'Mr. Robot': 5 Key Takeaways From That Sitcom Sequence

MR. ROBOT-Episode 206 -Publicity-H 2016
Michael Parmelee/USA Network

[Warning: This story contains spoilers through season two, episode five of Mr. Robot.]

Whatever happened to predictability? When it comes to Mr. Robot, predictability has never been anything more than a rare condition, for this or any day and age.

Family matters were very much on the mind of the USA Network drama's second season's sixth episode, as Elliot Alderson (Rami Malek) spent the first 20 minutes trapped inside a sitcom, complete with laugh tracks from an unseen audience. Elliot's wide-eyed wonder at his surroundings — trapped in a convertible with his parents and sister on a road trip toward a hospital — stands out as the most bizarre sequence the Sam Esmail-created series has ever put forward ... and that's no small accomplishment, given the show.

But Elliot's elaborate Miller-Boyett Productions-inspired fantasy was more than just whimsical; in many ways, it offered a glimpse at the road ahead as Mr. Robot continues its cruise through season two. Here are five of the most important takeaways from the sequence:

1. Control Is an Illusion

The theory that Elliot has been spending the season either incarcerated or institutionalized maintained its ground in the sitcom sequence. For one, the imagery of stripes — a possible stand-in for prison bars — remains alive and well in the vision, with Elliot wearing a striped T-shirt and Mr. Robot (Christian Slater) cracking a joke about how "jump suits are in these days." What's more, Elliot's ability to create such an elaborate fantasy world only speaks to the power of his delusions; it's not only possible, but very likely, that his "real" surroundings outside of the sitcom space are not as they seem.

2. The Return of Gideon

Despite his death at the start of the season, Gideon Goddard (Michel Gill) is still a presence on Mr. Robot. In the sitcom sequence, he appears as a police officer before swiftly being crushed under the weight of a red convertible driven by none other than ALF. (More on him in a minute.) Mr. Robot scoffs at Elliot's distress over Gideon: "It's been forever since that poor cop passed!" But given everything else on his plate, the hacker hasn't been able to process his role in Gideon's death, unwitting or otherwise. Elliot's continued focus on his fallen mentor shows that the toll of his actions have not gone unnoticed, even if they haven't been fully paid quite yet.

3. The Man in the Trunk

The continued absence of Tyrell Wellick (Martin Wallstrom) gets some play time in the sitcom scene, as he's seen as Mr. Robot's hostage in the trunk of the Alderson family vehicle. Near the end of the scene, Mr. Robot bludgeons Tyrell to death with a tire iron. Some fans are reading this as confirmation that Elliot did indeed kill Tyrell, but it's also likely that Tyrell's presence in the car speaks to Elliot's deep-rooted fear about his own role in the E Corp veteran's disappearance. In other words, there's no clear signal one way or the other about Tyrell's actual situation, his grim fate in the fantasy notwithstanding. 

4. The Robot War Comes to an End

Perhaps the biggest breakthrough in the sitcom scene comes in the form of Elliot and Mr. Robot finally reaching a peaceful resolution. Elliot's father figure reveals that he's conjured up this fantasy world specifically to keep Elliot from feeling the physical pain of his beat down at the hands of Ray (Craig Robinson) and his subordinates. Elliot responds by tearfully embracing and thanking the illusory Robot. Much of season two has focused on these two aspects of Elliot feuding with one another, and exploring the possibility of some sort of truce. It looks like that detente has finally arrived, if only for now.

5. Consider Me Gone

Finally, consider the ALF of it all. No, the iconic television puppet isn't a new major figure in Mr. Robot lore, but he represents some interesting ideas about where the show might head next. Start by looking at the series finale of ALF, which ended with the titular alien getting captured and tortured by the authorities. Elliot suffers a similarly dark fate once his sitcom fantasy ends, as he wakes up in Ray's custody. But take Mr. Robot's advice, and stay focused on the road ahead: Elliot's journey often boasts moments of bizarre levity, but typically ends in unimaginably dark territory — much like the ALF finale. When Mr. Robot finally reaches its destination, don't expect the laugh tracks to come along for the ride. 

Follow THR's Mr. Robot coverage all season long for interviews, news and theories.