Mr Robot: Python Part 1 – Dream State and Wellick as Elliot (Review)

 Mr. Robot - Season 2

Things keep getting stranger in Sam Esmail’s hacking world. Python, part one, sees Elliot entering a controlled dream state and Wellick returns. Although it appears that Tyrell is showing up only to Elliot. It is clear at this point, if at no other, that the two men are the same person.

This may be purely because of Elliot’s conscious dreaming, taught to him by his childhood friend Sam.  Although it is apparent that Elliot and Tyrell are the same side of the same coin. Both want change the world and to overthrow Evil Corp.

Python Part 1 was very surrealistic, even without the whole “mind awake, body asleep” mantra.  All the players had abstract experiences through the episode.

Dom talking to Alexa again and asking if the thing loves her.  The agent’s belief that the Chinese are declaring war and her increasing paranoia are all clues that not only is she in shock but that shootings by the Dark Army have also  shaken her.

Angela easily has the most “through the looking glass darkly” (pun intended) experience in the episode however.  The entire Dark Army interlude with Whiterose was off kilter.

The van ride, the house where she is taken to the black room and those esoteric questions all point to a surreal “trip” sans the acid.  Everything about that sequence screamed fake.

As Angela is shown into the room, the door is white and the area beyond the opening appears to be brightly lit. Once inside, however, the door is now black, like the room, and it is not brightly lit at all.

There is light from some high windows and that large fish tank as well as that weak glow from the little interrogator’s Commodore.

Everything about the interrogation is odd. The copy of Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita, the child interrogator, the nonsensical questions, and the leaking fish tank all strike a discordant note with the viewer.  The presence of the archaic Commodore computer with its huge floppy disc is also jarring.

The old video game questions about the door were also disconcerting, it had no real logic.  Only when Whiterose enters to speak with Angela do things become clearer.  She wants to know what Philip Price’s fascination is with the young woman. As do we.

At the end of their 28 minute conversation, Angela is turned. Her earlier goals are discarded and she tells the lawyer not to call her again.  Angela’s countenance is that of the damned, as though she is now privy to some horrible knowledge.

Joanna Wellick is, apparently, shown the location of Tyrell’s phone calls. She tells Mr. Sutherland that this is her husband’s best gift yet.  Joanna still believes Tyrell is alive. And so she should, she has seen Elliot and spoken with him.

Mr. Robot - Season 2

Elliot spies on Mr. Robot as he finds what was hidden in the apartment. It is a coded message on a barbecue flyer.  After some code breaking Robot and Elliot learn what they must do.

Mr. Robot follows instructions and Elliot follows him.  (The predominant colours in this episode are red, blue and black.  This will obviously have some significance to the plot and  Esmail may reveal what this is later on.)

Elliot reminds himself that he is not following Mr. Robot and approaches the waiting cab.  The driver is clearly Arabic and speaks “sporadic” English. Elliot finally gets in the cab and admits who he is.

The driver asks him for the address and Elliot is stumped. Suddenly the other cab door opens and an address is given to the cabbie.

Tyrell Wellick is the new passenger.

Elliot pressured the driver to acknowledge his new passenger. The man responds in Arabic and finally Elliot, and Wellick, are ejected from the vehicle.

This seems to be proof positive that Wellick is Elliot and vice versa.  Keeping in mind that Esmail said in the first season that this is a spin on Fight Club it makes perfect sense.

Next week is Mr. Robot’s season two finale.  Mike’s Film Talk predicts that all computer hacking hugger mugger aside, Esmail will reveal that Angela’s interlude with Whiterose was a dream and that Wellick is indeed Elliot.

The premise works if one believes that Joanna has known all along of Elliot’s (or Wellick’s) split personalities.  It would be a brilliant twist if it is revealed that Elliot has not really existed all along. That he is a manifestation of Tyrell Wellick and always has been.

Mr. Robot will have its season two finale next Wednesday on USA.  Tune in and see just what Sam Esmail has up his sleeve this year.

CAST:

Mr Robot: eps2.7_init_5.fve – Hello Ollie (Review)

Mr. Robot - Season 2

Mr. Robot is a tad repetitive this week. We learn what really happened to Elliot. What he was arrested for, ironically for the damned dog as well as hacking the therapist’s douche boyfriend, and what really happened behind bars. In some ways a bit of a redundant episode, in that respect.

There are many more revelations, as well as questions, in init5.  For one thing it appears that Elliot is going through some sort of meltdown. Perhaps due to the lack of morphine and other self medicating drugs he was taking before.

Dom follows her hunches, we learn, when she shows up at Angela’s with some takeaway and warnings couched as conversation.

The Snowden Treatment:

Angela learns the hard way that no one likes a whistleblower no matter how grand their intentions.  After showing her hacked information to the nuclear regulatory people, Angela notices the cameras are not working.

As she and the deputy director walk down a gloomy hall to a “meeting” Angela sees more inoperative cameras. The deputy director then reveals that she knows where Angela works. Spooked she leaves without accomplishing what she came for.

Mr. Robot - Season 2

When Is a Door Not a Door:

The mysteries of who is knocking at the door, is getting old. Repetition is not a good thing, unless one remembers playing the old Resident Evil games where opening doors signified moving into another level or challenge.

Darlene opens her door to what appears  to be at least two visitors. Her eyes move from left to right and back again.  However, the use of the knocking door is really just an “off camera” device to keep the mystery going.

When is a door not a door? When it is off camera. Cisco also has an off camera moment where, collecting the video tape, he hears labored panting and breathing from behind the couch (and the camera).

There have been a lot of “knocks on the door” in this season.

Come on Esmail, give it a rest.

Mr Robot:

There is a breaking down of the “relationship” between Elliot and his dead father.  Using an “out of body” experience Alderson sees Mr. Robot talking to an arguing Darlene and Cisco. Then Mr. Robot sees Elliot.  They then morph into Elliot.

Mr. Robot - Season 2

Later, on the subway, Elliot sees Mr. Robot talking to Cisco in another car; one he cannot access.  There is an obvious splitting of the two. It is ironic that this has occurred after Elliot “accepted” his dead father in prison.

Mr. Robot insists that something is wrong. “It’s like we’re overheated,” he says.  He is the one who instigates Elliot’s leaving Darlene’s apartment and going home.

Stage Two:

Heading back to the theory that Elliot knows more than he thinks (“Who is Wellick“) it turns out that the information that he is so desperate to learn about is his own plan.  The Dark Army is puzzled that Elliot has approached them asking the question. It leads to the hacked phone being disconnected with the phrase, “he is a master,” proceeding the cutoff.

Brown Outs:

It could well be that  Elliot is imagining all this in his mind. There is no E Corp, with Chinese connections, and that either none of these people exist outside his mind, or that they do but not as they are seen in the show.

Are the brown outs significant not as a power issue but a brain malfunction? Is it a coincidence that the breakdown between Mr. Robot and Elliot started occurring at the same time the brown outs began?

There is still a tinge  “Fight Club” thematics going on here and much more to Elliot and his split personalities than meets the eye.

Hello Ollie:

Joanna Wellick waiting outside Elliot’s apartment building is interesting on many levels.  Sticking with the idea that Joanna knows Elliot from before their “initial” meeting, it is important to note that she got in touch soon after his release from prison.

When they spoke before, Mrs. Wellick seemed more bemused than anything else. She knew Elliot.  Her reaction to his name (Ollie) is odd. (This is the same scene where she, apparently, threatens Elliot saying if he hurt her husband he would pay – or something along those lines.)

It could even be a sort of in -joke or  have a hidden meaning.  Is Joanna’s line a take on the song “Hello Dolly?”  “It’s so nice to have you back where you belong,”  goes the second line of the song. Is Elliot back where he belongs?

Price and Whiterose:

These two were fascinating this week. From Whiterose urinating on Price’s predecessor’s headstone to Price practically foaming at the mouth “I will rain chaos,” their exchange spoke volumes about E Corp, the Chinese government and the Dark Army.

Finally:

Things are getting interesting. There is one thing, apart from those damned doors, that should be addressed. Everyone, it seems, has secrets.  This is fair enough, as it is representative of real life, but, when all the main players appear to be on the same line as Elliot it makes for a predictable end.

Making all the characters too interesting takes away from Elliot, unless the idea is that away from all the computer jiggery pokery , this really is the “Fight Club” and all the players merely extensions of Alderson after all.

Regardless of how this show turns out, the journey has been a cracking one and may it continue for a long time.

Mr.  Robot airs Wednesdays on USA.

 

CAST:

Guest starring  Michael Drayer as Cisco

Mr Robot – eps2.4_m4ster-s1ave.aes: ALF and Wellick as Baggage (Review)

 Mr. Robot - Season 2

Mr. Robot starts this week with a 4:3 ratio  complete with ’80s sitcom music and shot through a filter that mimic’s that ’80s feel. Pseudo adverts interchange with the Alderson family vacation.  Canned laughter, ALF and “the man in the trunk” aka Tyrell Wellick (described by Elliot’s dad as “baggage”)  all convey a message.

This quirky beginning is a dream, of sorts, one that Elliot; recuperating in the hospital from the beating that Ray’s thugs gave him, is having. Influenced by an ALF rerun on the television, the dream, or interlude, tells us in the theme song that nothing is as it seems. No one is who they seem to be and that Elliot has more issues than initially thought.

It is fitting that the setting for this week’s prologue is the mid ’80s. (Alf hit TV screens in 1986.) The computer as “home accessory”really started taking off at that time. Commodore 64,  Apple and the Atari all became available  and very popular around then. Essentially Esmail has taken us back to the beginning and not through a flight of fancy either.

Clues are scattered throughout the sitcom “dream.”  (There are others later that indicate the fsociety are not the only players here.) The main message appears to be that Elliot and his other self, Mr. Robot, are in this alone.  The secondary message is that none of this is real.

Darlene disappears from the back of the car during the “Wellick escape sequence” and Elliot’s father tells him that “sometimes lies help.”  Elliot responds with:
“This whole place is a lie. Nothing is true.”

Another big clue appears during this sequence.  Mr. Robot kills Wellick with a tire iron. Does this indicate that in the last season it was Robot who murdered Wellick and this is why Elliot has no recollection of the event.

(It could also explain why he can see Wellick and Robot cannot. Once again, this could be a “metaphorical” killing of Wellick as it is still not 100 percent clear that Tyrell is “real.” )

This opening sequence, explained as a coping mechanism for Elliot to survive the beating by Ray’s minions, appears to do a lot amid all that canned laughter and seeming nonsensical action.  The scene also puts Mr. Robot firmly in charge of Elliot.

In this dream sequence, Elliot finally accepts Gideon’s death (The killing blow as by ALF in this alternate world. Esmail’s inclusion of the “double bump” over the man’s body was blackly comic.)  Other things are touched on in the ’80s sitcom world of Mr. Robot.

Both the women in Elliot’s life disappear.  Elliot’s mother maces Angela in the petrol station and, after being knocked out twice, Darlene vanishes completely.  Later in the episode, Angela and Darlene are working together to hack the FBI cell phone data bank.

Does this signify a parting of the ways?

Mr. Robot - Season 2
Darlene channelling her inner “Jackie Brown.”

It has to be pointed out that Esmail also, apart from his big wink at 1980s comedy television,  gives what appears to be a massive nod to Quentin Tarantino. The sequence with the blonde wigged Darlene, with 80s “hipster” music in the background,  heading to her rendezvous with Angela was so Tarantino-esque that one expected Samuel L. Jackson to turn up.

The entire “ALF” sequence dominates the rest of the episode. It is tempting to dissect the episode opener frame by frame. Just the Wellick sequence alone is full of clues. For instance, reversing to the exec as “baggage” seems to indicate that Elliot needs to let the whole thing go.  However, the rest of “Master Slave” has clues also.

The Chinese connection to the Dark Army is clearer in this episode. Price is having difficulty getting what he needs. “CD man” asks too many questions of his Dark Army rep and gets the modern day equivalent of bamboo under his fingernail as result.  Later he is recognized by Angela and Darlene has no idea why.

This is a huge clue that the Dark Army has been working in opposition along side fsociety all along. This possibility changes a lot of things  when looking back on last season’s attack on the storage facility.

Obviously Whiterose has a double edged objective and the main one is taking down E Corp as a means of allowing the Chinese government to slip in the back door. Price appears to slowing becoming  aware that there is a weasel in the henhouse.

Mr. Robot - Season 2
Portia Doubleday as Angela Moss

Anglea as hacker was intense and funny.  Her face, throughout the entire  FBI sequence, screamed guilt. When Dom approaches her,  just before she finishes entering the last command to bring up the wifi, it her face is just priceless.

At the end of the episode, Elliot has given up fighting. He fully embraces his Mr. Robot  persona. This is the clearest sign of things to come. Robot has always been the real leader, as he says himself, he is what people see when they look at Elliot.

The final flashback, where it is learned how “Mr. Robot” came to be was brilliant. By the end it seems that Esmail is reaffirming that the series is “Fight Club” on LSD.

Mr. Robot airs Wednesdays on USA. Do not miss this “through the computer screen darkly” series.

 

CAST:

Mr Robot: eps2.0_unm4sk-pt1.tc – Analog Loop (Review)

 Mr. Robot - Season 2

After a long wait, Mr Robot is back and  there is no apparent answer to the Wellick question, i.e. just who or where  he is.  With flashbacks to the season one  finale, which makes it seem once again that Elliot “killed” Tyrell,  Alderson still does  not know what became of  Wellick or where he is.

As E Corp and the country  scramble to recover from the F Society attack, Elliot is in an “analog loop.” This loop is meant to be a way to exert control. He uses journal entries to keep track of his time and his constant visitor is “Mr. Robot,” aka dear dead dad, aka himself as the late Mr. Alderson.

Elliot is desperately attempting to thwart Mr. Robot and by leaving the digital world behind he plans to win through attrition.  Part one of the two part season open has Alderson revealing the details of his day.  He does this by narration and by letting us observe portions of his journal entries.

Shockingly, Robot shoots Elliot in the forehead.  It is not, we learn, the first time this has happened. In the journal entry, Alderson reveals that the last time, he panicked. Elliot’s other personality is turning more violent. (Later he slits Gideon’s throat as he sits at the dining table.)

Mr. Robot’s action against Gideon proves to be prophetic as the former Allsafe boss is later shot in the throat by a man he meets in a bar. Does this mean that Elliot will be killed from a shot in the head?  While not necessarily a literal death, it could well be a metaphorical one. After all Elliot is fighting Mr. Robot for control and at the moment he is losing.

Elliot is going through some sort of meltdown. The signs are all there.  For instance in his mother’s dining room during his meeting with Gideon (Michel Gill).  At the start Elliot has no wound visible in his forehead. As the conversation continues and Mr. Robot interjects more and more the bullet hole appears and begins to bleed. 

Mr. Robot - Season 2
Joey Bada$$ as Leon

It is also apparent that Leon is just another facet of Alderson’s personality.  The fact that he can talk without Elliot having to answer signposts it. Plus when “real -life” Ray (Craig Robinson) and his dog Maxine turn up, Leon does a fade and Mr. Robot appears briefly. Later when Ray returns neither of the other two turn up.

Mr. Robot - Season 2
Craig Robinson as Ray, Rami Malek as Eliot

Back to Tyrell Wellick:  He has been made the ultimate scapegoat as everyone believes he was behind the attacks.  Wellick is also chief suspect for the murder of Scott Knowles’ wife.  Elliot tries to order Mr. Robot to tell him what happened to Tyrell or where he is. Finally his other personality reveals that he cannot “do that.”

The reason may be down to the fact that a schizophrenic’s other personas, are not aware of each other. They do not interact with one another either.  Therefore it would be impossible for Elliot as Mr. Robot to know where Tyrell is.

If Alderson shot Tyrell, then he would have done so as Mr. Robot. (This personality is the violent side of Elliot.) Thus far Robot has shot Elliot, slit the throat of Gideon and goodness knows what else.  This lack of knowledge dealing with Wellick could mean that the missing  scapegoat is indeed another facet of Elliot.

Of course Wellick is also violent. He beats his wife, with her consent (BDSM),  has beaten up bums on the street and killed Scott’s wife.  He comes pretty close to Mr. Robot in that regard.  (This applies whether or not he is another Alderson personality. )

Mr. Robot - Season 2
Elliot on the phone to who…

Wellick’s wife (or widow) is being taken care of by a temporary BDSM partner whilst  being looked after by someone with a lot of money.  She also receives a music box with a  burner phone attacked to the bottom. Later in episode two she gets a call from an unknown number but misses it as the baby is crying.

Joanna’s new phone rings as Elliot nods off to sleep at his church meeting.  He wakes up back at his mother’s house holding the red phone receiver. It is ringing on the other end.  He says hello and on the other end of the line Wellick says “Bonsoir Elliot.”

There is a lot more going on in eps2.0_unm4sk-pt1.tc and eps2.0_unm4sk-pt2.tc than just Elliot and his struggle for control.  Angela is doing very well at her new E Corp job and she is taking a self improvement course at night to increase her confidence.

Darlene hacks the smart house of Susan Jacobs (Sandrine Holt) and takes Madam Executioner’s house over as the new fsociety headquarters. She also hacks and holds E Corp to ransom for a cool $5.9 million.  Jacobs, Price and Knowles (Brian Stokes Mitchelldecide to pay up with Scott delivering the money.

At the park a messenger delivers a mask and the face-piece has a message on it for Scott. He is to burn the money on the sidewalk. He does.

Mr. Robot - Season 2
Brian Stokes Mitchell as Scott Knowles

(Sidenote:  Continuity or just a plain miss here.  In this scene, Knowles reads the instructions on the fsociety mask.  He then empties the two bags of money and pours a flammable liquid  over the banknotes. Scott then gets a call from Darlene who tells him he needs to hurry.

After torching the money he removes the mask and holds it facing the camera. The instructions show up on the close up of the mask,  as it is held over the flames. However,  when Knowles wore the mask earlier, for another closeup,  there is nothing on the mask at all. Oops.)

Mr. Robot - Season 2
Carly Chaikin as Darlene

It is interesting that both Angela and Darlene are now literally bookends  to one another.  Elliot’s sister was always aggressive and prone to violent thoughts.  Now that Angela as gone over to the other side, she too is aggressive and confident.  She loves her new job and decides that she wants to keep it.

Mr. Robot - Season 2
Portia Doubleday as Angela

RIP Gideon Goddard.  The poor guy goes to the FBI and tells, presumably,  all he knows  to Dominique DiPierro (Grace Gummer, daughter of Meryl Streep) and another agent. In terms of personality Dominique  seems less aggressive and more assertively ambitious. 

Not too long after Gideon spills his guts to the authorities, he is shot in the neck by a man named Brock in a bar. Since Mr. Robot slit Gideon’s throat earlier, it seems even money that he had something to do with Goddard’s murder.

The episode ended with Wellick, apparently on the other end of that red phone.  Of course Elliot could be hallucinating or making the conversation up.  It is never really made clear if his mother in really in the house or not.  Since Elliot is struggling for control here it seems very likely that neither mother nor Tyrell are there at all.

Speaking of control, Mr. Robot tells Elliot at one point that “they see me.” This seems to indicate that when Elliot interacts with people they see the Mr. Robot side of him.  It sounds like the control is wavering.

Both episodes were a cornucopia of images and interesting little twists. For example, at one point Elliot opines that this is all make-believe. A sign behind his head reads “Hell is Real.” As Esmail leaves nothing up to chance, this was a clear hint at what is really going on.

Mr. Robot airs Wednesdays on USA.  It has been a long wait. Esmail directed both these episodes and does so very well. He has managed to keep the intrigue coming and changed the ambience  of the show to very, very dark.  Do not miss  this addictive show. Tune in and see what happened to Wellick.

Mr. Robot - Season 2
Martin Wallström as Tyrell Wellick

 

 

CAST:

 

Mr Robot: Sam Esmail Presents the New Normal

Mr Robot - Season 1
Watching the pilot episode of Sam Esmail’s Mr Robot opened a door in the mind of the world’s young, techno savvy demographic. The show is self-admittedly aimed at the younger members of the audience who are not only up on their computer hacking knowledge but who are topically and pop culturally aware. They most likely have a lot more in common with Elliot Alderson than they would like. Esmail presents us with the “new normal” in that Rami Malek’s character suffers from a number of mental maladies. After the season one finale, it seemed to be a good time to think about Esmail’s picture of the new normal and all that Elliot is as the modern “everyman.”

Foremost is his schizophrenia. However, looking at the hacker, and leader of fsociety, it appears that he could also be bi-polar with a few other mental issues buried in that head, which could include a form of autism. (This is not based upon Malek’s “deer in the headlights” gaze but his innate ability to work issues at almost super human speed.) It appears that the only thing that Alderson does not suffer from is ADD, on this side of the big pond, or ADHD over in England.

Alderson also self medicates, something that a huge amount of people do. At a time when a quick trip across the southern border makes it easy for a number of folks to meet their own medicinal needs, it is not too surprising. While Elliot himself may not be the “new normal” the world in which Mr Robot lives, breathes and creates anarchy, is.

Certainly, there are nods and winks to, not only Fight Club, but a number of other Stanley Kubrick films as well. However, leaving aside the internal plot lines, the verse is all about our new and ever increasing addiction to and reliance on the Internet, computers and WiFi.

If nothing else, Elliot shows us how much, or how little, the use of passwords, firewalls and security software protects our everyday life. Alderson is “scary good” at hacking everybody. No one organization, or individual, is safe from him accessing their data. He is also, until recently, untraceable.

*Sidenote* It does look like season two holds the promise of problems for Elliot and his use of server proxies in Estonia since Krista’s ex-love-rat boyfriend Michael/Lenny is on the warpath.

Still, Esmail’s new normal feels right. The world is all about the world wide web and all companies, not just banks, rely on servers, back-up servers and wireless transfers. Things have moved on from those old “key-punch” days, but one thing has not changed. Data, when it is lost, or “given” a virus, is a bucket of writhing worms that may never be sorted out or retrieved.

The showrunner/creator of Mr. Robot is a film fan, he says so in interviews and Esmail has stated specifically that he is a Stanley Kubrick fan. He cites a few films of Mr. Kubrick’s that he has paid homage to. Eyes Wide Shut being one. One cannot help but like a creator who is a self-professed fan of the redoubtable late Stanley Kubrick.

The “new normal” is relative to the age group it is aimed at. In the show, fsociety; Elliot’s team of computer anarchists who want to change the world (Save the World) have done so. Streets are full of happy rioters, if such a thing can be imagined, and the “suits” are all panicking. Elliot muses that the end of the world (as we know it) is not how he imagined. “People in expensive suits rushing around [sic].”

This is the crux of “Mr. Robot world.” Neither Elliot nor his team have thought through the whole “destroy the world’s debt” ideology. Sure, no one owes any money to anyone else, at least not in the sense that it can be tracked electronically, but money does still make the world go round. With the markets crashing world-wide money gets devalued. The divide between the “haves” and “have nots” will widen.

As shown that the season finale’s final moments (Where B.D.Wong shows up in a scene that pays tribute to Kubrick’s last film) the oligarchy are not touched, troubled, or overly concerned about the hack and the loss of debt. Their fish will fry regardless of what oil is used.

It is not unusual that Elliot and his little band of misfits have not thought their attack through. The young, the target demographic, do not, as a rule, think too far in advance. It is not just today’s youth who have this shortcoming, all youth, regardless of era suffer from this. Perhaps what is relevant to this “generation” of young people is their total reliance upon the Internet, computers, smartphones, and tablets.

In keeping with the reflection on today’s younger demographic having much in common with the damaged Elliot, take a moment to look at the number of children, and young adults, who have some form of autism, ADD or ADHD, schizophrenia, bi-polar (which used to have the charming name of Manic Depressive) and other types of mental issues. Elliot’s self medicating, in order to exist “normally” may not be overly common, but his lack of social finesse is.

Living in a world where everyone communicates more often online than in real life it is not surprising. Something that was included early on, was Ollie’s online chats with his “on the side” bit of stuff that Angela found out about. It was also shown, earlier in the season, how much social media eased a hacker’s job in finding out personal details about their target.

This too, has become part of the new normal. Texting has become passé. It is all instant messaging, direct messaging, FaceTime, Facebook, Twitter, Line, Skype, and the list goes on. Real life Conversations between people happen less and less while reliance upon the Internet as conversational hub grows and grows.

Mr. Robot shows us our world gone mad. Elliot may have issues, but the real issues are not with his ability to hack and therefor change the world, they are with the new reality. The new normal. Credit card theft, Identity theft, and/or any of the things mentioned during the Christian Slater rant on the season finale are our new world, for better or worse.

Our new normal is The Matrix, Esmail proves it by revealing that we do live in a virtual world that is filled with inhabitants who have forgotten, or never learned, what real contact and interaction is all about. A world where the rich view everything through predatory eyes and most likely study The Art of War to learn the art of winning.