Season two of Mr. Robot has been one long mind trip, which has turned off some viewers who liked the snappier pace and bigger stakes of the first season. The mind games continued in episode seven, “h4ndshake.sme,” as showrunner Sam Esmail finally pulled back the curtain and revealed the season’s big twist.

The fan theories — or should a sole fan theory on Reddit be properly credited — had it correct. (And really, it was impossible not to see that in everything involving Elliot once the theory circulated.) Elliot has been in prison during the first seven episodes of season two. He’s not at his mother’s house in Queens. His bedroom is his cell. The basketball court where he watches pick-up games with Leon is the prison rec yard. The diner where he and Leon talk, mostly about Seinfeld, is the cafeteria.

There are still plenty of questions that need to be answered, of course. When was Elliot arrested? Was the knock on his door at the end of season one by the police (and not Tyrell Wellick, a conclusion drawn by many)? It must have occurred after he woke up in Wellick’s SUV parked on a street lot.

Speaking of Wellick, one of season two’s biggest mysteries has concerned his whereabouts. Presumably, he’s alive, having sent various gifts — notably a music box and cell phone — to his wife Joanna, while communicating with her briefly. Wellick also apparently called Elliot at his mother’s house (or in prison, as it turns out), but did that phone call really happen? Can we trust anything we’ve seen involving Elliot this season, most especially his perception of events?


Elliot knew that Mr. Robot was involved in whatever happened with Wellick. He had completely given over to that side of his personality during the two hours Elliot can’t remember (or was asleep). Mr. Robot had taken over. So what did he do with Wellick? The conclusion Elliot has been drawing, based on his recollection of events before his blackout, was that he reached into the popcorn machine at fsociety’s arcade headquarters — where Darlene hid a gun — and promptly shot and killed Wellick while he was marveling at the malicious code being loaded into the Evil Corp servers for the 5/9 Attack.

Did Elliot really kill Wellick? Mr. Robot certainly wants him to think so. Maybe that’s because he really did it. Did Mr. Robot keep the truth from Elliot all this time because he was worried how Elliot would take the news? He was already fighting to maintain some kind of reality by turning his prison sentence into an imaginary voluntary exit from the grid to try and get his head right, to try and get rid of Mr. Robot once and for all. Perhaps the realization that he really did kill Wellick would have caused his mind to snap and be forever lost. That is, if Elliot/Mr. Robot really did kill Wellick.

Regardless of what really happened with Wellick, Joanna is tired of waiting for him. She’s been left to raise their child on her own, and can’t even take the kid for a stroller ride without an activist throwing a bucket of pig blood on her. If Tyrell has some kind of plan — to stay in hiding until the FBI investigation blows over or a federal bailout of Evil Corp restores his finances— Joanna has to get on with her life. Even if it’s just to get her suddenly clingy boy toy — the one who chokes her just how she likes in bed — who wants a real relationship off her back. She shows him the divorce papers she had drawn up.

Joanna is apparently moving on, although that doesn’t seem to mesh with the villainous ambitions she had for herself and Tyrell. There has to be more to her character and story arc this season, doesn’t there? Or was she more dependant on Tyrell than she preferred to let on?


Over at Evil Corp, Angela successfully (temporarily?) turned away Agent DiPierro, who wondered why a corporate employee was wandering around an office floor that had been co-opted by the FBI for their investigation. Angela initially mentioned the agent who flirted with her and asked her out on a lunch date, but DiPierro batted that aside. She suspects Angela is up to something, based on her history with Allsafe and move over to Evil Corp. That’s a connection too suspicious not to investigate.

DiPierro wants to check the security footage of Angela on the restricted floor, but Darlene erased it after Angela got her into the FBI servers. Though DiPierro can’t prove anything yet, she knows Angela is somehow either involved in the 5/9 Attack or a subsequent scheme to hit Evil Corp again. Angela is indeed up to something, though it’s surely tied to her intentions toward getting revenge on Evil Corp for creating the toxic spill that killed her mother (and Elliot’s father). Having eliminated the contingency in the class-action lawsuit against Evil Corp, she uses her leverage with Philip Price to get transferred to the risk management department, a lateral move that perplexes Price. But Angela wants access to the records on the Washington Township plant, and her persistence in trying to get it fuels the suspicions of her new boss, who has apparently been warned about Angela.

But the most intriguing questions “h4ndshake.sme” leaves us with ultimately concern Elliot, especially now that we know he’s really been in prison since the 5/9 Attack. The transitions from what Elliot perceives versus the reality of the prison he’s in were brilliantly directed by Esmail. If pacing has been an issue for him during season two, the visuals have certainly not been.

Who is Ray? Is he a fellow prisoner or a guard? Was he really running a darknet site or is that what Elliot imagined in place of whatever smuggling ring Ray might have set up? Was Leon really assigned to protect Elliot in prison by Whiterose and The Dark Army? Elliot presumably could have hidden from The Dark Army in prison, but apparently not. Or is that paranoid delusion projected onto Leon? Did he just not like white supremacist types harassing Elliot and took the opportunity to unleash some knife-wielding prison justice on that gang? (And stabbing a guy up the butt? Or in the “taint,” if you will? Wow, that is cold. Almost as cold as a solitary prison cell.)


Will Elliot soon get out of prison? Darlene hacking into the FBI database could possibly yield some benefits for Elliot. She, Mobley and Trenton saw something they liked on their laptop. Was that entirely about dropping the brass bull testicles onto the House floor during the bailout vote? Or did they see an opportunity for a plan that could get Elliot out of prison and back to finishing fsociety’s attack on Evil Corp.

Elliot has embraced Mr. Robot, restoring his mental state to where it was before he went to prison and tried to rid himself of his other personality. What does that mean? And will all of these questions somehow be resolved while Elliot is still in prison? Can this show really pull that off?

[You can read all of our Mr. Robot recaps and coverage here.]

About Ian Casselberry

Ian is a writer, editor, and podcaster. You can find his work at Awful Announcing and The Comeback. He's written for Sports Illustrated, Yahoo Sports, MLive, Bleacher Report, and SB Nation.

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