Tales From A Red Wheelbarrow (eps1.91_redwheelbarr0w.txt) Part 13: The Merge
Tales From a Red Wheelbarrow (Mr. Robot)
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 June 4th and 5th. 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.
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 *
Perception Vs. Reality
The above quote is from Leo Tolstoy's novel "Resurrection," a book that, in the timeline of Red Wheelbarrow, currently resides on Elliot's desk in Jail.
The quote points to the true dilemma that Elliot (Rami Malek) faces:
The battle between E2 and Mr. Robot is not (no matter how much he protests) a battle for supremacy or existence, it is an internal battle over life-strategy.
Will E-Prime become a "Spiritual Man" or will E-Prime become an animal man?
For most of us, we carry out this ongoing battle with our own internal voices (representing our disparate desires) on the inside of our heads. Elliot sees his internal voice/s. Elliot has put the face and voice of his dead Father (Edward Alderson) on the "personality" defending his own Animal Man.
Will E-Prime re-engage in the kinds of behaviors that hurt E-Corp but left millions of people broke and without the means to continue (Saving the World) or will he start trying to authentically connect with people and make progress towards a life where everyone he cares about can exist together and celebrate whatever world they have?
Will E-Prime take out his rage and focus his narcissism on E-Corp (Save the World) or will he focus on connection, intimacy, and mental health (Save Himself)?
In an earlier passage in Red Wheelbarrow, Elliot sees himself trapped in a space both with his friends but also somehow unable to authentically interact with them. During Season 2, Elliot imagines a utopia where he can enjoy a meal in peace and in joyous connection with everyone that he cares about. These are the dreams of the Spiritual Man Elliot Alderson (E2), and Five/Nine and Stage Two are the progeny of the Animal Man Elliot Alderson (represented in arguments by Mr. Robot).
To date, E2 has tried boring Mr. Robot to death, using regimentation to get rid of him, using Adderall to get rid of him, inducing violence to get rid of him, heck even playing chess to get rid of him, and now, as June 4th gets underway in the diary, he is trying anger now (yes, I realize I was jumping around a bit in the timeline there...apologies).
This is a stunning, and ironic, example of Elliot's narcissism in action.
Anger is what really started this whole ball rolling.
Anger is at the core of the Five/Nine hack and is really at the core of the entire plan to take down E-Corp. "Save the World" is the happy face Elliot puts on the mask of what was really an attempt to avenge his Father's death.
Unresolved anger is at the core of why he fetishizes his Father's death despite never truly addressing or resolving his incredible rage towards Edward (for looking the other way while Darlene was abused and for pushing him out a window).
Unresolved anger IS part of why Mr. Robot (Christian Slater) exists. On the one hand, Mr. Robot exists to do the "wet work" for Elliot (and to take the beatings) but on the other hand, Mr. Robot represents Elliot's animal man (his reservoir of unresolved fury).
So, Elliot sits in the cafeteria staring at Santos, trying to communicate his hatred right through Santos' being. This seems like an attempt at almost Hitlerian "Triumph of the Will" in which the so-called "Hero" can make anything happen simply through the assertion of superior (and correct) willpower. Through applying his anger with focus, Elliot believes that he will destroy Santos and Mr. Robot ("It is the only way out of this," he says).
But anger doesn't get rid of Mr. Robot, and how could it?
Perception = Elliot and Mr. Robot are in a fight over the Elliot body
Reality = Elliot is ethically conflicted about if he should continue his "work" or work on his mental health.
Anyway, one of Santos goons (or, Mr. Robot) "comes up behind" Elliot working in the latrines and pushes his head into the toilet (which Elliot says is still full of poo, very unlikely, people in jail take bathroom etiquette very seriously and almost everyone in jail or prison is a germaphobe...In other words, people like to have clean bathrooms and almost always flush).
And while we are speaking of unlikely Jail occurrences...
Reynaldo The Rat, Meet Elliot
I love Sam Esmail, I love virtually everything that they have written, and I have defended the show a lot over the last two years, but this next part, as a formerly incarcerated person, just doesn't work for me.
So, Elliot Alderson, someone who everyone "in the know" considers to be a strategic genius, came up with the following plan to "Get Santos."
Elliot slipped an anonymous note to Lone-Star (Michael Maize) (One of Ray's Correctional Officers) saying that "serious drug deals were going down in the bathroom."
Yes, there are "rats" in jails and in prisons, but not smart ones and it is a job with almost no shelf-life. Yes, there are people who "work" for or are "captured" by the CO's, but it sentences you to a social death (and possibly to a real one).
I get that Elliot sent an anonymous note, and that "Lone-Star" searches everyone (including Elliot) in the bathroom when Santos gets hit with drugs and the cell phone but it is FAR too obvious, Elliot spent all of the breakfast period staring a hole through Santos and everyone would know about the ongoing battle between them.
Mr. Robot chimes in here saying that Santos will be gunning for him and will certainly know it was him (no duh).
But, here is the thing, where everyone (outside of Santos crew) might have remained agnostic before the search after the search happened, EVERYONE and I mean everyone would side with Santos now.
I don't care how badass Leon (Joey Bada$$) was as a protector, Elliot would be in serious trouble.
You are expected to handle your own business in jails and prisons and you are never, absolutely never, supposed to go to the CO's.
People do, usually when their lives are at risk, but even then they wouldn't "rat" the offenders out (usually, if you know that your life is at risk you ask to be moved to segregation but you don't rat out the people gunning for you).
Because eventually, when you come out of segregation, you will be moved to a different jail or prison, and the "news" travels. If you ratted someone out at one jail or prison, people will find out at other jails or prisons (especially if the person ratted out was in a gang - which Santos appears to be).
By using telephones.
Someone at the new jail calls a gang member (or friend) on the outside (on their phone list) and asks them to find out what they can about a transferred inmate (and will then give them a prisoner number and name, sometimes using a kind of code and sometimes using mail and phone combined etc.).
In my opinion, in a real jail or prison, this would be a colossally stupid move.
One other dead horse to beat, as I mentioned above, Elliot keeps repeating that the bathrooms are full of "shit stains" which is just not what I experienced (and I cleaned bathrooms in prison for two years). People in jails and prisons are almost all germaphobes and take cleaning very seriously.
Everyone is also terrified of MRSA outbreaks.
Truth be told, appearance is often important to inmates too, I knew inmates that spent hours cleaning and ironing their prison blues (or oranges as the case may be). Virtually everyone pays their laundryman to take extra care of their clothing too.
You can actually get beaten up for being dirty in jail and prison (or at least shunned). Cleaning of cells or cubes happens every week (often every day). Every unit has several independent barbers who help inmates keep their hair maintained (in addition to the official barber shop where you can get your hair cut once a month).
Jail is a god-forsaken place, but inmates care about bathrooms, clothes, and appearance.
I was in two jails, four prisons (you get moved around a lot) and I never saw anyone make a mess in a bathroom more than once (someone would talk to you). Hell, you can get in trouble for not courtesy-flushing, much less for leaving a mess in a toilet.
Okay, enough of that, I am not saying all jails are identical, maybe this particular jail has a different history? But I do know one thing, you don't rat people out if you want to stay healthy. It may suck, but it is a universal rule everywhere I went.
Outside of the walls, this might seem like great behavior, inside this could literally have been a death sentence for E. Just saying.
Just Say NO...To Robots
So, here is where we see the first reference to the TGIF shows that were nodded to in the S2 "Word Up Wednesday" episode. Elliot says that one of the ways he keeps his mind free of Mr. Robot and of the nasty work he has to do in the bathrooms (sigh) is to repeat:
Step By Step Through The Family Matters Of A Full House Of Perfect Strangers.
Nice (even Balki Bartokomous would likely approve).
Mr. Robot shows up and says that Elliot's word games won't work that he was not responsible for the swirly, and continues to promise that he is there for Elliot (which is, in a sense, true).
Elliot says that he is tired of the Manson "love-hate, push-and-pull mind games."
Carla, after the fact, chimes in suggesting that Mr. Robot uses those tactics because they work.
But, it is still my opinion that Elliot is experiencing when Mr. Robot shoots or attacks him is the same anxiety, shame, guilt, apprehension, fear, and anger we all experience when we have done the things that we know are wrong or the insistent pain that any addict feels when they try to deny themselves their chosen substance or behavior.
The only difference? Elliot put a face on his "animal man."
Okay, June 6th is the day when Red Wheelbarrow and Mr. Robot S2 intersect. We are starting to turn the corner towards the end of our Red Wheelbarrow adventure (friends).
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 Mirror, Game of Thrones, Halt and Catch Fire, The Flash, Better 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. Missed Part Eleven? Catch Up Now. Missed Part Twelve? Catch Up Now.
Don't forget, my Mr. Robot eBook is coming soon too.