Tales From A Red Wheelbarrow (eps1.91_redwheelbarr0w.txt) Part 7: A Come to Jesus Moment
Tales From a Red Wheelbarrow
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 23rd and 24th.
Normally, 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.
I would also like to give a shoutout to all the people on the r/ARGSociety subreddit. There are two ends of decoding Red Wheelbarrow (text and cryptography) and they are doing an amazing job of the latter. They have solved all the inserts, the multiplication table, the Kanji, and are now working on the password for the Confictura website. Amazing work!
If you have not seen Seasons 1 and 2 of Mr. Robot, it is possible that there will be spoilers * Spoiler Alert *
One Consequential Church Group Meeting
I am going a bit out of order to start, but the May 23rd 10:23 p.m. entry is one of the best sections in the entire book so far.
At the church meeting, an inmate named Lyle spent the entire meeting literally crying about how the five/nine hack means that Armaggedon is on deck and that everybody is doomed (more on the crying part later).
Kevin (Sean Allen Krill), everybody's least favorite white supremacist, tries to talk Lyle down by telling him it is all a scam like Columbine and 9/11. He also intimates that he is a fan of Frank Cody (Erik Jensen). You may remember Cody from television clips throughout the series, he is the Alex Jones (Infowars) type character.
In other words, as Elliot (Rami Malek) puts it, Kevin, in addition to being a racist a-hole, is also a 9/11 truther.
Then Elliot writes this (tell me who else you think this might apply to...and remember, this was written well in advance of November 8, 2016):
"That's always the way about truthers. Their theories don't ever seem to add up. It's all about looping in angry jargon and concocting an elaborately ridiculous story to distract you from the fact that there's nothing at all to their argument. That their main goal is probably just fame and money, and propaganda is just their form of entertainment."
That is pretty prescient, and again, right in line with what I think was unquestionably the truth, that our President-Elect never in a million years thought that he would win. His main goal was not serving the American people, it was launching his network. The look on his face watching results and later when talking to President Obama seemed to be a tell.
Mr. Robot ----> South Park -----> Black Mirror....all, unsurprisingly, talking about many of the same things this season.
Anyway, that is not all. Mr. Robot (Christian Slater) jumps in and sarcastically responds to Kevin's theories out loud, he says:
"C'mon Lyle! There's not a single bit of truth to this data encryption mumbo jumbo! They don't even keep those records on computers. Computers were just created to sell to us so they could spy on our every move. In fact, that's why they even convinced Jobs to name his company Apple -- to represent the tainted fruit the snake lured Eve into committing original sin with. Get it? It 'opened her eyes' just like using an apple computer opened their eyes into all your business!! It's just so obvious!!"
Now that is a pretty awesome conspiracy theory rant.
But the truly amazing part is what Elliot says next:
"He went on and on, spinning it into a nonsensical diatribe. But...after a while, I realized that it wasn't HIM talking to me where no one else could hear IT - WAS - ME. I said all of it out loud to the group...and that's when I realized again how fucked I am."
As Elliot says at least five times during Season 2, "I am Mr. Robot and Mr. Robot is me."
Most of the argument in Red Wheelbarrow and during the season was a renegotiation of terms or maybe even the beginnings of reintegration and unification.
As I have argued for months, the "glitches" and disappearances at the end of Season 2 were moments of reintegration and not just more dissociation.
Pretty amazing stuff.
Another Section Of Insider Information on Jail/Prison
So, Elliot, Carla (Eve Lindley), and Leon (Joey Bada$$) have become a unit. They are hanging out together, sharing food, and looking out for each other. But, it didn't start out that way.
The important thing is that Elliot didn't go into jail looking to make friends, in fact, he spent most of the first weeks trying not to make friends while he worked on establishing a routine.
Odds are good that somebody with experience gave him some good advice.
Some people come in with relationships already established through gangs or religious organizations, some come in trying to make friends and get into trouble, and others take their time and let friends find them.
God forbid you ever end up in jail or prison, but if you do, do not go in trying to make friends.
When you go to jail or into prison openly trying to make friends other inmates see it as you showing weakness and vulnerability and they will try to take advantage or you.
There are some things that are universal and some things that vary from system to system and from State to State.
Elliot talks about Ralph getting an IPOD sent to him which they hook up to speakers in the kitchen while they are working. Where I was this would never have happened (maybe it is okay in NY?).
Yes, we had music players (or could buy music players) but people could not send you anything directly aside from letters. The reason is obvious, the jail or prison can miss things when they have to search items from a non-contracted vendor.
Anyway, people on the outside could put money in our accounts, and we could use those funds to buy items from contracted vendors (the items available were very limited).
In addition, music players (never brands you would know) were a cash cow for the Department of Corrections because they charged almost $2 per song (in addition to the high cost of the player).
You may now be wondering how drugs and other contraband make it into jails and prisons. Supply delivery vendors, visitors, and most importantly, Correctional Officers.
Elliot mentions that they have a meal of Chicken Fried Steak, Fried Okra, and Grits (with Apple Pie). Yes, this is possible, but it is really rare. Usually, meals like that are reserved for major holidays (May 24th is not a major holiday).
There is an interlude where Elliot and Carla smoke under the basketball bleachers. This is, in my experience, possible but unlikely.
In most jails and prisons they have what is called "controlled movement" and CO's over-police areas that are off-limits. Being in an off-limits area gets you in more trouble than doing something wrong in common areas.
These days, they also are installing cameras in every nook and cranny of jails and prisons. It is harder and harder to hide-out. Most violence and sexual violence happens in common areas (showers after lights out are big for sexual violence, so don't take showers late at night).
Elliot mentions that a bunch of bloody sheets showed up in the laundry while he was working. Yes, stuff like this happens.
True story, I was dead asleep in my bunk (you don't really get individual cells anymore, they stack people like firewood these days - our unit had 160 people in a pole barn). All of a sudden, there is a massive crash on the dividing wall near my bunk and I woke right up.
As I am waking up I notice I feel all sticky. Yup, my bunk and I were covered in someone else's blood (wish I was kidding).
But the priority was not for me to try and find out what happened or trying to tend to whoever got stabbed. To be honest, I still have zero idea what the fight was over or who was in the fight (it was dark and I was asleep).
The priority was cleaning it all up before the CO's came around the corner.
You have never seen that many people jump out of bunks and clean an area so quickly in your life.
Why did everyone clean up? Because if you didn't clean up and make everything look as normal as possible, it would be seen the same as if you had snitched on someone.
In jail or prisoners, inmates expect each other to deal with and settle their own disputes.
So, yes, I had to switch my sheets (double quick) and then pay my laundry guy extra to deal with the blood stains.
And yes, Elliot is right that there are horse tournaments. We always played a variation called "Around the World" which involves much more regimented shooting from many different spots on the court.
He is also right that basketball can be the cause of violence. By far, the most risk I was ever at was being an unaffiliated (not in a gang) guy playing basketball and coaching basketball.
The worst beatings I ever got were while playing basketball and the most risk of getting in serious trouble was while coaching basketball (take the wrong person out when they don't want to come out and you are in trouble with his crew too).
Oh, and one more thing, nobody would break down in tears in any group in a jail or prison I was in when other prisoners were around. I don't know who wrote that part of Red Wheelbarrow but the number one rule of life in prison is you don't show weakness.
You can be weak, to some extent, but don't act weak. Even in a support group meeting (maybe especially in a support group meeting) you can't break down and cry.
You learn really early on that if you have to cry, make sure it is late at night and you bury your head in your bunk. There is no way that Lyle guy would break down crying in a room full of other inmates.
Okay, enough of that. PTSD (kind of kidding).
Mr. Robot Starting Fights and Leon Finds a Film
Elliot keeps mentioning times when Mr. Robot takes control and takes physical shots at Santos or his goons.
I am growing highly suspicious of this being Mr. Robot's fault.
Remember that Elliot is trying to back up Carla and that he was behind Santos getting beaten up and put in the infirmary.
Anyway, Elliot says Mr. Robot runs "them" into one of Santos' guys in line. The goon turns around and slaps him hard.
Not entirely sure what the long-term plan is, but this seems like part of a plan to me. Either that or Mr. Robot is so angry with Elliot that he has become suicidal.
Elliot is too smart to be starting stuff with a crew of guys without a plan.
Also, Leon has been researching Paul Reiser and Helen Hunt (because he loves Mad About You) and that takes him to the movie "As Good As It Gets" which is unsurprisingly one of Elliot's favorites. As Elliot puts it:
"That is actually one movie I really, really like. An OCD loner who can't help but alienate everyone by opening his mouth, now that I get! Plus that dog...You can't not love him."
I agree, it is a great movie, underrated in the Nicholson canon. And the dog is adorable (Flipper-like).
The Tyrell Easter Egg
A guy on Reddit raised an interesting point about the Tyrell Wellick (Martin Wallstrom) insert. Elliot says that he got it on May 22nd but the actual Tyrell clipping is dated May 25th.
I am still working on this, I need to remember what the solution to this part of the puzzle was. I will get back to you if and when I put this together. If you know the reason, please leave it as a comment!
I also have suggested that Elliot likely lies about all of the inserts to some extent (he seems to come up with a wild origin story for each one of them). It is possible that the lie in this case was a sloppy one (but I doubt it).
Also, the article is from a publication called BUZZ, and there is an email that suggests that if you have had a Tyrell sighting you should report it to the email address PSJ@WELLICKSIGHTINGS.COM
So, I wrote the address and said I had seen TW in Michigan. The response I got was as follows:
"Thank you for contacting wellicksightings.com! As you can imagine, we receive hundreds of sightings a day. It may take some time for one of our investigators to verify your claim. Do not be discouraged – your information is highly valued! Rest assured, we will analyze your report as soon as possible, and respond with any follow-up if warranted. Thank you for helping us answer the most important question of our time: Where Is Tyrell Wellick?"
The link takes you to a real website called http://www.wellicksightings.com/
The address line comes back as follows:
PSJ via mx0a-00176a04.pphosted.com
PSJ refers to the author of the article Penelope St. James. There is a Penelope St. James that a Google search turns up who is the author of a book called "Pride and Prostitution." It seems to be adult erotica? I am guessing that is a coincidence.
Any of you tech folks can tell me if that host address means anything.
I am endlessly impressed by the fact that there are no small details ignored in the Mr. Robot universe. Every single email on the FBI board at the end of Season 2 will return emails if you write them as well.
Anyway, that is the end of Part 6.
There is also new Mr. Robot stuff coming from me soon
You can expect:
An eBook of my 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).
And, of course, many more Red Wheelbarrow pieces. Including, eventually, the Tolstoy piece.
Hope you are having as much fun as I am! You can subscribe using the email signup below or through using Feedburner.
What is your theory about the Tyrell date issue?
What did you think of the Church Group meeting?
Feel free to ask me any questions you have, I will do another mailbag soon!
Let me know what you think, leave a comment!