Season Two’s Big Reveal Brings More Questions Than Answers.
The problem with getting answers in Mr. Robot is that they’re either not the ones we want or they’re even more confusing than the original question. In ‘eps2.5_h4ndshake.sme,’ we’re finally given Season Two’s big reveal regarding Elliot but it doesn’t feel very satisfying and it only seems to raise more questions.
The show opens with Elliot’s narration but we’re given a flashback of Joanna and Tyrell at an Evil Corp cocktail hour, long before any of the trouble began. We get a glimpse of her and Tyrell seeming genuinely in love before flashing to the present where she is alone with her child. Without warning, a woman walks by and douses her with red paint and the title credits crash over Joanna’s silent screams of rage. Later in the episode, Joanna fights with her younger boyfriend, who wants her to show up at his birthday party. She doesn’t but she offers a peace offering in the form of divorce papers. But has she really given up on Tyrell or is she just keeping up appearances?
We also check in with Angela during the episode, who wiggled her way out of trouble thanks to her lunch date with creepy FBI Agent. But Dom is suspicious of her and that could be very dangerous for Angela. Despite significantly damaging her relationship with her father, Angela is once again the rising star of Evil Corp, having negotiated away a class action lawsuit against the company. During a visit to Price’s office, she trades decides to trade in these huge gains for a management position in the risk management department. It seemed mindboggling that Angela would ask for such a paltry position after such a big win and even Price is confused by her lateral move. But we quickly realize Angela’s end game and how much fsociety has rubbed off on her. Within minutes of her arrival, her new boss casually mentions an unpublicized situation regarding poisoned water in Flint. It turns out Angela’s new job will give her access to lots of files detailing Evil Corp’s nasty dealings and she happens to have the perfect outlet to make them public.
The bulk of the episode centers around Elliot, who is still bloodied up in a basement after double-crossing Ray. He implores Mr. Robot to tell him the truth about what happened to Tyrell and Mr. Robot eventually gives in: he had to kill Tyrell because he was crazy. He took the gun that Darlene had hidden in the popcorn and shot him because he was raving about killing a woman, talking about how they would be gods and Mr. Robot knew he would kill them next. So we finally know what happened to Tyrell but without a corresponding flashback (a trademark of the show) it feels like another lie.
Elliot is given a second chance to fix the server migration for Ray’s ugly website, which he does. Afterwards, during a one-on-one chess match with Ray, it is revealed that he made the site public and the FBI were closing in. Ray seems to have known this but resigned to his fate, letting Elliot walk free. But Elliot’s trouble is far from over as a group of angry hooligans mance him on the basketball court, demanding that he reimburse the BItCoins they lost after Ray’s arrest. Despite his insistence that he didn’t do anything, everyone knows Elliot was involved and it is clear he is in serious danger. This comes to a head as he is grabbed off of the street and shoved into an alley by the same men, who beat him up before attempting to rape him. But Leon comes in to save the day, slashing and stabbing each assailant with a weapon we never quite see. He tells Elliot that he is going to get a letter in a few days and that he should do what it says. And dis final words? “Tell the Dark Army I did right by you.” Was Leon a plant this whole time?!
That letter does come and Elliot shares it with Krista who seems overjoyed by the news. But when Elliot mentions that he is staying at his mother’s house, Krista balks and asks him where he thinks he is. Suddenly, a flashing red light appears above them and Krista office melts into Elliot’s mother’s dining room table and then finally into where he really is: prison. Suddenly, the familiar scenes from Elliot’s world that have been built up over the course of Season Two are shifted into reality. The basketball court was the prison yard, meals with Leon were in the cafeteria, his room was his jail cell. And Elliot’s favorite black hoodies? An orange DOC jumpsuit.
The reveal that Elliot is actually in prison reminded me a bit of the big twist at the end of Alexandre Aja’s High Tension (2003). When viewers discovered that Marie, the kick-ass Final Girl, had split her personality and was also the terrifying serial killer, it drew an immediate and very divisive reaction. Admittedly, even as a fan of the twist, it doesn’t really make sense when you trace back some of the earlier appearances of the killer.
The same problem happens with some of Mr. Robot’s more outlandish reveals, in both this season and the last. In tonight’s episode, Mr. Robot asks Elliot why he listened to him in the first place, why he responded to the message embedded in Evil Corp’s server and why he followed him off of the train and down to fsociety headquarters. And it’s a good question, especially since Mr. Robot didn’t do any of those things, Elliot did. We are reminded once again that as great as Season One’s reveal was, there are a lot of logical speed bumps we have to ignore. It’s easy enough to smooth this all over by defaulting to Elliot’s mental instability, his delusion and his proven unreliability as a narrator but that can only smooth over so many plot snags.
And the same goes for Elliot being in prison. Presumably, the letter he showed to Krista is regarding his early release as a reward for taking down Ray, who was likely a corrupt warden. But that’s a lot of assumption on our part. And the assumption that Elliot was in prison for killing Tyrell? Without a flashback to confirm Mr. Robot’s relation of what went down it seems questionable. It’s not just the creepy phone calls and presents Joanna has been receiving but would Elliot really be released on a murder charge because he narced on someone? It seems doubtful.
So once again, we’re left with more questions than answers and not too many episodes left in the season. Will we ever know the full truth about what happened to Tyrell? With USA Network recently giving the greenlight to Season Three, hopefully the answer is yes.
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