Mr. Robot: season 2 episode 7 review – eps2.5_h4ndshake.sme
As the second season of Mr. Robot enters its second half, we are entering a dark and unpredictable territory yet again, as we did last year. Below is our detailed and spoiler-heavy review of the episode that once again turns everything upside down in the narrative.
Last year, when Esmail dropped on us the reveal that Darlene is Elliot’s sister, or when the following episode pulled a Fight Club by reintroducing Mr. Robot as Elliot’s imaginary alter ego and his dead father, the audience was shocked and surprised. It was fresh and inspired, and the plot twists made us rethink the entire preceding narrative and look at the whole story through a new lens. This year, we get our first big season shocker in the form of a reveal that Elliot has been in prison this entire time since the season premiere. His friend Leon is a fellow inmate, the basketball matches that they watch take place in the prison yard, and the church group meetings are also organised for the prisoners. Is it as effective a plot twist as the ones from season 1? Debatable. While I personally did not see it coming, some viewers have been speculating that Elliot was locked up in some sort of institution, given how tight and organised his day-to-day schedule was. And one can also wonder how much the twist accomplishes purely from a storytelling point of view, if we take away Elliot’s own personal reasons for creating a fake reality in his head and pure shock value.
“Please don’t be mad at me too long”, Elliot tells us at the end. “This is the last time I’ll keep things from you. I promise.” If that’s not Esmail talking to the audience, then Tyrell Wellick is surely dead. Speaking of which, we are also left to ponder the reason why Elliot got himself locked up in the first place. An obvious contender for that would be the supposed shooting of Tyrell that Elliot (or Mr. Robot, more specifically) apparently commited during the 5/9 hack. We are not explicitly told whether ot not Wellick is actually dead, but if I had to make a bet all my money would be on “no”. Tyrell’s disappearance has been an ongoing mystery the entire season, and the simple answer that he was killed by Elliot’s alter ego seems cheap and unworthy. There surely has to be more to it that we will likely see in future episodes.
The ending of this episode can really grind some gears of the fans, but it does answer a few questions too. We can finally put a pin on why Elliot’s storyline has felt so detached from the rest of the action this season, and, as mentioned above, Elliot’s daily routine that was supposedly helping him keep his life in control now makes much more sense. It also gives the first 6 episodes of the season the value of rewatchability, as it provides us with a new take on Elliot’s life.
Ray’s storyline also comes to a roaring finish this episode. We find out that Ray’s wife started their website as a marketplace, but they soon started ignoring what or who was being sold on it. While helping Ray set up the site, Elliot makes it public, and helps FBI find Ray. While the scene still took place in Elliot’s mind where he was at Ray’s place, after the ending revelation we have to assume that Ray was in fact operating from within the prison. Elliot’s trouble doesn’t end there, as he is almost raped by Ray’s accomplices before getting saved by Leon, who apparently is connected to Whiterose and The Dark Army.
Angela, in the meantime, remains a wildcard, as we see her almost get caught by DiPierro, who suspects her with hacking the FBI. This episode also sees her settling her lawsuit against E Corp and the toxic waste spill that killed her mother. Joanna also sees some action this week, as we get her flashback with Tyrell, as well as her giving Derek divorce papers as a birthday gift. Joanna still remains a largely mysterious character that is very hard to pinpoint but perhaps therein lies her strength.
Besides that, the Wall Street Bull statue’s testicles fall down through the ceiling into a Congress session.
While eps2.5_h4ndshake.sme keeps demonstrating the show’s large ambition, its reliance on the plot twist this week can come across as rather pretentious or even condescending towards the audience. But Sam Esmail’s confidence in his work is no doubt very large, and he clearly is aware of what he’s doing, given Elliot’s “don’t be mad at me”. We can only wait for future installments and see where this twist takes us.
Image credits: USA network