Hacking News Like Elliot Hacked Def Con: Predicting Robot (Mr. Robot Season 3)
Predicting Robot: Mr. Robot (USA Network)
Sorry that I didn’t have a post last week, events just got beyond me. I have been really busy with the paid writing (I am a freelance writer) and I have been really engaged deeply in writing on Game of Thrones (I have covered GoT for several years. Anyway, apologies for taking a week off from writing about my favorite show (Mr. Robot obvi).
I am going to use this week to catch up on a bunch of the Mr. Robot news that has been swirling (all while I try and keep my cool over this Joe Arpaio pardon (I used to live in Maricopa County, he is a truly awful human being). If you really want to go deeper (and you probably don’t), I wrote a piece about my history and how it intersected with the story of “Sheriff Joe” last week. For those of you who don’t know my history, or don’t read my Orange Is the New Black recaps, it might be shocking (apologies in advance).
Okay, here is the Mr. Robot news (not many predictions this week but lots of news).
Filming is Over
Today, Carly Chaikin Tweeted the following great news:
So, primary filming likely ended today, all that remains is the editing and press (and maybe some more teasers) before October 11th.
Whoops, I have just gotten some new news, filming ends in 4 days (my bad, turns out Carly was done today but not all filming).
We still have 4 more days but getting close!— Sam Esmail (@samesmail) August 26, 2017
Um, also, a reminder, this means that October 12th will herald the return of “Who’s Mr. Robot’s Landlord?” (my long-running Mr. Robot series of Mr. Robot recaps).
Elliot Kills It At Def Con
Speaking of teasers, Mr. Robot posted another teaser trailer last week:
So, no surprise, Elliot absolutely destroys the Def Con CTF quals in under 3 minutes. But, the trailer still raised some real questions for me.
First, why is Elliot hacking out in the open? It seems obvious that he is trying to cover Tyrell’s tracks (all while competing in the quals). My best guess would be that he chose this location so that he would have an alibi and it wouldn’t be on his own computer. But why would he be drawing attention to himself in the middle of Stage 2?
Second, who is with Darlene? Is it Dark Army or the FBI? I have been wondering for quite a while how Darlene’s “capture” by Dom would play into her investigation of the Dark Army. Would Darlene ever help Dom get to the Dark Army and Tyrell to, in essence, protect herself? I guess we'll find out soon enough.
I have been playing with a few ideas here, what if what happened to Cisco has started to turn Darlene against Elliot, or at least opened the possibility that Darlene starts to actively work against Elliot and with Dom? In a sense, Elliot did leave Darlene on her own dealing with so much stress that she was breaking down in tears at times while Elliot was cooling his heels in the hoosegow.
Would Darlene ever blame what happened to Cisco on Elliot? I am far from convinced, but how else is Dom going to infiltrate Fsociety and the Dark Army? How could Darlene reintegrate safely without being surveilled after being picked up by Dom?
So many questions. Might Darlene want revenge on the Dark Army (she has a motive, they killed Cisco) but still for Elliot? How does Dom ultimately turn Darlene? Thoughts?
Revisit the Highlights of Season 2
The good folks at Mr. Robot released the following seven-minute long recap of Season 2 a few days ago. A ton of Youtube folk have broken it down since.
B.D. Wong Interview With Entertainment Tonight Online
The actor responsible for everyone’s (or at least my) favorite Dark Army leader did an interview with ETOnline last week. There wasn’t that much new information, except that apparently, they didn’t understand that “Whiterose” isn’t the character’s name (it is a password and supposed to be lower-case in homage to old school programmers).
“The actor plays Whiterose, a transgender leader of the Dark Army”
B.D. Wong, did, however, clarify something that he said in an earlier interview about the character represented as password whiterose:
“She’s interfacing in public as a man. It’s not comfortable for her...what he <Sam Esmail> is doing is forcing a discussion about gender politics through the use of this character, meaning that in this male-dominated world, a powerful woman almost has to figure out a way to get what she wants by presenting herself as a man and she herself recognizes that.”
As you may or may not know, I also recap a show on AMC called Halt and Catch Fire, and I was struck by how similar the characters of Donna on HACF and password whiterose have become in some ways. Many fans were wondering during the HACF premiere why Donna was using this dual-sided watch and it seemed incredibly simple to me (she is trying to keep a firm control on the amount of her time other people can have). Also, if you don’t watch Halt and Catch Fire, shame on you, it is one of the best shows on television.
B.D. Wong’s Interview with the Hollywood Reporter
Okay, so Mr. Wong did another interview, this one with the Hollywood Reporter which included a few more interesting revelations.
First, many people have complained about B.D. Wong playing a Trans woman and in the interview, he has his most detailed response to that criticism:
First of all, every trans character on television creates a dialogue about trans people, which is super valuable. We need to get people with the program about what trans people even fucking are. Those of us who embrace trans people, like me, forget that it doesn't come easily for people. Here is a character that, for all intents and purposes — there is a poetry of Sam's utilization of this character as trans — is rather symbolic. What I mean is that he really wants to discuss in a big way on the show the power dynamics associated with gender. There's a great challenge in being a powerful woman in a powerful white man's world. I think that it's part of his choice to make her a person who needs to be gender fluid to get what she wants. There's a lot of things we can discuss that are connected to it. There's also the casting of me in this part, which is not cool to trans people. Like Asians, trans actors don't get a lot of opportunities. There are arguably mitigating factors in this particular role because there is gender fluidity and she has to interface as a man and as a woman.
He also presented this little nugget:
I love everything about her, her conflict and what she's trying to do. She's willing to do a lot of things to achieve what she calls "a greater good." We don't know what that is yet, but the things she is willing to do are pretty dark. This isn't a typical villainess.
It is interesting to speculate about what GOOD and EVIL are to password whiterose. I suppose you could say E-Corp represents the borderless corporation, the FBI represents the Government, Fsociety represents a grassroots kind of anarchism or populism, and the Dark Army represents a more full-blown and developed anarchist group. I suspect the “greater-good” is getting rid of the social structures which force people into boxes like sex, race, and gender?
I would be interested in your theories of what the Dark Army is really up to. We talk so much about password whiterose in the context of her being a Mistress of Time that we often forget to talk about her more terrestrial goals and desires.
One last password whiterose related nugget, one of my Reddit friends MaryinMaryland smartly reminded me that passwords can be used by multiple people, in other words, the person we think of as whiterose might not be whiterose at all (it could be anyone who uses it for its intended purpose.
I made the mistake of assuming it was something the person approaching whiterose used to gain access to the person represented, but it could also represent the person using it not the person trying to access whoever whiterose is. Not sure I explained that as well as she did (but you can read the link above to get a better feel for what she was saying).
Tod Campbell Interview
Last but not least, Emmy nominated Mr. Robot Cinematographer Tod Campbell did an interesting interview with Deadline Hollywood this week. He talks about the use of quadrant framing as a technique for creating a visceral feeling of insecurity:
“In this story, you put him down in the corner of the frame so it feels like he can’t escape. It’s the way he feels in his head so it really worked. In Season 1, this headroom and type of composition really started to work, and the more we did it, we were like, “God, this is such a great tool. We’re constantly feeling like the floor’s undulating beneath him.” We had a point of view, we went with it, and luckily it paid off.”
And this detail was pretty interesting to me (visually reinforcing the themes of the show even in how shots are framed):
I love the high-angle stuff. Sometimes, we don’t shoot standard masters; when you do a bird’s eye view, it gives you a sense of geography. When we scout for a bird’s eye view shot, we’re looking for lines that would loosely emulate the lines that you see on a microchip.
And this about the use of lighting:
“I tried to approach that side of it through the lighting. A lot of times, I tried to put Elliot where he’s only in half-light, so there’s always a little mystery in there. This is a very dark show, story-wise, so I try to make it a very dark show, visually. I try to make dark spaces so you can’t read every detail of every room, trying to light only the things that we need to see in that moment. That’s the general gist, going for that dread and uneasiness. We have these rules in place for close-ups, and with the lighting, I try to take it to another layer of tonality for the story.”
And this incredible discussion of the amazing and sad scene when Cisco gets killed:
“In that scene with Darlene where they’re having dinner and Cisco gets shot, we set the camera up and we just said, “Okay, we’re going to set up this tableau, and we’re going to let everything happen inside it. We’re not going to cut to anything, we’re not going to move the camera. We’re just going to set it here and block to the lens, essentially.” We blocked off Sixth Avenue on a Sunday night. Once Grace [Gummer] comes in, we were like, Okay, this should be a oner. Let’s just have him get shot up in a oner, her come outside—the motorcycles, the cops—and let’s just play it in a oner. That’s one of the things Sam loves to do. There’s times when we’ll shoot scenes like that where it’s a major action sequence that we’ll do in a oner, and we’ll do 15 takes of it.”
How cool is it that they were willing to take 15 takes just to make sure the sequence happened seamlessly in one take. Very cool.
He also discusses the filming of the Word Up Wednesday episode, the entire interview is well worth your while.
Okay, Game of Thrones is over in two days, so hopefully, I can devote my entire brain to another major thought piece on Mr. Robot next week (fingers crossed).