Tales From A Red Wheelbarrow (eps1.91_redwheelbarr0w.txt) Part 9: "WWNMD"
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 27th and 28th. 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 *
What Would Not Me Do?
So, Elliot (Rami Malek) wakes up from a dream that he remembers and shares with us.
Krista (Gloria Reuben), Angela Moss (Portia Doubleday), Carla (Eve Linden), and his sister Darlene Alderson (Carly Chaikin) are eating dinner at his Mom's house (the same house that is also known as jail) while in an adjoining "living room" Gideon Goddard (Michel Gil), Lloyd Chung (Aaron Takahashi), Edward Alderson (Christian Slater), and Tyrell Wellick (Martin Wallstrom) are "sitting around watching football."
In the dream, Elliot is "standing in the middle of both rooms, not sure which room to be in."
First of all, I love that Elliot can be in both rooms at the same time but wants to choose one (why not just be in both?).
Second, sadly, as he continues Elliot makes it clear that he feels forced apart from his friends. He doesn't feel that way because they don't want to be with him but because he feels incapable of moving closer to them (he can watch them and enjoy them but feels incapable of joining in himself).
Also, who actually seems like the football watching guy in that group? I guess this also exposes that Tyrell is a friend in Elliot's head now.
Anyway, one of my theories has been that Elliot is so invested in playing Robin Hood because as a child he witnessed so many horrific events that he was incapable of stopping he felt complicit. Between what he saw happen to others that he cared about (Darlene) and what happened to him as a kid, this also probably explains his inability to feel connected to his friends outside of his head.
I probably should also mention here that this "dream" mirrors Elliot's vision of a perfect future which backgrounds his decision to move forward during Season 2. He sees a version of this same scene in his mind as he describes why he decides to get back out in the real world.
Most of what happens in the entries for these two days is Elliot navel gazing over why he gets so involved in trying to "save" the people.that he decides that he cares about.
Ultimately, Elliot mentions that maybe he should wear a bracelet that says "WWNMD?" or "What would not me do?"
The Definition of Insanity
Elliot mentions that the definition of insanity is doing the same things over and over again expecting different results. I respectfully disagree with the conventional wisdom. While the vast majority of people live in routines, many of them bad, insanity is about being incapable of seeing the difference between good and evil.
Maybe the entire world is insane (our recent Election and Brexit are strong evidence that we are all actually insane). But, Dylan Roof, for example, isn't insane because of repetition, he is insane because he suffers from a profound mental illness.
Elliot also, obviously, suffers from a mental illness, but I don't think he is insane (just Dissociative and Narcissistic).
I do think it can often play out as a terrible mistake for Elliot to get himself in the middle of people's problems. Sometimes it works out okay, but many times it ends up with people dead in trunks, dead because he asked too many questions (RT), or losing access to every single penny that they had in the bank.
In my last post, I shared that Elliot had mistakenly printed that he and Mr. Robot together were a God (which he crossed out). I don't think his problem is that he is insane, per se, I think Elliot's problem is that he thinks that he is uniquely powerful and able to make decisions about other people's lives without their consent.
Anyway, all of this navel gazing comes up because Elliot has taken a profound interest in Carla. He is working himself up to doing something to try to prevent Santos from continuing his attacks on Carla but he has to convince himself that it is okay morally for him to intervene in Carla's affairs again.
So, what did Elliot do?
Elliot knows that Santos is a hypochondriac and that Santos will be in the infirmary, so he comes up with some bullsh*t to be there at the same time.
At first, he just tells Santos that everything is cool between them (remember, he has gotten in several fights with Santos and his crew and also played a part in getting Santos beaten up so badly he ended up in the hospital). But, he transitions quickly to talking about Carla, and then he implies to Santos that Carla has HIV.
Now, remember, Santos has been raping Carla and that he is a hypochondriac, so of course he is now totally freaked out.
Obviously, there are a ton of problems with this. What if, and I am just taking a wild guess here, Carla doesn't want everyone in the entire prison thinking that she has HIV (she doesn't).
Yes, she probably also doesn't want to be attacked all the time, but part of according someone autonomy is allowing them to make their own decisions and Elliot doesn't even deign to run this by her.
Anyway, I am not sure Elliot is insane, but I do think he has some God Complex issues. Didn't he ever read Spider-Man? With great power comes great responsibility.
Mr. Robot thinks it was so stupid he promises to check out entirely and Leon (Joey Bada$$) decides to give Elliot the lecture about keeping his head down and his nose out of other people's business in jail.
In my experience, this is VERY good jail or prison advice.
Leon tells Elliot that just like on Mad About You, sometimes you have to be like Jamie Buchman (Helen Hunt) and write out what you want to do but then bury it instead of acting on it (or burn it, right Carla?).
The Return of Darlene
Okay, so Darlene returns for a visit.
Elliot doesn't want to explain how, in his head, he is transforming Jail into Mom's house so, instead, he asks her if she has visited their Mom lately.
Darlene basically looks at him like he is actually insane and tells him that no, she hasn't visited that woman that beat and tortured her and tried to make her murder a cat.
"Sometimes I wonder if our Mom did more of a number on Darlene than she did on me."
Yes, this is more convenient dissembling by Elliot. He chooses to "forget" things that are painful when confronted by the truth (or full scale dissociates).
Darlene makes fun of Elliot's luxurious lifestyle in jail, which I suspect masks some of her fear and frustrations around trying to maintain the momentum of the 5/9 hack without Elliot's help.
She also members that Frank Cody (the 5/9 truther Alt Right television character) is gaining a huge following.
Ultimately, Elliot says that he is really happy she visited and that often being in jail is like being in stasis ("Like your life is on pause").
This is very true. When you walk in, it is like falling down the rabbit hole into a very surreal world that seems a bit like an early open-world video game, no matter which way you turn, you keep running into painful walls.
Of course, time only seems to stop when you are in jail. When you leave, you are physically older, wiser but not smarter, and the world has rolled right along without you.
Anyway, to reaffirm what I suggested on Monday, Elliot says,
"After seeing Darlene, it sorta made me think I need to let Carla in on what's going on."
Again, my feeling is that the roots of Elliot's Robin Hood games lie in his failure to successfully intervene to save her from beatings and abuse when they were both kids.
Even Robin Hood Has Bad Days
Elliot may have decided that he should find Carla and tell her about the plan he put into action with Santos, but he doesn't find her until it is too late.
Santos and friends have cornered Carla and are grilling her about why she didn't tell them about her situation before they had sex with her (of course since they rape her, this is a bizarre conversation to be engaging in, to say the least).
Carla, of course, has no f'n idea what they are talking about.
Elliot, as usual, gets involved and ends up getting punched by Santos.
And then, after Santos leaves, Elliot tells her what he did. Carla listened, looked from Leon to Elliot and then just got up and left.
So as suspected, she is not particularly happy with Elliot Alderson.
In other news, we get our first Warden Ray Heyworth (Craig Robinson) sighting, Elliot mentions that Ray doesn't seem "too bad." To which Carla responds, "man did he get that one wrong."
Anyway, that is the end of Part 9.
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. Mr. Robot tries to hack tv and I try to hack Mr. Robot.
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.
I did a bunch of work on the Mr. Robot book this weekend, it is about three-quarters of the way finished (if you have any suggestions for questions that I should answer, leave them as comments).
Two Mr. Robot related news stories. First, a bunch of banks started investing in Blockchains (very Phillip Price) and the incredibly short-sighted US Congress passed wider warrant powers for Federal Investigators looking into computer crimes (security is an illusion).
I am also feverishly working on my Best Albums of 2016 list, last week I winnowed my choices down to 150 albums and (believe it or not) I am listening to them all again to reduce the list down to my final 30.
What did you think of May 27th and May 28th?
What's your take on the expansion of Rule 41 (warrants)?
Is Elliot a hero, someone with a God complex, or both?
Does heroism require insanity?
Let me know what you think, leave a comment!