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November 19, 2019 6:45 AM - Season 4, Episode 7 - Subscribe

Well, I can think of other ways to bring Elliot and Krista together with high enough stakes to pull Elliot's attention off his immediate mission, but this episode was so well put together (I wouldn't exactly say it was a pleasure to watch) that maybe it was worth it to spend all this time with Vera.

Similarly, I spent a lot of this and the previous episode slightly annoyed at how unrealistic Krista's apartment is for a therapist working in New York, but it provided such an amazing stage for this episode's drama that I am willing to forgive! (It is supposed to be her apartment they are occupying, right?)

In the AV Club thread there was some discussion on the introduction of childhood sexual abuse and whether it was cliche, poorly handled, manipulative, etc. I have to agree that it seemed slightly gratuitous for it to have been sexual abuse, but the important reveal is that Elliot's dad was not simply unable to or ineffective at protecting him from an abusive environment but a perpetrator of abuse. I still haven't worked out what that means about the Mr. Robot character.

For a second I started to think maybe Darlene is the third persona.
posted by nequalsone at 7:03 AM on November 19, 2019

There is also some speculation in that thread that Elliot and Krista improvised their "therapy session" using truths from his history and her files but adding the sexual abuse component as a trap to catch Vera. They were consciously putting on a show to appease Vera but also to get him to let his guard down. I like the idea of that, but I'm skeptical that the writers would go so far as to reveal something like that only to take it back immediately...
posted by nequalsone at 7:15 AM on November 19, 2019 [1 favorite]

This ruined the show for me. It made me miserable, and I am very glad that I was watching while knitting, so I could pay attention to something else.

As you said, nequalsone, there was a moment where I thought Darlene was number 3. If that had turned out to be the case, it would've redeemed the episode and the show for me. I remember sitting up straight when Krista and Elliot started talking about where Darlene was, and then it didn't go anywhere.

I don't think the childhood sexual abuse revelation meant anything. It felt extremely manipulative to me and added absolutely nothing. This show is a misery pump (cf. Doug Forcett on The Good Place as a happiness pump).

After the previous episode and this one, I'm out. I'm going to read recaps and see what you folks have to say, but I'm done watching.
posted by minsies at 7:47 AM on November 19, 2019 [3 favorites]

Yeah, that "twist" at the end was not my favorite, and I agree with minsies about feeling manipulated by that reveal. To me, this feels like an attempt to complicate the Elliot/ Mr. Robot "relationship," to the point that Elliot may shed Mr. Robot as his "protector."

Or he could retreat into what I think is his 3rd persona, young Elliot (though there are some other theories, as recapped by Bustle).

Either way, I don't think this was the only way to force that split between personalities. And if this is a fake-out to distract Vera, fuck that noise. That's exploitative and cheap.
posted by filthy light thief at 9:09 AM on November 19, 2019

Very mixed feelings about this episode.

In the beginning (around the point where Mr. Robot says something like "better sit down, it's gonna be a long one when Vera is monologuing), I literally thought, PLEASE let the Dark Army bust in and kill Vera mid-sentence and kidnap Elliot. Once I caught onto the whole thing being styled like a play or an old movie (the overly ominous music, the thunder clapping, the staging, and most overtly the act cards), I found the Vera dramatics more understandable and the whole thing more engrossing.

But onto the "big reveal" (ick). I mean, 'big reveal" says a lot about my problems with the episode. Sexual assault is not a superhero origin story, dammit. I really wonder about the choice to put a play inside of a TV show episode. The impact, to me, is that it allowed the viewer to be an additional step removed, emotionally, from what was happening because I was very aware that what I was watching was a dramatized, stylized thing. I suppose it's possible that Esmil was trying to say something about us using sexual assault as a plot device, but if so, I'm not sure it was effective.

I do appreciate that we do not discuss men who are survivors enough. I think we need more depiction of men who are survivors in popular culture as part of expanding the discussion. I've mentioned in past posts for this seasons that I do not like the show's reliance on sexual violence to casually vilify people (Vera raping Shayla, the sexual predators that Elliot has caught) as I think that further positions survivors as props. Elliot is certainly not a prop, but again, I just have problems with sexual assault-as-hero origin story. One might argue that Mr Robot avoid the rape-as-hero's-origin story problem, because Mr Robot does show the terrible impact (and not just the badass super powers). I am not convinced though. With only a few episodes left to go and a lot of unanswered questions, this feels a bit more like a narrative device rather than a thoughtful exploration of what it means to be a survivor.

Perhaps this is petty, but it also bothered me that they linked to the National Domestic Abuse Hotline rather than an organization aimed at helping survivors of sexaul abuse. One focused on men would be even better.
posted by CMcG at 11:06 AM on November 19, 2019 [5 favorites]

I've had stuff going on so I haven't been able to keep up with the show in real time but I saw so many people tweeting about the recent episode that I made time to watch on Monday night. I wanted to like this episode but Vera is the worst. Even independent of killing Shayla, he's not a believable character. His plans for taking over New York didn't make any sense, he's not smart, he babbles incoherently, he's super over the top for no reason. So I'm glad he's out.

I am not an expert on the impact of child abuse and such so please forgive me if I completely mis-state something here. I understand why people would be annoyed and disappointed that the show made that a part of Elliot's past. That said, for those saying asking why child sexual abuse, I don't know that non-sexual abuse provokes the same feelings of shame and self-hatred while kneecapping the survivor's ability to feel safe in relationships with others. Not to oversimplify but if a parent hits a child, it can be relatively straightforward for a child to realize as they grow that that was wrong and no one should hit (like how Elliot and Darlene completely wrote off their mother). Coming to terms with the fact that the way a parent hurt you is a way that adults show love and affection for each other is a completely different mindfuck.

A thing that I've been thinking is that the character of Mr. Robot is not Elliot's father but who Elliot wishes his father was - someone who protects him. That was why he said in the episode "I can't protect you any more" - because once Elliot consciously knew that his father abused him, the appearance of that persona would bring Elliot more pain, not comfort.

One of my frustrations with this episode is why now? There are five episodes left and I feel like each should move the story along. That said, I'm glad they didn't try to shoehorn in a(nother) plot development.
posted by kat518 at 11:43 AM on November 19, 2019 [4 favorites]

The more I think about it, the more this episode upsets me. Was anyone really wondering about Mr Robot's origin story at this point? Was that really a "loose end" that needed to be tied up?

I know there are a lot of critiques of "trigger warnings," but I do wonder if creators ever put themselves in the shoes of survivors when they do these kinds of reveals (I'm positive some are survivors themselves and doing the best they can). Do these reveals make survivors feel less alone? Or do they make them feel ambushed by their entertainment?

I think with Mr Robot, one of the pleasures of the show is discussing it with a community (online or in person) to speculate about what's going to happen. This week, to me, feels like a very different discussion. I don't know about you, but I don't really want to have a water cooler discussion at my office about molestation/sexual assault/parental abuse. I don't know who is personally impacted by that and people don't know if I am personally impacted by that. It's not that I think this show is light entertainment...I guess I just enjoy the speculative sci-fi parts a lot more than things like this.

There is just something truly wrong and backwards about a society where we do not believe survivors of sexual assault and rape, but it remains such a central part of our entertainment. The phrase "rape culture" comes to mind.
posted by CMcG at 12:00 PM on November 19, 2019 [1 favorite]

So stylistically and everything that was undoubtedly well put together (it's at number 2 on top imbd tv episodes ever at the moment). I'm sure it will be discussed and dissected by tv buffs and film students forever more.

I'm not sure what I thought. In that final scene with Elliot and Vera, I was thinking oh great, they've just conveniently forgotten about Krista who was sexually assaulted 30 minutes ago and then she came in and did what she did. That she recovered some agency redeemed it a bit for me following the relentless abuse of women in the previous episode.

My jury is still firmly out but I'll stick with it until the end of the season to see how it is all brought together. I'm less and less sure it will turn out to be the great season of tv I was geared up for.
posted by roolya_boolya at 1:44 PM on November 19, 2019

Sexual assault is not a superhero origin story, dammit

Totally agree with this, but not sure that Eliot is supposed to be the hero? To me he seems like a really broken person, whose behavior is becoming more reprehensible as the series moves forward. The revelation did feel like a last piece of a puzzle falling into place, like we hadn't seen that much damaging treatment from his mother to really explain the depth of his hurt? Did the revelation need to be sexual abuse? not sure, but the ramifications of having a parent who was otherwise kind and supportive that is also abusive could absolutely cause the shattering of personality that we see in Eliot.

story-wise, this raises other questions as well - like was it really his father's cancer that he told his mother about, or was it actually the abuse? did he freak out and jump out the window because he was afraid that Darlene (hiding in the closet) would see what had been going on?

Glad that vera's gone though, I didn't need any more closeups of that greasy forehead. I did find that the staging of the episode really drew me in. I watched it on monday afternoon, and it was a bit disorienting when it was over to look out the windows to a normal Toronto day, not a new york thunderstorm
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 1:46 PM on November 19, 2019 [2 favorites]

Sexual assault is not a superhero origin story, dammit.

Absolutely, but I don't see Elliot as a hero at all. He's a very bad person, there's no way around it, and tragic origins cannot excuse future evil. Elliot's primary "power" is his fractured psyche, essentially mental illness stemming from traumas the show has been revealing over time. Doesn't make it any less problematic to pull it out just because it's by far the most extreme and evil thing people can and too-often do.

Apparently the show is a stretched out adaptation of a complete movie screenplay. I dunno if that means molestation was always going to be one of the "twists" or if that arose because of the structure of the show changed things. Either way, finding out the "twist" of something, a dramatic reveal, usually isn't something so horrible even when it's a horrible thing that happened. And when it is, you'd expect it to be telegraphed more.
posted by GoblinHoney at 2:02 PM on November 19, 2019

Sexual assault is not a superhero origin story, dammit.

I agree but. While this was framed as a Big Reveal, I feel like it’s not that simple because 1) when a fictional character has experienced sexual violence, it’s almost always a woman so I feel like this was different and 2) it’s not a superhero origin story but it is part of an origin story. Considering the numbers of people out there who have been abused, one could argue that there should be more fictional characters who have that in their past, not to titillate but to more accurately reflect society. Though sure, most people who have survived sexual violence do not dissociate and bring about the collapse of the world economy.

In that final scene with Elliot and Vera, I was thinking oh great, they've just conveniently forgotten about Krista who was sexually assaulted 30 minutes ago and then she came in and did what she did.

I hadn’t thought about it that way but I like it especially given how much agency was taken from the women on the show in the previous episode. I also appreciated that Krista was stopping Vera from continuing to abuse Elliot. After having been failed by both of his parents, he finally had someone do something to protect him.
posted by kat518 at 3:03 PM on November 19, 2019 [3 favorites]

I'm still chewing on this episode. Part of me thinks it was brilliant, part of me hates it.

The sexual abuse thing felt really contrived and out of nowhere until I thought about it for a while, and thought back on the show - and it definitely wasn't out of nowhere, this was here from the beginning. I've seen a lot of comments talking about seeing many of the conversations with Elliots dad and realizing that there were clues to this all along.

Something that suddenly hit me was the realization of just why Elliot would burn things that he wanted to forget to a CD/DVD, obscured within what looked like a copied music album.... Things "never to be seen," as he referred to them much earlier in the show. I remember writing it off as an odd quirk at the beginning of the show, but now I understand that this is what his father must have done to hide yet preserve videos of his abuse - things that Elliot wanted deeply to forget.

So this wasn't some sort of contrived last minute thing, it was most definitely part of the whole concept. There's a bit of brilliance to be found in the way that they have dealt with it and foreshadowed it in that if you have experienced any abuse or been in proximity to it, it's often so crystal clear in retrospect - you suddenly see things that may have been a bit strange or odd in all of their horrifying clarity.

Outside of that - I hated Veras character, yet loved the acting behind him. I don't think Vera is supposed to be smart, or coherent, or anything other than over-the-top ambition without focus. He seemed really pointless at first, but I think he also may have served as a way for Elliot/Mr. Robot to critique the futility of one person trying to overthrow well entrenched and expansive power structures without having to directly self-critique. Vera wants to "own" NYC, but Elliot wants to "own" something much larger.

Like I said, I'm still chewing on this one. My first reaction really was a "i hate this and it all seems out of place but i'm not going to stop watching it" sort of thing, yet here I am taking about it and still thinking about it - and the more I chew on it, the more I see how it fits in the whole series.
posted by MysticMCJ at 3:40 PM on November 19, 2019 [4 favorites]

this is what his father must have done to hide yet preserve videos of his abuse
and one of the first things we see Elliott doing is going after a guy distributing child porn, and then not recognizing his sister, which indicates a pretty serious dissociative episode.
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 3:56 PM on November 19, 2019 [5 favorites]

There's evidence that:

Ongoing trauma, especially childhood physical, sexual, or emotional abuse and/or neglect is a very significant risk factor for the development of dissociative disorders, and is thought to be the root cause in at least 90% of people with these conditions.

Overall, people with Dissociative Identity Disorder report more historical psychological trauma than people with any other category of diagnosed mental illness. And at an earlier age. Given these odds, it seems like a disservice not to explore Mr. Robot's origins.

I feel it's fair to take issue with how the show hinges plot movement on Elliot's trauma. And we can question using DID as developmental factor for his special gifts. But I think the reveal in and of itself is a necessary exploration of his character, and one we shouldn't shy away from because talking about mental illness or childhood sexual abuse is scary, uncomfortable and taboo.

Globally, somewhere between 15-25% of women and 5-15% of men are sexually abused before age 18. In the U.S., we estimate 1 in 5 women and 1 in 13 men. Maybe as high as 1 in 4 women and 1 in 6 men. Victims usually know their perpetrators... who are likely to be adults, likely to be men, and if it's a family member... likely to be a parent. So, here: Dad.

I think this entire episode is grounded in a reality we all too frequently ignore. The facts match for me. And Elliot's emotional turbulence was spot on. (If truncated for an hour-long TV episode.)
posted by aw jeez at 4:06 PM on November 19, 2019 [2 favorites]

I want to clarify something. The rape-as-origin-story-for-hero trope isn't about whether or not the person is a hero. It's about the dichotomous nature of the depiction of sexual assault survivors: either you're totally broken or super-powered or some mixture of the two. Consider the Madonna/Whore trope for women (which includes the "mixed" version of the prostitute with a heart of gold). It's not about debating whether which category an individual falls into, it's about contributing to popular culture canon that only allows for an extremely limited set of depictions.

That being said, I take people's point: how are creators supposed to depict/discussion sexual assault in their work to broaden and deepen the conversation? I think aw jeez provides some good criteria in exploring whether or not this is a realistic portrayal in terms of the prevalence of abuse and who the typical perpetrator is. I also appreciate that (this time) the show did not depict scenes of the abuse or describe it in detail.

It still sits wrong with me for two reasons:
- I still think that the tonal shift of the episode (staging it like a play) places the audience at a further remove from the emotions of the episode; it distances us from empathizing with Elliot and instead continually reminds us that he is a "character." If Esmail was going for realism, that is a strange choice.
- It's really easy to mistake this as a different kind of show, speculative sci-fi for example. Burying sexual violence this deep into a show and treating it as "twist" or "reveal," I don't know if that's fair or respectful survivors of sexaul violence. I've hung through a lot of casual sexual violence in this show, perhaps because I've been desensitized to it. I am surprised to now find that this show is "about" sexual violence (among other things). (I am speaking as a survivor here, however, I do not claim to speak for all survivors and especially cannot speak for men.)
posted by CMcG at 5:40 PM on November 19, 2019 [4 favorites]

PS: I am not "scared" to talk about sexual violence and I don't think that's a fair characterization of people who are critiquing its use in the show.
posted by CMcG at 5:43 PM on November 19, 2019

thanks for the clarification, that's helping me understand your point better
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 5:46 PM on November 19, 2019

I think I understand what you’re saying, CMcG. A reason I’m a little disappointed with it is because it’s so pat - he’s this way because of this. I agree with your point about how making the whole episode like a play gave the audience some distance though I’d understand if that was intentional. I don’t think the writers are trying to traumatize the audience. And I think we agree that there isn’t a clear answer to the question of why this reveal took place now but I think that may be answered in the next few episodes. I didn’t feel like Krista was that important to Elliot. She just seems to pop up from time to time.

I feel like the series has done a decent job of balancing episodes that were gut wrenching (season 3, episode 6 when all the buildings come down) with those that are more restorative (season 3, episode 8 when Elliot chooses not to lull himself). After the intensity of the last two episodes, I hope the next one is a bit of a breather.
posted by kat518 at 6:11 PM on November 19, 2019

I think those are good points CMcG. I don't know that I agree either with Esmail framing this new knowledge as a "twist" so late in the game. Sorry if I implied that not wanting to talk about sexual violence meant you, as an individual, are "scared." It was a poor choice of adjective. What I mean is, I think the discussion looms over us socially as an unspoken horror, and that naming it over and over is terrifying to us on a broad level because it makes us aware that we are failing so many people who need protection. To my eyes, being able to have water cooler rounds about devastating things is an indication that they are in public consciousness, which I personally think is a net good. (Read your audience of course before bringing such things up. As you said you don't know a person's history.)

I want abuse to be front and center as long as it's happening. I mean, if TV characters actually reflected our diverse realities, not only would we have more women, people of color and queer folk in well-developed roles... we'd also have more people in poverty... and people with neurodivergences, disabilities, sicknesses and trauma histories. What would TV even look like if 1 in 10 characters took a nuanced look at their own childhood sexual abuse, in a way that gave them agency, autonomy and a real voice? So I don't think Esmail's portrayal is perfect, but I'm glad someone's trying. I can't really think of another show featuring DID where the character who has it is so emotionally complex and, not a straight-up monster.
posted by aw jeez at 6:51 PM on November 19, 2019 [1 favorite]

I feel like the direction was so overtly theatrical to hang a lantern on how old-fashioned and theatrical the reveal of the sexual abuse was.

I'm of two minds about the sexual assault/abuse "twist"...I think it's perfectly believable and (dare I say) normal that Elliot would have sexual abuse in his past, but the normality of it is exactly what made the whole theatrical "show" so...I dunno, grotesque to me. That said, I think the grotesqueness and theatricality (even campiness?) of it was part of the point.

Elliot says early on that he and Krista need to give Vera a show, and then they go on to give him a big one, and I think it's likely that the reveal was "factual" -- but I don't know that Elliot's feelings and how they "played it out" for Vera was actually real. Like, Vera is a rapist who assaulted Krista right there in her home minutes before and then calmly tells Elliot that his mother "passed him around" to her friends during his childhood...Elliot doesn't actually seem to have romantic or sexual hangups beyond his terrible social skills, but Vera certainly does. So I dunno, the "reveal" was maybe just a show for an audience of one -- Vera. Not that it was all outright lies but how Elliot and Krista spun the tail was tailored for Vera in particular?

When Vera mentioned Fox & Friends early on, it took me aback because it seemed anachronistic seeing as the show is set in either the pre-Trump US or in an alternate 5/9 US...but now I feel like the reference was maybe a way of saying that just like Fox & Friends is a show for an audience of one deranged mafioso narcissist, so is the show that Elliot, Krista, and even Vera's goons have to stage for Vera.

It's interesting because one reason to have characters face horrible things, including abuse or assault, in entertainment is so that the audience, who may also have faced those or similar things, can feel a catharsis by watching. And BOY does a catharsis feel good! Maybe that's what Vera wanted from Elliot (and Krista). He needed to see Elliot face sexual assault/abuse with Krista in order to have a catharsis vis a vis Elliot...which is what an audiences wants from their "entertainment" and "entertainers." And meanwhile, we-the-actual-audience also get catharsis when Krista faces *her* attacker, Vera. Vera watches the Elliot-and-Krista show and gets catharsis through Elliot's revelation, and we watch the Vera-and-Krista show and get catharsis through Krista's killing of Vera.

I bring that up because it seemed like...well, like I said, it seemed like not only did Elliot's emoting seem mostly for Vera's benefit but it seemed like Vera is the one who needed to talk about and deal with sexual assault wayyyyyy more than Elliot did anyhow, given that Vera is constantly assaulting people and then turns out to have been a victim as a child, too.
posted by rue72 at 9:16 PM on November 19, 2019 [1 favorite]

I really enjoyed this episode. I felt like it's structure and presentation (loved the dramatic thunder) worked well to underscore Elliot's emotional landscape across the entire episode. Both underscoring and also animating and it's possible that the thunder strikes are the cues across the episode that show Elliot's unwinding.

The tight cast, the close setting, and 5 act structure, I felt like this was a really great episode of a really great show. The facial breakdown of Malik at the height of his confrontation is one of the most amazing pieces of acting I've ever seen.

We only have 3 episodes left. I'm wondering what is is store for us.
posted by hippybear at 10:40 PM on November 19, 2019 [2 favorites]

I'm still digesting this episode and the big reveal, but I have a serious question.

If we are to believe the big revelation in this episode, doesn't that mean we have to accept everything else in the episode too?

And in that case are we actually supposed to believe that Vera took over the entire Dominican Republic, not just the drug trade but the politicians and businesses as well?

Because that's RIDICULOUS.

I'm not sure whether Vera was full of shit, which makes me wonder if anything else in this episode was real either.
posted by mmoncur at 5:40 AM on November 20, 2019 [4 favorites]

We only have 3 episodes left. I'm wondering what is is store for us.

hippybear, there are going to be 13 episodes in this season. (That's part of the reason I'm out - I could've done another couple of episodes with things being so weirdly paced and uneven, but not that many.)
posted by minsies at 6:29 AM on November 20, 2019

I didn't like this episode. It was a wall of Vera mumbling on with insane rants and I just don't care what crazy that character had to say. The loud soaring music track and thunder over his ranting didn't help with trying to follow along, and I didn't care enough about what he was rambling on about to bother with subtitles.

It doesn't seem believable that crack-head Vera actually took over the DR. It is much more likely that everything he said was a figment of his drug-addled and deranged imagination. Mr. Robot kept pointing out that he was an idiot and his plan was stupid when he gibbered on about taking over NYC, so I don't think we were actually supposed to believe what he said.

Vera's obsession with getting Elliott on his "team" made no sense.
posted by fimbulvetr at 6:45 AM on November 20, 2019 [1 favorite]

CMcG: I know there are a lot of critiques of "trigger warnings,"

Do you mean trigger warnings in the beginning of episodes, or trigger warnings in general? Are these critiques in good faith, or "bashing softies"?

CMcG: I still think that the tonal shift of the episode (staging it like a play) places the audience at a further remove from the emotions of the episode

THIS -- by starting with theatrics, something the show has not done previously, the tone is shifted drastically. Everything felt off-kilter. In reflection, I imagine that this episode could have still had the same general arc, but with different treatment that would make the final "twist" seem like less of a surprise.

rue72: I feel like the direction was so overtly theatrical to hang a lantern on how old-fashioned and theatrical the reveal of the sexual abuse was.

If this was their goal, 1) I didn't get it, so it's not a clear message for all audience members, and 2) it's still a super shitty way to treat sexual abuse, particularly sexual abuse of kids.

mmoncur: And in that case are we actually supposed to believe that Vera took over the entire Dominican Republic, not just the drug trade but the politicians and businesses as well?

Because that's RIDICULOUS.

Thanks for flagging this. I'll admit, I don't know nearly enough about DR to gauge how realistic that was. From Wikipedia:
The Dominican Republic has the ninth-largest economy in Latin America and is the largest economy in the Caribbean and Central American region. Over the two decades to 2012, the Dominican Republic has had one of the fastest-growing economies in the Americas – with an average real GDP growth rate of 5.4% between 1992 and 2014. GDP growth in 2014 and 2015 reached 7.3 and 7.0%, respectively, the highest in the Western Hemisphere.
2019 GDP estimate: $200.639 billion.

Vera's monologue on taking over the Dominican Republic:
Settle in, this looks like it's gonna be a long one.

Except there I was, back in the DR with those same motherfuckers who didn't believe in me said I wouldn't amount to nothing. This time, they was wrong. I had tools now. I had vision I didn't have before. So I started hustling.

I set up shop couple of corners here and there. At first, on my own. Then a few other niggas got impressed, joined in. Couple of block battles but nothing we couldn't handle. Matter of fact, it was easier than ever.

And like a virus, we multiplied. Within 43 days, I took down every gang. From there, it was easy to get to the politicians, especially with Five/Nine pounding their wallets. Once that domino fell, we took control of all the favelas in both the Dominican and Haiti. I was running everything and everyone from the president to the campesino.

And by day 87, I finally had my own island.

Then on the 88th day, I got bored.
Either 5/9 really tanked DR, or this was all being some weird dissociative episode.

Or Vera was bluffing, hard.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:37 AM on November 20, 2019 [1 favorite]

welp, I guess now we know why darlene has a lolita reference in place of a hacker name

does anyone know why we're still watching this asking for a friend
posted by queen anne's remorse at 3:47 PM on November 20, 2019 [3 favorites]

But on the bright side, it's hard to get dramatic revelations from a corpse, so Young Angela's backstory should be safe for now.
posted by queen anne's remorse at 3:51 PM on November 20, 2019

Didn't like this episode, and its callbacks to the other thing I didn't like but gave it the benefit of the doubt for (the original Mr. Robot reveal) retroactively made that twist worse, too - for every reason possible. And, if we find out next episode that it was a lie, I'll still dislike it.

Let's be honest: many of us dreaded Vera's reintroduction as a horrible distraction and were not looking forward to what happened after Elliot got stuffed into his trunk at the end of the last episode. The only meaningful 'twist' here is that we had a further unknown reason to dread it.
posted by destructive cactus at 11:53 PM on November 20, 2019 [2 favorites]

Hated this episode, mostly for reasons already discussed. Hated everything about Vera, but at least we now see how he fits in the show. He's there to create the world's most accelerated psychotherapy session with his brutality and his gun and sexual violence. Um, OK? At least Krista is there over and over again saying "this is not how this works. this is bad." And Mr. Robot's resistance is a nice enough depiction of the resistance a patient in therapy can have to difficult breakthroughs. But having Vera be the thing that unlocks Eliot's trauma? Ugh ugh ugh.

I get that violence is sometimes necessary in shows. I even enjoy stylized violence as a form of choreography (see John Wick, or Arrow). Mr. Robot doesn't do that. Mr. Robot does violence to make everything feel awful. The physical cruelty. The gratuitous rape threat. We're being traumatized by Vera's violence as viewers of the show because somehow the show creators think that's the way to entertain us. I really hate it.

And I'm also mad at The Big Reveal, that Eliot suffered sexual abuse from his father. What a horrible thing to happen to him! Let's treat it respectfully, and explore it, and maybe do something with that. Nope. Only a few episodes to go. Instead it's just another raising the stakes of awfulness. The show has already interpreted Eliot's childhood trauma twice. "Your dad threw you out a window". "No, actually you jumped". That it's now "your dad's abuse was worse than even you remember" is not character development. It's cheap escalation.

Some folks have been very excited about this show's production design but I'm a little baffled. I get it; it's set as a 1950s psychodrama play, a few characters locked in a house while thunder rumbles ominously outside. They label the Acts. They turn off the lights one breaker at a time at the end, just like an off-Broadway New York play. How charming! But is there more than that? If the whole show were an echo of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof or Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf I'd be more excited about thematic similarities. Instead it just seems like a gimmick, a "hey let's make this show in the style of those plays because it sounds cool". Maybe I missed the grand point afterall.

Sound and fury, signifying nothing.
posted by Nelson at 7:17 AM on November 23, 2019 [4 favorites]

I agree with a lot of the criticism here. While I love parts of this show (the hacking, the suspense, the heists, the anti-billionaire rhetoric), I feel it's really weakened by the regular turn toward Great Big Puzzle Box Mysteries and Grand Twists. The show is far too reddit-bait for its own good, in the sense that it constantly plants little hidden details intended to stoke online discussions about solving the narrative. That stuff gets on my nerves, when a story is structured like a puzzle to be figured out instead of, well, a story. In this particular case it feels to me like the show is toying with material so heavy that you just can't do it justice when you treat it in this way.

I also really cringed at a lot of the dialogue in this episode, especially Mr. Robot's tough-guy talk toward Vera, which I think was intended to come off as cool and clever but really felt awkward and dorky.
posted by One Second Before Awakening at 7:12 PM on November 25, 2019 [1 favorite]

Episode is nominated for best drama episode by the WGA.

I guess I can see how nominating an episode without dialog could be a hard sell at the WGA, but 405 Method Not Allowed was superior. What made 407 worthwhile to me was Malik’s ACTINNG at the end of the episode. I mean I guess I admire the structural stuff present in it (Act cards, the synching of weather to emotion, etc) but. was too distracted by the various plot elements needed to get to the setup, such as Vera.
posted by mwhybark at 8:39 AM on December 6, 2019

I'm in the midst of a marathon rewatch (timing out perfectly for tonight's finale! go me!), and this episode is beautiful and epic and there are hints about this going back to the first season. The rewatch has been well worth my time.
posted by hippybear at 4:34 PM on December 22, 2019 [1 favorite]

I've been very confused this season because I incorrectly remembered Vera being killed in the prison break episode. I thought this episode would finally tell all about Whiterose's resurrection/time/magic machine... You know, because it had apparently brought Vera back? Sigh.
posted by Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug at 8:19 PM on January 11, 2020 [1 favorite]

I've gotten into Mr robot a bit later on, and I've been enjoying that fanfare gives me a way to see discussion from people who had only watched up to the episode I've just seen, and links to contemporaneous reviews on other sites.

I'd like to acknowledge that this is definitely an obviously an episode that would be really difficult for survivors to watch. It does not seem fair to get people who have been through that into watching an episode, and then have these revelations come out in the middle.

In the present context, I've been finding this show to be a relatively light escape from the news of so many dying of Coronavirus while the US federal government and many states... yeah. I believe if I had seen it 6 months ago, I would have found this episode considerably darker than I did watching it yesterday.

I think what's going on in this episode is that there is a much bigger secret Krista is trying to hide from Elliot, and because Vera is threatening her she is forced to drege up something that will particularly appeal to him in the forced therapy session, and as a psychologist she will surely have been bringing all her professional experience to bear on analyzing Vera and how to get herself out of this situation. This is something where everyone's impression is going to be different, but I feel like it's been telegraphed both with it being common in DID, and Elliot's being under such pressure to keep the secret of his father's "cancer".

There is one bit of messing with the fourth wall in this episode. In the therapy scene, the camera closes in more and more on Krista and Elliot, first moving Vera's head out of the shot and then the rest of his body. He has become the audience, and Krista knows her life and perhaps Elliot's life depend on putting on a good show.

What I'm getting out of this episode: Krista's therapy sessions with Elliot began prior to the events of the first season. We learn that he was court ordered to attend, but we never find out why. When Elliot is introduced to Darlene in the show, he does not know she is his sister. I think that Elliot as the Elliot we know, did not exist all that far into the past. Elliot is a relatively new personality.

My guess as to what's going on in this episode is that Krista has not revealed "everything" to Vera but she needs him to think that she has. She started a new file for Elliot when the court ordered therapy is finished. This is the file she reveals to Vera. There are secrets from further back that are not in this file, secrets that Elliot doesn't know either, but Mr robot does -- about the mysterious third personality. Mr robot is protesting so desperately because he thinks this is about to be revealed to Elliot, his statement that he can't protect Elliot anymore and walking off is about that.

And what could it be about this third personality that would destroy Elliot as Mr robot fears? Well, anyone who gets in the way of the dark army doesn't live long. There must be some reason Whiterose wants to keep him alive and under surveillance. I think this third personality is working for Whiterose. (Or, as a more out there guess, is Whiterose's lover who she can't see until that personality reemerges)
posted by yohko at 10:20 AM on June 26, 2020 [1 favorite]

Fourth time through at this point. Sort of put off watching this last night, but am willing to tackle it tonight. It's one hell of an amazing bit of drama. This is that fulcrum that tips things and lets them roll toward the end of the story. It's hell to go through, but if you don't go through it, you don't get the end of the story.
posted by hippybear at 8:33 PM on July 9, 2020

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