Who Is Mr. Robot's Landlord? eps 2.7_init_5.fve

Who Is Mr. Robot's Landlord?

Another crazy episode, still reeling in many ways. Any person who claims this has been a Sophomore Slump season is watching a different season than I am.

I watch every episode of this show very carefully, I discuss it with people on Reddit in-depth virtually every single day, and it still manages to surprise me every week. And I don't mean surprise like it was a total surprise unsupported by previous events. I mean surprised because it all still makes sense within the framework of the characters and the framework of the plot.

That is damn impressive writing.

Lots of important details were finally revealed this week, so if you have not eps 2.7 please stop reading now *Spoiler Alert*

"Only Guilty Man In The Entire Pen"

The beginning segment of eps 2.7 reveals everything we had yet to be told about Elliot's journey since the knock on the door at the end of S1. I got a ton of things right, but sadly, a few things wrong (sigh). Here is the report card (this combines my posts here and on Reddit).

I was right about the famous season-ending "knock at the door" being the police coming to arrest Elliot (Rami Malek) for the hack of his therapist Krista's ex-boyfriend.

I was right that he was arrested  for both the hack of Krista's ex-bf and also for the blackmailing him into giving Elliot his dog (many Redditors were certain it was just for the dog).

I was right that he was in jail after making a plea (not in prison). I was also right that it had to be a short term sentence because not enough time between arrest and his imprisonment for him to have been sentenced to prison. I was 100% right that he had to plead guilty to have been sentenced that quickly. 

I was right that Ray (Craig Robinson) worked at the prison, but I was way wrong about Ray not being the Warden. Ray was the Warden of the jail. In my experience, Warden's barely interact with prisoners at all, which made it unlikely Ray could be the Warden. But, it does explain how he could bring his dog to work every day (and also why Elliot would be very reluctant to talk to him at first).

I was right that "Hot Carla" was actually both Hot Carla and transgender (not at all meant to be insulting, apologies, if it seems pejorative).

I was kind of wrong about Ray's number one supporter not being a prison employee. He was one of the head guards. But I was right that the rest of his muscle was Aryan Nation.

There were some other "reveals" later in the episode, I will cover them as we get to that point.

Many people have asked how Elliot could possibly get out so quickly. As I did suggest, because it was low-level hacking and non-violent, he would get a short sentence. It turned out it was 18 months of which he served 86 days.

So how did he get out so quickly? Kind of ironic, the 5/9 hack crushed the DOC budget and they have, as a result, had to accelerate early releases for non-violent prisoners. Turns out it was a good thing he almost collapsed the US economy. This might also explain why he seems to have no post-release supervision so far (parole and probation)?

Oh, and the song played during most of the reveal was Public Image's "The Order of Death" which is the second John Lydon (Rotten) song to appear in Mr. Robot (can anyone share what the first was in the comments?). There was also a snippet of a Depeche Mode song (Walking in my Shoes) during this scene.

Much more on Elliot in a little bit.

Don't Worry, I Left My Handcuffs At Home

My biggest error so far was my theory from last week about Angela Moss (Portia Doubleday). To be honest, this is the most disappointed I have been about being wrong in a long time. Apparently, Angela Moss was not struggling so mightily in order to shed her "good" skin and become a Master of the Universe. Angela was, in fact, trying to use her new position to end E-Corp.

In fairness, it was a 50/50 call, and I still think it would have made more sense for Angela to do in essence a slow "heel turn" but then again, I don't know where the show's plot goes from here.

Anyway, it turns out Angela is less Darth Vader and more Princess Leia. So, all of her affirmations and nervous embrace of E-Corps were just coping mechanisms, not attempts at Mastery. My apologies.

Many people have asked why in the world E-Corp (and Whiterose) care so much about this stupid Washington Township Electrical Plant. We learn early in the episode that it was Whiterose (B.D. Wong) who has the interest in resolving the litigation and in the ongoing operation of the Washington Township Plant (even more ominous because it appears to be a nuclear plant).   

In fact, Zhang (aka Whiterose) almost has a coronary when during his face-to-face meeting with Phillip Price (Michael Cristofer) and Price tells him that E-Corps is going to have to shutter the plant despite the heroic efforts of Angela Moss. Price convinces Zhang to make China give a low (or no) interest loan to  E-Corp so that they could keep the plant open. This happens between a bunch of threats and counter-threats between Price and Zhang.

I am calling including Whiterose because, although she was dressed as Zhang, it seemed clear that Price knows/knew that Zhang is semi-independent of China but it is not sure how much Price actually knows about Zhang/Whiterose yet.

So, this is another Mea Culpa, I have been arguing that it is unlikely that Price knows about Whiterose. I still believe he does not know that Whiterose is a woman but he clearly does know that Zhang is more just than the Chinese Defense Minister.

In an earlier scene, Whiterose, as a woman, visits the grave of a former E-Corp CEO who he had murdered (murder by plane crash) for not conforming to his expectations. He repeats the story and then literally pisses on the man's grave. In case we did not already know this, don't mess with Whiterose.

But what does this all have to do with Angela Moss?

Okay, remember when Mobley gave Angela the tool called the "Rubber Duckie" (which is a smart portable USB drive designed to find and steal encrypted information by convincing the computer it enters that it is a keyboard instead of an outside drive)? Anyway, Angela takes the Rubber Duckie to work and uses it to hack her boss Joe Green's computer. She downloads all of his files on Washington Township and takes them to...the offices of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission?

The files apparently show that the "toxicity levels are still substantially above acceptable levels" at least that is what the first person she talks to at the NRC seems to think. He tells her everything will be kept secret and that they will provide her protection as a whistleblower. He then asks her to stay put while he goes and talks to his bosses.

Next thing we know a woman enters the office and introduces herself to Angela as Deputy Director Phelps. Director Phelps (Caroline Strong) seems very interested in getting Angela to a room supposedly containing other official people who want to talk with Angela. However, Phelps is so shady and so poor at building any rapport between them that Angela smells a rat and leaves.

I am pretty sure Phelps was working for the enemy (of the Government), and she was really bizarre.

It is a very curious scene. What was Angela trying to accomplish with such a poorly planned, quick, and brazen whistleblower scheme? Why, if she wanted to do anything but run Angela off, would she act so obviously corrupt? And if she was at the NRC why not have Angela detained? 

Your likely answer will be that she wanted to scare Angela, okay but wouldn't have made more sense to find out as much as possible first?

The only explanation I can figure out that might explain what is going on is that Deputy Director Phelps is the only person at the NRC who is working for the Dark Army and so she wanted Angela to know she had been exposed and also not have her become actually protected by the USFG.

So Angela goes home and hears a knock on her door. That knock is from Dom (Grace Gummer). She asks if she can come in, Angela says no, but Dom just walks in. She explains to Angela that she has been having her followed ever since Ollie flipped on her all those months ago. She tells Angela that she had a dream about a beautiful woman who was nice but then started choking her (probably confirming one of the theories I and others suggested about her being closeted like Whiterose)  She finally suggests to Angela that the dream only stopped being a nightmare when she quit trying to fight the beautiful woman (and just let herself be choked?).

She then tells Angela that she is her only hope and that the next people who visit her will not be "just bringing her food." Unfortunately, it turns out that Angela really was the "Bull in the Heather." Angela was just waiting for her chance, and trying to keep it together throughout the entire process of her rise at E-Corps. She understood that the key to getting access was trust, so she helped settle the Washington Township litigation to get access to something that might actually bring the plant down (in an ironic twist, but for the intervention of Zhang they were going to close the plant down anyway).

Oh well, not going to linger on this, except to say that I am sad that if Angela was still true to her original cause she didn't have a better plan of executing her revenge (at least get a reporter to act as an intermediary or have copies in a million places in case you are caught etc.).

I mean, the plant is still a vulnerability for the Dark Army and E-Corps, most likely she has just been burned, so maybe (as much as I hate to admit it given an ongoing Reddit dispute) she will have to work with Dom to bring down E-Corps (sigh).

"Paul Reiser Doesn't Get The Credit He Deserves"

And now to the 800-pound gorilla in the room.

Elliot dissociates when he has to do something he doesn't like to do, feels bad about doing, or that physically threatens him. Mr. Robot (Christian Slater) exists to carry out the tasks that Elliot wants to do but doesn't want to feel like he is doing.

Mr. Robot takeover is in full effect throughout the episode, which suggests the following...

Remember when Elliot had the long discussion with Darlene as they were watching "The Careful Massacre of the Bourgeoisie? The discussion where Elliot was talking about the most important part being the "follow-up" to the hack? 

Yeah, well, because he went to prison, I assumed this meant that Elliot had only wanted revenge and not really cared about the larger picture. In other words, because he had not put in a plan for what would happen "after the hack" and because fsociety seemed to be falling apart, I assumed Elliot totally dropped the ball.

Okay, and for Elliot fans, this might make you grumpy (and I could certainly be wrong), Elliot had a pretty brutal plan (Stage 2) for after the hack. Part of that plan seems to have included getting rid of (or eliminating) the loose ends (his team). Notice that every time he dissociates it is when he is having to say something misleading to someone he actually cares about or would feel bad about misleading (Darlene and Cisco etc.). 

What I am suggesting is that the handshake between Mr. Robot and Elliot during prison was superseded by previous programming instructions. He is carrying out his original program which supersedes the new Elliot because he believes he has to finish his mission. Finishing his mission requires messiness so, ipso facto, Mr. Robot has to take over sometimes.

This is why he is glitching and flipping back to Mr. Robot. It is also why he seems unaware that he has set Darlene (Carly Chaikin) up to find out that it was actually he/Elliot/Mr. Robot who was actually responsible for planning DA Stage 2. 

While I doubt seriously that he would harm Darlene (he actually hugs her back after prison, one of the only times I can remember that ever happening), he may have been involved in (outside of his Elliot personality) planning the downfall of the rest of his team (Phase 2).

I have argued, at length, that a Dissociative person is a fragmented whole. The different parts absolutely can understand what the other parts are doing but it is not necessary (hence the need for negotiation). However, all the parts still work to the benefit of the whole. 

In other words, Elliot could create a plan, have Mr. Robot execute it, but dissociate from it 100% at the times or around the realizations that he is uncomfortable with. This is not Mr. Robot taking over as much as Mr. Robot following the programming.

How this works was demonstrated in the scene where Elliot visits and thanks his actual Mother. Elliot thanks his Mother (who is living in what appears to be a very depressing elderly apartment) for keeping him "safe" during his "troubles" over the last several months. Obviously, his Mother did not "actually" keep him safe, so what is he saying here?

If you go back to one of the first episodes of the season he tells Krista he is "staying with his Mother because "better the devil you know than the devil you don't" In other words, Elliot wasn't just misleading us, he was misleading himself. Those things he told us about the routine, and the diner, and his Mom's house were how he was actually coping with his incarceration. While he was there, he was in his Mother's house and neighborhood. This explains a lot when Elliot needs to be aware of his actual situation (like getting out of jail) he can reconnect to the truth. But, when he doesn't want to know what is going on, he can entirely dissociate himself.

In a sense, Elliot was absolutely misleading us, but he was misleading us and himself to protect us all from the reality of what was going on. Elliot wants to see himself as a good person, he wants his invisible friend (us) to see him as a good person. So, when he is embarrassed or ashamed or uncomfortable he dissociates. 

Let me quickly say how sad this particular dissociation was. I have IBS and occasionally get violent and extremely painful stomach pains (debilitating at times). When I first got these attacks I thought I was dying but 20 years later I know what to expect so it seems manageable. What Elliot did is contain the abuse and horror of prison by assuming he was back at home being abused by his Mom (she was his IBS pain). That is sad.

Anyway, his dissociations are not without bumps, he forgets things and sometimes hears echoes or confuses realities. He is thanking his Mom for keeping him safe when she seems either incredibly non-interested or catatonic.  Yes, I am aware that his memory of her was necessary for him to construct a reality around his memories of her abuse, but she was not there. What this demonstrates is a part of him is confused about what is reality and what is dissociation.

Throughout the episode he sees himself from a third person perspective, which I suspect means that he is having a hard time discerning the difference between his reality and his dissociations. As Dr. Frank Putnam puts it:

But dissociation exacts a high price. It may be magical in its ability to transcend torment by detaching the individual from his situation, but it has its costs. The costs include: (1) discontinuity of sense of self; (2) a detachment or depersonalization from the physical self that permits or even fosters self-mutilation; (3) An array of amnesias and gaps in the continuity of memory; (4) inability to transfer basic conceptual information across dissociative states, leading to a failure to learn from experience and erratic access to knowledge and skills; and (5) inner conflicts and self-sabotage.

Sadly, the result could mean that Elliot is still trapped in his dissociation from what he set up many moons ago (starting in that room with Darlene) as Stephen Marmer concludes (in Stephen H. Behnke, Assessing the Criminal Responsibility of Individuals with Multiple Personality Disorder: Legal Cases, Legal Theory, 25 J. AM. ACAD. PSYCHIATRY & L. 391 (1997)):

Stephen Marmer, a clinical psychologist who treats patients with DID, notes that in his clinical experience few patients suffer from complete amnestic barriers.26 Although generally each alter controls his or her sphere of authority, Marmer describes situations where his patients have experienced a significant degree of cross-consciousness, such as a rescuing alter interceding during a suicide attempt or while abusing the host’s child.27 According to Marmer, this makes sense; “the person created alters, in the first place, for the benefit of the whole system.”28 Even when the host does not experience complete inter-identity amnesia, he can suffer from partial amnesia that “wall[s] off character traits and prior learning experiences that are available in integrated personalities to counterbalance, offset, and inhibit impulsive feelings and behaviors.”29 Additionally, the alters may develop conflicting standards of morality due to unshared life experiences between the alters.30

This explains all of the interactions between Elliot and Darlene and Cisco and also the interactions (and meeting) between Elliot and Xun (Lyman Chun, with DA masked-muscle in tow). It explains why he doesn't seem aware that he actually created Stage 2. 

Also, pretty cool that Darlene's bathroom has Pussy Riot art over the toilet.

Wrapping It All Up

That is one bizarre pic of Darlene, no?

So, short-form, Elliot set a plan in motion many months or even years ago. He is carrying out that plan, even if he sometimes is not aware of it himself. That plan might involve having the DA wipe out fsociety off the board (including many of his allies). 

This finally answers one of the biggest questions that has been left unanswered, why in the world would the DA protect and aid Elliot while they seemed to be sweeping the rest of the decks clean? Apparently, the reason is because the Dark Army cares about Elliot enough to do his dirty work for him. 

I am going to suggest a theory that might also resolve some of this. It is possible that Stage 2 is not about the Dark Army clearing the decks at all (we don't really know what it is yet). What if it is someone else taking out members of fsociety? Someone with a grudge? Someone with the initials TW?

One other, even crazier, theory. which has been put forward by some other people is that Elliot is also Tyrell (Martin Wallstrom). That Tyrell is another alter of Elliot. I have argued before that this is unlikely because there were several scenes where multiple characters interacted with both Elliot and Tyrell at the same time. Tyrell is also the most wanted man on planet earth, which suggests that people would figure out that Elliot and Tyrell look exactly alike. 

I still think this theory is highly unlikely to be validated.

Just putting those theories out there :).

Oh, and the episode ends with Joanna Wellick (Stephanie Corneliussen) pulling up to Elliot's apartment just as he is arriving home. She rolls down the window and says "Hello, Ollie (the name he gave her on the street in S1 E10)."

One more quick Mea Culpa, I was wrong that Cisco was most likely dead (Bat to the Head), he survived.

I might, however, be right about Mobley and Trenton who are still MIA. One caveat, at the end of eps 2.7 Darlene sends Cisco back to retrieve the VHS tape she lost, he finds it but also finds what sounds like someone badly hurt lying on the floor gasping. 

Obviously, this could be Trenton or Mobley or some other mysterious houseguest.

That is all for this week.

What do you think Stage 2 is? 

Do you think Tyrell has become "The Gentleman" killing off fsociety? What is your theory?

Why did Elliot visit his Mom?

Do you have any theories of your own to share?

Whoever leaves the best comment will get a shout-out in next week's recap, so leave a comment!