Goodbye, friend. Hello, Elliot

December 26, 2019 at 5:16 PM | Posted in Mental Health, TV | Leave a comment
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SPOILER WARNING: This article contains major spoilers of the series finale of Mr. Robot. Read at your own risk!

Will the real Elliot please stand up?

And damn right he did. That is, not until the penultimate episode of Mr. Robot’s series finale. After four incredible seasons, Mr. Robot aired its two-part series finale this week.

In the first part, Elliot Alderson seemed to have jumped back in time where he found himself in Washington Township – the place where he grew up in. Only this time, the town seemed oddly different. The town looked like it didn’t change at all after 20 years since Elliot was there. But some things did change: his father, a.k.a Mr. Robot, was alive and healthy. His mother was suddenly nice and loving towards him. And his sister Darlene didn’t exist. He’s supposedly an only child.

Then things got stranger as he soon found out that there was another Elliot Alderson living in the town who looked exactly like him – and engaged to be married to Angela who turned out to be alive. Who’s the other Elliot?

This second Elliot seemed to have the perfect life: he had a loving family, he’s the CEO of Allsafe – the anti-virus company that our Elliot (Elliot 1) used to work for, he had lots of friends and loved socializing with them, he’s engaged to be married to Angela who loved him, and his apartment looked so neat. It was all too perfect.

It felt disconcerting watching those scenes. I didn’t like this version of Elliot. And then came the shocker: Elliot 1 hacked Elliot 2’s computer and found sketches of himself, Darlene, and the rest of the original members of fsociety. What’s going on here? Who was this other Elliot? At first, I thought this was some kind of story similar to the movie Stranger Than Fiction where a fictional character written by a famous author became real. But then more was revealed in the second part of the show’s series finale.

In the second part, we finally found out that the Elliot Alderson we’ve seen in all seasons of the show and whom we have come to love wasn’t in fact real. Elliot 1 was apparently another persona that the real Elliot (Elliot 2) created in his mind. Elliot 2, who’s suffering from disassociative identity disorder (DID), had created five personas in his mind to cope with the harsh realities of his life: he created Mr. Robot, a different version of his mother, a much younger version of himself, Elliot 1 – the mastermind who was a hacker vigilante, and us viewers who he called “friend.” But Elliot 1 became such a dominant persona that it eventually took control of the real Elliot completely.

Honestly, I was kind of disappointed that Elliot 1 wasn’t the real Elliot. He was the one character in the show who I most relate with. He was an introvert like me. He had social anxiety just as I have and he was struggling with personal demons much like I am. He was just like me. But that character turned out to be just a figment of the real Elliot’s imagination.

But I loved the part where Elliot 1 and Darlene were in the hospital and he told her that he wasn’t the real Elliot. His last voice-over was so poignant and emotional that it almost sounded like a battle cry for people not to give up, to stay true to themselves. Then we saw the real Elliot emerged in the end with Darlene saying the final words in the show: “Hello, Elliot.”  I mean, that entire part brought tears to my eyes.

Overall, the series finale was a brilliant, mind-blowing one. I didn’t see the surprises coming. Everything fell into place in the finale – well, almost. It still left a few questions unanswered for me, such as:

  • Did Tyrell really die? What happened to him in the woods?
  • What exactly was whiterose’s machine capable of? There were hints of time travel but the finale didn’t make that clear.
  • Also, a news report stated that whiterose was killed by a terrorist attack. Was that really the case or was that just a coverup?
  • What happened to Dom?
  • What happened to the real Krista? Would she eventually know about the real Elliot?

A nice touch from the finale was the inclusion of the ‘80s classic song, “Mr. Roboto” in the penultimate episode, which most fans of the show were expecting (and hoping?) to hear. The show went through all three seasons without playing the song and now in season 4 they finally did. I chuckled when I heard the song being played in the background during the first few scenes of the episode. I never liked the song but hearing the lyrics now, I thought it was so fitting not only because of its resemblance to the title of the show but also because of the message in the song.

Season 4 of Mr. Robot came out a little weak and slow at the start of the season, but it picked up pace halfway through. The fifth episode, “Method Not Allowed,” was notable for not having much dialogue in it but it spoke volumes through fast-paced action, tense situations and creative display of text. Another episode that really stood out for me was “Conflict” where we saw Darlene doxed the Deus Group and whiterose, a.k.a Minister Zhang, shaken by fsociety’s hack on Cyprus National Bank. But one of my favorite episodes from the season apart from the finale was episode 7 titled “Proxy Authentication Required.” The scene between Elliot 1, Krista, Mr. Robot and Fernando Vera was powerful and intense and all the actors in it gave an astounding performance. Rami Malek, who plays Elliot, deserves another Emmy award from this scene alone.

I also want to note that this final season didn’t follow the usual format in naming the episodes. The previous three seasons had file names as episode titles, which I thought was really clever. I kind of miss that.

But I will surely miss this show. There wasn’t anything like it that I’ve ever seen. Its production values, unique story, brilliant writing and cinematography were what made the show one of the best in recent years.

Always Outside Looking In

October 18, 2019 at 11:46 PM | Posted in Mental Health, Musings | Leave a comment
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You know that feeling when you think you belong to a group but you’re actually not? I get that most of the time. I am an introvert with a bad case of social anxiety. I am awkward around people, and most of the time I don’t know what to say to them or how to react to certain situations. And that’s why most people perceive me as cold and aloof. Because I don’t talk much. I don’t smile much.

I’m not inclined to respond to small talk, especially about mundane things. If something doesn’t pique my interest, I have very little reaction to it. I mean, I try to be sociable. God knows I try. But it’s just hard for me. And it can be very stressful trying to be sociable, especially around people I don’t know very well.

Maybe that’s why even when I’m part of a few groups I still feel like an outsider. Conversations happen in front of me or around me, but there are times when I feel like I’m being excluded because I can’t keep up with their chatter or with their humor. I’m in the circle but I’m not really in it. I’m just looking in.

Understanding Social Anxiety

August 9, 2018 at 9:35 AM | Posted in Mental Health, Musings, Psychology | 1 Comment
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I came across this recent article about introversion and social anxiety and I was just blown away by how similar my experiences were with the writer.

I have known for a long time that I’m an introvert. I was also extremely shy as a child and kept to myself most of the time. For years, I thought I inherited my extreme shyness from my mother who was also shy and an introvert. I thought that was there to it – until I found out the term “social anxiety disorder” or SAD.

I first encountered the term when a Twitter page of an American indie film followed me on Twitter a few years ago. The film was about a guy with social anxiety disorder. Out of curiosity, I looked up the term “social anxiety disorder” and was shocked to discover that I had almost all the symptoms of the disorder. All this time I thought what I was experiencing was just a result of my extreme shyness. I didn’t know that there was a psychological term for it.

I’ve been known by my friends and family as “the quiet one” and people I’ve met always have this impression of me being suplada or masungit (cold and aloof). I know some people think of me as antisocial because I don’t interact much with coworkers or mingle with other acquaintances. But they don’t know what I’m going through. They don’t know that it stresses me out just to have a small talk with them. It causes me severe anxiety whenever I have to be around people I don’t know very well. I am fearful every time I have to attend conference call meetings with colleagues from different countries. And I hate it when I’m forced to talk or present in front of people.

I am only ever talkative when I’m around with my friends. I only feel comfortable when I’m around them where I can talk about common interests. But knowing I have social anxiety is one thing; letting people know about it is another thing. For one, there is still social stigma in my country about things related to mental health. Second, most people don’t even know what social anxiety is, let alone understand it.  So it is rather difficult to tell people about it without the risk of getting ridiculed.

Coffee is Life

May 31, 2017 at 10:47 PM | Posted in Food and Dining, Health | Leave a comment
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I have been going to a cardiologist in the past couple of months due to my consistent high blood pressure. The doctor advised me to avoid caffeine since it’s one of the causes of my blood pressure going up. But as an avid coffee drinker, I just can’t give up coffee for life. So I told the doctor that I drink coffee every day. That’s what perks me up in the morning when I wake up. That’s what also keeps me going throughout the day. She then advised me to reduce my coffee intake. And that’s fine by me – for now.

Actually, even before I went to the doctor, I have reduced my coffee intake. No particular reason, except perhaps because in recent months I have been too busy with work that I can survive a day with just two cups of coffee.  But there were times in the past months that I would be too busy that I couldn’t even finish my cup of coffee because I was always on the go. Sounds crazy, right? By the time I’d return for my coffee, it had gone cold.

I’m recently diagnosed as hypertensive. So the doctor’s advise is really workable for me at this time. I’m also taking medicines to control my blood pressure so at least I’m still looking after my health.

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