Mr Robot - Elliot

The Problem With Isolating the Main Character

The biggest problem with the prison set-up is that it takes Elliot out of the action and isolates him away from the rest of the characters and larger story. Fans overwhelmingly were turned off by Elliot’s position of inaction. But Esmail argues that “it was very important for Elliot to address this incredibly internal conflict that sprung on him at the end of the first season: that he has an alter ego that he can’t control.”

…The isolation of him being in prison really helped that. It meant that we get to basically do this deep dive into his internal battle with his demons. There is not much else for him to do. He couldn’t escape it. So it was great on that level. I knew it was going to be a polarizing choice to go in this direction with Elliot, but for whatever reason, it felt organic and natural.

Mr Robot - Craig Robinson as Ray

Is Ray Really a Prison Guard?

The neighborhood basketball court is where Elliot meets Ray (Craig Robinson), who befriends him and persuades him to help him with his website. Elliot uses the opportunity to communicate with Darlene and write a program that fsociety will use to hack the FBI. This probably happened almost as we see it, with Elliot using Ray’s internet-connected computer to communicate with and help Darlene. It makes sense that Elliot would use this chance to reach out to the outside world.

Elliot looks where he shouldn’t have and discovers that Ray is running a black market website trafficking in drugs, weapons, and sex slaves. We have to assume at this point that Ray is probably a guard at the prison who is operating a black market trading ring of some kind.

Elliot is beaten by Ray’s thugs (possibly other prison guards), and experiences a twisted sitcom dream before waking up in a hospital bed (probably the prison’s hospital ward). Held captive in a small torture room by Ray’s thugs (most likely solitary), Elliot is forced to help him fix the website. But Elliot uses the time to alert the FBI, who quickly come to arrest Ray. We can only assume that Elliot alerted the authorities about whatever backdoor operation he was running.

After Ray’s operation is shut down, the neighborhood is none too happy. We see Leon take out a bunch of guys who were going to rough Elliot up, and which now suggests that Leon took out the white supremacist gang with a shank.

Mr Robot 5

Guessing the Twists

Coming off of the major twists from the first season, many fans have been looking for the big twists in the second season. While I didn’t see it coming, many die-hard fans guessed correctly that Elliot was in a prison or mental institution. And Esmail acknowledges that the fans are starting to second-guess the series, but explains his motivations:

One thing that we always do is we never want to cheat the audience. We never want it to be some extraordinarily contrived thing where we’re basically lying to the audience and what they’re seeing isn’t actually happening, and we’re fooling them. In doing that, and being honest with what is going on, even though the surroundings aren’t actually what they are, we didn’t really hide it that well, right? I didn’t expect people to catch on from the very first episode, but I thought people would start to theorize and catch on. Look, a reveal is great when it’s surprising, but it’s terrible when it feels like a cheat. To me, the fact that some people who guessed it may not be surprised, it verifies that we didn’t cheat anybody, because it adds up and makes sense to them still.

Mr Robot - Tyrell

Is Tyrell Wellick Really Dead?

But what has become of Tyrell Wellick? Earlier in the season we saw a glimpse of Elliot awakening from a dissociative state on the phone, greeted on the other end by Tyrell. In another episode, Joanna gets a phone call from someone breathing heavily, who we were to believe was Tyrell. The episode also features Mr. Robot revealing to Elliot that he killed Tyrell, but can we trust this to be true? Esmail admits “That’s a great question.”

But I would put that question back to you: How much do you believe, given what you know about Mr. Robot, from what you’ve seen already? That’s what we have to go on, and what Elliot has to go on. That’s the intention: we know as much about Mr. Robot as Elliot does, and so we’re so with him in that regard of whether to trust him or not. That’s part of the journey you’re going to have to go on.

As for what we can expect from the rest of the season, Esmail says that it will continue to focus on the internal struggle with Elliot, reiterating that “this is at heart about Elliot’s emotional journey.”  If I were to guess, it would be that Tyrell is still alive, and Mr. Robot is lying to Elliot. After all, wouldn’t that help advance the inner struggle at the core of this series?

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