***Spoilers for Mr. Robot through “S2.E7 eps2.5_h4ndshake.sme” Spoilers***
…. I don’t know where to start. In a week rammed full of revelations from the tiniest of clues to the confirmation of the season-long theory of Elliot’s condition … doesn’t it sort of feel like nothing has changed?
Though it may not have stood out as obviously as other revelations, the first one came quick and quiet in Joanna’s opening scenes. In a flashback to pre-5/9’s happier days, we learn Tyrell was in the habit of leaving trinkets and gifts for his beloved wife.
Suddenly those packages and letters she’s been receiving take on a new significance, though it’s worth mentioning this conversation about her gifts happened in front of a then far friendlier Scott.
Who, more than anyone, would have the motive and means to play such head-games with Joanna Wellick, of all people?
You see, after getting doused with red paint in the street, Joanna is at home and receives another package; this one a framed ultrasound of an unborn infant. Joanna is not super delighted about this gift if her angry wine drinking is any indication, and we don’t see the image clearly enough to learn any more details.
Joanna heads off for some consensual, tension-relieving choking with her dummy lover Derrick, but he brings the whole mood down by insisting she come to his 30th birthday party (and, essentially, take their relationship public) or else he’ll dump her.
What, is he blind to the fact she’s a tabloid draw and getting red paint thrown on her in the street? Is that why he wants her there: the attention, the drama?
She’s got every reason to be cautious and does indeed avoid his party. But, she reveals to a disappointed and genuinely hurt Derrick, not because she doesn’t love him. It’s because she was having her lawyer draw up the paperwork so she can, at last, divorce Tyrell.
Also finding a new centre and taking back control is our girl Dom. Her appearance this week is intense but scandalously brief as she picks up where we left off, wondering just what the hell exactly Angela thought she was doing on the Fed-controlled twenty-third floor, if you don’t mind?
Dom makes clear she knows eeeeeexactly who Angela is and her history with both Allsafe and Evil Corp. Honestly, the only reason Angela doesn’t just catch the fuck on fire right there at her desk is Darlene in her ear, reminding her she’d be in cuffs already if Dom had even one iota of evidence on her. When she’s gone, our gang finishes their hack of the FBI servers and deletes evidence of Angela’s presence, but Dom already smells the blood in the water. When she checks the CCTV from Angela’s visit, the whole hard drive is “corrupted” and, for some reason, Dom needs to explain to the IT technician audience that they got hacked. *Sigh* It’s one thing to show me how smart a character is, show. It’s quite another to do so by making other professionals look incompetent to do so. Please. No more.
Even more frustrating in Dom’s scenes are that, once she figures out the hack, she issues a series of orders to sweep the 23rd floor and examine Angela’s computer terminal, all of which should have immediate consequences, but Dom’s scenes happen ten minutes into the episode and we don’t see the payoff yet .…I’m going to try and ignore that for now. Never mind that dialogue in the episode suggests weeks pass over the course of the show’s 50 minutes; I’m sure it’s fine.
If Joanna and Dom are finding new purpose and drive, Angela is left as unmoored as she’s ever been. After pulling off the hack, she does manage to drag an apology out of Darlene for Angela’s becoming fsociety’s unwitting Trojan delivery system way back in Season 1, but, other than that, her life falls pretty much to shit. Still convinced about that contingency in the lawsuit, the one that would ensure Evil Corp sites would be subject to third-party inspections by safety regulators, Angela has done the legwork with the people in the lawsuit and convinced them drop it. Now the suit can go ahead, and all that money will be released to the victims.
She’s pretty damn pleased with herself, enough so that she runs and tells her mostly estranged father about it, but he’s more disgusted than he is proud. Angela’s actions mean Evil Corp can and will poison another township, will destroy more families with cancers, sickness, medical bills. Angela insists the inspections will go ahead internally; she’ll make sure of it; but her dad is about as convinced by this as we are, and laughs in her face.
Crushed by his rejection, she runs and tells the other older man in her life, Price. And … guys, I gotta tell you, he’s about as psyched about it as her dad was. His first response is his polite but not entirely kind reminder that the contingency wasn’t the issue. But Angela insists it was the be-all and end-all of the suit, like: GIRL. READ. THE FUCKING. ROOM.
Price (admit it, when he appears on screen you hear this) has to talk himself into feeling good about it by working out that they’ll save on long-term legal fees, but it’s about as much enthusiasm as he can muster. Angela does at least press the matter and ask why the contingency was such a dealbreaker; whether it’s part of some “evil scheme,” but Price sidesteps the question and asks about her evil schemes instead.
Invoking Colby’s advice to “make change from within,” Angela asks to be moved to risk management. I guess she’s trying to make good on her promise to her father that she’ll make the inspections happen. Price laughs at her, too, calls her request a waste of the capital she’s just gained herself but she insists.
Price closes out their scenes and perhaps, relationship, with one last attempt to ask her out to celebrate his birthday, but she shoots him down. You can literally see his interest in her switch off, like a kid with a puzzle he just completed and no longer has any use for.
To the surprise of no one, her new job is not at all what she hoped it would be and, worse yet, Price has washed his hands of her. She learns this from her new boss when he susses out her clumsy attempts to access the servers and old case files, including the poisoning of her hometown. The boss makes clear Angela’s identity and history are no secret at the company and that, whatever game she’s playing, this guy is on to her. She’s left reeling, finally figuring out she just might have just set herself off up the creek without a paddle.
And then … we get to Elliot.
Hooboy. Elliot is still locked up in his little basement prison, being sweetly comforted by Robot/his father, but he’s finally begun to figure out what Krysta meant all those weeks ago about destroying Robot, and what Robot truly meant when he talked about taking Elliot’s hits for him.
Robot can “take” the hits by tucking Elliot away to miss out on the fear and the trauma. But, afterwards, it’s Elliot’s body carrying the bruises and the scars. The consequences. Robot can “take the hit” of what they did to Tyrell. But, ultimately, it will be Elliot who suffers the fallout. So, the time has come … what happened to Tyrell?
Robot tells Elliot what Elliot suspects and I still doubt: Tyrell is dead. They killed him with the gun from the popcorn machine. But the story is crazy light on details and based only on things Elliot and we already know and there’s no flashback or footage. I remain skeptical.
Look, it’s the TV rule of thumb: if they didn’t die on camera or we didn’t see some kind of body, they didn’t die. If everyone who watches Game of Thrones thinks Arya’s fencing teacher is still alive after five years, then Tyrell could be, too.
Elliot is devastated, but, in a very quiet, subtle moment, he makes the astounding step of finally accepting Robot as part of himself, correctly asserting that it was Elliot, not Robot, who retrieved the gun and pulled the trigger. He continues this progress by sort of rolling with it and focusing on his own immediate survival. Ray’s work has still to be completed and it seems safe to assume Elliot’s life span has been reduced to the time it takes to migrate the Tor marketplace. When his work is done, Ray’s surly henchman marveling at the explosion of traffic through the site and the bitcoin screaming into their coffers, Elliot talks Ray into one final chess game.
Over their game, Ray reveals what we all honestly sort of hoped about the guy: he truly was ignorant of what was being sold on his site. His wife started the thing as a side business, but, when it exploded into their major source of income, they made a mutual agreement to let the market decide what was sold there. They would simply ignore it; not question it; just take the profits. Ray was always carrying guilt over it and, until Elliot looked, Ray never had. Once he knew, Ray realises what he did to RT, to Elliot, was weak.
It’s a beautiful scene and Craig Robinson breaks my heart as he lingers somewhere between laughter and tears and admits Elliot is Ray’s answer, not the other way around. He asks Elliot how long they have and we realise why Ray is so contrite in this moment: Elliot has destroyed him.
It’s what Elliot does.
Ray encourages Elliot to leave before he’s caught, too, and it’s an incredibly curious suggestion, considering what’s confirmed for us all later on, so Elliot exists to let the authorities rush in. Elliot’s solution was wondrous in its simplicity. He just made the site visible in normal Google search, so any dumb shit looking for kidnapped Thai girls on his unprotected home PC would find the marketplace popping up in their top results. These unprotected visits raisee flags for the Feds and the operation was blown open.
In many ways, Elliot is a hero, but only to the good guys, as Leon advises. The bad guys, such as the Nazi asshats who come to intimidate Elliot and Leon, lost money when Ray’s site went down.
Before they decide how to salvage their losses, Elliot makes the kind gesture of returning to his church group to apologise to the pastor for his previous outburst. She wigs him all the way the fuck out by first hugging him, then remarking she’s seen Elliot “talk to him,” but she means Jesus Christ, not his imaginary dead father, so Elliot comes down off the fucking ceiling.
She leaves him alone to pray and he talks with Robot about his desire to finish the mission, but he has been uncertain of what to do since the Ray incident. Robot lays out what Elliot has been on the verge of figuring out all this time: Elliot, not Robot, planned the hack. Elliot, not Robot, executed the hack. When you look back at all of it, it was always Elliot, as Elliot, who did everything. Even Robot was just a follower. He talks up Elliot’s potential as a leader; someone people want to follow.
Elliot looks, of all things, touched.
But this is Elliot, who can’t have nice things, so, naturally, as soon as he’s alone, the Nazis decide to take their losses back from him in the worst way you can imagine. While they beat him, Elliot switches between Elliot and Robot but with his new understandings about Robot, it appears it’s Elliot who will experience and endure this particular nightmare all alone.
At the absolute last, stomach-churning second someone appears, and very literally slaughters the Nazis where they stand. Elliot turns in shock and locks eyes with Leon.
Oh, my heck.
Leon, with the most profound expression on his face and the strangest look in his eyes, talks about a letter Elliot will receive and directs him to follow the instructions within. He asks only that, when Elliot sees Whiterose, he shares that Leon always did right by Elliot. He tells Elliot he’ll always be rooting for him and, with that, he walks away
Oh, my heck.
Elliot isn’t done drawing back the veil, though, He visits with Krista and she’s reading another letter of his, but whether it’s the same one Leon discussed, we don’t know. Elliot talks a little more to her about his positivity in accepting Mr. Robot as part of himself, accepting his actions as his own, and the benefits of his deciding to live with his mother.
You guys, it’s a shame we all did guess it so early, because Gloria Reuben’s quiet terror as Elliot talks about living with his mother is a silent acting masterclass.
I kind of wish it had been less obvious so that her moment right here stood out for what it is.
But her fear is short-lived. When she asks Elliot to clarify where he thinks he is, he smiles at her. Elliot knows he’s not at his mother’s. He’s in jail; has been this whole time. Pretending he was at his mom’s house just made it easier to cope with.
Don’t be mad we guessed it early, guys. We’re meant to; it’s a sign we’re good at reading clues.
So there we have it. He’s in prison, but all things taken into account, it doesn’t seem like it would be for the hack, and I doubt it’s for the prison break he staged in Season 1 because both would presumably carry long sentences, perhaps even federal ones. Krista talks about wanting to see him when he gets out, and there’s been a general impression from his friends that his situation is either temporary or easily resolvable. Darlene, in particular, had us believing he could just get up and walk back into the mission, so perhaps this letter Leon mentioned, which might be the same one Krista read, is detailing some kind of exit strategy.
My own theory of why he’s locked up, by the way, revolves around Flipper, but there’s a decent chance it’s because I’m obsessed with that damned dog.
It would be a bold stroke if Elliot’s sentence is something more serious and long-term. I don’t think that will be the case, and hope it isn’t, so we’ll have to see how it all unfolds.
- One question that remains is Ray, and who he is in outside of Elliot’s head. While I do believe that storyline has pretty much completed itself, if Ray was a prison guard or had some kind of authority, his abuses of power could well be leveraged in Elliot’s favor. Obviously, that wasn’t his only purpose. As much as Leon was, Ray served as a kind of spiritual guide for Elliot in coming to help him accept the reality about Mr. Robot, but there must be some fallout from what happened — if only because I don’t want Craig Robinson to be gone, yet.
- Plus, as I suggested earlier, Ray told Elliot to run as if Elliot weren’t in a prison. What … ya know, what the heck does that even mean?
- And what of Leon? As I already said, while I’ve long suspected Leon is far more than just a friend, my theories ranged from a real person just disguised by Elliot’s mind to an imaginary spirit guide and further aspect of Elliot’s personality. I did not ever suspect he was Dark Army and have approximately twelvety squillion questions about him and his role as Elliot’s … what, body guard? I hope, nay, insist that Leon’s story will continue into Season 3 and beyond. Oh, for the record: he did exactly what you think he did to that guy’s ass. Because Leon isn’t playing at all.
- And … Tyrell. I don’t buy that he’s dead. I’ll be honest: I can absolutely and fully accept that Robot/Elliot are capable of murder. However, I do think the show has left clues for both sides of the argument and hasn’t committed to a factual answer yet. I don’t trust Robot to be honest, and I never will. On top of that, it’s just a rule of TV I hecking well live by: You die on camera or I see your body, or you’re not dead.
- That said, learning Scott may know that Tyrell liked to deliver gifts made my jaw drop. It throws a whole new sinister angle on the gifts Joanna has received, particularly the baby rattle. Could Scott be gaslighting the poor girl? It would line up with the show’s narrative themes; let’s be fair.
- But what was that ultrasound scan? Is Joanna pregnant with the loving but dim Derrick? Is the scan suggesting Scott’s wife was pregnant when Tyrell murdered her? Whoever the scan belongs to, what’s the meaning of sending it to her? If it’s Scott’s unborn child, a twist of the knife? If it’s Joanna’s unborn baby … a warning?
- And one last thought: There was some focus on dates, this week. Dom made sure we knew it was the 4th of July and Price talked about it being his real birthday when he and Angela spoke. Everyone and their mothers knows birthdays or memorable dates are common computer or social media passwords, so I wonder if Angela might come through with Price’s real birthday at some vital point later on. I would laugh for days if it’s Angela and a simple birthday password that winds up saving the entire day, I tell you what.