A Nightmare: Who Is Mr. Robot’s Landlord? Eps3.7dont-delete-me.ko
Who Is Mr. Robot's Landlord? Eps3.7dont-delete-me.ko
I thought about calling this week's recap “Matt Damon was awesome” to honor the surreal nightmare parallel universe that we visited tonight (but that would probably give him too much credit).
In case you missed last week’s “Who Is Mr. Robot’s Landlord?” here is my recap of Eps3.6fredrick&tanya.chk
If you haven’t yet checked it out, I also put together a Spotify playlist of songs that I think could easily fit on Mr. Robot and which speak to some element of a character or the show in general to me, here is that playlist:
You can also follow me on Spotify, I am ypsifactj (I do regular playlists and my top 20 albums of 2017 will be coming soon) or on Reddit, I am ypsifactj48
If you have not watched every episode of Mr. Robot or read Red Wheelbarrow this could contain spoilers *Spoiler Alert*
Staring at the Sea
Standing on the beach, with a gun in my hand, staring at the sea, staring at the sand Staring down the barrel at the Arab on the ground, I can see his open mouth. But I hear no sound. I'm alive, I'm dead, I'm the stranger. Killing an Arab - The Cure
The inspiration for that song by The Cure, a favorite of Sam Esmail, is the Albert Camus book “The Stranger” in which a man, almost as if in a trance, kills a random Arab man on the beach. For most of the rest of the book, he is trying to come to grips with his crime from a prison cell until he finally comes to grips with his crime and its illogic, as he explains:
“It was as if that great rush of anger had washed me clean, emptied me of hope, and, gazing up at the dark sky spangled with its signs and stars, for the first time, the first, I laid my heart open to the benign indifference of the universe.”
Sometimes things happen, or we do bad things, and we are not precisely sure why they happen.
I have talked to, for instance, fellow recovering addicts who tell me that they spent an entire day feeling great because they 100% knew that they were resolved not to act out (use their substance or engage in their addictive behavior of choice) only to wake up several hours later to the reality that they had broken their sobriety (FYI I am a recovering addict with 7.5 years sobriety, wrote a book about addiction and recovery, and am very active in my recovery community).
Just like Angela was struggling to come to grips with her own complicity last week, trapped in a loop of watching one of the 71 buildings as it collapses and come back to life, Elliot had to come to grips with his complicity this week.
And, for him, that complicity started with the fall of his father Edward, from cancer, in a movie theater while he literally walked away and didn't even try to help his Dad.
Sometimes, we have to come to grips with some hard realities about the ways in which we are broken and the ways in which being broken seems way beyond our ability to establish control.
The difference between knowing in your heart that you want to be good but facing the reality of having done something bad can be maddening.
I remember an interview that I once heard with the Director, actor, and artist Terry Gilliam where he talked about how he got the idea for his masterpiece, the movie Brazil. He mentioned something about sitting on a somewhat polluted beach alone (maybe in New Jersey) and the only other person on the beach had a small radio and he remembers that it was playing the song Brazil.
Somehow, he was haunted by this reality until a very surreal and dystopian movie grew up around that one idea.
In the movie Barton Fink, the main character (umm, Barton Fink duh), often imagines that he is sitting on a beach and that somehow that makes sense, or at least helps him escape in his mind, from the insanity that often surrounds him (or maybe he was sitting on the beach, like Terry Gilliam inspired by some idea or memory to create an insane and troubling narrative about himself in his head).
If there was ever an episode of Mr. Robot that gives some credence to the idea that Elliot is creating his own simulation, this could have been it.
But, my gut still tells me that this is more surreal than it is a signal.
A few years ago, after many years of silence, one of Sam Esmail’s main influences, David Lynch finally revealed his inspiration for the Movie Blue Velvet, when he was a kid, he started to turn down a dark alley and a strange woman came out of the alley and ran past him totally naked and frantic.
He recreated this scene that had been haunting him like a ghost an entire life but instead of placing it in a world of logic and linearity, he presented it in a world much more akin to the way he had been experiencing the memory his entire life.
He showed us his nightmare. He exposed the ghosts.
Elliot is letting us see his guilt and his ghosts.
In a later Lynch movie, "Lost Highway," he had two different characters that were, in a sense, actually different elements of the same character (sound familiar?). The second version of the character wakes up as a totally different person, only aware of having the same name and some of the same memories, but instead of being the married jazz musician he went to sleep as, he wakes up living in a prison cell and wearing a different face and owning a different history.
I suspect this is how Elliot feels when he wakes up almost every day (especially after Mr. Robot has been in charge).
As he shares with Darlene before he starts on his surreal journey:
“I tried everything, medication, therapy, fuck I even put myself in jail, he won't leave, he won't leave because I wanted this...I liked it”
Tonight's episode is about Elliot letting us see the reasons he decided he needed to kill himself (all the reasons, even the ones that are more ghosts than real) and he is also letting us see the reasons he ultimately decides he changes his mind (he can still make the world a better place - thanks to Trenton).
Elliot created Mr. Robot. He is to blame (I have been saying this since Season 1).
Now that he has accepted his complicity, he starts thinking out the only good thing he can do for the world is end himself and the part of him that enjoys the idea of burning down the world.
Dissociatives are a fragmented whole and the different parts do whatever they are best suited to do but they are all part of the same system (I have called this system E Prime since Season One).
So now that he has come to grips with what he has done, how does he tell the story?
He tells it like David Lynch, like Albert Camus, and like Terry Gilliam did.
Sometimes we see, have done, or do things that are so terrible that it is impossible for us to represent them in the cold light of real-time and linear time or logic.
Portia Doubleday has often said that Angela and Elliot are both chasing the same goal but through different means.
Now they are both living different versions of the same nightmare.
In tonight's episode of Mr. Robot, Shama Biswas’ (Trenton) brother Mohammed is playing the role of Terry Gilliam's small radio on the beach providing Elliot strange inspiration. He is Elliot's spirit guide (and the center of where he is trying to work out his guilt).
"You sure talk about yourself a lot," Mohammed tells Elliot at one point.
Elliot is having a very hard time dealing with the deaths of Trenton and Mobley, he wants badly to make amends to both but it is too late. He knows that they have died for his sins and so he is literally haunted by his guilt.
I have suggested for years that since the traumatic event that really started this entire journey, being shoved out a window by his Father, Elliot has a very dark side and that Elliot is the self he wishes that he really was.
Before the credits, we see this darkness as his sick and dying father collapses in a theater after Elliot tells him that he will never forgive him. After he collapses, young Elliot walks away, leaving Edward collapsed on the floor of the theater lobby and goes to watch the movie.
This is Elliot, or E-Prime, as he really often is, not as he wants to see himself or wants us to see him. It is important that Elliot shows us this part of himself (the part we have only seen once before - during the Careful Massacre scene in Season 2). The unified Elliot is not always a nice person.
The last two seasons have been a war between the part of E-prime that wants to become Elliot "for real" and the part that really enjoyed watching the 71 towers come down.
The Elliot that helped create all of the disasters and misery has, to this point, won so thoroughly that the only way E-Prime can envision to be good anymore is to kill himself by overdose.
Standing on a beach with a gun (drugs) in his hand, killing an Arab (himself).
<I should mention here that the action in the movie Shallow Grave (the movie that young Elliot watches after leaving Edward to die on the floor in the lobby of the movie theater) starts when three roommates find that their fourth roommate has died from an overdose>
Somehow, his bizarre and surreal journey with Trenton’s brother (who I could have sworn used to be older) saves him.
I am pretty sure he did visit Mobley’s brother twice. I am pretty sure he met with Trenton’s family. And I am pretty sure he met with “Hard Andy” to get the drugs.
Maybe the dreams were triggered by starting to do the drugs?
One of my many theories last year was that both Elliot and Angela were sharing events that happened in their real lives but choosing to present them to us not as they happened but rather, exposing them to us through the process of examining them through lucid dreams.
My first exploration of this idea happened about a year ago in a post I called, strangely enough, my "Back to the Future" theory of Mr. Robot.
I may have been wrong about the lucid dreaming (or maybe I wasn't, we will see) but I am pretty sure that we are seeing them communicate the surreal scenes the only way they can share them without dissolving, through each other's dreams.
One really bizarre thing, u/MaryInMaryland (a Redditor friend) messaged me hours before Mr. Robot suggesting that tonight's episode would likely be about dreams and she also mentioned that those dreams might be related to the Season 2 episode where Angela was abducted and heard an "ice cream truck."
Now, turn to the episode where we have Elliot driving to a mosque in an "ice cream truck" with a strangely helpful rabbi?
How are Angela and Elliot’s dreams connected?
How are Elliot and Angela having elements of the same dreams?
Your guess is as good as mine, but it reminds me that at one point in her discussion with Angela, ‘whiterose’ mentions that her Mom and Elliot’s Dad were involved in work that would take humans to a higher level. Maybe I am missing something about how they are connected?
Maybe Lucid Dreaming is still a possible theory again?
Notice that when Elliot “visits” Angela (even though it looks nothing like Angela’s place) he talks about the “wishing game” they used to play together where they would both wish for something that they both wanted.”
He mentions that the harder they closed their eyes the stronger the dreams would be and the more likely their dreams were to come true (but he also admits that they never really came true but there was something in the wanting and wishing that was more important than the outcomes).
Anyway, that was impressive and really specific prediction by Mary, congrats on her great detective work (she just told me credit for the ice cream truck is due to Redditor u/Aveyard, kudos).
October 21, 2015
So, after his long journey with Mohammad, Elliot decides that he wants to live again.
As near as I can tell:
* He likes the dreaming more than he likes what happens at the end (see above). Being alive still remains better than the alternative for him.
* “Mohammad” restored his faith that he can still make his ideal Elliot real again. The Elliot that sits with his friends at the big table, secure and happy, capable of being a better person than he has been to date. A person like the aspirational Elliot mask that he has been showing us for years now.
* Trenton automatically emailed her plan to undo 5/9 to Elliot in case she didn’t make it back from Arizona and Elliot sees it. Elliot knows not only that he can now undo 5/9, but that he can also redeem himself and resolve his own guilt about Trenton and Mobley (and everything else) by trying to make everything right (and fix that one mistake that changed the world).
Hope springs eternal.
While there are actually end of the world prophecies that were supposed to happen on October 21, 2015 (in fact, some initiated by nuclear war) the reason Back to the Future Day is on October 21, 205 was because it was projected to be the date when the Cubs could win the world series (which was an important element of the plot (in BTTF 2, Biff gets rich betting on the Cubs winning the World Series).
I guess it is probably important that, during Mohammed and Elliot’s trip to the Alpine Cinema, one of the only lines we hear is Doc saying to Marty:
“Nobody should know too much about their own destiny”
There is some really weird stuff going on here.
A few minutes later, in the ice cream truck, the Rabbi starts listening to War of the Worlds and the Rabbi mentions that:
“The war of the worlds is not about the end of the world, humans actual persevere”
<through sheer dumb luck, as I recall>
Look, I don’t want to beat the same drum again, but if the end of the world is coming, I still believe it is because ‘whiterose’ is going to explode a dirty bomb somewhere triggering a world war between the United States and Iran <that escalates> (Dr, Strangelove).
As I mentioned a few days ago, I think the possibilities at this point are:
1. It’s all a simulation (Elliot/Dorothy wakes up in Kansas with all his friends and family and sits down to a nice dinner - it was all a dream)
2. ‘whiterose’ is taking us Back to the Future and will succeed (less likely now given they showed Back to the Future in a dream)
3. ‘whiterose’ is trying to take us Back to the Future and will fail (a combo of Tyrell, Dom, Price, Elliot, Darlene, and maybe Angela strike back)
4. ‘Whiterose’ is pulling the okey-doke and was duping Angela while really trying to start a war (which is great for profits).
5. Some combination of all of the above.
Politics and Loose Ends
Sad and ironic that this episode aired the same day that the POTUS decided to post a bunch of anecdotal and misleading Muslim hate videos produced by a British hare group by way of his Twitter account today.
As Trenton's Dad says to Elliot:
"This country now blames everything on Muslims"
I imagine most of America's estimated 3.3 million Muslims feel about like Trenton's Dad tonight (being called inherent enemies by the President of the United States).
Of course, this comes only a week after another bizarre tweet where he said: "God bless the victims" of the Egyptian mosque bombing (who were all Muslims) and then suggested their tragedy was a reason the United States needed to ban Muslims.
Also, there is a scene where Mohammed, a Muslim, talks about he is the only person in his family who could be elected President when he grows up. Hearing President Trump's comments today on Twitter is even more heartbreaking in this context.
I think this was the most important single statement that Mr. Robot has made this season (and maybe ever).
The problem with what is happening in our country is that it is foreclosing on the dreams of young American Muslims, Dreamers, immigrants, and people of color.
This isn't just about security, it is about race, place, and who has the right to dream American dreams.
Along the same line of thinking, Mohammad asks Elliot what a Dictator is and Elliot responds "a really bad President"
A little on the nose?
Some other great quotes from 3.7:
When Mohommad begs Elliot to see The Martian and suggests it has a 92% Rotten Tomatoes rating Elliot retorts, "That's because most critics have shitty taste"
I am guessing this episode is Sam telling everyone who hated Season 2 that they have "shitty taste."
Also, Mobley's brother makes the following comment about the press:
"Do you think they just make this shit up now?"
Finally, Doc Brown tells Marty to "take off his shirt" in the Back to the future clip, which is also very similar to one of the things that "Hard Andy" tells him when he is buying drugs.
Okay, that is all the damage I can do tonight.
Linear episodes of Mr. Robot, as messed up and packed with information as they can be, still seem easier to interpret (and perhaps that is the point).
Let me tell you what, tomorrow you can come over and we can smoke up and watch Careful Massacre. Sound good?
It isn't "Lost" on me that there were many hints that could easily be interpreted as all the characters being in a simulation. I am sticking to my guns, but having a bunch of people show up in costume inside Elliot's dream does add some credence to the Simulation folks theories.
Only two weeks left <sigh>