Bug Eyes: Who Is Mr. Robot’s Landlord? Eps3.3metadata.par2
Who Is Mr. Robot's Landlord?
Lots of intrigues and double-dealing on Mr. Robot this week but ultimately Eps3.3metadata.par2 was really about Darlene Alderson.
In case you missed “Who Is Mr. Robot’s Landlord?” last week here is my recap of Eps3.2legacy.so
If you have not watched every episode of Mr. Robot or read Red Wheelbarrow this could contain spoilers *Spoiler Alert*
Is This Strange Irony Overwhelming Me?
Is Mr. Robot selling its own message out?
One of the oddest themes of Season 3 so far has been the series of real advertisements for items like Funko’s, E-Coin, and Amazon’s Alexa.
<by the way, I 100% believe Dom was talking about her relationship with ‘Alexa’ when she told Darlene that she was on and off with someone but they weren’t the one..and yes, for anyone who watches South Park, this fact totally connects Dom with Cartman>
I got into it a little too earnestly with someone on Reddit who was criticizing Mr. Robot as a television version of what he was suggesting was the television version of a Che T-Shirt (Capitalism eating anti-capitalist iconography alive). My argument, as it has been for over two years now, was that Mr. Robot is NOT and never has been an anti-capitalist show.
Mr. Robot is a show about a complex and troubled person (Elliot) trying desperately to justify his own bad behavior (to recategorize his revenge as heroism).
I have gotten blasted for this take for years, but it was mostly confirmed tonight (Don’t worry, it won’t all be bragging, metadata.par2 disproved one of my recent theories too).
After asking why Elliot didn’t just turn the Dark Army into the FBI (like he did the guy in the coffee shop S1 E1, Ray in S2, and half of his co-workers in S3)) Darlene said: “You don’t blow up buildings, you don’t hurt people.”
“There's something inside me that can't let go of what we started.”
Elliot was always behind the 5/9 hack and he did it because he wants revenge on E-Corp for causing the death of his father and for his rage towards his father which manifests itself in Mr. Robot.
The problem caused by Season 2 wasn’t that Elliot wasn’t responsible, it was that the bullshit he was trying to sell himself wasn’t working anymore.
In the past, Mr. Robot didn’t really have to worry about Elliot because no matter how much Elliot kicked and screamed, deep down, they were always on the same page.
But then Shayla happened, then Ray happened, and then one he was paroled Elliot could no longer ignore the massive collateral damage from 5/9 stacked like cordwood all around him.
Mr. Robot was Elliot’s plausible deniability and anti-capitalism was Elliot’s political cover but both were mostly self-delusion because Elliot always wanted to make E-Corp pay and he always secretly enjoyed working out his rage hiding behind his fathers face inside his own noggin.
But then he and Mr. Robot negotiated the new handshake and with Elliot starting to grow a conscience he started to see the things he wasn’t allowed to see before and found out that initiating Stage 2 required sacrificing innocents as collateral damage.
That casual indifference to killing was a bridge too far for the ascendant Elliot and a sign that he needed to fight back.
As I said at the time last year, the scenes where you see “glitching” between Elliot and Mr. Robot didn’t mean something was wrong, it meant that the firewall between the two personalities was weakened (It really meant that the good in Elliot is stronger than the rage inciting Mr. Robot).
Anyway, People were so invested in the idea that Mr. Robot was a show about a righteous hacker going after an evil corporation that they would actually get mad at me for suggesting that the show might not be what they thought it was.
The other part of my critique of the conventional reading of Season One is that Mr. Robot was not really about anti-capitalism as much as it was about ethics.
As I have said many times before:
Mr. Robot is a show about the ethics of individuals, governments, sub-national organizations, and resistance.
It is a show about HOW we should engage in struggles for political and social change before it is about what those struggles should be about.
I believe that Sam Esmail is using Elliot as a stand-in for us (which is why we are Elliot’s friends) and that the show is a walkthrough for the actual situation we find ourselves in out here in the ‘real world;.
Our world is falling apart at the exact time we seem least able to handle it (we are talented but depressed, politically naive, and socially awkward).
So okay, Mea Culpa, I was wrong about my piece last week where I suggested that Mr. Robot might have wanted Elliot to move the data back to the 71 facilities. It turns out Tyrell and Mr. Robot were both pissed that Elliot had hacked Stage 2.
I also thought it was a bit odd that they got angry at Angela, it was only because Angela got Elliot a job at E-Corp that any of them became aware of Elliot’s hack of Stage 2 in the first place (and it seems likely he could have found another way into E-Corp’s servers etc.).
The Future Begins Tomorrow?
Should probably talk a little about the conversation between Irving and Angela.
Irving is confirming that the time-travel or parallel universe plot is still in play by confirming that in today’s technological world, where even digitally-designed fake beef can taste delicious, particle accelerators can create magic.
Probably important to remember that this ONLY means that ‘whiterose’ will be TRYING to go back in time or visit a parallel universe, it doesn’t mean she will succeed.
I fully expect the show to continue to traffic in possible radical futures but actually visit none of them.
Angela also talks to Phillip Price about firing Elliot and locking him out of all the E-Corp systems (as if that could stop Elliot from hacking E-Corp). What Angela doesn’t know is that ‘whiterose’ tipped Phillip Price off about his capture of Angela so I fully expect Price to figure out a way to make it seem like he has locked Elliot out while secretly finding a way to use this whole event to his own advantage.
It would make no sense for Price to fully play along given the current terrible state of relations between him and ‘whiterose.’
And the Fake Fsociety Is?
Okay, I was also right that "Fake Fsociety" was a Dark Army front but I was wrong in assuming it was being put on by Leon, Trenton, and Mobley (wishful thinking on my part, most likely).
The Dark Army is setting up the fake “Fsociety” as a Middle Eastern or Islamic terrorist splinter group for after Stage 2 (They led Dom and her team to a person named Mr. Norri this week and last week they left hints that Iran was behind Tyrell’s hijinks).
Tyrell is also being set up for a toe tag by the Dark Army here as well (Irving straight up lies to Tyrell about his wife and kid which suggests that Tyrell himself was needed now but is NEVER supposed to survive Stage and most likely neither is Elliot).
The Dark Army is planning to leave no live ties to them ad plenty of dead and false leads for the authorities to offer up to the public for that necessary feeling that while a tragedy happened, in the end, everything makes sense (including retribution against the necessary Middle Eastern patsies most likely).
The only thing that isn’t clear to me is why Elliot, Mr. Robot, and Tyrell haven’t figured out that there is no percentage in the Dark Army leaving them alive if Stage 2 works (especially given what Tyrell has learned, for instance, about the Dark Army and its operations).
So, yes, I am calling that the Dark Army is planning to get rid of the remaining members of team Elliot at the end of Stage 2 (including Tyrell, Elliot, and Angela). I would include Darlene but the DA knows she has been compromised and is working with the FBI. Decent chance they plan to leave her alone.
In fairness, I was kind of grumpy to see that Mr. Robot wasn’t using Elliot’s plan (which he should have known about from the end of Season 2 when Elliot told him what it was before Tyrell shot him).
I ruminated about this for a long time and have come to the following conclusion, Mr. Robot seems more explosive, less in control, and less effective this season precisely because Elliot has been winning their internal battle.
If Elliot could rid himself of the hate dream of taking down E-Corp, he could reintegrate and finally put an end to the battle.
Of course, Elliot can. The battle (and Mr. Robot) only exist because of his anger at his Father and E-Corp, if he can resolve that anger, Mr. Robot has no power.
Unfortunately, Elliot just can’t seem to let go of the dream of what “he started.”
Tonight’s episode was Really about Darlene Alderson
Eps3.3metadata.par2 was as much about Darlene as Eps3.2legacy.so was about Tyrell Wellick.
Basically, Darlene wrestled with one question throughout metadata.par2 and that question was (as The Clash put it so eloquently many years ago):
“Should I stay or should I go?
Darlene is making her own peace with not being able to have Elliot’s back and with her certainty that if she goes all-in on trying to survive it likely means that her brother cannot survive.
Elliot doesn’t seem to notice it much at the time, but this was why Darlene made the "Vengence Pact" with him as they walked down the streets of New York City talking about his (not so great) plan to have her follow him as Mr. Robot to find out where the Dark Army resides (his lucid dreaming hack into Mr/ Robot’s consciousness made much more sense during Season 2).
When Darlene tells the pickpocket on the subway that she IS an actual murderer and at least partially to blame for the collateral damage of the 5/9 hack she wasn’t bragging, she was trying to convince herself that she is still capable of being ruthless enough to play both sides and protect Elliot but, as we see later, her heart isn’t really in it.
She was trying to convince herself that she could still drum up the energy and hatred enough to kill if she needed to but, as we find out later, she failed.
Darlene’s heart is lost in the dream of Budapest for only $699. She is haunted by a body in a pool, the collateral damage all around her, and the dead body of her beloved Cisco.
Darlene was an abused child, suffers from debilitating panic attacks, and who learned in no uncertain terms during her leadership of Fsociety and during the hackathon that she has no desire to be in charge, come up with strategies, or to protect Elliot from the Dark Army off of the FBI.
She no longer sees a way to protect Elliot, she is pretty sure neither of them will survive, and she can’t even figure out how to follow a cab anymore (although she did an amazing job of using Mr. Robot to cover for her exposed trace on Elliot’s computer...even though if Elliot was thinking at all, it really didn’t make any sense to bug the computer simply because she doesn’t trust Mr. Robot).
What we really learned was that Darlene has no urge to help Elliot with Stage 2 (isn’t okay with killing more people) or put herself between his desire to complete Stage 2 and her compromised position with the FBI.
In metadata.par2, Darlene Alderson is playing the part of Pontious Pilate. She is washing her hands of responsibility for backing Elliot’s decisions.
In metadata par2, Darlene Alderson is saying goodbye to the illusion that she can continue to effectively put her body between Elliot and his fate.
The "Vengence Pact" sounded like making sure Elliot would avenge her, but it was really her admitting surrender (that she might be able to get revenge for Elliot but that her heart was just not in trying to protect him anymore.
She couldn’t even figure out how to follow a cab anymore.
Elliot used and uses metadata to discover who people are and this episode exposed Darlene’s metadata so that we know who she is now.
As the late great Elliot Smith put it (in the song playing while Darlene placed her family photo on Elliot’s mantle as the show closes)
Someone found the future as a statue, at attention, in a pool of water
Wishes with a blue songbird on his shoulder
Who keeps singing over everything
Everything means nothing to me
It means something to her somewhere, but she just can’t make it matter enough anymore.
Did anyone else notice that the Season 3 logos have a bit of the color from the pool where Darlene killed Susan Jacobs in them?
See you next week (and did anyone catch the Fight Club reference?)