I’ve been keeping up with the USA hit series Mr. Robot these past few weeks. I’ve been hearing a lot of talk about the episodes and how people are not understanding what is going on or what the purpose of some of the presentation techniques are all about. While I am no TV critique, I would like to offer up my own opinion of what’s going on in the latest episode of Season 2 of Mr. Robot.
In the 6th episode titled “eps2.4m4ster-s1ave.aes” the show takes on a 90’s sitcom feel for a good portion of the total runtime. In the middle we see some more FBI hacking which began a few episodes ago, and at the end it goes back to some more of the 90’s-feeling stuff.
So what’s the point of this 90’s stuff??
I think this show was targeted towards the early-30s demographic. With that in mind, these 90’s scenes are totally nostalgic. This is the stuff that these viewers were raised with in their middle school years, right along side the main character, Elliot. Everything from the flat sets to the AOL-like ads were all there. Okay, so AOL taylors to the nerds as well, who tend to view it as a major part of the history of our internet-based existence today.
So, yeah, for the tech geeks and nerds, 90’s TV is classic.
E Corp is Everything
The 90s TV scenes also show how E Corp was there back then and has been around all the way to the show’s modern times. This is just another reinforcing beam of the idea of this giant corporation running everything. In our real world, our mini marts go by the names of 7-11, AM/PM, or Circle K. In this show, people don’t have any other choice but to buy from E Corp.
Since the start of the show, I always felt like this E Corp was there to strip away all the logos, slogans, and branding that we see today. E Corp is a symbol which stands, unmasked, as a representation of the governments and corporations around us. It does everything. Is everything. It is your grocery store, your credit card, your bank, your life’s dependency.
What do we do? What don’t we do. – Massive Dynamic slogan
So here’s a question for you: Does the ‘E’ in E Corp stand for “evil” like Elliot describes, or does it stand for “everything” or… something else?
Humanizing Elliot’s internal conflict
These 90’s scenes also served as a kind of flashback. Not a flashback in the traditional sense of literally getting a glimpse of a character’s past, but instead took us to a version of Elliot’s past as it is altered by Mr. Robot. There is a man tied up in the trunk of the car. Nothing much happens with him in the episode. He’s just there.
(I think) it’s almost as if the businessman is there to show how Elliot does not think his dad is perfect. There is something certainly wrong going on, but then there is the face of his dad which keeps saying he is there to help and you see the complete confusion on Elliot’s face as he tries to rationalize the yelling man in the trunk and his calm father driving along.
You know that nagging feeling that Elliot’s been talking about for, oh I don’t know, the past two seasons?! I have to wonder if this set was almost a way to bring his mental struggles to our eyes. It was quite clear to all of us that nothing in those car scenes was right or normal. The laughing was wrong. The tire marks on the dead police officer were wrong. Oh yeah, dead police officer? Uh, slightly wrong. And it seems like there’s nothing Elliot can do about it. He is just there, along for the ride.
It felt like the first time I could really understand the mental struggle going on in his head. That if this is really what it feels like up in there, no wonder the guy is having issues coping with reality. We know at the end of these scenes that it was just his way of mentally coping with the pain of the beatings he just received.
If you read this far, thanks!
This 6th installment in Season 2 of Mr. Robot was full of imagery. Maybe it felt dry. Maybe you felt lost because the plot you thought was finally picking up in the last episode only crawled forward in this one.
Give this show a chance. We’ve seen how it can blow our minds before. Take a step back. Try to understand what it’s getting at. There are certainly some interesting avenues of character development that this show is taking, but you know what, I hate seeing the same kind of thing over and over again. While I would agree with you that this season feels slower, I still can hardly wait for what the Mr. Robot team has in store for us later this season because I have a feeling that this is all creeping towards something massive.