Mr. Robot Analysis of S02E01 – The Illusion of Control

The central theme of this episode is about not having self-control internally in consciousness, and the resulting way of live we have created that is exerting external control over our lives.

Keep the Program Running

Elliot has self-control issues. He is not the master of his domain, of his consciousness, and therefore his actions. This was demonstrated in the first season.

He finds “control” and a seeming “order” through a routine, regiment, a programmed way of life:

“I’ve been keeping a journal. It’s the only way to keep my program running like it’s supposed to. And then I got to bed. My mom has no computer or Internet access to temp me into the night. All that’s left is ordinary analog sleep, ending the day’s loop… Repeating the same tasks each day without having to think about them. Isn’t that what everybody does? Keep things on repeat… Isn’t that were things are comfortable? In the sameness.”

This is not living. This is a static, robotic, fixed state of “being”, with no potential of becoming. All programmed and laid out. Unthinking or non-thinking. This is his attempt to gain some form of control over his life because he is shattered and broken on the inside. He doesn’t have control over his own mind, his own consciousness. He is in an “unconscious” state of mind, where something else iscontrolling him, as often our subconscious/unconscious and bio-natural motivation and drives do over our lives to have us run automated “programmed” behavior.

This is the allusion I see with him awake in a bed to start the scene. A bed, where you’re asleep, unconscious, unaware, like a programmed automated way of living would symbolize. I have talked about this symbolism before, of being “unconscious”, “dead”, “asleep”, “sheep”, unawakened and uninitiated. He’s awake in bed, but hes not really awake, he’ still living an unconscious programmed life, as he describes in the quote above.

His consciousness is in a confused and fractured state, and to compensate, he has developed a static way of life where the potential of change, the unknown “chaos” of not being in control of his own actions, is reduced to a minimum. This form of control is indeed an illusion, because he is replacing the natural order of real living, the becoming potential for change and learning knowledge from the unknown, with a static state of unchanging programmed “being”. He can’t even get to that point of freedom and order, because internally he lacks self-knowledge and self-control.

When dealing with the unknown, the void, abyss and darkness represented as “chaos”, this creates confusion, doubt, insecurity, discomfort, anxiety and fear. Elliot now fears life and living, the potential to become, to change, to learn, because his internal state of consciousness is in such disarray. More on this below.

Control is an Illusion?

This is not true as a general statement. However, it applies in the frame, view, perspective, idea and concept of this episode, which I will explain.

There are degrees of control you can employ in life, with limits. Part of life is to develop awareness and understand of ourselves, our consciousness and it’s functionality so that we are masters of our own domain and can lead sovereign responsible lives. Limits of control we exert over reality doesn’t mean control is an illusion outright. We can’t just change things automatically around us to fit our wishes, wants or desires.

The statement and question is initially framed on the delusion of the projection of his father who is preventing him from exercising control over his own life, and this delusion is instead controlling his life as we saw in Season 1. There are other aspects to this theme not limited to the delusion of his father, as I will develop afterward.

Elliot fears the chaos of his delusion taking over control of his life. He chooses to exert a form of control by developing a routine that gives him a basic “order” in his life.

To know-thyself and be master of our own domain, is to develop sovereignty, self-control, self-dominion, self-mastery, self-governance, self-ownership, and self-rulership of one’s own thoughts, emotions and actions. Also, to not be led by lower consciousness drives and motivations from the subconscious or unconscious, and from our base-brain stem R-Complex physical responses, or mid Limbic brain emotional responses to stimulus. Higher consciousness higher-order thinking and processing is the ideal potential guide and master controller to regulate the other lower consciousness aspects of our bio-nature automated processing and behavior.

Elliot has lost control of himself, and he lives in an internal state of anarchy where he is not the master and ruler of himself. The one domain where we are supposed to be masters and rulers, to be *monarchs, is the inner-domain of consciousness. As a result, he fears the freedom that exists outside a prescribed programmed automated way of “living” and “being”.

To further play into the theme of “illusion of control”, there was also the rendering of Obama giving a speech about the financial panic that was created by the FSociety hack:

“America knows how to solve problems. And when we work together, we can’t be stopped. A new future is ready to be written.”

This is to alleviate the fear of chaos in the society, which is mirroring the fear of chaos Elliot has over his own consciousness and actions in life. The speech is assuring people that a seeming “order” can be reestablished through having them believe they have control over how society will be governed, when in fact they are not in control of society, but the monarchic authoritarian centralized power of external control and external governance is what has the power.

Hence the illusion of control meme is repeated implicitly by this mockery of how our current way of life is a farce of “order”, an illusion of “good” and “order”, because there are masters and rulers over our lives and we are not the masters of our own lives. We abdicate our personal responsibility to develop self-control, self-master and self-governance to be sovereign free beings.

We don’t have an external state of anarchic order, of no masters and no slaves. We have external monarchy of masters and rulers over our lives, due to us not being self-governing masters and rulers of our own lives, over our own domains, both internally and externally. When we don’t have internal monarchic self-control of being rulers of our own consciousness, we have anarchy, chaos, disorder and confusion internally. And then we don’t have external anarchy order of no masters over our lives, and instead have monarchic external control false “order”. The internal reflects into the eternal.

As mentioned previously, this chaos is an abyss, void, darkness and confusion from the unknown. What unknown? The lack of self-knowledge, to know-thyself, which would otherwise result in self-governance, self-control, self-mastery and sovereign control over ourselves. As a result of this internal unknown confusion and chaos, this creates a vacuum in our external world where we don’t have responsible control over our own lives and it allows the external controlling centralized governing authority to come about and impose control over us.

We don’t have answers about ourselves (self-knowledge), about consciousness, and we are confused about how to live and create authentic order on our own. A lack of knowledge and clarity results in confusion about reality and ourselves. We have allowed this confusion from a lack of self-knowledge and unanswered questions, to manifest answers for us as the belief in authority and external control over our lives as an illusion of “control” and “order”, not authentic authority where we author our own lives.

Having questions, and no answers, promotes us, or others, to invent answers as beliefs that cast spells on our consciousness and affect how we live our lives (religions and governments are the two biggest forms of this). A manipulator, or even a belief we create, can impose it’s “will” over our own will, and thereby control us, like a sorcerer summoning spells to mind control. This is the power of consciousness and word magic, which I have talked about in depth before. (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, )

This is what is being demonstrated in the episode through Elliot’s internal state, and other aspects of the episode, which will be demonstrated more below.

Automated Systems

Further playing on the theme of this episode of automation, programming, and an illusion of control over our lives, is the next scene with the woman entering her house with her automated security system that fails to work properly, and her automated TV which starts to play something she doesn’t want, and she has trouble gaining control of her household domain. This is symbolism for our inner-domain, the house we are supposed to be master of, as I explained with self-dominion earlier.


She also tries to take a simple shower, but even that is out of her control! Getting out of the shower, the room is cold. She resets the thermometer, but it goes back to 53 degrees, then on 2nd attempt her music comes on instead, and then everyone goes full-on chaotic with lights, the phone and more out of control.

The automated, programmed robotic way of life is running things for her, controlling her environment, and creating chaos in her life, rather than the order she seeks. The automated external control has created disorder, chaos, anxiety, discomfort and insecurity in her life. In attempts to externalize and outsource control over our lives, through the “Smart House”, he just gets the opposite of a smart way of life.

It turns out the house, her domain, wasn’t simply malfunctioning. What we have is another direct metaphor for the theme of this episode: of someone else, another will, imposing external control over our lives, the general domain of our lives and our inner-domain, our inner-house of consciousness.

This is an allusion to our loss of self-control over ourselves, our domain of consciousness, and the loss of freedom and order that we all seek and yearn to have. Her domain, her house, is out of her control and is controlled by other forces: the computerized programmed systems, that are in turn controlled by the will of another, just as the automated systems of living we have in our lives that are controlled by the will of the masters and rulers in government, finance and other hidden-hands.

She is tapping away at interfaces and trying to regain control. This is how our society is run. We lack control over our lives because of the system of living we have created for ourselves through the centralized external control of government authority, but we believe we have control, the illusion of “control”. We think this is a “smart” and “good” way to live, to outsource and abdicate our personal responsibility in life to an external authority, but it doesn’t work out. We tap away at trying to tackle the symptoms of our enslavement, taping away at electronic voting booths every few years to provide us again with the illusion of “control” and “order” over our own lives.

Self-Delusion: Lying to Ourselves

When we are in ignorance of self-knowledge, we lack answers to questions about ourselves, and remain in a confused state. This confusion from not having answers to questions, has us invent beliefs as “truths” to justify our worldview and fill in the gaps of comprehension. We innately do this to alleviate the confusion, doubt, insecurity, discomfort, anxiety and fear of the unknown unanswered questions. We fear the gap, void, abyss, emptiness and inherent darkness of lack of comprehension in consciousness. We don’t have the light of knowledge to provide us with a real demonstrable answer about ourselves or reality, so we invent a belief to fill in the gap.

This is what Elliot is doing: he’s writing down his own narrative of reality. There is a lot of this in the “self-help” community. He is negotiating with reality and trying to invent a belief and create a positive affirmation that he desires, wishes and wants to believe to be “true”. But he’s not in control. It’s a lie he tells himself to try to negate the reality of his condition, which he later admits to:

“How do I take off a mask, when it stops being a mask, when it’s as much a part of me as I am.”