“You either do something or you don’t.”
The second episode of Mr. Robot is about choice, about the push and pull between E Corp and Fsociety, about the idea of an “illusion of control” in regards to that choice. The hour may not be as intriguing as the pilot is, but it’s still able to strike a balance between character study and thematic umbrella, taking us into Elliot’s mind and asking us: “How much of this is real?”
“We’re not a civilization anymore. We are a gang, and we’re on the run, and we have to fight to survive.”
The trial of Gaius Baltar sets up a courtroom that is permeated by history, fraught with tension, and caught between shifting allegiances. For the first time since right around New Caprica, we get a sense of the toll the experience took on the fleet, a sense of the simmering tension that has been building up over the weeks. Director Michael Rymer has his camera pan over the crowd and linger on faces, underscoring the bitterness and betrayal, the desire for revenge, and when the words hit, they hit with an icy bluntness that strikes to the core of the show’s relationships and themes. This is a trial surrounding one man’s life, but the implications of a guilty or not guilty verdict–as well as of the legal process itself–are far-reaching.
“The world will turn, uncaring of our struggles.”
At the beginning of this episode, Vince Vaughn has a nice try with a monologue about his character’s painful past, but ultimately, it’s clear that the uncomfortably long scene is sorely lacking a McConaughey presence to sell those lines. Vaughn simply doesn’t fit in with the dialogue he’s been asked to deliver, and it’s becoming clearer and clearer that the main strengths of season one lay in the performer’s hands more so than the writer’s. And that’s not to say that Pizzolatto’s necessarily a bad writer; rather, it’s that his style can sound stilted coming out of one person’s mouth and gloriously complex coming out of another’s. It’s also not a knock against Vaughn, who’s seeming a bit more comfortable outside of the opening scene; in fact, he has his best scene of the series here when he’s threatening someone by the side of the road.
“Imitation allows us to better understand others.”
This is one of those episodes that allows you to simply sit back and appreciate a wonderful cast. Even without Mads Mikkelsen and Gillian Anderson, the show fires on all cylinders here, tying together all its other characters within the web spun by Hannibal Lecter. We feel his influence at every turn, and each person’s fascinating story serves to highlight one important fact: that Hannibal has scarred them all in one way or another, that who they are in the present is very much a product of their interactions with the man.
Jurassic World loses much of the terror and wonder of the original in favor of fun, summer blockbuster entertainment, and while that type of movie is by no means inherently bad, it doesn’t make for a particularly interesting installment to the franchise brought to life by Steven Spielberg 20 years ago. You can replace the dinosaurs with generic action movie villains and the humans with puppets, and nothing changes except for the fact that it might actually be a funnier movie this way. Well, maybe not. Dinosaurs eating puppets would be hilarious.