Welcome to our breakdown of Mr. Robot season 2! This will be a compilation of Easter Eggs and other interesting points of note. The season premiere, “Unmask,” was full of hints, themes, symbols, and motifs. Let’s dig in.
The QR Code
There is a lot to unpack in the montage of Elliot’s new life, which plays at the beginning of the episode. Elliot now keeps a notebook that helps controls his memories. As he flips through the pages, one prominent image is a QR code. When scanned, that QR code leads to this webpage:
It looks like a geocites page, right? It is designed to look that way. It also happens to be owned by USA Network, if you go into the page source. There are lots of gifs, a few jpgs that don’t work, and an e-mail address. I e-mailed it.
Subject: Bonsoir, Elliot.
Body: The devil is better than the devil you don’t.
Let’s see if I get a reply.
You will notice that there are two prominent symbols on the site. One is the logo. Look familiar? We see Mr. Robot eating an apple as Elliot talks to Gideon. Mr. Robot cuts that apple into a spiral, and then we see an aerial shot of the apple. It seemed be represent a spiral, similar to how Elliot’s life is going right now, but it also is the logo for this website.
Lastly, is the symbolic use of the Latin word “Confictura.” The definition is “fiction.” Isn’t that just the cherry (or apple, I guess) on top? There is Internet speculation that this is the first web page that Elliot made. It is a fun theory. I am sure that the webmasters will continue to add crumbs here as the season goes by. The fact that Confictura is important to the episode leads me to my next point…
It is all a Con
Words with the prefix “con” come up quite a bit, and in all aspects, they all represent an actual con. The E Corp exec Phillip Price says to the CONgress people at the White House:
“Everyday business day when that market bell rings, we Con people into believing something. The American Dream, family values, it could be Freedom Fries for all I care. It doesn’t matter. As long as the Con works and people will buy and sell whatever it is we want them to. If I resign, then any scrap of confidence the public is already clinging onto would be destroyed. And we all know a Con doesn’t work without the CONfidence.”
Angela repeats to herself that she is CONfident. Elliot tells him self he is in CONtrol, writing it repeatedly, all the while spiraling out of said control. He even writes it so much and so fast he writes “con trol.” He even writes “It is not an illusion,” but from our view the sentences “I am in control” and It is not an illusion” are seen as “I am an illusion.” Woah. Speaking of cons…
God, the Devil, and the Bible
The theme of God plays a large role in this episode. In the first scene, when we witness Elliot freeing the people of debt via hack with the Dark Army (aka: playing God with money), the Dark Army types to him “the winds of the heavens shift suddenly. So does human fate.”
In the next scene, after child Elliot is pushed out of the window, we see him at the doctor’s office. The camera zooms in on a pamphlet that reads “God’s Hand in Our Hardship: An Interfaith Guide to Spiritual Care.”
Elliot, when talking to Krista, talks about living with his mother. He says, “The devil you know is better than the devil you don’t.” He equates his mother to the devil; it is more than just a saying in this case, considering al the other God references.
In the same scene as the QR code, we get a look at a full page in Elliot’s notebook. It reads:
“So now here comes a real freak idea. The bible’s kinda good. I mean, for a sci-fi book. There’s some mad vengeance God takes out on people. Dude doesn’t like to get betrayed, and I’m down with that. The plagues and locust shit and that heathen woman Lot’s wife turning to salt – pretty fucking funny. Can’t deny he’s got a sense of humor. And a real flare for the drama. Gonna go to sleep now.”
On the opposite page, we are also cued that Mr. Robot is still around, something we don’t know yet. We see a quarter of the page.
“Well, he’s bac…that. Shit. O…and headed…. I get my….
Cut lunch shor…Mr. Robot bein…lose my appet..he sat next… sounds for..I took!
Elliot walks by a church where the awning reads, “Hell is real. Repent and believe the gospel.”
At the end of the episode, Elliot realizes that he is Mr. Robot’s one and beloved son. He hears this about God and Jesus at his church group and makes the connection that he is the same way. There is even some purposeful lighting after Mr. Robot shoots Elliot, a halo of sorts around Mr. Robot’s head.
Trust and The Truth
Elliot is an unreliable narrator. We can’t trust anything that happens to him. Elliot doesn’t trust us. He tells us that. I am assuming his “friend” is the audience. The FBI doesn’t trust Gideon. Ray talks to Elliot about the truth, while also revealing he knows more about Elliot then someone should upon their first meeting (you work with computers.. how would he know that?). The bible verse being read at the end talks about trust in God.
This episode is called “Unmask” Tyrell takes off the F Society mask in the first scene. Elliot talks a lot about masks: who wears them, when, and when they take them off. Elliot has been compared to the Batman of the hacking world. Who is Batman really? Batman or Bruce Wayne? Who is Elliot really? Elliot or Mr. Robot? Is he masked or unmasked?
Red and Blue
Anytime something big is about to happen or is happening, red is a prominent color. It is the color of the font of Mr. Robot. When Elliot takes down E Corp, he is bathed in red. The red wheelbarrow is his notebook and the receptacle Carla burns the book in. It is the color of the phone Elliot answers when he calls Tyrell. His mother’s house is red. He drips red blood on his notebook by the words “control is an illusion.” The apple is red. The fire that burns the 5 million is red. The FBI agent DiPerro is a red head. Angela’s lipstick is red. The ribbon on the box Tyrell leaves for his wife is red. The bar Gideon sits in is bathed in red lighting.
For blue, the intro to Elliot’s new life is played with the song “Daydream in Blue.” The lighting here is all blue. His bedspread is blue. Everything in this life is tinted blue. Blue is stagnant. It is calm. It is unchanging. It is a daydream. Also, E Corp’s logo is blue. Their offices are tinted blue. They often wear blue shirts.
Some of the coding pages we see on the screen are of note, too. When Elliot works with the Dark Army to take down E Corp, they say to him “Sail away sail away, the ninth of May.” This seems like a reference to “Remember, Remember the fifth of November.” There are masks and the Revolution, so why not?
When Darlene hacks the banks, her IP address is shown on that screen. When you search that address it leads to this.
Additionally, the source code shows something interesting at the bottom of the screen.
Look familiar? A quick thanks to Garbage File for this one.
Two other things to note before my pop culture analysis:
- When Darlene is asked where Elliot, she says he isn’t important. Mr. Robot tells Elliot the same thing about Darlene in season 1.
- Elliot calls Tyrell. How did he get the number? And where is Tyrell? Elliot is making an international call based off the ring.
Pop Culture and Theme
Pop culture and theme are probably my favorite part of this whole thing (I am a pop culture buff and an English major, so that makes sense!)
Resurrection by Leo Tolstoy: Mr. Robot, in Season 1 Episode 2, was reading the book. Here, we see it sitting on Elliot’s desk in his mother’s house. Some themes of that book are injustice of man-made laws, hypocrisy of the institutionalized church (in Elliot’s case, this would be money), and Georgism. According to Wikipedia, Georgism is: “an economic philosophy holding that the economic value derived from land, including natural resources and natural opportunities, should belong equally to all residents of a community, but that people own the value that they create themselves. The Georgist paradigm offers solutions to social and ecological problems, relying on principles of land rights and public finance which attempt to integrate economic efficiency with social justice.” Pretty much sounds like the plot of our show, doesn’t it?
Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett: When Elliot is at the park watching basketball, he mentions “Hot Carla,” the local pyro. She is seen burning a book in a Red Wheelbarrow (more on that later). The book, or play, is Waiting for Godot. There are LOTS of references in here. I won’t go into heavy rhetoric about it, but there is some good shit. Really good shit. The play is about two men who are literally waiting for Godot , but he never shows. The two men never leave, either. It has been interpreted that Godot is God, after all, it is in his name. That would fit with our biblical theme. But wait! There is more.
One critic sees the play “as a metaphor for the futility of man’s existence when salvation is expected from an external entity, and the self is denied introspection.” The same critic sees the characters by what they lack. One is the incomplete ego, the other man is the backward id, while Godot is the superego. You can take that as whatever you want when it comes to Elliot.
Another critic saw a Jungian approach to the play. There are four aspects of the soul grouped in pairs: the Ego and shadow, and the persona and the soul’s image. Again, you can take that as whatever you want when it comes to Elliot.
Another lens to view the play through is the Existential lens. “Broadly speaking, existentialists hold that there are certain fundamental questions that every human being must come to terms with if they are to take their subjective existences seriously and with intrinsic value. Questions such as death, the meaning of human existence and the place of (or lack of) God in that existence are among them. By and large, the theories of existentialism assert that conscious reality is very complex and without an “objective” or universally known value: the individual must create value by affirming it and living it, not by simply talking about it or philosophising it in the mind. The play may be seen to touch on all of these issues.” I personally like this lens the most as it applies to Mr. Robot and Elliot.
“The Red Wheelbarrow” by William Carlos Williams (and Elliot Alderson): As said before, Carla the Pyro is burning Waiting for Godot in a red wheelbarrow. Elliot’s notebook is titled Red WheelBarrow. It also happens to be a famous poem, mean to capture a moment in time. “The Red Wheelbarrow” by William Carlos Williams:
so much depends
a red wheel
glazed with rain
beside the white
Again, this purpose of this poem was to perfectly capture a moment in time. A wet, red wheelbarrow would stick out on this farm scene next to colorless chickens. Who is the red wheelbarrow to Elliot? Is it him? Is it Carla? He says that Carla has become his own personal totem. When I hear totem, I think of Inception. I personally don’t even think Carla is real. She is a representation of the dangerous. She is burning the idea of staying stagnant, never leaving, never finding Godot. We know that Elliot has bigger things in store, and Carla is luring him into those bigger things.
Seinfeld: Elliot gets an earful about Seinfeld from his new friend, Leon. Leon talks constantly about the show and life, leading me to believe that Leon may not even be real. Elliot never talks to Leon, and Leon doesn’t talk to anyone else but Elliot. Leon does have a confrontation with the basketball men, but that easily could have been Elliot, similarly to Mr. Robot.
Leon realizes that the point of Seinfeld is that there is no point. Nothing happens. They are all stuck in time. No one leaves. Hmmm.. sounds like Waiting for Godot and “The Red Wheelbarrow.” Except for Elliot, they do matter very much for the purpose of symbol and them. For now, Elliot is, too, stuck in time, with the same routine (including getting shot in the head, again), nothing changing, and no one leaving. But that all is about to change very soon.
Images belong to USA Network.