Dreaming of a (Slightly) Darker Future on Mr. Robot

By  · Published on July 28th, 2016

Elliot finally finds stability while everyone around him crumbles.

The genius of Sam Esmail is that his penchant for sharp twists and shocking reveals means that any avid fan of Mr. Robot inevitably becomes as paranoid as Elliot, looking for hidden messages and meanings in everything. In this week’s episode, “eps2.2_init1.asec,” we’re starting to see how Elliot’s more unstable personality traits have seeped into the people around him, just as it seems like he’s grabbing hold of some stability. Is Elliot a virus? Maybe. Let’s start with Darlene.

The episode opened with the ominous door knock that closed out Season One and it was finally revealed Elliot’s sister, Darlene, was on the other side of the door. Or at least she was in this Halloween flashback, which gave insight into the birth of fsociety and Elliot’s alter ego, Mr. Robot. Darlene and Elliot spend Halloween night getting high and watching their favorite B-horror movie, “The Careful Massacre of the Bourgeoisie,” in which a killer is clad in the original fsociety Monopoly Man mask. (Also in Elliot’s movie collection? Francis Ford Coppola’s paranoid-tinged surveillance thriller The Conversation (1974).) Elliot tells Darlene about getting fired from his corporate job after blacking out and destroying the company’s servers. He’s been court ordered to see a psychiatrist (Krista) for anger management. The final pieces click into place as Elliot pulls out their father’s old Mr. Robot jacket and tells his sister about his plans to destroy Evil Corp. Elliot has become Mr. Robot.

But as the episode progresses, it is Darlene that we see unraveling and become more paranoid. Much like Elliot in Season One, Darlene is convinced she’s being followed on the subway and she cracks even further when her ex-boyfriend Cisco reappears and tells her that the FBI has found the Coney Island hideout and is using illegal surveillance, code named Operation Berenstain, to track down fsociety. In the end, it is Darlene turning to Elliot for stability and help and the strong sibling bond we see in the Halloween flashback is reinforced.

Elliot’s loneliness, which was so central to Season One, has wormed its way into Joanna Wellick’s life, as she tries to hold onto hope and her husband’s severance package as Tyrell continues to remain missing. Joanna is deseprate to hold onto her wealth and happiness at any cost, including making a deal with Scott Knowles, the CTO at Evil Corp whose wife Tyrell murdered. Joanna agrees to go to the police and sell out her husband for money but Knowles isn’t having any of it and in the end Joanna walks away empty handed, having compromised her integrity. In a cutting conversation with her bartender boytoy, she admits she is dating him for all the things he is lacking (namely money and influence) but it becomes clear this relationship is her opioid of choice to fill a void.

Angela is continuing her power play at Evil Corp, having used the information given to her by Price in the last episode to take down two corrupt executives. After digging through the settlement proposals that have been drafted up by Evil Corp, Angela is convinced that she knows the company’s ulterior motives and she brings this to Price looking for a way to shoehorn herself into a better career and position within the company. It seems like a huge victory for Angela but Price barely blinks, telling her instead that it’s all in her head. An interesting word choice for Elliot’s childhood best friend who also lost a parent in the toxic waste scandal.

Finally, Mr. Robot struggled to regain his importance and control of Elliot by proposing a chessboard showdown where the winner would take complete control of everything. Before Elliot can realize that playing against himself will inevitably end in infinite stalemates, he turns to the Seinfeld-loving Leon for advice. How can he find out what the future holds for him? According to Leon, he must dream. And Elliot does just that, as Green Day’s Basketcase tinkles in the background.

Elliot dreams of a future where everyone he loves is happy, where he makes amends with those he has hurt (looking at you Cat Man from Stone Mountain), but Elliot sits at a banquet table with his friends and family around him, a building collapses in the distance. Is the key to his happiness to continue with the destruction of high society? Has Mr. Robot really won after all?

Possibly. As everyone else around him crumbles, Elliot is back in front of a keyboard, ready to fight for his future the only way he knows how – by hacking the FBI.

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Jamie Righetti is an author and freelance film critic from New York City. She loves horror movies, Keanu Reeves, BioShock and her Siberian Husky, Nugget.