This week’s episode of Mr. Robot left some characters dead, and several others in immediate danger, in particular anyone who has known, spoken to, or looked at Joanna (R.I.P. Kareem). It was also the best episode of the season, so far, as Sam Esmail shortened the runtime and increased the tension.
There were a number of things in this week’s episode, however, that many viewers may not have caught on the first watch. Or the second. Or the third. Here’s eight Easter eggs, callbacks, and other details many may have missed from this week’s fantastic Mr. Robot.
Audio Easter Egg
There are some amusing suggestions on Reddit that a user with the fairly benign name of iamheatherc is a plant for the show, because her “boyfriend” uncovered an Audio Easter Egg in this week’s episode. Her boyfriend, an audio engineer, translated sound from this week’s episode into an image, which is apparently what audio engineers do after they’ve had a few beers.
This was the image Esmail planted into the episode:
The generous reading of the audio Easter Egg might be, “Hang in there, buddy. The show is about to get much better, and isn’t this cat hanging from a window awfully cute?” The more likely reading of it, however, is, “Hang in there, pussy. Never doubt me, because if you do, I will paralyze you and make you watch Joanna kill all your favorite side characters.”
Vincent Van Gogh
I immediately bought into the prison theory this season, but then I read Vulture‘s hospital theory and liked it even better. One way or another, I am convinced Elliot is actually in an institution this season. The Van Gogh painting here strengthened the theory.
The painting is “Wheat Field with Crows,” what many believe to be Van Gogh’s last painting before he killed himself. Some suggest it is foreshadowing a suicide. I personally think it’s more evidence that Elliot is in a hospital — a mental hospital, to be exact. Not only was this Van Gogh’s final supposed painting, but he also painted it right after leaving a psychiatric hospital. (In fact, before “Wheat Field with Crows,” he painted “View of the Asylum and Chapel of Saint-Rémy.”) I think it’s less about the painting and more about Van Gogh, himself a patient in a mental institution. The mental institution theory is bolstered in my mind by the same scene, when Angela asked Elliot if he has gotten better, if he’s stopped seeing visions of his dead father. That’s the exact sort of thing a friend might ask of a patient in a mental institution.
Redditor IachsmithElliot picked up on a Red Lantern motif, not unlike the oranges in Mad Men, Breaking Bad and The Godfather. Red Lanterns could be spotted above Gideon before he was killed; there were lanterns over the head of the parking garage attendant while he was talking to Joanna before he died; and there were red lanterns before the FBI agents were ambushed.
Keep a lookout for those. They portend violence.
Dread Pirate Roberts
For the unfamiliar, the black market website Ray is running was clearly inspired by Silk Road, a part of the dark web known for selling illegal drugs. The FBI shut down Silk Road in 2013 and arrested its founder, Ross William Ulbricht, also known as “Dread Pirate Roberts.” When Elliot hacked into Ray’s website, he saw a clear reference to Silk Road.
As Jason points out in a tweet here, fans of Silicon Valley might appreciate that Elliot uses tabs instead of spaces.
There’s a few things worth pointing out in this IRC conversation between Elliot and Darlene. First, Elliot is using the handle Sam Sepiol, the fictitious billionaire founder of the tech start-up Bleetz, which Elliot made up in the first season. Second, Darlene’s handle, DoloresH4ze, is a nod to Dolores Haze, the real name of the title character in Lolita. Finally, the name of the FBI mission, Berenstain Bears, may be a nod to the confusion over the spelling of Berenstain. It is spelled “Berenstain,” but many on the internet believe that it used to be spelled Berenstein (I am among them).
It’s worth noting that, after Dom’s partner mentions her dream about men with surgical masks, we see a scene in which a man is wearing one. In fact, surgical masks can be seen in the last three episodes.
Frank Cody Types
Finally, when Ollie was talking to Angela in the bar, he spoke about Gideon’s death. “Crazy sad,” he said, because Ollie is a tool. “You know, I heard,” he continued “that the dude who shot him was, like, off his rocker. One of those 5/9 truthers. Some people even say that the whole thing was, uh, a put-on. Like one of those crisis performances or whatever. You know, those Frank Cody types.”
Redditor OttawaMan35 impressively remembered that Frank Cody was on in the television of the smart house that Darlene hacked back in the second episode. Frank Cody warned then that America’s democracy was crumbling and that it was on the verge of being taken over by a Hitler-like leader.