The Berenstain Bears, Nelson Mandela, Silencio, and #MrRobot
Who Is Mr. Robot's Landlord?
So what is the deal with the Berenstain Bears?
Yes, I jokingly mentioned them in the 2.2. recap (which you can read by clicking HERE) because the FBI operation that Darlene finds out about and tells Elliot about online is called "Operation Berenstain" (btw, there will be another post tomorrow about the Easter Egg in the chat between Darlene and Elliot).
But before I continue, if you have not caught up to Episode 2.2 of Season 2 of Mr. Robot, stop reading now *Spoiler Alert*
Also, before you decide what I am about to write seems insane, read down further, I have a big surprise from one of the major players involved (no kidding).
The Mandela Effect
So, several people are suggesting that calling the FBI investigation "Operation Berenstain" is actually a reference to "The Mandela Effect" which is when we remember an event differently than it actually was or differently than it actually happened.
Here is the short form of how this might be playing out on Mr. Robot.
Much like many people misremember that Nelson Mandela died while he was in prison (he actually died well after he left prison even becoming President of South Africa) many people also remember the "Berenstain Bears" being spelled as the "Berenstein Bears."
A much more eloquent breakdown of this was written recently by Stephanie Dube DWilson, you can read her very good explanation by clicking HERE. So the implication is that Elliot (Rami Malek) is not just suffering from dissociative disorder but also living in two different realities at the same time (the world of season one and the world of season two).
So one thing I have learned over two seasons. Sam Esmail loves paying homage to the movies he loves. I suspect that, if this theory is correct, it is a tribute to Mullholland Drive (also one of my favorite movies).
If you have seen the movie you know that is divided into two distinct parts where a single character lives out two very different existences connected by a blue box. Inside the blue box is the beautiful scene I embedded above.
Without going to in depth (and I would strongly suggest watching Mullholland Drive, the performance by Naomi Watts is one of the best ever). Basically, on one side of the box Watts plays her character as the characters idealized self and on the other side of the box Watts plays the character as she actually is.
The full meaning of the box is revealed at the beginning of the movie when, if you notice, her character is masturbating fantasizing about how she wishes life was (part one) the rest of the movie is what happens once the euphoria is over and her life is back to normal (part two).
So, it is possible Elliot is operating in this type of fashion as well.
I just got this, so I am adding it in here (still kind of gobsmacked by this)
Could be a false flag, but still pretty amazing to get a response from Mr. E-Corps himself (his production company is actually called Esmail Corp lol).
So back to explaining the theory.
On the one hand, he is the struggling but functional computer genius who is also secretly a caring friend and even boyfriend fighting to save the world from an evil corporation. (the idealized Elliot). On the other hand, Elliot is a struggling but functional computer genius who is also institutionalized and communicates with his sister at visits and over bb's (when he has access).
In both worlds, he is also struggling to figure out who he really is and figure out his complex relationship with his father Edward AKA Mr. Robot (Christian Slater, who appears to him as a dissociative personality).
Two things connect the two worlds, like the blue box and Club Silencio:
1. A computer (blue box)
2. A Knock on the door (Silencio)
In Mr. Robot world, the knock on Elliot's door at the end of season 1 is probably actually a knock on the door that reminds him he is in the institution. But it would not have to so, both ways he sees reality could be "real." He could see his past (season 1) through an idealized lens and see the present (season 2) through institutionalized eyes.
It has been my working theory that he institutionalized himself after the hack to protect himself and work out his daddy issues. However, it is also possible that he was forced into the hospital because someone had him medically committed (perhaps Gideon?).
The reality of that will unfold on the show. But something is clearly up here.
The "tell" as I mentioned last week is that Elliot seems to only be able to access one computer in all of New York City (Ray's). Notice that you never see any of the other characters associated with Elliot in season 2 with even a smartphone (impossible in 2016 much less when everyone he knows is a hacker). Why, for instance, doesn't Darlene (Carly Chaikin) bring him a computer when she visits him? Her whole reason for visiting him, after all, is to get him back on-line to help her with the FBI problem.
Two other things argue for the validity of this theory (which suggests that Elliot is already in trouble for his use of computers, institutionalized, and prevented from using them as part of the conditions of his institutionalization).
1. If you watch the first fifteen minutes of Eps 2.2 Elliot talks, in between deep hits on a joint, about how he was in trouble with the law at his prior job. At no point in Season 1 did we see this Elliot. Watch the scene again, he talks about getting fired at a place called InfoSec and being forced to see a shrink (I suspect it is Krista).
He did too good a job hacking the companies site and nobody could go home for the holiday after his hack and they got mad, he blacked out and destroyed all the servers, and he had to see a judge who mandated anger management therapy. The last thing he mentions is Angela (Portia Doubleday) trying to get him a job at AllSafe (his job in Season 1).
At the end of the conversation, he says AllSafe will be the perfect Trojan Horse that would allow him to take down Evil Corps.
Let me also mention the last thing that happens in the scene is him holding the mask over a blue television screen (blue box).
2. Ray's office looks like an institutional office. It sure doesn't look the office of a kingpin. Ray (Craig Robinson) talks to Elliot like a therapist or social worker would talk to a patient never like a local gangster would. There is 100% something rotten in Denmark.
As someone mentioned, when asked what Elliot would be like in Season 2, his answer was "Committed."
One cautionary note, the person who told Darlene about the FBI operation (Berenstain) told her out of the sight of Elliot. Elliot finds out later online. So, the name can't be a clue from Elliot's perspective (it actually has to be the real name of the FBI's Operation).
One last possibility, we know they found a bullet casing at fsociety headquarters, could Elliot have been the one who got shot? Is that how he got institutionalized? I don't think so, but I am going to rewatch Season 1 Episode 10, to make sure. More on this later.
Silencio. Not sure how it all works yet, but I am pretty sure there is something real here. I will keep playing around with the idea. But, I am pretty sure this plot is a Mulholland Drive homage (remember season 1 was, in large part, a commentary on Fight Club).
There were two other cool easter eggs from episode 2.2 that I will write about tomorrow before I do the next recap on Wednesday night.
What do you think of this Berenstain Bears theory of Mr. Robot? Please help fill in my theory or suggest alternatives. Let me know what you think, leave a comment!