Tales From A Red Wheelbarrow (eps1.91_redwheelbarr0w.txt) Part 4: Mazes, Masks, and Robin Hood

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Tales From a Red Wheelbarrow

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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 May 17th and 18th in the book.

Normally, 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 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

Missed Part One? Catch Up Now. Missed Part Two? Catch Up Now. Missed Part Three Catch Up Now

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

Elliot Alderson, Mazes, and Lucid Dreams

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So, Elliot (Rami Malek) has a dream in which he feels like he is running through a maze but cannot escape, but eventually he starts to float above the maze and notices that from above it looks like a QR code which he decides to draw in the book. 

Yes, it is the infamous Confictura QR Code that leads to the early 90's style website that is "under construction."

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I am just starting to read about lucid dreaming, but Scientific American suggested that the Hollywood version (think  Inception), in which you pick specific dreams to relive is not entirely fantasy, as they put it:

"Techniques to control, or at least influence, our dreams have been shown to work in sleep experiments. We can strategize to dream about a particular subject, solve a problem or end a recurring nightmare. With practice, we can also increase our chances of having a lucid dream, the sort of "dream within a dream" that Inception's characters regularly slip into." 

Being able to choose and thoroughly examine a particular person or place and also to problem solve, as we saw in S2 E11 from Elliot, is also possible.

Thanks to a conversation with a person named X's and O's on Reddit it became clear to me that it makes the most sense to view Elliot's journey to find Tyrell as exactly what he said it was, a lucid dream. 

This means that Mr. Robot went to meet Tyrell (Martin Wallstrom) and that Elliot was able to revisit that experience while the larger Elliot was asleep and they were "both" dreaming together. What we saw was surreal because dreams are surreal. Elliot was experiencing what Mr. Robot did through the lens of "his" dreams.

This also likely explains the surreal experience of Angela's (Portia Doubleday) meeting with Whiterose. It is likely that Angela was kidnapped (or detained) by inconspicuous man and inconspicuous woman and did meet with Whiterose (B.D. Wong), but what we were probably seeing was from inside Angela's dream. There is some reason to believe this was also a lucid dream since Whiterose makes reference to them having unique abilities. 

I won't lie, at first, I kind of blew this off (because I don't believe that Mr. Robot is a Science Fiction series). I just assumed it was more of Whiterose's Red Herrings. But, in retrospect, Sam Esmail rarely wastes dialog.

So, and I could be wrong, I suspect that both Elliot and Angela have, at some point, learned to master the process of lucid dreaming. This might even explain what has allowed Elliot to become such a great hacker in that one of the most famous examples of lucid dreaming was about solving complex problems:

"In 1865 Friedrich August Kekulé woke up from a strange dream: he imagined a snake forming a circle and biting its own tail. Like many organic chemists of the time, Kekulé had been working feverishly to describe the true chemical structure of benzene, a problem that continually eluded understanding. But Kekulé’s dream of a snake swallowing its tail, so the story goes, helped him to accurately realize that benzene’s structure formed a ring. This insight paved the way for a new understanding of organic chemistry and earned Kekulé a title of nobility in Germany."

And just in case you think I am going too far, guess what image Mr. Robot draws as an entry on May 16th at 9:15 a.m.? Yup, a picture of a snake swallowing its tail.

This also potentially explains why Angela repeats the mantras throughout the day, she is trying to be as bold as she was in her dreams (where she can do whatever she wants).  

I am thinking of a few other scenes during Season 2 that might be Lucid Dreams, but more on that in a later post.

I should probably revisit the Confictura site and see if it is still under construction.

Catching Up With Evil Corp

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Not too much here, E-Corp, as we know from Season 2, is trying to reconstitute itself. Elliot finds out, by reading someone's newspaper, that they have a "solution for restoring all the data" from the five/nine hack. 

If you watched Season 2, you know that E-Corp plan for restoring all of its data is the basis of Stage 2 (which Elliot, at this point, doesn't remember). 

One other thing that annoys both Elliot and Mr. Robot is that they gave a name to the hack (five/nine) and that people have started to think of it as a brand.

In particular, Elliot is pretty upset that people might be making money off of five/nine shirts (for which there is a Reddit promoted ad running right now).

And angry that people might start making money off of fsociety masks...like um....the one NBC Universal is selling on Amazon?

Don't get me wrong, I am planning on selling some Mr. Robot themed merchandise too. I just find it ironic that Elliot hates the marketing of the show's iconic images when the show is marketing the shows iconic images.

Anyway, Mr. Robot gets really mad and writes FUCK SOCIETY in big letters then goes on an anti-capitalist rant where he uses his anger to justify all of the people that were affected by the 5/9 hack.

Everything I do, I do it for Darlene?

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So, we also learn that Darlene (Carly Chaikin) is a big Robin Hood Prince of Thieves Fan.

Obviously, given Elliot's own Robin Hood tendencies, he was also probably a fan. 

In the paper, Elliot reads that there are knock-off fsociety's springing up and one of them was called OpLightsOut (which I think is a reference to an operation by the hacker group Anonymous organized around BLM - but, I could be wrong). 

In Elliot's version, this group turns out all of the lights in Times Square except for one LCD screen playing the movie "Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves" which was apparently one of Darlene's favorite movies (partially because she had a thing for Bryan Adams).

He says it sounds like something Darlene would do, which makes sense given that she mostly pulls pranks when she is in charge of fsociety. Darlene admits herself, after Cisco's death that she was never really cut out for being in charge (when she explains that it was always really about Elliot).

* UPDATE - NawDawg just reminded me that it was also a Christian Slater movie (duh, I must have been asleep at the wheel). Can't decide if it would have been funny or too obvious if Esmail had made Elliot say Darlene had a crush on Will Scarlet *

One of my favorite parts of Season 2 was how it humanized Darlene and showed her as a fully complex character capable of violence, regret, honesty, and love. The story that she told about running away from home and staying with the crazy woman she met at Coney Island was incredibly powerful and moving, especially after you saw what life at home was like during the "Word Up Wednesday" episode.

A Few Things About Jail and/or Prison

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So, Elliot grouses a few times about how working in the Kitchen sucks (but is also a great place to learn information and see how prison works) and about working in the laundry (which he hates because of stains in undergarments).

The stuff about the kitchen is 100% accurate and the stuff about the laundry is true, but not entirely accurate. As I mentioned before, laundry man is one of the best jobs inside. Everyone pays to have a laundryman take special care of their stuff. Each laundryman has like 30 people he looks out for (they split up "customers") so that is pretty good bonus pay (buys lots of Ramen and Honeybuns).

In addition, Elliot and Leon spend a good deal of time watching basketball. This is totally true. Basketball, for most inmates, is like the "reality television show" inside of a prison. I know this because I both played and coached basketball inside. During a league game, almost the entire prison population watches (including many of the guards).

I am still a bit sketchy on the character of Ray being the warden. In my experience, wardens never really interact with prisoners. In my entire time inside, I might have only seen a warden once of twice.

He mentions other characters being germophobes in Jail. This is also 100% accurate. The vast majority of the people in the jail's and prison's I have seen were populated almost entirely by germaphobic inmates (if people could clean their cells 5 times a day they most likely would).

Leon could certainly work in the library, and while the prison I was in did not have videos, I have heard that you can watch videos in the libraries of some prisons, so the Mad About You or Seinfeld love would certainly have been possible.

Carla and God

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Elliot has been going to church group meetings, and he really doesn't like that he has to sit in a circle and not happy that people share personal stories. He is very uncomfortable with how brutal much of the stuff the people in the group share. 

This is our introduction to Kevin who we met telling a brutal story about beating up an Indian man working at a convenience store.  He is a nazi and seems to hang out with the Aryan gang in Elliot's jail. 

Elliot is very uncomfortable with the idea that forgiveness comes to anyone who asks and to all people regardless of what they had done. Perhaps Elliot forgot that he has himself let an entire jail go free and unleashed a hack that plunged millions of people into or deeper into poverty.

We also continue to learn about the brutality that poor Carla (ve Lindley) has to bear. One of the main culprits turns out to be a guy named Santos who works in the kitchen with Elliot. Elliot more or less decides that he is going to eventually engage in finding a way to get back at Santos as revenge for Carla.

We also learn that Carla spends a great deal of time in the library reading books then stealing the books and burning them in the red wheelbarrow out on the yard. Elliot does some spying on Carla in the library and finds out that she was currently reading the book "Geek Love (uh oh, who does Carla know who is a geek in prison?)."

Elliot forwards the theory that Carla burns the books so that the relationship she has with that book is never corrupted. Kind of like by burning the book after reading it, she seals her relationship with the author and the characters and ensures nobody else interferes.

Carla is a pretty interesting character. Too bad she is probably confined mostly to Season 2 and this book.

Angela's Letter

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Angela sent Elliot a letter, in the letter she is both worried about him and concerned for him. She tells him that Allsafe is falling apart and that the FBI and Gideon are under intense pressure while everyone who has ever worked there has been questioned (except for Angela and Elliot). 

When reflecting on the letter, Elliot recalls that he grew up wanting to be an FBI officer himself. He also tells a story about memorizing whole series of baseball cards when he was young just so he could figure out which packs would have Mike Piazza cards (because Angela loved Mike Piazza). In the end, Elliot as able to give her 18 Mike Piazza baseball cards.

I read a book about that skill, the trick is creating memory cues in your head for each of the cards usually using a tool like imagining a house then things in the house that represent every card in the deck you are trying to memorize. 

There is also a notation that says "Angela + Evil Corp = ?? which means, I suspect, that she also mentioned in the letter that she was working for E-Corp. 

Wrapping It Up

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This book is a hard read (not just because I am middle aged and the handwritten text is cramped and small). But, I am still having a great time with this.

There is also TON of new Mr. Robot stuff coming from me soon

You can expect:

An eBook of answers to as many Season 2 questions as I have come up with. It should be out in the next month for sure (I am about halfway done).

I am doing a few Teespring campaigns for some Mr. Robot and "Who Is Mr. Robot's Landlord?" themed T-Shirts. If you are into all the little details of the show, you will like the shirts. More information on that very soon.

And, of course, many more Red Wheelbarrow pieces.

Hope you are having as much fun as I am!  You can subscribe using the email signup below or through using Feedburner here.

Well, that is it for this entry, I am trying to do two new posts a week so check back soon.

In other news, the R/ARG people figured out all of the puzzle inserts in the book, some of it was done through some pretty impressive feats of cryptography.

What other parts of the series do you think were Lucid Dreams or Lucid Dreaming?

What's your favorite movie version of Robin Hood (mine is Time  Bandits)?

Let me know what you think, leave a comment! 

Geek Love: A Novel
By Katherine Dunn