episode 02: september, unreliable narrators, and watermelon!

September 30, 2016

This is my favorite time of the year.

Fall is here, but summer is still not really gone. I like the in between periods best, it’s the best of two worlds scenario. You have summer fruits and fall vegetables: peaches and apples, fresh herbs and figs, watermelon and pumpkin. Your favorite TV shows have not yet returned, but the buzz and spoilers are starting to come out and in a matter of weeks, you know you’ll be seeing what your favorite characters have been up to.

It’s also a good time to re-assess the year and make some changes. I don’t know about you but the New Year never really prompted me to make any grand resolutions.

 

I spent part of last week in Amsterdam; I was there to give a talk on emergency preparedness for archival collections at the Rijksmueum (yes, that Rijksmuseum!). 

 

Somewhere between the long overnight flights and the layovers, I finally caught up with the Mr. Robot finale. I’ve wanted to talk about this season for a while now, so if you’ll allow me a few words…

 

Elliot’s world is a constant tug-of-war between the demands of an angry separate identity, and the very simple, very human desire of Elliot to live a life of not hurting anyone, especially himself. He wants that struggle to end, to have a peace that can saturate his life and his mind. That’s the world he wants to save. Fsociety doesn’t just mean “fuck society, because global capitalism is an oppressive regime that breeds poverty and despair” [...] It means—quite differently—fuck society, because society isn’t what’s important. Family, intimacy, and identity are what’s important.

- Alex McCown Levy

I love this quote because it encapsulates why I love this show so much, and more on this below, but let's start with the end.

 

There are two kind of season finales: the heart pumping oh my god is this happening everything comes together kind, and the slower, easier setting the table for the next season kind.

Last season’s finale was definitely the first. We got a doozy of an hour in which the 5/9 hack finally happened and Eliott cracked open the split at his very core.

This season’s finale falls more on the latter. Revealing just as much information to get us to season 3.

I’m still not sure how to feel about it, not because it was bad –it really wasn’t, at all-, but because it was most definitely incomplete.

Looking back at season 2, it seems like we won’t be able to judge it before we see how season 3 turns out, because we still don’t have all the facts.

 

 

Overall, this season has been a very slow burn. All the side characters got more fleshed out, most notably Angela, who got the Alicia Florrick upgrade, and Darlene, who was left to lead the revolution alone and had to come to terms with some disturbing shit.

We saw Eliott do The Work: trying to make peace with the parts of himself that will never be at peace. (Shout out to Joss!)

And it’s been a beautiful ride, from him and Mr. Robot trying to off one another, to finally reaching some sort of a truce in “m4ster-s1ave.aes”. In “h4ndshake.sme” Eliott finally revealed to us what we’d been speculating for a while: he’s been in prison! He promised to never lie to us again. It was a heartfelt moment, but as we later learned, it doesn’t really matter because there are pieces of the story that even Eliott is not in on. It’s the inevitable cost of the unreliable narrator; Eliott is trying to fill the holes in own story and until he does there isn’t much we can do (although he wants us to).

 

When “pyth0n_pt1.p7z” ended, I started worrying because I knew there was no way the finale could tackle everything in 40 minutes. And sure enough, the main plot still hasn’t been brought to a boil; it’s barely started to simmer. And my main concern, like anyone who’s been burned by a show telling convoluted stories with heaping mountain of questions and riddles piled upon easter eggs and hints and clues piled upon more questions and riddles is that in the end, the answers almost always fall short.

 

But alas, that quote above is the reason why I am still rooting for this show. You may be watching because Eliott’s rants on society and corruption resonate within you, and that’s a very valid reason. After all something is wrong with the world.

But I’ve been watching because I've fallen in love with these very human characters who are living in these crazy circumstances.

When Eliott dreamed of a world he wants to live in, he dreamed of finding Bill Harper from operation Steel Mountain, apologizing to him for tearing him down, and hugging him. It speaks volumes because it tells that at the end of the day, when Eliott Alderson goes to bed, he is still sad about the decisions he’s had to take, and deep down, he knows that some things are not okay, some means can not be justified by an end, and hurting a poor innocent man, even if just with words, is not acceptable; even for the sake of a revolution.

RED & YELLOW WATERMELON SALAD

Serves 4 (2 if you’re me and my husband)

 

3 thick quarters of red watermelon

4 thick quarters of yellow watermelon

1 pack of halloumi cheese (200g)

1 sprig of fresh basil (preferably small leaves)

1 sprig of fresh mint (preferably small leaves)

1 sprig of fresh wild thyme

Olive oil

Balsamic vinegar (I used white because I prefer its’ flavor but both will work)

Salt and pepper to taste

 

Take out your frying pan! Ok no. It’s the grilling pan but frying pan sounds much more epic.

If you don’t have a grilling pan though, then a frying pan will work just fine.

Drizzle with olive oil (one turn around the pan) and set aside. Make sure the oil reaches the entire pan; you could do this by simply wiping the oil with a paper towel.

 

Wash the halloumi and wrap it with a paper towel to remove the extra water.

Place the pan on medium to high heat, and wait until you start seeing bubbles in the oil. While that happens, slice the halloumi into nice chunky slices, and then send them into the pan. Grill until they turn golden, about 3 minutes on each side (if you slice them thinner, then they will need a lot less so keep a close eye). Transfer on some paper towels to catch the extra oil.

 

In the meantime, remove the rinds from the watermelons and slice into thick triangular chunks.

In a serving plate, layer the watermelons and halloumi, you can see I cut the halloumi slices in half as my watermelon chunks were quite large.

 

Pick the leaves from the basil, mint and thyme sprigs, and sprinkle whole over the plate. If your leaves are on the large side, I recommend shopping them roughly before adding, though this would mean they would start to turn dark in a matter of minutes so if you’re serving it for company do this at the very end right before serving.

 

For the sauce, mix one part (say for example, 1 tablespoon) of balsamic vinegar, with 2 parts (2 tablespoons) of extra virgin olive oil. Salt and pepper to taste. Drizzle over the plate.

 

I didn’t get to include this in the pictures, but I served it with chunky country bread, which is absolutely fantastic when you get to the bottom of your plate and you have all those juices and little bits of hallloumi and watermelon and tiny bits of cracked pepper and herbs just dancing around in the juice and the sauce and well. You’ll need it.

 

 

 

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