Mr. Robot: “eps2.5_h4ndshake.sme” Season 2 Episode 7 Review

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When Elliot says “it’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey,” toward the end of the seventh episode of twelve for season two, it feels like an arrogant proclamation from the writers about Elliot’s arc this season. The character has been sidelined for all of season two thus far, sharing just one scene with Angela and maybe two with Darlene. Well, in the final moments of the episode, we found out why. Elliot has been in prison the whole time season two has been going on, presumably for the death of Tyrell. Mr. Robot deserves credit for pulling the rug out from under us, but as Elliot tells us, it really doesn’t change anything. This episode also sees Elliot and Mr. Robot finally start working together, which would be exactly what happened anyway had the show just shown us Elliot in prison from the beginning. The whole thing with Ray is infinitely more confusing now, but then that wasn’t all that interesting of a plot thread anyway.

All this leads to me to one very simple conclusion: Mr. Robot is a decent show masquerading as a great one. The shots are gorgeous, the acting is solid, and the twists are legitimately shocking, but when you sit down and really try to put it together, none of it is really that interesting. What we have is a show with an interesting premise bogged down by philosophical rants and a few great characters who really don’t get to do all that much. A twist like this is a revealing one for Mr. Robot. It’s one that makes you think for the sake of making you think, not one that serves the plot, or at least the plot of the more than half a season the show kept us in the dark.

But the most frustrating thing of all is that a huge chunk of this episode was devoted to getting Elliot to a place where he can get back to the main collection of characters. Him being in prison prolongs that even further. Seven episodes is too long to work toward one way out to suddenly have to take another detour.

As for Angela, the only character in the real world still capable of growing, this was another episode in a season full of them that served her extremely well. The return to the cliffhanger confrontation with Dom perfectly set the tone for Angela’s journey this week. As the questioning grows tense, Dom tells Angela this isn’t who she is, just before Darlene has to tell her exactly what to type in to hack E Corp. This moment illustrates just why she doesn’t fit in with the hacker crowd. The rest of the episode, her asking for another position and all, pushes her closer to some perceived purpose she can serve to Darlene and the rest of fsociety. Thankfully, the writers are keeping us completely in the dark as to whether she’ll be successful or not. Angela’s role for the back half of season two is one of the few things Mr. Robot still has going for it.

Other than that though, this show needs to pull itself together. The big mystery of Elliot’s general situation resolved in a way that smartly though also boringly doesn’t change anything. It’s truly amazing that so many striking visual motifs and powerful images go into a show that is barely inching forward. It’s enough to trick some viewers into thinking Mr. Robot is the second coming for the golden age of television. Maybe it even thinks it is itself. Don’t be fooled, most of this second season has just been a lot of psychological hot air. Grade: C

By Matt Dougherty

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