Mr. Robot: eps2.5_h4ndshake.sme
August 17, 2016 11:15 PM - Season 2, Episode 7 - Subscribe

Mr. Robot and Elliot try to keep the peace. Fsociety releases a video honoring Uncle Sam. Darlene acts upon an old desire.
posted by Pendragon (35 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
wow...this show just keeps on throwing twists that are completely unexpected, then completely make sense.
posted by lampshade at 12:50 AM on August 18, 2016

This might be the episode that finally lost me. There was not a single scene or piece of dialogue that felt authentic. I've been a defender of this season, but man I hated this episode.
posted by kanewai at 2:22 AM on August 18, 2016 [1 favorite]

Worked for me. It was a relief to get to the Big Reveal in a more or less timely fashion, with half a season left to go. Darlene & Co have gotten a satisfying bit of closure, Elliot's working his way back to them, babe, with a burning love inside, and if Angela's got a long game in mind, she's got me fooled. Got my Dom on, best Joey Bada$$ promoted-pawn Gandalf-at-Helms-Deep moment evar, and Elliot gets the lacquered plaque from Dead Dad explaining why there was only one set of footsteps on the beach. So I'm good.
posted by Kinbote at 4:55 AM on August 18, 2016 [5 favorites]

Called it!

I liked the reveal. Even though I suspected it was coming it came sooner and more suddenly than I expected. I also suspected it would be a mental hospital and not a prison/jail. Did he get busted in the E Corp hack or the murder of whatshisname?

Do we trust him when he says "I promise I will never lie to you again?" I suspect that's not only Eliot but Sam Esmail talking to us, given the statements he made about surprises like that.
posted by bondcliff at 6:00 AM on August 18, 2016

I really like the reveal, especially after the sitcom episode revelations. It doesn't feel like a trick to me; it feels right for Elliot's character. Jail rather than a mental hospital was a surprise for me too. My guess is that he's in there because of hacking Krista's boyfriend and stealing his dog (and that's why she comes to visit him, because it doesn't look like she's seeing him in a professional capacity there). I think he'll probably be out soon.

Craig Robinson as Ray was wonderful, and I'll miss him, even though the resolution to that plot felt a little pat.

Leon appearing like a superhero to save Elliot and being attached to Whiterose makes the jail reveal even better.

Alan Sepinwall had an interview with Sam Esmail about the episode, and he also got an answer about Whiterose's identity that I really like.
posted by gladly at 6:21 AM on August 18, 2016 [6 favorites]

Oh, and did everyone else notice that every time those thugs punched Eliot in the face there a very brief cut to Mr. Robot taking the punch? Did I imagine that?
posted by bondcliff at 6:38 AM on August 18, 2016 [1 favorite]

No! I saw the flash to Mr. Robot too.
posted by gladly at 8:07 AM on August 18, 2016

bondcliff: That's exactly right. They came to an agreement, that Mr. Robot would server a purpose, and be a partner. Funny tho that they come to that agreement while already in a fantasist state, but, yeah.
posted by Jack Karaoke at 8:09 AM on August 18, 2016 [1 favorite]

> Ray... the resolution to that plot felt a little pat.

The visits from Angela, Darlene & Krista and the beating by fellow inmates all makes sense, but who was Ray in the real/prison world and who were the FBI? In both worlds, how did Elliot walk away from the silkroad-like takedown?

I'm hooked by this show, but I'm not especially enjoying it. I'd welcome a return from this completely-bleak to only very-bleak with a dose of "hack the planet" fun of last season. Let me have Brazil with the "nice" ending! Angela as the cold hard schemer is growing on me.
posted by morganw at 8:59 AM on August 18, 2016 [1 favorite]

Morganw, I'm with you. For me the thing about the reveal makes me wonder who is Ray and what was his actual business? That's the part that doesn't work for me with the reveal. I'm hoping it will make sense at some point.

I liked that Elliot's "Seinfeld" obsessed friend came to his aid in the end and revealed his connection to whiterose.

Angela, oh Angela, is up to something serious, but I have no idea what it is.
posted by miss-lapin at 9:39 AM on August 18, 2016

I think Ray and his website was all in Elliot's head, a way to process the fsociety hack.
posted by Pendragon at 10:30 AM on August 18, 2016

This might be the episode that finally lost me. There was not a single scene or piece of dialogue that felt authentic.

I know, right? Like they really expect us to believe that Elliot would use nano as his text editor.

On the other hand, the mental illness stuff? Dead on. When Elliot talks about how handshaking is easy for everyone else, but not him, it wasn't the first time I thought Esmail was somehow listening in on my therapy sessions.
posted by 1970s Antihero at 11:49 AM on August 18, 2016 [5 favorites]

who was Ray in the real/prison world and who were the FBI? In both worlds, how did Elliot walk away from the silkroad-like takedown?

My guess is that Ray is a guard or prison administration and so was his enforcer. I assume the rat-tailed website guy before Elliot was also an inmate. And I don't think Elliot would have needed to leave the building and go outside to escape, only leave the office where Ray was. The Aryan gang that attacked Elliot was also involved in the website, so it could have been an open secret in the prison between some inmates and guards.
posted by gladly at 12:12 PM on August 18, 2016 [4 favorites]

No spoilers (cuz I have none!) but Sepinwall interviewed Esmail right after watching, and Esmail said answers about Ray are coming in a future episode.

I heard the theory shortly after watching Episode 1, and have been certain it's true ever since. I actually wish the reveal had been a bit earlier, but I'm glad it's out, and I'm interested to see where we go next.

But this really had better be the end of 'mess with the audience' stuff. It's not why I watch the show, not at all. And I'm not at all convinced that Wellick is dead, which would put us right back here.
posted by Frayed Knot at 3:26 PM on August 18, 2016 [1 favorite]

Like they really expect us to believe that Elliot would use nano as his text editor.

Ha, yeah, I caught that too. Even the slimmest busybox-based embedded system OS comes with vi.
posted by whir at 8:07 PM on August 18, 2016

this really had better be the end of 'mess with the audience' stuff

It's not to mess with the audience. It's to give the audience insight to Elliot's reality. In the world of the show, we are part of Elliot's consciousness and his consciousness is extremely unreliable. He's apparently learned to make peace with that instability, but that doesn't mean his consciousness is now reliable. This is the framework of the show itself so I doubt it's going to end before the series finale, which I guess is Elliot being "cured" or some sort of American Psycho "This is not an exit" type ending.
posted by miss-lapin at 2:09 AM on August 19, 2016 [10 favorites]

Can we talk about cinematography for a bit? Because Mr. Robot is beautifully shot. I was so enthralled by the Angela / Price scene at E Corp that I took some screencaps.

What I love is the unapologetic stylistic formality of it. A whole office shot in black and white. Angela in white with a black collar, Price in black with a white shirt and tie. Angela mostly standing against white backgrounds, Price sitting against a black background. And then the payoff shot with them sitting together on the couch, against the black background. There's some heavy symbolism going on here about Angela's moral status in the scene which could be tediously decoded, but I don't care about that. I just like the images for how formally beautiful they are.

And that's just color. The camera angles in that scene are insane, I counted at least seven for a two minute talking head shot. Also they seem to be indulging more in deliberately unbalanced shots, where the subject only occupies 1/6th of the screen and is often looking the wrong way, out of the frame. It's a nice counterpoint to the breaktaking grand symmetry that is the hallmark of so many of the centerpiece shots of the show.
posted by Nelson at 7:51 AM on August 19, 2016 [13 favorites]

Here's another stunning shot from Price's E Corp office from last week, via Reddit.

Last week I wrote It was mentioned before that Sam Esmail isn't going to toy with what's real, beyond Mr. Robot. This week, I was proven very wrong, but then again, when Elliot is our narrator and he doesn't trust himself, why should we trust him?

Now I know how Ray knew what Elliot did, why Ray came directly to Elliot - that was (part of) the reason he is in jail now. Ray's a warden or something similar, who has his own office and subordinates. The basketball games are in the prison, so Ray knew where Elliot would be.

And now Elliot's schedule makes sense - it's a prison schedule, and he's just folding that reality into his own. He wasn't part of the F Society crew not because he tried to distance himself, but because he was in jail, and Darlene came to talk to him ... in jail. Why did the guard become his mom, the jail become his mom's home? In the first episode he said it - "She's the strictest person I know."

As for the Seinfeld and Alf references - prisons often have dated TV shows. (Lots of this is pulled from Reddit threads.)
posted by filthy light thief at 8:51 AM on August 19, 2016 [2 favorites]

Oh yeah, same office! Only Price's desk and reflecting table have been moved out for the scene in this episode.

I'm OK with the Big Reveal about Elliot being in prison, but only because I'd been tipped off here on Fanfare. If that was a big "surprise!" moment I would have been annoyed. All along though we've gotten hints that Elliot's world doesn't make sense, so it seems fair play to have it revealed. Also appreciated the cinematographic trick of blending shots from Elliot's reality to consensus reality, a very concise way of lining up the two perceptions so we can see the parallels. In the Esmail interview he's explicit that Ray will be explained in a couple of episodes, so I guess we get that paid off too.

Also liked the way Elliot and Mr. Robot have reconciled, he's integrated his personality somewhat. I hope the poor man gets some peace. And I'm relieved Leon is not personality of Elliot. Two people in his head is enough, thanks.

I use nano when I'm on a stripped down system too. Been hacking Unix for 25 years, the only vi I know is :q!
posted by Nelson at 9:09 AM on August 19, 2016 [2 favorites]

I finally got to this last night. I managed to not be spoiled about the reveal (merely that there was one), so as the last scene started there was an extra layer to the, "Oh, I see," feeling. I mean, we've all been speculating for weeks in past threads about what was really going on with Elliot since he seemed pretty cut off from everyone and there was clearly something odd going on. I liked the reveal and the cutesy monologue, but I wish it had happened earlier in the season. This felt like the last possible moment they could've dragged it out to.

As to Sam Esmail talking about toying with the audience/stuff not being real... I get why he said that but it does feel like a pretty big stretch since the answer ended up being "everything you've seen actually happened, it just didn't happen in this weird house, diner, tiny bedroom, and baskets ball court."

But so, Elliot's getting out soon? I wonder what he's in for. It's clearly not the big hack from last season.

All the stuff with Angela and Dom this week was fantastic. For all the problems people have with this season... Even if I don't agree, I get where they're coming from? But also I don't feel like it applies to this other half of the show. I wonder how Angela's going to end up usurping her dbag boss' position so she can get access to those files she wants. Or will she turn to Darlene and have them hacked out?

I feel like the biggest question this week though is whether Mr. Robot was telling the truth about Tyrell. Robot's a dang liar and we've barely seen Tyrell at all this season except in flashback this week and supposedly in a car trunk. But if we go with "everything we've seen actually happened, just the physical locations were altered by Elliot's perception" ... He called Elliot at one point. I'm assuming we'll get more on this in the next couple weeks though because it's something Elliot's clearly super freaked out about.
posted by sparkletone at 9:12 AM on August 19, 2016

I think Ray and his website was all in Elliot's head, a way to process the fsociety hack.

I can't square this with Elliot telling us that everything we saw happened, just the physical surroundings weren't what they appeared to be. Like gladly, I think he was an administrator of some sort with a shady side business, and apparently we'll all know soon anyway.
posted by sparkletone at 9:28 AM on August 19, 2016 [2 favorites]

I can't square this with Elliot telling us that everything we saw happened, just the physical surroundings weren't what they appeared to be.

Yeah, good point.

So in the first season Elliot fooled himself and us about the reality of Mr. Robot, but this season he only fooled us, he himself was aware that he was in prison all the time, he just made it appear as the outside world as a coping mechanism ?
posted by Pendragon at 9:59 AM on August 19, 2016

Yeah. That's explicitly what Esmail says in that interview with Alan Sepinwall linked upthread, and it's also touched on in the monologue too. "Sorry I haven't been entirely honest with you, but I was mad at you for a bit. But let's go back to trusting each other. I promise everything you've seen actually happened, it just didn't happen where because how I get through my shitty day is imagining myself elsewhere."

One thing I forgot to mention in my other comment: I hope we end up seeing Joey Bada$$ outside of prison once Elliot's out since there's no reason for Whiterose to keep him there if she doesn't need him to keep an eye on Elliot, right?
posted by sparkletone at 10:22 AM on August 19, 2016 [1 favorite]

I use vim all day every day, but like Elliot, I use nano when I'm on someone else's Debian-based system. There's a historical reason. Until 2006, Debian's default vi was nvi, which behaves differently enough to be annoying to a vim user. Things like beeping whenever a command fails. Debian also came with nano by default, so it was worth learning its couple of keystrokes to use as a fallback editor when on a system that hadn't gotten vim put on it yet. And the habit persists even though vim(-tiny) is installed by default now.

So, I read that as, Elliot's got some history behind his finger macros. ;)
posted by joeyh at 8:54 PM on August 19, 2016 [2 favorites]

When Krista says to Elliott, "Where do you think you are?" I had a flashback to Scrubs and my feelings

Not to take away from what was an amazing episode of Mr Robot, of course.
posted by tracicle at 1:39 PM on August 20, 2016 [2 favorites]

I think the timeline is being messed with: I'd lay odds that Elliott is in jail because of his association with Ray. He called in the tipoff to the FBI and got caught up as he left the building.

Anyway, this is all dense, complex, meaty stuff. I'm starting to realise that this isn't so much Esmail's love-poem to Fight Club, but his breakup email. Revolutions are colonised by the dipshits (I don't think it was Darlene & co's idea to ball-bomb the House) and appropriated by the state (The Dark Army as state-sponsored catspaw) or capital (Evil Corp). The propaganda of the deed that was 5/9 hasn't freed anyone - the invisible hand is gripping that much harder.

Maybe I'm just paranoid though.
posted by prismatic7 at 5:14 AM on August 21, 2016 [2 favorites]

I'd lay odds that Elliott is in jail because of his association with Ray.

The sleuths on Reddit are speculating that Krista's asshole ex-boyfriend is the reason he's there. Season 1's finale had a scene where he tried to convince Krista to give him information the could use to catch Elliot (for stealing his dog and information, I suppose), but the proof he needed was on a server in Estonia, and no one would be able to access them unless the country fell.

Later in the episode, Estonia falls. So either Esmail knows his audience contains several obsessive would-be detectives with a lot of time on their hands and is playing with us, or Estonia might be important to the plot.

I also trust Esmail when he says Elliot will never lie to us again. But I also think there is a difference between Elliot lying to us and Elliot having delusions.
posted by bibliowench at 9:17 AM on August 21, 2016 [1 favorite]

In Alan Sepinwall's interview with Sam Esmail, as linked upthread by gladly, there was this exchange:
How did you feel about people having this exact theory of prison after only the season premiere had aired?

Sam Esmail: It was weird. One thing that we always do is we never want to cheat the audience. We never want it to be some extraordinarily contrived thing where we're basically lying to the audience and what they're seeing isn't actually happening, and we're fooling them. In doing that, and being honest with what is going on, even though the surroundings aren't actually what they are, we didn't really hide it that well, right? I didn't expect people to catch on from the very first episode, but I thought people would start to theorize and catch on. Look, a reveal is great when it's surprising, but it's terrible when it feels like a cheat. To me, the fact that some people who guessed it may not be surprised, it verifies that we didn't cheat anybody, because it adds up and makes sense to them still.
Sepinwall's intro to the interview notes that everything for Elliot is really taking place in prison. And as bibliowench noted, in the final episode of last season (transcript), Krista's ex BF said:
This kid is good, Krista. He was routing through something called proxies or something out in Estonia. He's untraceable. Short of that whole country falling apart, we're never gonna get our hands on any real evidence.
Later in that final episode of last season, there was a TV clip:
The response to the Japanese and Chinese stock markets has provoked panic, setting off the downward trends of the European stock exchange. But what's even more worrisome is that the IMF has no leverage against these defaults. Already, 17 governments are said to be in large-scale crises with some on the verge of collapse. Among the countries are Lithuania, Croatia, Ukraine, Romania, the Czech Republic, and Estonia. This faction has deemed the hack inflicted upon the world's largest conglomerate as an opportunity for reform and a chance to start anew, building more egalitarian economies with lessons learned from decades of economic disparity.
Emphasis mine. With those hints, that angle is looking good. Start digging into the first episode of this season, and you'll find more things that sound and look like hints to this being true. Like this exchange with his therapist, talking about living with his mom and his routine:

Krista: Why your mom? Why her specifically?
Elliot: She's the strictest person I know.
Krista: But you've attributed a lot of your childhood trauma...
Elliot: Better the devil you know than the devil you don't, right?

Switching characters, Joanna Wellick and Dereck ... he's doomed, right?

Dereck: I should've known somebody that I met working at a stuck-up E Corp party would be bad news.
Joanna: Meeting you at that party changed something for me. I'd be lost right now without you.

She gets him into rough sex, especially choking her, which was how Tyrell killed Sharon Knowles. We haven't been watching Joanna fill the void that Tyrell left in her live, but create a suspect for Sharon's murder.
posted by filthy light thief at 9:19 PM on August 21, 2016 [8 favorites]

...Elliott is in jail because of his association with Ray.

I don't think so, because he was definitely in jail when he MET Ray ... but I have no clue how they'll explain ... Hot Carla.
posted by destructive cactus at 2:42 AM on August 22, 2016

I haven't watched close enough to determine or noticed any dates in the latest episodes but I feel like we are only a few months at most from the big hack. If Elliot was busted only for hacking his therapists boyfriend or something similar I would think this would be a pretty low level crime. Like maybe just a misdemeanor. I would think if something like this went to trial it would be months or even a year away from the time of arrest.

If this is the case I would think it would not involve jail time, especially for a first time offender. Unless he is in jail because he could not make bail. Which seems unlikely because he obviously has people that care about him with the means to pay bail.
posted by Justin Case at 12:04 PM on August 23, 2016

A friend of mine watching the first season for the first time was talking with me about the Shayla kidnap episode from season 1, and I realized that we had a precedent that I'd forgotten about for Elliot dissociating his way through something the way he did prison.

He gets a phone call from the dude in jail whose goons grabbed Shayla. He's in his apartment. Then he's in a diner with Shayla and some dudes grab her and he's taken in the back to have the phone call. None of the other patrons react to any of it because it's Elliot visualizing/hallucinating it while he deals with his shock.
posted by sparkletone at 10:52 PM on September 9, 2016 [2 favorites]

I haven't watched close enough to determine or noticed any dates in the latest episodes

In this episode, I think, Dom says something about needing to find a Fourth of July party to go to.
posted by liet at 9:06 PM on September 27, 2016

late to the party, mind, but nearly every episode this season includes a very concrete dateable event. Angela meeting with her ex as he tries to record their conversation, for example, happens on the day that gay marriage was legalized nationally, June 26, 2015.

Roughly, it appears to me that s02 episodes were designed to air approximately 1 year after the events the episodes depict, and I further hypothesize that this is in partial service of the show's interest in multiple-universe theory.

Later events in the season seem to support this set of hypotheses, in my opinion.
posted by mwhybark at 2:04 PM on January 29, 2017

Re: The timeline, the whole series takes place between approximately March and December of 2015, all four seasons. Maybe a bit longer on either end, but it's a very compact timeline across the entire run of the show.
posted by hippybear at 7:00 PM on July 3, 2020

Also, Price asking Moss to celebrate his birthday with him and her turning him down is a very sad moment. Very sad indeed.
posted by hippybear at 7:20 PM on July 3, 2020

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