Tales From A Red Wheelbarrow (eps1.91_redwheelbarr0w.txt) Part 16: Hello Friend!
Tales From a Red Wheelbarrow
I have been 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 10th, 11th, and 12th. The name of the book 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 *
June 10th includes two major events.
First, Elliot (Rami Malek) finally sees his therapist Krista (Gloria Reuben). Krista was court appointed originally but their relationship has developed to the point where Elliot clearly cares about her (as much as he can connect and care about someone, which in a sense, is what Red Wheelbarrow is really about).
Elliot suggests that he hadn't asked Krista to meet earlier because he was planning to tell her everything and he didn't want to see the excited look on her face when she finally hears how messed up he really is (which makes a lot of sense to me). Having spent a great deal of time with therapists in my life, there is a part of you that feels exactly like Elliot is describing. Just like you are both afforded agency as a patient and also, at the same time, feel like you are a subject in an ongoing experiment.
Anyway, Elliot really opens the floodgates and tells Krista both about how he is pretending that the jail is his Mother's house and also about his "Mr. Robot problem" for the first time.
After telling Krista about Mr. Robot (Christian Slater), Elliot says something interesting, he says "I don't remember how it all started with HIM." Krista thinks that is not particularly noteworthy, but I would suggest that you hold on to that thought for a few minutes because I think that could be very important and will talk about it again later. Elliot also told Krista about his Father pushing him out of the window as a kid (trauma).
In my experience (which is extensive on this kind of problem, unfortunately) people who have been traumatized and who have thus begun to relate to the world only from behind social masks can become, for lack of a better term, paranoid. Part of why this happens is simple self-protection, once we have been burned by fire (human cruelty) we avoid fire (vulnerability) as if our lives depended on it. In some cases, people even shut down entirely in situations where these confrontations appear inevitable.
Most of Mr. Robots behavior throughout Red Wheelbarrow (and much of the series) is in line with this type of paranoia. It is quite possible, and not entirely irrational, that Mr. Robot believes that letting people like Carla (Eve Lindley) or Krista know the truth could easily end with Elliot on trial for destroying the US Economy (not just for kidnapping a dog). His reaction is a physical manifestation of how people feel when they lash out in fear or from anxiety (he is the fright in flight or fright).
As I mentioned last week, this "fight" between Elliot and Mr. Robot is very similar to a normal but intense internal debate that a person who does not have Dissociative Identity Disorder might have with themselves (only with different faces representing the opposing positions).
In this particular debate, both sides think that they are acting in the best interest of the whole.
The side we know as Elliot thinks that real connection is the only hope for living a healthy and happy life while the side we know as Mr. Robot thinks Elliot is being naive and also believes that Stage 2 is their best hope at revenge.
In other words, it is not really that Mr. Robot has an evil plan that Elliot is trying to thwart, although it often seems this way. It is probably more accurate to say that Elliot Prime has been uncertain and terrified and emotionally falling apart despite the "success" of five/nine. Moving forward is the only way Elliot Prime can finish his mission but finishing his mission could mean that Elliot Prime has a complete breakdown and ends up in a rubber room. We are, in a sense, watching cognitive dissonance in action.
Elliot "hates" Mr. Robot because Mr. Robot's single-minded pursuit of Stage 2 (the only way to finish the mission and avoid prosecution) might leave them locked in a rubber room forever while Mr. Robot hates Elliot because Elliot confounds the mission and could get them both put away in prison forever. The truth is, however, that they are the same divided person unsure of how to proceed and what path to follow.
Become the best and most well-adjusted Elliot possible in order to stop experiencing the onset of a mental breakdown but risk being "found out" or continue on with the plan and risk collapsing from the guilt, stress, and hatred of what it all means about who Elliot really is.
So, what was the second major event?
We have mated with the second season of the show, in other words, Elliot is "Talking" to us again.
Of course, my long time working theory here is that, for some reason, Elliot can only see us when the television season unites us. He stopped trusting us because we left (the season ended) and he is talking to us again because the second season started. For some reason, we both relate to each other through the fourth wall. In particular, I have suggested before that Elliot can "see" us because ultimately, we will be the ones who have to decide what to do about our world.
His struggle is ultimately our struggle.
Gideon and my New Theory of Elliot Sequencing
June 11th is a very short entry with very little detail (Elliot's head hurts from the interview with Krista).
But, June 12th is the scene in Season 2 when Gideon Goddard (Michel Gill) shows up at Mom's house and when Mr. Robot slits his throat which is a good jumping off point for another theory that I have (and presented on Reddit just a few days ago).
If you don't remember the scene, Gideon visits Elliot at his Mom's house (jail) and tells him that the authorities think that he (Allsafe) had something to do with the five/nine hack. He begs Elliot to share whatever he has done or whatever he knows to get Gideon off the hook. As all of this is happening Mr. Robot walks up behind Gideon and slits his throat (delusion).
So, anyway, here is what I posted on Reddit (I apologize in advance, this one is pretty radical):
I would suggest that for the purposes of what is happening in Elliot's life right now you mostly think about just part one (not the Whiterose part).
What I am suggesting is that Elliot is actually the Alter and that Mr. Robot is actually the dominant personality. I am not entirely sure that I am right this time, but I think it is probable.
If you look back to what I said earlier, when Elliot suggests that he doesn't really know when it all started when he was talking to Krista, later he mentions that he first noticed something underneath his consciousness when he was pushed out the window by Edward and again at the infamous Halloween meeting with Darlene (maybe the most exposition-filled scene in the entire series)..
If you look back at the Halloween meeting with Darlene you will see that Elliot almost seems entirely different, frigid, and mechanical. And again, when Darlene talks about Elliot as a leader, "It was him, it was always him" (she is looking like she is seeing someone we really haven't seen for the most part).
I cannot even express how many other times where characters seem stunned by Elliot as nice Elliot (as if they don't entirely know who the empathetic but confused Elliot is). Even Darlene frequently seems more comfortable with Mr. Robot than she is, at times, with Elliot.
In addition, Elliot has the huge memory gaps typical of people with DID, but those would be even more obvious (I suspect) in Alter's (since they are not always present) than it would be in dominant personalities. In fact, and this is the capper for me, Elliot often has to hack Mr. Robot to see what he has been up to (as if Mr. Robot is driving the bus and Elliot has an obstructed view seat).
My feeling is that this Elliot might be the Elliot people really know, the mask, the high-functioning distant Master of fsociety, the dominant personality in Elliot Prime, Mr. Robot.
As Elliot was disintegrating during the first episode of Season 1, while he was on the subway, what had been a mostly unified whole became fractured. It seems very likely to me that both Elliot and Mr. Robot would perceive themselves as "always having been there" and the other personality as the "new" interloper. But, both would have memories of a similar past, but mostly only the parts that they experienced directly. I suspect that the "break" might seem seamless except that now, a new "person" is frequently talking to and with them.
Remember, dissociatives are fragmented personalities. They may have conflicts but they are not conflicts for control as competing points of view from within the same consciousness. When Elliot Prime encounters things that he cannot handle, he dissociates them to the personality traits most likely to be able to process them.
In the past, I believed Elliot Prime couldn't handle trauma and pain and so dissociated those tasks to Mr. Robot while now I am starting to believe that Elliot Prime couldn't handle emotional pain, shame, love, empathy, and anxiety and when he experiences these feelings he dissociates control to "nice Elliot."
Yes, I am saying that Elliot Prime is most frequently involved in behaviors that require Mr. Robot to drive and the emotional consequences of the places where Mr. Robot drives Elliot Prime resulted in the need for the empathetic parts of Elliot Prime's personality to come forward.
I am not even 70% sure that I am right on this theory, but I think it is more than possible (and would explain a lot). The Elliot we know and love is the part of Elliot Prime that is best able to try to heal, love, be empathetic, and connect with other people. This part of Elliot Prime's personality is the part of him best able to address the crushing guilt and sadness screaming from beneath his anger, guilt, shame and desire to connect.
I mention this because I am also starting to think it is possible that Elliot Prime (the entire fractured being including both Mr. Robot and Elliot) dispatched Mr. Robot to find a way to have Gideon dispatched. I kind of hope that I am wrong on this part, Gideon was one of the nicest and least morally compromised characters in the entire cast.
The Elliot we know as Elliot says in Red Wheelbarrow that he wouldn't blame Gideon (if Gideon ratted him out) and that he deserves anything he gets (five/nine guilt). But, Mr. Robot obviously saw Gideon as a threat (slitting his throat).
I might add some more shading to this later, there are more examples of Elliot acting cold and distant but my brain is pretty fried (it is 3 am) and I am getting too tired to communicate the little details.
Odds and Ends
Leon (Joey Bada$$) apparently has sisters, who visit him in the jail. Who knew?
Mr. Robot shot Elliot in the head again and tells him that "Control Is An Illusion" which may indeed be true but Elliot decides to embrace the illusion and puts a bandage on his head to cover the imaginary gunshot wound. Remember, this kind of violence probably actually represents a panic attack with a human face on it.
When Mr. Robot feels anxious about what is going on, it appears as an attack. When Elliot feels anxious, he curls up in a ball and cries. Most likely these are the same feelings experienced from two different parts of the same person (different thing upset the different parts of the person and they react to feelings of anxiety or guilt differently as well).
Okay, that is pretty much it for another deep-dive into Red Wheelbarrow. We are winding down, just a head's up, Red Wheelbarrow ends on June 30th.
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. Missed Part Thirteen? Catch Up Now. Missed Part Fourteen? Catch Up Now. Missed Part Fifteen? 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.