Mr Robot S02E07 “H4ndshake.sme” REVIEW
Essential Plot Points:
- Joanna Wellick comes home to find a new gift, some beautiful earrings. Tyrell descends the stairs, and they’re off to an E Corp party. Everyone is dressed in white or grey. The Tyrells meet the Knowles. Sharon Knowles compliments Joanna on her earrings. We zoom in for a close-up shot of them, and zoom out to see present day Joanna in the street with a pram. A woman walks up to her, shouts, “Capitalist Pig!” and throws red paint all over her. Joanna screams silently as the titles roll.
- Elliot is still in the basement, and still in a bad way. Mr Robot is trying to comfort him, but Elliot still wants to know what happened on the night of the hack.
- Angela is back at her desk at E Corp. She still needs to finish bringing up the wifi for the femtocell. Agent DiPierro is there, she’s suspicious, but not in an official capacity.
- Angela tells DiPierro she was making plans with Agent Thomas. DiPierro leaves and Angela brings up the wifi successfully.
- Mr Robot tells Elliot that he/they killed Tyrell, with the gun from the popcorn machine.
- Derek has invited Joanna to his 30th birthday party. He tells her if she does’t come to the party, they’re through.
- DiPierro is checking out Angela’s story, viewing security footage to see why she was on the FBI’s floor, but the footage seems to be missing…
- Elliot is back at Ray’s computer. Ray wants Elliot to finish bringing the site back up.
- Joanna is at Derek’s, but she’s missed the party. He wants to break up with her, but she has a present for him: the start of divorce proceedings with Tyrell.
- Elliot brings the site back up, and traffic is at an all-time high. Before being dragged off by Lone Star he asks Ray for a game of chess, for old times’ sake. With Lone Star gone, Ray thanks Elliot for being his saviour. It seems Ray hadn’t actually looked at the site until Elliot arrived; he knows Elliot will have shopped him to the FBI.
- Elliot wins the chess game.
- As Elliot leaves the building, the FBI storms in. Elliot opened the site to the wider internet, not just the Tor network.
- At Congress, they’re voting on the E Corp bailout. Proceedings are interrupted as a pair of brass bull’s balls falls through a skylight.
- Elliot and Leon are watching a basketball game. Everyone knows Elliot had a hand in bringing down Ray’s site, and they aren’t happy about it. One customer in particular – Kevin – has lost a lot of Bitcoin, and blames Elliot.
- Phillip Price is in his office with Angela. She’s managed to get the contingency inspections dropped from the class action suit. She asks for a job in Risk Management, to which he agrees.
- Elliot is at Church group. He apologises for his earlier outburst. He stays behind and talks to Mr Robot. He wants Mr Robot to help him finish what they started with E Corp. Mr Robot tells him it was him all along, if he wants to finish it, then Elliot needs to be a leader.
- Elliot burns his journals as Hot Carla watches.
- On his way home, he’s jumped by Kevin and his goons. As they start to beat him up, a shadowy figure appears from behind, cutting through the thugs with a knife amidst sprays of blood. It’s Leon. He tells Elliot he’’s going to get a letter on Tuesday, and when he meets Whiterose to tell him he did Elliot good.
- At the Risk Management meeting, the food is late, and Susan Jacobs hasn’t shown up. Angela has a helpful idea, to help better understand the current case; she’d like access to the Washingtown Township case files. Her new boss isn’t impressed, and cancels the meeting. The food arrives.
- Elliot is at counselling with Krista, showing her the letter he received – she’s pleased for him. She asks Elliot where he thinks he is right now: “You know you haven’t been staying with your mother right?” He knows.
- We see Elliot at his mother’s house. An alarm is sounding. We see a caged red light on the wall, flashing. The scene shifts to show the light is on a prison wall.
- Elliot and Krista are sat at a table in a prison visiting room. Elliot is wearing an orange prison-issue DOC jumpsuit.
- As Elliot explains why he hid the truth from us, we see the reality of his situation.
- The basketball game is in the prison yard.
- The diner is the prison canteen.
- Elliot’s room is his cell.
Don’t you just hate it when friends lie to you? You thought they trusted you, but they’ve been keeping things from you all along. Seems there’s something Elliot hasn’t been telling us… He’s in prison.
He’s been in prison this whole time of season two so far. What we’ve been seeing is a construct, something he put in place to help him get better.
There are films which split opinion, which have “twist” endings. As the ending is revealed, you hate it: how stupid, totally ridiculous; or you love it: how clever, but of course I saw it coming all along. But what are the haters angry about? That they didn’t see it coming? They didn’t unravel the puzzle, which makes them feel somehow stupid?
So we’re angry with Elliot, for not telling us the truth. But in reality, are we angry with ourselves for not having seen this coming? Maybe we could have seen it coming, maybe we should have seen it coming? But it’s here nonetheless.
Elliot tells us that all of this really happened, so he did fight with Mr Robot, hang out with Leon, get messed up with Ray’s site. If we go back and look at Elliot’s scenes in previous episodes, most of it starts to make sense: his isolation at his mother’s house, one visitor at a time at the kitchen table; only travelling between a set number of locations (and always on foot); his lack of access to technology; the regimen; the routine; even watching basketball. Ray is slightly trickier to explain, but most likely he’s a prison guard or warden.
So why is Elliot in prison in the first place? We have a few choices here:
• For his part in the 5/9 hack? Unlikely, Tyrell and fsociety are in the frame for this.
• For murdering Tyrell? Again, unlikely – Tyrell is still missing
• Or the most likely reason, for hacking Krista’s boyfriend and any number of other victims?
So the letter Elliot receives is probably a pardon from the FBI, exonerating him from his crimes for his part in bringing down the Midland City site. Or it could be his payout from the Washington township class action suit. Or – and at this point this is just as likely – it’s divorce proceedings from Joanna Wellick and Elliot is actually Tyrell…
Let’s go back to Tyrell for a minute here. Mr Robot tells Elliot that he/they shot him, then presumably the body was hidden in the trunk of the SUV. Which means Joanna probably knows he’s dead, as she was aware of the SUV, and was paying off the car park attendant to cover for Elliot. Although we don’t believe you need to bring divorce proceedings against a corpse… maybe there are conditions to Tyrell’s severance package? So perhaps Tyrell is deaD; if so then who’s been sending Joanna creepy presents and calling her on the phone?
Ray’s change of heart is an interesting one. He goes from being Elliot’s tormentor one episode, to saviour the next. Apparently the site was all his wife’s idea, and he hadn’t seen the contents until Elliot came along, although what did he expect was on there running a black market site from a prison on the dark web? Craig Robinson has been superb as Ray, showing his talent for straight acting, indeed for straight out malevolence, a far cry from his usual comedic roles.
The episode itself is one hell of a slow-burner, from that gorgeous opening silent scream, through to the reveal, painstakingly shot and composed. The only minus points are Angela and some of her cohorts. It wasn’t clear why she took the job at E Corp in the first place, perhaps hoping to affect change from within as Terry Colby suggested. Originally she seemed to be going about this in rather subtle but manipulative ways, but in this episode she has a complete change of tack. Her requests for access to the Washington township files in the management meeting being the equivalent of stomping her feet, pouting and yelling, “Why’d you guys kill my Mom?”
The reveal at the end of the episode is itself exceptionally well done, morphing from Elliot’s familiar surroundings into the prison. There’s some gorgeous cinematography here, and some really clever sets.
This reveal is going to be divisive: you could argue it took too long, that for seven episodes we’ve been seeing a lie. But it isn’t as if Darlene has just woken up and it was all a dream, with Elliot in the shower and none of what we saw happened. What happened happened, it just didn’t necessarily happen the way we thought it did. Elliot’s sorry – he promises that will be the last time he keeps things from us, let’s not be mad at him too long…
- The switch to reality is very clever, and very well handled.
- When Kevin and his goons are beating up Elliot, Mr Robot appears in Elliot’s place just as the punch lands.
- Now we know the truth? And Elliot has promised not to keep anything from us anymore.
- Elliot has been lying to us all this time.
- We still don’t know who was at the door at the end of last season! Although we can now guess that it was the FBI/Police coming to arrest Elliot.
- We’re getting bored with Angela’s adventures at E Corp.
And The Random:
- When Elliot is at Ray’s computer finishing the site migration, he uses Nano to edit a file. Surely someone of his calibre would be using Vim?
- Is Tyrell dead?