Zero-Sum: Who Is Mr. Robot’s Landlord? Eps3.4runtime-error.r00

Who Is Mr. Robot’s Landlord? Eps3.4runtime-error.r00

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Hard to overstate how hard it must have been for Sam Esmail and his team to create this episode, really impressive in many ways (the illusion of a continuous shot) very “old-school” cinematic and also interesting visually to watch.

Mr. Robot Eps3.4runtime-error.r00 brings me back to some old theories about the show, Elliot, Angela, and the Dark Army. Enjoy!

In case you missed “Who Is Mr. Robot’s Landlord?” last week here is my recap of Eps3.3metadata.par2

If you have not watched every episode of Mr. Robot or read Red Wheelbarrow this could contain spoilers *Spoiler Alert*

One or Seventy-One

USA Network

USA Network

Sam was nice enough to mention (on the USA Network portion of the Verge aftershow) that some people were starting to get the idea of what the S3 twist would be.

A few weeks ago, I suggested that the twist might be that Stage 2 was targeting the 71 archival locations suggested on the map that Tyrell had on the wall in his original Stage 2 location. These were the same facilities that Elliot sent everything back to a few weeks ago.

Remember, as I detailed in my recap two weeks ago, Mr. Robot and Tyrell were present when Elliot exposed his plan to stop Stage Two. So:

  1. Why would they continue to implement Stage 2 in the same manner if they knew how Elliot would block it.

  2. Why would Sam Esmail keep dropping hints about the 71 facilities (most recently literally sending out the map of the facility in the E-Corp training packet?

I could be wrong (and often am) but I am thinking this way explicitly because the last time I had this kind of feeling about one of Sam’s loose ends (why did Elliot need to use Ray’s computer in S2 if he wasn’t institutionalized) I became one of the first people pushing the Elliot/Institutionalized theory (you can look back on Reddit, I was not THE first but I was about two hours after the first guy suggested it because he saw prison bars on Elliot’s window).

Absolutely not saying that to brag, I have been wrong many times too. But the reason I got that one right is because Sam left a tell (Ray’s computer).

I might turn out to be wrong, it could be parallel universes, or the simulation theory, or Darlene will die (which would be a plot point, not a twist IMHO), but so far, as Sam said on the aftershow, they foreshadow twists and every clue has a purpose. Why keep mentioning 71 facilities if they aren’t important?

I have always been an Occam’s Razor person when it comes to Mr. Robot, I don’t think we are going sci-fi (although I think ‘whiterose’ will try and fail).

So, I am guessing, the DA will be attacking 71 facilities (which would circumvent the digitization efforts) and that Mr. Robot was mad about being locked out of the update not mad because Elliot sent the data back.

The End of the World Party

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Apparently, Phillip Price came through for ‘whiterose’ again.

China won the right to annex the Democratic Republic of the Congo after a United Nations Security Council vote.

As I mentioned last year, the Democratic Republic of the Congo is mostly known (in International Security circles) because it produces Cobalt and Coltan both of which are important in the creation of dirty bombs (and was at the core of the “Doomsday Device” used in the Stanley Kubrick classic movie “Dr. Strangelove: Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb.”

This movie has been referenced explicitly several times most prominently in the flier for the “End of the World Party” during Season 1 (the art for the flyer was virtually identical to the Dr. Strangelove promotional poster art).

China already has nuclear weapons and Minister Zhang is the Defense Minister of China but we also know (and I have long suggested that China does not know) that Zhang is also ‘whiterose’ and is in charge of the Dark Army. And, even if it turns out that the Chinese government does know that Zhang runs the Dark Army, I suspect that they don’t know about ‘whiterose’ or exactly what the Dark Army is up to.

So why am I saying all of this?

I suspect the Dark Army is about to have their own dirty bombs (or worse). We know that they likely have access to nuclear materials (Washington Township Facility) but those materials are likely not weapons grade.

We have not yet seen a sub-national group or organization be able to acquire WMD capabilities and it has been one of the nightmare scenarios people in Security Studies have been scenario planning for years.

An international entity existing beyond borders with the ability to apply Weapons of Mass Destruction is terrifying for many reasons. Why are security planners not particularly afraid of the first-use of North Korean nuclear weapons? Because we have thousands of MIRV’D warheads and they have only a few. We believe that we can target them and that they are not suicidal.

We know where to find them.

But what if the people setting off WMD are subnational and therefore not tied to a territory? How do you retaliate or bring your superior force to bear on a group that is borderless?

Also, in deterrence theory, nuclear war in a world where both sides have nuclear weapons, nuclear war is considered a zero-sum game (the best way to win is not to play). It is probably not entirely accidental that this term comes up in the discussion between Mr. Robot and Elliot (in the elevator).

There is a lot of stuff going on with the Dark Army:

  • They just sparked a riot where people got killed at E-Corp (which they will blame on the fake Fsociety

  • They are about to enact Stage 2

  • ‘whiterose’ is working on using his nuclear reactor and particle accelerator to try to create parallel universes of time travel (I think this will fail)

  • ‘whiterose’ is creating a coltan/cobalt pipeline to the Dark Army.

Oh, and also, Irving (who seems to mainly be around to tell everyone exactly what they need to hear in order to make things work for the Dark Army) has lied to everyone which means, most likely, that the Dark Army is not planning on many of the principles surviving Stage 2.

USA Network

USA Network

What exactly would they gain from leaving Tyrell alive? Darlene? Angela? Elliot? And what kind of relationship would they have once the truth is revealed (and I suspect many people will die during Stage 2 which is clearly not in the plans.

And guess who figured that out tonight too, Angela Moss did.

Or, at the very least she has figured out that Stage 2 is not going to be killing free. You could see it on her face after she talks with Irving and runs into Elliot.

She knows she has become a terrorist in league with terrorists.

On the other hand, is there any character more courageous than Angela? Look back at what she did in this episode (including putting on the pepper spray mask) and the hack she had to carry out in Season 2.

And guess who figured that out tonight too, Angela Moss did.

Or, at the very least she has figured out that Stage 2 is not going to be killing free. You could see it on her face after she talks with Irving and runs into Elliot.

She knows she has become a terrorist in league with terrorists (and that those terrorists might have beaten down a security guard trying to do his job on her behalf...and that another E-Corp employee might soon meet the same fate for being in the wrong place at the wrong time).

On the other hand, is there any character more courageous than Angela? Look back at what she did in this episode (including putting on the pepper spray mask) and the hack she had to carry out in Season 2.

Hello Friend (Part 23)

USA Network

USA Network

Sam also confirmed another long-standing argument I have made - Elliot IS Mr. Robot and Mr. Robot IS Elliot.

Mr. Robot was technically created to channel Elliot’s rage at his father for pushing him out a window and his rage at Evil Corps for killing his father but Mr. Robot has functionally become the personna that Elliot uses to maintain the fiction that he was did the 5/9 hack for the right reasons (that he was Batman, not Magneto - that he was Rorschach, not Ozymandias).

Mr. Robot allows him to maintain the fiction that his hands are clean.

Elliot’s hands are not clean. To go through the list again:

  • He tried to shoot Tyrell (popcorn gun)

  • He released a full wing of prisoners extrajudicially

  • He cyberstalked and doxed virtually everyone he has ever known

  • He got RT killed (there is no way he couldn’t have predicted that RT would get killed)

  • He theoretically got Gideon killed (or made him a risk to operations by leaving him flailing in the wind with the FBI)

  • He left his Sister to deal with the consequences of his hack as he chose to check out and go to prison (ultimately resulting in the death of her significant other Cisco).

  • He caused millions of people to be plunged into poverty and according to the E-Corp newsletter, the suicide rate is on the rise. Anyone who was retired had their savings wiped out, tens of thousands of people appear to be living on the streets or in the subways, and anyone who had medical needs was probably f’d.

  • He came up with Stage 2 which is going to kill more people and in order to carry it out he linked up with the Dark Army who kills people all of the time.

It is very late at night, so I suspect that I am forgetting some stuff that could easily fit on this list.

Elliot is the person E-Prime wants to believe that he is but the truth is much more complicated. Elliot wants to believe 5/9 was to save the world, but deep down he knows that it was a revenge plot.

"Elliot" is the mask that allows E-Prme not to dissolve into a pile of shame and guilt. Sometimes we need our enabling fictions to survive.

Elliot is, in this sense, his own runtime error, he survives by being intentionally dishonest with himself. The real risk is when the illusion stops functioning correctly and he begins to see the reality of his own complicity.

Now, all of this said, Elliot has the capacity to be the person who cares so deeply about people that he can’t even bring himself to talk to them (most of the time). In particular, he suggested tonight that he might share with us explicitly because we don’t ever respond.

In other news, Elliot now knows that he has been betrayed by both his sister and his best friend. Darlene confronts him with the information that she has been working for the FBI and he figures out that Angela has been playing him to carry out Stage 2.

I do agree that it is highly likely that Darlene is not long for the world (which many have theorized previously) but I will caution everyone that everyone is at risk of being assassinated now (what motive would the Dark Army have to keep people alive now?).

Last but not least, I met Yo-Yo Ma once, he was an incredibly nice person (astoundingly nice really).

If you are wondering if this is random information, Mr. Robot tells Elliot that he would have more luck tailgating a Yo-Yo Ma concert than hacking into E-Corp from the outside (or something like that).

Okay, that is probably as much damage as I can do tonight. Until next week.