedroom floor. I didn't know the difference, I was six. My mother screamed at me for the mess but he wasn't mad. He said that billions of years ago the world 's shifting and ocean moving brought that sand to that spot on the beach and then I took it away. Every day he said we change the world. Which is a nice thought until I think about how many days and lifetimes I would need to bring a shoe full of sand home until there is no beach. Until it made a difference to anyone. Every day we change the world. But to change the world in a way that means anything that take more time that most people have. it never happens all at once. Its slow. Its methodical. Its exhausting. We don't all have the stomach for it.”
After last week’s hallucination episode, this one felt more like a spy movie or something from the Ocean’s Eleven universe, as fsociety hacked and cracked their way into the physical Steel Mountain facility. I love how Mr. Robot was literally speaking in Elliot’s head through the ear piece. Pretending to be an awkward tech billionaire came easily for Elliot—probably because he’s painfully awkward anyway—and watching him break down the tour guide was somehow amazing and awful at the same time.
Wellick and his wife continue to get creepier and creepier, almost reaching Frank and Claire Underwood levels of dastardliness. Between Tyrell hitting on the wife in the bathroom and Joanna sneaking an entire glass of wine while pregnant, I’m wondering how bad these people’s karma is going to turn out to be.
Elsewhere, Vera and his brother turn out to be smarter than we were led to believe—and they’ve figured out who tipped off the police. This could get very ugly very quickly for Elliot and Shayla, right when he’s distracted by the final stages of the fsociety hack. Sadly, Angela, Shayla and Ollie didn’t have a lot to do on this episode, but they’re laying the ground work for more things to come.
Elliot refers to the Steel Mountain employees as potential “exploits,” the name of the episode.
NOTE: All sites accessed on August 31, 2016.
Mr. Robot Wikia. http://mrrobot.wikia.com/wiki/Mr._Robot_Wikia
Untapped Cities, NYC Film Locations for USA Network’s “Mr. Robot.” http://untappedcities.com/2015/07/29/10-nyc-film-locations-for-usa-networks-mr-robot/
Wikipedia, several pages. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Main_Page