Here at Mr Robot Hacks Secret Headquarters (MRRSHQ) we’ve watched S02E07 twice, slept on it, snorted two lines of coffee granules for inspiration and are asking ourselves the same question that philosophers from Plato, René Descartes, Friedrich Nietzsche and De La Soul posed… “What does it all mean?”
So grab that jar of Maxwell House and a spoon (you won’t be needing a cup, water, milk or sugar if you want to keep up) and let’s dive on in; we’re gonna go deep and it’s gonna get real messy…
The genteel environs of country club lunches and baby-strollers in New York springtime were dramatically juxtaposed by a wonderfully jarring splatter of red paint. And with more teeth than a Husqvarna chainsaw, I half expected the screaming Joanna Wellick to reveal her true form as an alien from “They Live” – a criminally underrated, subversive movie about… you guessed it, a brainwashed society believing their reality is really real.
I’m not saying that Sam Esmail purposefully included this toothy link, that would make me insane, but it’s a mad coincidence as he’s already borrowed from John Carpenter’s 1988 movie which asks viewers to question reality in the exact same way that Mr Robot does.
Much more on our realities being a delusion and we poor brainwashed zombies later!
Back in the warehouse, Elliot tells Robot he “doesn’t want to live in denial” anymore. Robot goes on to convince Elliot that he shot Tyrell Wellick with Chekhov’s Gun. This, of course, we know is a lie, but in fairness, Robot never ackchewally said that Tyrell died.
At E-Corp, Agent Dom DiPierro catches Angela in her lie about meeting douchey FBI Agent Ross Thomas on the 23rd floor. Either Ms. Moss needs to work on her poker face or Dom really is that good. Her lines to Angela “This isn’t you” and “Your story fascinates me” and the way she dealt with her fellow FBI idiots suggest she really is that good.
Angela visits Darlene to tell her she knew she and Elliot were F_Society all along because of the crappy horror film they used to make her watch every Halloween. More boring scenes between Joanna and Tom Cruise-obsessed, barman Derrick who’s got to turn out to be some kinda Dark Army superspy; he’s too boring and needy not to be!
Elliot “fixes” Ray’s computer and buys some time for the FBI to arrive by playing a game of chess. Every second he sits under his Stars and Stripes flag, S02E07 subconsciously conveys that Ray is living under the illusion of the American Dream. Morals and decent human behavior must be replaced by greed and the necessity to make money by any means necessary cos it’s dog eat dog out there in the “real” world.
Only it isn’t a dog eat dog world; that’s the lie – The American Nightmare.
It’s kinda difficult to discuss S02E07 as everything changes with that reveal at the end, so let’s fast forward, concentrating on only the most important plot points…
Angela visits Phillip “Born on the Fourth of July and Born in the USA” Prince to ask for a job in Risk Management. Elliot visits Church Group where more religious allegory asks if Elliot is a messiah. Robot telling him “People want to follow you, son. You lead the entire world into a revolution because you are a leader.” His reply? “I don’t wanna be a leader.”
After he burns his “The Red Wheelbarrow” journal (a visual motif relinquishing the fight for control with Robot) Elliot is taken up a back alley and punched repeatedly in the face by a gang of Warriors who want to take him up a whole different kind of back alley.
The intercutting between Elliot and Robot taking blows was the first real moment of visual flair in S02E07 but then, just as Elliot was about to succumb to The Warriors, a hooded avenging angel appears, defocused in the background, to kill the gang members.
The hoodie, knife and ninja skillz belong to former imaginary friend Leon, who reveals he’s connected to Whiterose and will always, always have Elliot’s back.
Angela wrangles her way into a Risk Management board meeting only for her request for the Washinton Township Chemical Leak papers to be denied.
And then the moment we’ve all been waiting for…
The last segment of S02E07 was taken up by ‘The Sixth Sense’ he-was-dead-all-along type reveals. Beautiful as they were, all requiring clever in-camera, traditional editing or digital witchmongery, they only told us what we all already knew.
Last week’s 90’s bad Sitcom World was dual purpose, not only did Robot protect Elliot with this easier-to-take-than-reality, it also set up S02E07’s (or in fact Season Two’s half-way point) Big Reveal. And in true Mr Robot fashion, it fell flat.
Just like Season One’s Big Reveal that Robot was Elliot’s father, the audience believed Elliot was in the pen or an asylum from the get-go. (This must mean that Ray was a corrupt prison guard) I even wrote in my recap review of Eps 1.0 & 2.0 that this was all a ruse and that Sam Esmail had a better idea up his sleeve. I was wrong.
With all its philosophical depth, intelligent social commentary and anti-establishment views, I think we deserve less obvious reveals from Mr Robot. Sam, we want you to pull the wool over our eyes.
After last week’s ball-busting S02E06 and a disappointing S02E05, I see a pattern and fear S02’s episodes are falling victim to the Star Trek Movie Curse, a demonstrable scientific fact that even-numbered Star Trek movies are better than odd-numbered ones.
What was great though was the way the writer interacts with us, the viewer. Yes, it’s Elliot saying he won’t lie to us again, but Sam is also apologizing for not telling us everything.
Just one word of advice, Mr Esmail, Sir, Messiah. Please take a leaf out of your own script, when it comes to future Big Reveals… when you see a good move, you should look for a better one.
To continue reading, where we go deeper into how YOUR reality is an illusion, just like Elliot’s, click here.