Mr Robot: _h4ndshake.sme – Esmail’s Mind F**K (Review)

Mr. Robot - Season 2

Season two of Mr. Robot has all been about false realities. The previous episode gave plenty of clues that pointed out none of what we have been watching is the “real” Mr. Robot Universe. (These hints continued this week but with Angela. Two separate times, two different characters allude to her not “being Angela.” Her father and Dom point out that she is not who she thinks she is.) “Handshake.sme,” for all it reveals, was the ultimate Sam Esmail mind f**k.

Elliot has been in prison throughout the entire season. It all makes a sort of twisted sense if one looks at the episode back to front.  Many fans of the show were pretty sure he was in an institution or jail. The former was the most popular theory.  (The big question is why Alderson is in prison.)

Is he there because of Wellick?

But the “why” loses potency when the realization hits that everything dealing with Elliot has been an illusion.  The moment  Krista (Gloria Reuben) says to Elliot that he is not staying at his mother’s house, everything clicks. Even as the short montage  plays where each event or place morphs into a prison setting,  the puzzle pieces fall into place making this information  take precedence over all.

Other reveals, such as Leon working for Whiterose and that  Darlene and fscociety are  not bothered whether Angela gets caught or not, become more than secondary to the data overload of Elliot being behind bars.

Mr. Robot - Season 2

At the start of the episode, the focus is briefly on Joanna Welleck.  She has a flashback that is brought on by a pair of emerald earrings.  It includes the woman that Tyrell murdered in season one.  Then a comes a moment that can only be described as a signpost of what is to come.

Joanna is on the sidewalk with her baby and  pram when a woman comes up carrying a bucket, or pail. Welleck smiles at the woman who says “capitalist pig,” as she hurls the container full  of either red paint or blood all over Joanna.  The spattered woman screams her rage.  This can only be there to tell us, the audience, that we will have something thrown in our faces as well.

And so  Esmail manages to fling a shocking reveal at us that stuns and, in some cases, outrages our sensibilities. Can we trust anything that Elliot has been telling us?

Perhaps not, but in reality, we do not care. The story with its twists and turns and hidden secrets compels us to return  each week.  Esmail’s sucker punch ending of “”  makes sense.  Even the smallest details from earlier episodes of Mr. Robot  point to Elliot’s reality being a lie.

When Darlene and Angela come to visit Alderson at his “mom’s” house they sit in the dining room in straight-back chairs. All the while the mother sits silently watching television. It felt wrong until one envisions the visits taking place in a prison visits room.

The spartan condition of Elliot’s room; a desk, chair and his single bed also points to a prison cell versus a bedroom. All of these things make perfect sense once this huge twist is revealed.

Mr. Robot - Season 2

Looking at other character’s shows Angela getting dangerously overconfident in her dealings with Price.  She made a big mistake in not celebrating the old boy’s birthday with him.  He okays her lateral move but in a fit of pique tells her new boss to treat her as he wishes. (Which in his case, is not very well at all.)

Part of her problem could be that FBI hack that Darlene instigated. Angela helped fsociety pwn the law enforcement agency almost literally under Dom’s nose. This could explain Angela’s added burst of self confidence. Unfortunately it seems like Darlene may throw Elliot’s bestie under the bus if Dom gets too close.

The FBI agent already has Angela in her sights. She tells them to check Angela’s work space computer, and clearly suspects her of something, even if she does not know what, just yet.

Another highlight from last night’s episode (also diminished by that huge reveal) was Leon. Not his association with Whiterose but his samurai attack; complete with swishing blade sound effects, on those thugs who were going to rape Elliot.

Just as the tall bald supremacist was ready to act, rapid footsteps and those blade sounds turn this little party into a bloodbath.  What Leon does with his knife after the rapist moans is poetic justice.

Something else occurs in that alleyway (prison hallway). As Elliot is hit by the thugs to soften him up, he keeps changing into Mr. Robot.  This seems to indicate that the two are now completely interchangeable for better or worse.

Joanna filing for divorce from Tyrell seems like a calculated move. Earlier, after the paint scene, (Wellick looks quite terrifying there, all teeth and silent screams of rage with that blood on her face…) she is looking at a baby scan.

Is this a new one? Can this be why she suddenly decides to ditch Tyrell and go for her S&M boyfriend? Or was this another surprise from Tyrell, a gift from before?

Mr. Robot - Season 2

Dom seems to be “on the prod” after her boss’s “softly, softly” orders. She has homed in on Angela and seems to have guessed quite a lot.  It may well be that Agent DiPierro will be fsociety’s nemesis in the end.

Finally:  It is clear that Ray was a Corrections Officer with the K9 section, or a dog handler in HMPS parlance. (Hence the special connection with his dog.) He appears to be relieved that his business has been closed down and that he will be caught.

Ironically, even as Angela tells her father to take the money and run as E Corp may not last much longer, the corporation has managed to survive the attack by resorting to “E-Coin.” Looks like Elliot’s masterplan hardly slowed them down.

Mr. Robot airs Wednesdays on USA. Tune in and see what Esmail throws at us next. Could the garbage burning have something to do with the upcoming storyline?


Author: Mike's Film Talk

Former Actor, Former Writer, Former Journalist, USAF Veteran, Former Member Nevada Film Critics Society

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