We've already seen Mr. Robot transform into a '90s sitcom parody this season, so after that, nothing should feel jarringly incongruous. Not even the show's near literal imitation of Dora the Explorer.
However, in Mr. Robot's universe, audiences aren't provided a bright-eyed explorer and her anthropoid, boot-wearing companion to help solve some adorably fun enigma. Instead — lucky us — we have our monotonous and unreliable protagonist Elliot, who turns to his imaginary friend (the viewer) to help him make what will likely be a dark-as-hell discovery.
In the show's last episode, Elliot asked the audience to help him search his apartment while he was dealing with Joanna Wellick's bodyguard/hitman. Elliot knew Mr. Robot — his alter-ego personified as his dead father — wanted him to return to his apartment immediately after they were released from jail, but he wasn't sure what he was supposed to be looking for. So when he returned to his apartment in this week's episode, he asked the audience to see if they can find anything as the camera panned across the room.
"Can you help?" he asked. "Can you look? Do you see anything?" No pressure.
Series creator Sam Esmail had a meta question fit for the Reddit community: Can you "hack" the show and find what Mr. Robot is looking for? Unsurprisingly, the same community that figured out that Elliot was in prison after the series premiere was up to the task. With a helpful hint from one of Mr. Robot's writers, they've come up with some theories.
Speaking with the Hollywood Reporter, the co-writer of Wednesday's episode, Kor Adana, literally spelled out what viewers need to look for using clever capitalization.
"I'll do my Best tO be helpful here," Adana says. "There is definiTely a hinT in this scene. I dOn't know if I should tell you what Main corner to look in, oR if the hInt is even in the corner of the frame, but Go aHead and study that scene to see whaT you can find."
The capitalized letters spelled out: BOTTOM RIGHT, which was more than enough for Reddit to parse through details. The consensus is that it Adana was likely pointing viewers toward a book in the apartment.
The mysterious book? Per Redditor Insygma, it could be a Mastering Microsoft Lync Server book (the 2013 edition!), which would be, in a word: odd. However, as the user notes, the book has been teased in previous scenes dating back to season one, as well as in the show's Virtual Reality experience, which was released prior to the second season in July.
But discovering the book — as many revelations in Mr. Robot go — is just the first piece of an extremely convoluted puzzle. Fans have their suspicions: Redditor lost_tsol believes that the book's being kept open on the desk is actually an elaborate anagram for Mr. Robot's manipulation of Elliot throughout the season. Considering the alter ego's track record, it's not the biggest stretch.
"A synonym for open is unsecured," lost_tsol writes. "A synonym for book is volume ... I had to find out the anagram for 'open book'. It's Book Nope. As in no volume. Which explains why Mr. Robot is running for the hills. Mr. Robot has been the manipulative voice in Elliot's ear the entire season."
Ultimately, whether or not the book comes into play again, the show has left fans with plenty of insatiable questions ahead of the two-hour season finale. Why did Mr. Robot disappear from Elliot's head after the phone call? Where the hell is Tyrell Wellick? Is he really dead? Was that him panting heavily on the other line to Elliot? What happened to Trenton and Mobley? What's Elliot's Stage 2 plan with the Dark Army? And now, what the heck was in Elliot's apartment? Oh God, I'm exhausted.
While we wait for answers to come next week, Mr. Robot is once again making conspiracy theorists of us all.