Just when Mr. Robot seem like it can’t possibly get any better, it shows its brilliance with Master Slave in a way that it hasn’t done before. The episode tackled the concept of Elliot traveling to a happier place within his mind as he suffered a vicious beating from Ray and his goons. Starting off like an 80’s to early 90’s sitcom, Elliot finds himself on a road trip with his family. He doesn’t understand how he got there, and it seems like Mr. Robot is posing as his father along with his mother and Darlene. The laugh track and the appearance of Alf from the 80’s television show may have given away that everything he was experiencing wasn’t real, but Elliot has no idea how to process everything around him.
But as the Alderson family seemingly travel aimlessly on their road trip, little signs of reality make their way inside the strange world he’s in as glimpses of the attack initiated last week by Ray appear randomly. Mr. Robot keeps Elliot distracted from them as much as possible, but he has a hard time keeping him distracted from the pounding and yelling coming from their car trunk. After visiting and robbing Angela, whom is working in an convenience store the family stops at, Elliot finally learns what’s inside the trunk. Turns out Mr. Robot had kidnapped Tyrell and was holding him in the trunk the entire time. Once this truth has been exposed, Elliot confronts Mr. Robot on everything happening around him before coming to the realization that he is not in control of his body at the moment. Mr. Robot is.
It is revealed that Mr. Robot took control over Elliot to relieve him of the pain of the beating he was taking at the moment. And to keep his mind off of it, he sent Elliot to a happy place to distract him. He eventually reveals that they did have a destination, and Elliot wakes up only to be taken again and locked inside a room by Ray. Mr. Robot appears and explains to Elliot that he wanted to take the punches for Elliot in order to spare him from experiencing the ordeal. Elliot hugs and thanks him for doing so.
Meanwhile, Angela learns how to code as best as possible before attempting to hack E Corp from the inside. But while carrying out her mission, she’s interrupted by Dom before the scene ends with uncertainty of what happened next. The episode ends with a memory of Elliot finding out about his dad’s health condition as they drive together to a place he purchased to open his own business. His dad asked him to come up with a name for it, and the episode ends before young Elliot gives his answer.
As far as episodes go, Master Slave is superb. The attention to detail all the way down to the vintage commercials in the first half of the episode channels nostalgia while still feeling fresh. The first half is actually pretty fun before the purpose of the distraction is revealed. And even afterwards, it shines as a way to show the complexity of Elliot and Mr. Robot’s relationship. Master Slave set the stage for both Elliot and Mr. Robot to finally agree to work together to get out of the situation Elliot is currently in. Master Slave is easily the best episode of Mr. Robot’s second season so far, and it seems like this season is destined to only get better.