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
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 =