What I Got Out of the Mr. Robot Season 2 Finale – Review

** DO NOT READ UNTIL YOU’VE SEEN THE MR. ROBOT SEASON 2 FINALE! **

If you were hoping for a happy ending in the Mr. Robot Season 2 finale, I would think you probably weren’t watching the show.

During the first season of Mr. Robot I was very clueless to one of the big reveals, even though I could tell that there was something that was off. I tell you this so that you know that I am probably one of the least observant viewers of Mr. Robot. I don’t notice the bread crumbs. This may be the reason why I love this show. The viewer has no idea where it is going at any given moment. Even the premise of the show was lost to me. I was watching a show about a person with a severe mental disorder / split personality that just happens to be a hacker.

This season I did pick up on the fact that our main character, Elliot Anderson (Rami Malek, who just three days ago won an Emmy for his role in Mr. Robot) was more than likely in prison. I noticed in last week’s episode that all of the music heard on radios was from the original Back to the Future soundtrack. When it comes to the things that I was able to notice in Mr. Robot this season, that’s about it.

Mr. Robot Season 2 Finale
Courtesy USA Networks

From The Inside Looking Out

Writer/Director/Producer Sam Esmail once again was able to do something very simple yet amazing with the Mr. Robot Season 2 Finale much in the same way he was able to do in the Season 1. When we the viewer find out that Elliot has been working and plotting with himself, because Mr. Robot (Christian Slater) is a split personality that manifests in the visage of Elliot’s dead father, we experience the reveal exactly as Elliot does. In the Mr. Robot Season 2 finale Sam Esmail is able to replicate that experience in a new way.

We as the viewer are carefully and craftily conditioned through the mid-season reveal that Elliot was in jail to question everything that we see, to doubt reality.  The viewer once again is inside of Elliot’s head as he questions what is real around him. Is Tyrell Wellick (Martin Wallström) really here with him, or is Tyrell a product of his mind the same way Mr. Robot is? Thankfully, this question is answered and we get to be just as shocked as Elliot at the outcome.

Stage 2

There are far better writers that will tell you the ins and outs of the Mr. Robot finale, so let me just say that I loved the way that Stage 2 was revealed. Somehow in the wee hours of the 5/9 hack Elliot (as Mr. Robot) and Tyrell figure out that the company can rebuild if it gets all of the paper documents it has together to rebuild their encrypted database. Records of ownership and transactions are the corporations life’s blood, this is something that they have to do. In the three days following the 5/9 hack Tyrell and Elliot figure out what they need to do, and it goes well beyond just encrypting databases and over-heating backup tapes.

Sam Esmail should get a lot of credit for telling us the end game of Stage 2 before we were even aware of it. During a dream sequence in the fourth episode of Season 2 we see a big dinner table with everyone in Elliot’s life and behind them a massive Evil Corp (Ecorp) building implodes. This easily could have been interpreted that in Elliot’s dream world Evil Corp is gone, instead it is foreshadowing.

Stage 2 of the Evil Corp hack is to exploit vulnerabilities in the backup power supplies in the building. By exploiting the firmware of each device they can put them into charging cycles that won’t stop. Eventually a chemical reaction will cause the batteries to explode, blowing up the building where the paper documents are stored, as well as anyone in and around them. A big building will implode and come crashing down. Well played, Mr. Esmail.

What’s Next?

The good news is that a lot of questions from this and last season were answered, and we’ve still got questions going on into season 3. They’ve dangled just enough bait in front of us to get us to bite the hook again in 2017.

My Nagging Questions

  • So the FBI knows a lot more about fsociety than we knew. Just how screwed is Angela, Elliot’s sister, now that she’s in custody and has seen the big flow chart of doom?
  • What did Whiterose say to Angela to make her such a believer in her cause?
  • Tyrell’s wife plays a mean, mean game.
  • All of these Back to the Future references make me worry that the end game in all of this is Elliot holding a snow globe of the Ecorp headquarters building as we fade to black (for the millennials, that’s a St. Elsewhere reference).
  • Does the appearance of Elliot’s former jail friend (and Dark Army member) Leon mean a not-so-happy ending for Mobley and Trenton in their self-implied witness relocation plan?
  • We still don’t know why Elliot was in required therapy in the beginning of Season 1. Why?
  • Really, please, when this show is finally over please do not make this all something that just played out in Elliot’s head.

What Happens When No One Gets 270 Electoral Votes?

I believe all votes matter, in 2016 I believe it more than ever before.

What is going to happen with all of the votes in this election year? I was reading an article this morning and it made mention that the 3rd party candidates didn’t make the cut off from being on the stage for the first presidential debate. (I already had a nagging feeling in the back of my head when Julia Louis-Dryfus won the Emmy and made a joke that her HBO show VEEP had become less satirical and more of a documentary.) The information I read was straight from the non-profit Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD). Within was something that gave me pause.

With the assistance of Dr. Newport, the Board determined that the polling averages called for in the third criterion are as follows: Hillary Clinton (43%), Donald Trump (40.4%), Gary Johnson (8.4%) and Jill Stein (3.2%).

So 11.6% of those polled would be voting for 3rd party candidates (neither of whom have achieved the polling numbers as one of our more memorable 3rd party candidates, Ross Perot). Let’s translate this into a hypothetical election night where somehow the electoral college some how had voting split the exact same way and NO CANDIDATE actually achieved the required 270 electoral vote to take The White House. What happens then? With a question in my head I did whatever anyone else would do: I looked it up on Wikipedia and hope that whoever edited the article was actually right. Here’s what happens if a candidate does not take 270.

If no candidate receives a majority for president, then the House of Representatives will select the president, with each state delegation (instead of each representative) having only one vote.

What About The Votes?
OK, you’re a few sentences into this and you want to know what my point is, right?

This election cycle has been very interesting (to put it mildly). People are very heated on topics, the media is running wild with rhetoric, and the Democratic and Republican candidates both seem to be fairly… um… disliked by many people. I know people who support and dislike both candidates. I have friends that are voting 3rd party so their “voice can be heard” through their own protest vote. I get that, I like having my voice being heard. Is now the time to vote 3rd party as a way to protest the current political climate? When I was in my 20’s I’d have let out a rally cry of “HELL YEAH! SHOW ‘EM!” Now that I’m in my mid-forties? I have to admit that the 3rd party protest votes scare the ever living hell out of me. (Yes, we’re finally to the meat of this… I’m scared)

There will be 3rd party votes that happen because people really want change (or because they just can’t stomach voting for Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump). I get it, really I do. Your conscience makes it so you can’t vote for either of the main candidates in this election. You can’t stand by the statements or policies of either one. You are going to vote with your heart and go with Johnson or Stein. Great. Now, let’s say you do this and you are living in this theoretical reality I’ve mapped out. What happens if no one gets 270 electoral votes? The House of Representatives will select the President. That’s right, not you… not me… not our votes… The House of Representatives. (We actually saw something similar to this play out on VEEP… who says TV doesn’t teach us nuthin).

Let’s take this fever dream a step further. Imagine if you will a world where the currently Republican majority run House of Representatives also colluded to ensure that no president-elect or vice-president elect is chosen before inauguration? Then an interim president is put into place, and that person is the Speaker of the House. Didn’t see Paul Ryan on the ticket, did you? Neither did I, but now we’ve mapped out a highly unlikely scenario where Paul Ryan was legally made President of the United States without one vote for him being cast.

Yes, that was the worst case scenario.

How 3rd Party Protest Votes Really Will Impact The Election

Let’s look at this another way, the less critical way, which has a higher probability of occurring in this climate. There are a few iterations here, so let me just bullet them out:

  1. Votes for Stein or Johnson because they won’t vote for Trump but can’t bring themselves to vote for Clinton.
  2. Votes for Stein or Johnson because they won’t vote for Clinton but can’t bring themselves to vote for Trump.
  3. Votes for Stein or Johnson because they believe in the policies and politics of either candidate.

Very simple scenarios, right? They seem easy to understand, motivations are pretty clear, and every person in America can at least understand the reasoning of each of the above. Seems simple enough. Let me ask you, for a moment, to look at the inverse of these positions. I’ve used a lot of words up until now so I’ll make this as clear cut and brief as possible as the type of outcome that could happen.

  1. Trump wins the election because votes went to Stein or Johnson instead of Clinton. Your candidate of choice didn’t win. I’m sorry it didn’t go the way you wanted.
  2. Clinton wins the election because votes went to Stein or Johnson instead of Trump. Your candidate of choice didn’t win. I’m sorry it didn’t go the way you wanted.
  3. Your candidate of choice didn’t win. I’m sorry it didn’t go the way you wanted

I’m not one to shit on someone else’s beliefs and I really do believe that we as the American people do have the right to 3rd party candidates. Do I think now is the right time to stick to your independent guns or vote out of spite because the two major party candidates aren’t to your liking? Nope, not for this election. Why do I say this? Because the net sum of what happens does not mathematically get you the desired outcome whether you are a 3rd party supporter or a protest voter. Don’t believe me? Here is the same “inverse” bullet list with the commonality statement taken out:

  1. Trump wins the election because votes went to Stein or Johnson instead of Clinton.
  2. Clinton wins the election because votes went to Stein or Johnson instead of Trump.

If you firmly believe in your 3rd party candidate please accept my apology now for mapping out this bleak reality in the face of election results based on the numbers presented through polling. Barring a major and unprecedented event in the United States we are going to see that the votes for 3rd party candidates that are cast in protest of either major political candidate aren’t enough to win the election and could potentially hurt the country in the long run by handing victory over to the person you didn’t want to win. This means, in effect, you are voting for the person you don’t want to be voting for anyway.

Even Bernie Sanders, the guy people seemed to really like in the nomination cycle, had this to say the other day. I think he’s right:

“This is not the time for a protest vote, in terms of a presidential campaign. I ran as a third-party candidate. I’m the longest-serving independent in the history of the United States Congress. I know more about third-party politics than anyone else in the Congress, okay? And if people want to run as third-party candidates, God bless them! Run for Congress. Run for governor. Run for state legislature. When we’re talking about president of the United States, in my own personal view, this is not time for a protest vote.”

All of this is opinion, I could be woefully wrong and I understand everyone who may disagree with me. I hope that I’ve at let provided some food for though for your efforts to get all the way down here. Thanks for reading.

-Will

Anyone Can Cook

“In many ways, the work of a critic is easy. We risk very little, yet enjoy a position over those who offer up their work and their selves to our judgment. We thrive on negative criticism, which is fun to write and to read. But the bitter truth we critics must face is that, in the grand scheme of things, the average piece of junk is probably more meaningful than our criticism designating it so.

But there are times when a critic truly risks something, and that is in the discovery and defense of the new. The world is often unkind to new talent, new creations. The new needs friends.

Last night, I experienced something new, an extra-ordinary meal from a singularly unexpected source. To say that both the meal and its maker have challenged my preconceptions about fine cooking is a gross understatement. They have rocked me to my core.

In the past, I have made no secret of my disdain for Chef Gusteau’s famous motto: ‘Anyone can cook.’ But I realize, only now do I truly understand what he meant. Not everyone can become a great artist, but a great artist can come from anywhere. It is difficult to imagine more humble origins than those of the genius now cooking at Gusteau’s, who is, in this critic’s opinion, nothing less than the finest chef in France. I will be returning to Gusteau’s soon, hungry for more.” – Anton Ego, Ratatouille

I’m Sorry That I Missed It…

Time is a very cruel thing.  When you combine the ever moving beast of time with the fragility of life, add to that the parental responsibilities of providing both financial and emotional support to your family and children and you lose something very important: perception.

Tonight my daughter Emily played in a middle school band performance, her first really big performance in her new school as a flutist. This event triggered pride in my child for having the discipline to learn and play an instrument, being part of a team, and the responsibility those involve. It also triggered a thought in my head that made me realize I probably owe my daughter an apology.

With all of the responsibility of parenting and through my own natural selfish tendencies, I didn’t notice when my daughter stopped being a little girl and started to become a tweenager on her way to young adulthood. I know that there were signs of this transition, from the intermittent viewing of Disney and Nick programming with the playing of Legos and other toys.  Some point in the last 18 months, though, my kid started to not be a “child” and I didn’t see it happen. She started to become conversationally witty, and I see my and my wife’s humor being given back to us. She’s incredibly creative, and loves to make and craft things. She volunteers at the same ranch where she takes riding lessons, and she’s one of the youngest volunteers they have had because she is responsible and hard working.

I’m extremely proud of the person that Emily is becoming, and her sister has taught me that I need to stop and treasure these moments as well. If I don’t pay close attention I’ll miss when she transitions into young adult and adulthood too.

There’s a lesson in life everywhere you look, you just have to be smart enough to see it.

-Will

Father’s Day 2015: The Cinnamon Roll Test

This Father’s Day I found myself in a unique situation: I was the first one up this morning. Usually I’m the one that has to be rousted out of bed with a cattle prod on the weekends, but I had to be out late the night before so mostly everyone in the house went to bed after 2 AM. I already received the most amazing gifts on my pillow for me to find when I got home, so my wonderful wife and kids let me know how much they love and appreciate me and because my schedule threw them out of whack I figure why wake them, at least directly.

It still being an early hour I decided to step out to the grocery store to get a tasty treat for us all to start the day with. I don’t know what it is like in your household but in ours I enjoy cooking, baking, making yummy tasty food for us to eat. Because I like to cook, Father’s Day is a pretty solid choice in our house if you want to have a dinner made by some white guy with a bbq trying to pretend he’s Guy Fieri.

Once I held the tube in hand promising Grand things from a tiny baker wearing nothing but a hat and scarf name Pillsbury (seriously, we’ve been letting this androgynous little streaker tell us what’s good all these years? America, we’ve got to talk…)

Pillsbury Doughboy

I thought it would be a fun little experiment (with way too many variables to be scientific) to see, like in the commercials, if I bake these cinnamon rolls the family will smell the sweet gooey promise of love will they wake up and come downstairs?

09:04 AM PDT: The oven has beeped, letting me know it is ready to receive the non-stick pan filled with the unending promise of good things to come.

09:14 AM PDT: The air has begun to take on the scent of cinnamon and temporary lifts in our mood from the sweet blessed butter and sugar. I hear no movent yet, except for my dog Jack who is wandering around, trying to understand what’s going on.

09:24 AM PDT: You can’t possibly be in any part of the house and not smell the sweet baked goodness that is already beginning to overtake my senses as I begin to visualize pouring the white sticky frosting all over the… wait a second, this is taking on an entirely unintended tone. Let’s move on and not discuss what just happened.

09:26 AM PDT: Back on track. The rolls are almost done and I’m starting to lose all faith in the promises and dreams that the advertising world has been selling me all these years. I may have to face facts and realize that I can’t buy happiness in a box, or in this case a round tube. (Side note: I love opening a Pillsbury Roll can because it gives you a brief moment to pretend you are unraveling some secret spy tape to reveal the code that will save humanity… just me? Again, let’s move on…)

09:32 AM PDT: Reflected on how much I regretted admitting to the spy tape thing while I took the pan out of the oven because these things are done. I apply their frosting in a tasteful and respectful manner and then realize the air conditioner has been running. No one has come down because the air intake has been stealing all of the smells! That’s got to be it.

09:40 AM PDT: It’s been eight minutes, no air conditioner running, there’s got to be cinnamon, sugar and bread smell all up in the nooks and crannies of this casa. I should have known commercials were a lie since I never had as much fun as these kids had with their toys.

Where the hell is this play area they are in? Is this a mini-recreation of a part of Death Valley or some pseudo-valley somewhere? Was there ever a Dad in America that built all of these intricate play surfaces for their kids, because if there is than THAT guy is the guy we’ve all been celebrating Father’s Day for since the 80’s.

Oh yeah, still no one up.

09:55 AM PDT: No, I haven’t been watching 80’s and 90’s commercials on YouTube for the past 15 minutes… I swear. I got excited when I thought that there may be some movement upstairs, I think it was just the house settling (and when it comes to me, boy are we talking about settling). I may have to pull out the backup plan of brewing some coffee to at least peak the interest of my beloved wife. Again, this is for science folks.

10:05 AM PDT: I have brewed what may be classified as the first diabolical cup of coffee, or at least strategic coffee. As I sip said coffee I am left wondering, “What ever happened to the Honeycomb  Hideout? Did the land get re-zoned and now a drive-thru Starbucks stands where pro wrestlers and other random types would happen by to measure the size of cereal?”

Diabolical Coffee?
Diabolical Coffee?

10:10 AM PDT: I have contact from the upstairs realm. A textual message has been delivered to my mobile smart device from my marital partner. Cinnamon rolls and coffee have had nothing to do with this. Although the experiment can be considered a failure, there’s still coffee and cinnamon rolls so who cares?

-Will

Ramblings from an Absent Mind