Don’t lose yourself now…
“What if all of this went away, the city, the money, all of it?” -Darlene
In the 21st century where almost everyone has created an online persona in addition to their public and private ones, it’s almost easier to get lost…forgotten…or deleted with just a few clicks of a button. During this opening sequence two very important ideas are presented to the viewer.
The first idea is found in Darlene’s dialogue about the current absence of the middle class in our society, “there’s no middle anymore, there’s just rich and poor.” On the surface the writers are continuing to explore political ideas concerning the present state of our economy. But these ideas are just a “honeypot”, to distract the viewer from understanding the true theme of the episode, until the perspective-shattering reveals during the ending sequence. If there is no longer a middle, then where are you? If you are not rich, but not poor, are you just lost in the in-between? Consider how Darlene’s friend says “there’s not just the rich and the poor…there’s you in the middle somewhere, the consummate survivor.” We survive through the act of marriage. The outcast, the loaners, those who have crippling trust issues; are lost in the shuffle…in the middle. There is nothing to tether them to the social constructs in our society.
The second idea is in relation to trust. Do we trust this show? Do we trust these characters? Most importantly do we trust Elliott…our narrator? The moment I realized that Angela was Darlene’s friend in the ballet class, I had to hit pause. Wait a second, how/when, do/did, these two know each other? Up until this point these two characters never even shared a scene together. Not only that, but they talk about their relationships with Elliott, hinting at a long, intertwined history. Based on the previous episodes the writers have already explained some of Angela’s history with Elliott, but how is Darlene connected to the Alderson household? After all during the pilot episode of the show Darlene is presented as just another member of the fsociety crew. This scene lingered with me while watching the rest of the episode, because I couldn’t figure out why all of a sudden it was important to show a friendship between Darlene and Angela? As an avid TV watcher, I often lose trust in writers when either events, or relationships are established out of connivence to push the plot forward. During the initial viewing that’s exactly what the Angela/Darlene seen was, a convenient way to add an additional tie between both Angela’s and Elliott’s story lines. Wrong.
“Did you forget again? Did you forget who I am?”-Darlene
After seven episodes and about thirty-five minuets worth of honeypots, I forgot that Elliott is the narrator of this story. A morphine addict, possibly suffering from a psychotic break; therefore he’s an unreliable narrator. Darlene is his sister, yep mind blown. I would also like to point out that in the pilot episode of the series Mr Robot explains fscoiety to Elliott in the same ferris wheel seen in the background of the Darlene/Elliott revelation scene. The show did not just fade to black after that reveal, oh no! Elliott runs away and begins to question everything in his reality, including his own existence. A very similar reaction the viewer is having as they begin to recall all of Elliott’s and Darlene’s interactions that lead up to the reveal, to see if there was any hint to this type of relationship.
“What happens if it all goes away?” What happens when a revelation is so big that you begin to question the very reality that you have built for yourself? Elliott decides to hack himself, only to realize that he’s erased himself from the virtual world. Then he discovers an unmarked blank disc where he puts everyone else he erases from his world. The disc reveals that Mr Robot is in fact Elliott’s father. Boom drop the mic…
“I think we should talk…”-Mr Robot
To keep ourselves from getting lost in the middle we tether ourselves to our own reality through relationships, activities, our jobs, and daily routines. Elliott proves he is not just the creator of his reality, but the destroyer of it too. We all are in a sense, with our own destructive practices that we take up to avoid ourselves. Elliott hacks people to feel comfortable enough to build relationships with people, but can easily erase them from his life. Did his own paranoia about people lead him to erase himself from his own virtual reality? Who knows? Maybe I am just allowing Elliott’s paranoia to seep into how I watch the show.
By Sarah Belmont