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Mr. Robot – S2E7 – eps2.5_h4ndshake.sme

Previously on Mr. Robot, “eps2.4m4ster-s1ave.aes

Mr. Robot – S2E7 – eps2.5_h4ndshake.sme | Rami Malek, Christian Slater, Portia Doubleday, Carly Chaikin, Michael Cristofer, Stephanie Corneliussen, Martin Wallström, Grace Gummer, Gloria Reuben | Writer and Director: Sam Esmail

Photos: Michael Parmelee/USA Network

Handshake n. COMPUTING: Communication between a computer system and an external device, by which each tells the other that data is ready to be transferred, and that the receiver is ready to accept it.

After viewing “h4ndshake”, it’s difficult to dismiss an initial sense of betrayal, not due to the incredible narrative that’s been finely crafted by Sam Esmail since Mr. Robot’s premiere, but Elliot’s concession to deceiving us, his most steady companion. This is likely a trite application of classic literature related to such harrowing themes, but one of the first authors that immediately came to mind during the evaporation of Elliot’s fantasy was George Orwell. Without question the man had considerable acumen in deception and fashioned terms for all manner of duplicity. Memory holes, thoughtcrime and doublethink have been prevalent in Mr. Robot since its inception.

However it was Alderson’s self-realization after his final encounter with Ray that made me recall one of Orwell’s more recognized quotes: “In a time of universal deceit - telling the truth is a revolutionary act.” The indisputable truth of Elliot’s current standing could finally be accepted by him, as attested by his conversation with Dr. Gordon (Gloria Rueben). Signs have been present for some time and most of us couldn’t (or more to the point, wouldn’t) put the pieces altogether thanks to Esmail’s penchant for creating scenarios that aren’t always as they seem. Nevertheless, we all were all led astray. Not only by Esmail, the writers, and Mr. Robot, but Elliot himself.

Ray. Leon. T.R. Even friggin’ Maxine the hound… all of them were behind bars. Now that we know the truth, do we really know anything about these characters? Aside from Leon (Joey Bada $$), who’s under Whiterose’s employ (and by the way, likely worked to get Elliot released) and did his job quite well, nothing we’ve seen can be taken as is. Was Ray even a con? Was he a guard? A civilian that worked at the facility and got a leg up with his side project because of his prison connections? Whatever his station, Ray was able to control a portion of the prison as evidenced by throwing Elliot in solitary. Unfortunately the old adage of “happy wife, happy life” became too much to bear for Ray and he allowed Elliot to set up his fall.

Ray finally realized his success was due to the exploitation and extermination of innumerable lives, an understanding that he could no longer accept. Elliot became his way out, as Ray stated. Thus both men were able to free themselves from the illusion they cast upon themselves.

Although a light has been seemingly shone on everything involving Elliot’s life, can anything involving Alderson be trusted ever again? In the meantime, his inner circle on the outside have managed to evade the hand of the FBI for the moment, giving viewers a brief respite to delve into the equally secretive quests of Angela Moss and Joanna Wellick.

For our statuesque Danish socialite, it’s been a perplexing journey. Now that we know Elliot has been in prison since 5/9 occurred (it’s highly unlikely he’s in the pen for that), it wouldn’t be impossible for him to mail the gifts Wellick’s been receiving from “Tyrell”. We’re treated to a flashback of happier days when the couple were merely a pair of sociopathic opportunists with a mutual zeal for sado-masochism. Ah, good times… Nearly two months since Tyrell’s disappearance, Joanna has fallen hard and fast in regards to her choice of distractions suitors. How and why she actually spends her precious time with the man-baby known as Derek (Chris Conroy) is baffling. He presumably has very strong hands but he appears to possess no other redeeming qualities. Unless you count petulance and birthday tantrums.

Yet Joanna remains dedicated to her choke-mate and offers him a birthday present in the form of divorce papers. Knowing what we know about Wellick and her capacity for chicanery, surely there’s more to her actions than pithy action of “moving on”. She is a woman of patience, of steely calculation. The entire world is unsteady under everyone’s feet at the moment but Joanna has faced dire situations before - thanks to her erratic, possibly deceased husband. We all confidently surmise that Derek is a bit player in a grand scheme that guarantees Joanna and child’s future in some form. Given Wellick’s proclivity to eliminate problems or obstacles absolutely, who knows how many days Derek will see after his 30th birthday.

While Joanna is wearing a mask of empathy to retain scraps of control, Angela Moss has become more confident in exhibiting an air of indifference inside E Corp. In spite of her strained rapport with Phillip Price and Dominique DiPierro, Angela has been a quick study in the dark game of corporate advancement and hacking the government. In fact, if one were to watch her closely, she’s exhibited many of Elliot’s qualities in order to keep her emotions at bay. Life at the top of the pile isn’t what Moss expected it to be, what with Price actually pleading for her company on his birthday. Angela’s eagerness to “change the system” occasionally breaks through, as she overstepped her bounds by barking suggestions in the Risk Management directors’ meeting. Yet it all felt like Angela was simply “kicking the tires” to see how her supervisor would react to her ambitiousness.

It may be hard to accept, but Moss is a very crafty woman in her own right. Ultimately, Esmail has made Moss a worthy surrogate to our unstable protagonist all season long, showcasing her capacity to succeed in a world of ones and zeros. Yes, Angela may not write code like a beast or generally have a clue about all that’s happening around her. However in the one or two personal goals she has striven for, Angela stays the course with laser precision no matter what she encounters. Now that her temp job with fsociety is complete, Moss is a free to do what she can to change E Corp from within. Her strategy is currently up to anyone’s guess; Price scoffed at Angela’s demand for transfer to Risk Management as a “lateral” move. It’ll only be a matter of time before Moss’ creativity and aspirational mantras will see her through the morass of a company that believes it’s too big to fail.

So what does this all mean for the remaining five episodes of Mr. Robot’s second season? Outside of Esmail, the cast, crew and USA execs, it’s anyone’s guess. Thankfully, Esmail holds his audience in high regard to keep up with most of his complex machinations, and in return viewers gleefully dissect and disseminate every scrap of info on every frame. While few caught on to what unfolded so early in the season, perhaps to Esmail’s chagrin, Elliot’s revelation clearly isn’t meant to be the big surprise of the show’s sophomore outing. Oh no, my friends. It’s clear with the way things continue to unfold, the very worst - or best - is still ahead of us.

It’s all a matter of perspective.

Mr. Robot S2E7 =
  • 10/10
    Plot - 10/10
  • 8/10
    Dialogue - 8/10
  • 9/10
    Performances - 9/10
User Review
5 (1 vote)
About Rexlor Graymond (493 Articles)
Rex Graymond is 24.6kg tripolymer composite, 11.8kg beryllium-nickel-titanium alloy. Constructed in Northern California. Loves comics and films almost as much as pancakes. ALMOST.
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3 Comments on Mr. Robot – S2E7 – eps2.5_h4ndshake.sme

  1. For The Podcast:

    Holy goddamn hell, this show. This mutha fucking show. Let’s break it down.

    Joanna - She doesn’t deserve to get a bucket o’ blood chucked on her in the street. She may be a little freaky when it comes to the bedroom, but all I see now is a broken woman, one who played the game of social hierarchy and lost, and is now looking for some form of stability.

    Tyrell - he ain’t dead! Until I see a bullet enter his skull and Elliot dispose of the body via cremation or something, he ain’t dead. Sure, Elliot could have shot him, but he ain’t dead.

    Dom - she’s had enough of the FBI after her team gets shot. She doesn’t even care about Angela at all. Bet she turns to Team Elliot by the end of the season.

    Angela - She just lost Price’s respect, but I feel like she’s gonna turn it around by finding something in the files she was so desperate to look at.

    Leon - Welp, I guess he IS real then. White Rose sends good help. That’s how string-bean Elliot has survived in prison, I guess.

    Elliot - so everyone is talking about how we already knew Elliot was in some kind of prison or mental facility, but they’re missing the point. ELLIOT KNEW ABOUT IT! It wasn’t being hidden from him; he hid it from us! I bet the reason he’s been locked up is due to him hacking Krista’s boyfriend last season (when Elliot also stole the guy’s dog). In the finale last season we finally returned to the angry cheater trying to convince Krista to turn on Elliot, so it makes sense that Elliot did actually get arrested for that crime considering it’s the only thing that still needs to be resolved from last season (that I can think of).

    This show! This. Show.

  2. FOR THE PODCAST: Well ain’t that a bitch? Elliot was in jail the whole time huh? I mean, I heard the theory about jail after episode one. People were kicking that one and him being in a mental facility around, but I really thought that what we were seeing was real. The theories made sense, but I was like “Naw, this dude is really at his mom’s house”. That made just as much sense as the theories did to me. If you watched The Wire, think of how it was when Bubbs was staying with his sister. She really didn’t fuck with him because he has been an addict for years, but she let him stay there. He wasn’t allowed upstairs too often though. And she would just leave his dinner at the top of the stairs and only spoke to him when necessary (from the top of the stairs). So, to me it made sense that something similar could be going on with Elliot and his mom. A mom that he and Darlene both hate. I actually think that no matter which of the 3 realities you believed there were legit reasons to think yours was true, while also seeing how the others would make total sense. Elliot has committed serious crimes that could have him locked up. He has mental issues that could have him committed. And we know he hates his mom, so staying with her could have been a last resort. I think that’s a sign of how well done the show is. You’ve got these different explanations for what’s going on with this man and they ALL make sense. That’s pretty dope. That said, I’m mad I was wrong, lol. Anyway, great episode overall. I still don’t like Angela, and still don’t care about Dominique. Leon is a bad mutha fucka too. Joey Badass lived up to his name for real in this episode. Question for the panel, what do you think Elliot is in jail for? Do you think he’s been there all season, or all series? I think he turned himself in for a lesser crime. Something that would have him in jail for about 6 months to a year. Long enough to rid himself of Mr. Robot. What I don’t know is if that started before the season or before the series.

  3. For the Podcast: Great written recap Rex, it is all a matter of perspective.

    I gots to hand it to Esmail, this whole season I’ve been questioning what’s real and what isn’t and I still missed the major twist. The only time I started to have a guess was after the FBI got Ray and those assholes approached Elliot and Leon on the basketball court. Something about that group of guys busting up to Elliot in public didn’t seem right. Kudos again to the writers and their storytelling methods.

    I was so tense during that talk between Dom and Angela. When she asked Angela how she knew that agent on the restricted floor she should’ve just said “he wants to get all in this” but I’m petty. I’m still trying to decide if Dom is a villain or just somebody doing their job, what do you guys think?

    I’ll just say for the record that Elliot damn sure was about to get raped and I’m happy Leon was a real person there to save him. RIP to that guy’s ass.

    * Best scene of the episode was after the Wellick flashback when that lady said “capitalist pig” and tossed that paint! I hollered because petty. Y’all have a great weekend!

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