Tales From A Red Wheelbarrow (eps1.91_redwheelbarr0w.txt) Part 11: Paranoia

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Tales From a Red Wheelbarrow

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I am writing this Mr. Robot piece while I listen to Cherry Red's new Punk Anniversary Compilation Box Set, it really could not be much better. Here, I will share the wealth (A great primer on early UK punk). Maybe listening to the same thing while you read that I listened to while I wrote will create some odd synchronous experience (this is just the songs from the box set that were available on Spotify).

Anyway,  I am doing a deep dive into the book Red Wheelbarrow by Sam Esmail and Courtney Looney, which was released recently. Today I am covering the entries for May 31st and June 1st. The name of the books is a reference to the William Carlos Williams poem "The Red Wheelbarrow," and I suspect the book is an attempt to hack tv through literature.

It would be insane for me not to pimp my Best of 2016 Albums list because I worked on it all year long HERE is a link to the complete 45 album list.

Also, pretty proud of this new theory I put out last week about the meeting between Angela Moss and Whiterose in Season 2. You can check it out HERE.

If you have not seen Seasons 1 and 2 of Mr. Robot, and are not reading Red Wheelbarrow, it is possible that there will be spoilers * Spoiler Alert *

The End Of Carla's Rope Had A Jerk On It

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Elliot Alderson (Rami Malek) and Carla (Eve Lindley) have been growing closer and closer over the last several days of jail time represented in the diary.

It is very accurate for the show to suggest that the people who are most successful in jail or prison tend to find themselves a small  group of people they hang with and from then on they stay in that lane. You are polite and respectful to everyone, but you only really hang out with a few people and you keep your head down.

I myself knew pretty much everyone, but I only hung out with about five people on any regular basis. I didn't find them quickly, I didn't try to find them at all, but eventually you find some people you get along with.

Not that Elliot has done a particularly good job of staying in his lane and keeping his head down but having only a few "normal friends" is pretty typical.

Eventually, Carla and Elliot get around to Hollywood's favorite "con game" having the characters ask each other "what they were in for."

Again, speaking from experience, the only people who ask you what you are "in for" are usually deciding whether they are going to extort you or not, your "friends" probably will never ask. Truth is, in most states, everyone who wants to know what you did will find out by calling someone on the outside and having them look you up in the state's public database of prisoners (this is called "running someone's tag").

Anyway, Carla asks Elliot and he replies that he is in for "hacking" and, of course, Carla asks if it was related to five/nine and, of course, Elliot says no.

Before Carla can press him any further, Elliot turns it around and asks Carla why she is in jail and to my surprise, Carla tells him the story. In short, a guy harassed her at a bar about being Transgendered and Carla tried to avoid him to no avail. Finally, later in the evening, the guy physically starts trying to grope her which is the last straw.

Carla walks out of the club, walks up to his sports car (she saw him pull up in it earlier in the evening) tears off a piece of her skirt, threads it into the gas tank, and lights it on fire. So, the sports car explodes, and when it does, it takes all the other cars parked next to it up as well. By this time, everyone in the club comes outside and the harassing guy fingers Carla to the cops.

Hot Carla indeed.

One thing you absolutely learn in prison is that many of the people you meet have what seems like a built in weakness (like a short fuse or an inability to handle stress productively). Many of the people that I met seemed to have had no idea they were capable of what they ultimately did until a line had been crossed and they just lost it. Don't get me wrong, there are plenty of life-long criminals but also a ton of bewildered folks too.

Apparently, Carla had reached her uncrossable line.

In the book, she mentions how much she enjoyed that day and Elliot says that her face lit up (no pun intended I suspect) as she told the story. So, Carla is also one of those people I mentioned who has a weakness (or blind spot) about her pyromania.

Elliot tried to ask a few more questions of Carla but it becomes apparent that Carla is getting pretty frustrated with opening up to Elliot but receiving no trust from him in return. As Elliot later mentions, he tends to be a one-way street of information.

Paranoia Will Destroy You

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The next time Elliot and Carla spend time together, her frustration with him is starting to be palpable. Ultimately, she gets so frustrated with his lack of reciprocation in regards to sharing that she decides to take it out on him by stealing his notebook and going back into hiding.

But Elliot and Mr. Robot respond with anger and .paranoia instead of patience or understanding. I can certainly understand this because Elliot has written a ton of incriminating information in the notebook and it shares more about him than he normally lets anyone else see.

This is one of the only times we see Mr. Robot (Christian Slater) and Elliot working together and it ends in a pretty rotten place, with them telling a Correctional Officer (CO) that they are afraid that Carla might be trying to hurt herself (code for suicide).

Let me try to explain how f'd up this is. It violates pretty much every rule of jail or prison life. You are expected by other inmates to deal with whatever happens in jail or prison yourself. People are NOT supposed to go to the CO's. In addition, snitching is considered a HUGE problem and people inside take it very seriously. 

Last but not least, the end result of telling a CO someone is contemplating suicide often means that the person in question gets put in "the hole" on suicide watch. Being in "the hole" or "segregation" means that you have no contact with anyone else and are only allowed out of your cell for an hour a day. Being on suicide watch can be even worse, you are totally isolated but monitored 24/7 by cameras (and sometimes the cell has glass walls.

When I was first put in jail, I answered some of the entry questions wrong and got put on suicide watch for about two days. Suffice it to say, I never ever want to go back to living 23 hours a day all alone in a panopticon designed plexiglass box.  

It may not seem like Elliot is doing something too bad here, but everyone would stop trusting him and most people would start thinking that he was a snitch and talking about his mistake with other people on the yard. Many people would be pissed he got someone locked up and if Carla had any other friends they might start gunning for Elliot.

You are totally expected to deal with your own problems inside. Nobody goes to the CO's unless they think they will die if they don't.

I know that probably sounds insane, but jail and prison are insane places to live (and the food really sucks too, avoid jail or prison if you can).

Somehow, magically, Carla talks her way out of trouble with the CO's (which is highly unlikely because they would be held liable if she tried to take her life) and finds Elliot and takes him to the library (which is often pronounced "liberry" in jail or prison, even by the staff and by official personnel, I sometimes wanted to ask for a glass of "liberry juice"). 

Once they are in the library, Carla takes him to a book on Electromagnetic Field Theory and opens it and "presto" there is Elliot's diary. 

Later, in another great moment of reflexivity, Elliot says:

"I realized that the way she [Carla] felt thinking I was writing stuff about her was the same way I was feeling about her reading what I was writing about myself."

And he follows it up by saying something even more insightful, that he is often afraid that:

"Once someone knows me, will they still want to know me."

As a person who has suffered from depression, panic disorder, and addiction this is very familiar territory for me. I never let anyone in because if they saw the "real" me I believed deeply they would reject me. 

Since finding recovery and meeting hundreds (maybe thousands) of people who struggle with the same issues, I have found out that this is a pretty common problem and a pretty tough one to crack.

Why so tough?

Well, if you believe nobody will ever love you back, that something is so flawed about you that if anyone ever saw the whole you and that you could never be loved, you never dare let anyone in. It becomes, to quote Al Gore, a lockbox (without a key).

Even in a crowd, or surrounded by your "friends," you are always totally alone living inside the socially-acceptable masks you create and wear in order to keep a safe distance between your "true self" and the people you are so terrified of.

As I have mentioned before, I wrote a book about addiction, and in doing the research I found out that this particular problem usually originates in trauma during childhood (which is also usually a significant factor in Dissociative Identity, Depression, and Anxiety). So, this all goes back to Elliot's abuse at the hands of his Mother and his abuse and betrayal by his father Edward. 

I won't lie, I feel even more empathy towards Elliot after reading this, and I am glad hat Sam Esmail is letting him work through his problems in a way that suggests real progress will eventually possible. I know that Esmail has suggested that next season will be one of "Disintegration" but I hope at the end, Elliot finds that table full of his remaining friends he dreamed about.

I do believe the answer is in finally finding ways to open yourself to other people, which is exactly what Elliot is starting to do (in baby steps). Regardless of what you think about Elliot's actual endgame, I am virtually 100% certain his attempt to take down E-Corp is much more about his complicated rage about his father's death than it is about "saving the world."

It is very normal for people like me or like Elliot to make up elaborate stories justifying our behaviors. The terrible truth is that we become very invested in these stories and they allow us to fall deeper and deeper down our personal rabbit holes.

I am not saying that E-Corp doesn't deserve to be totally destroyed. I am saying that, if he admits it or not, this is more about revenge for Elliot than it is about justice.

Sam Esmail very specifically showed the collateral damage caused by the five/nine hack throughout Season two and I suspect it was for this reason. Nobody on this show has totally clean hands.

Oh, and Leon is done with "Mad About you" and has started to watch "Seinfeld." Elliot makes reference to Art Vandelay who was a fictional character that George Costanza (Jason Alexander) created and uses as a reference to gain employment (see above about masks). 

Of course, the more conspiratorial readers will likely see something bigger afoot in that reference (and they could be right...who knows).

Wrapping Up

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Anyway, that is the end of Part 11.

Normally, during the season, I write a recap of Mr. Robot called “Who Is Mr. Robot's Landlord.” I also recap Black MirrorGame of ThronesHalt and Catch FireThe FlashBetter Call Saul, and put out new Spotify playlists every Tuesday (among other music content).

If you are not familiar with my writing on Mr. Robot, check out The complete #OPS Guide to Season 2 of #MrRobot. Mr. Robot tries to hack tv and I try to hack Mr. Robot.

And if you need to catch up on this series:

Missed Part One? Catch Up Now. Missed Part Two? Catch Up Now. Missed Part Three? Catch Up Now. Missed Part Four? Catch Up Now. Missed Part Five? Catch Up Now. Missed Part Six? Catch Up Now. Missed Part Seven? Catch Up Now. Missed Part Eight? Catch Up Now. Missed Part Nine? Catch Up Now. Missed Part Ten? Catch Up Now.

Don't forget, my Mr. Robot eBook is coming soon too.

Thanks for reading! The next two days in Red Wheelbarrow introduce some of what we see at the beginning of Season 2 so tune-in at the end of the week for more.

What do you think about the relationship between Carla and Elliot?

What do you think about Elliot name dropping Art Vandelay?

Let me know what you think, leave a comment!