Mr. Robot Forks SpaceTime?
Speculation Alert: Mr. Robot, the show
Spoiler Alert: The Peripheral by William Gibson
I have a theory that Gibson’s book, The Peripheral, may have heavily informed the fictional world of the Mr. Robot television show.
In the episode of July 3, 2016, the conversation between Dom and Whiterose in the clock room was a clear reference to the book, or perhaps to a predecessor of it, with respect to the idea of hacking time. That is, creating continua of different realities that run in parallel from a point in default time which has been, essentially, forked. It probably should be called the hacking of spacetime.
If the show is going to draw on the book, little things like the appearance of the ostensibly unique clock that was “the same as” the one in Dom’s childhood home take on significance, as they map very neatly to things in the book.
It, then, becomes intriguing to start imagining the actual presupposed world they are creating in this show, given the limits to what can be achieved with a tv budget vs. what it would take to truly produce the entire fx-laden plot of the book for tv.
The things that are conceptually critical and financially feasible to port from book to show would be that some organization (state or non-state; seems like the Chinese) from some appropriately advanced time hence has connected to what we in the present day refer to as “our past”. Their modality might be consistent with the book; opaque and restricted only to the transfer of data. Yet, sufficient to by definition, become a novel cause and effect in a causal chain of events we know simply and utterly as “the passage of time”.
That bifurcation of spacetime would likely (rampant speculation) occur during the childhoods of Elliot, Darlene, and Dom, or even slightly before, and be performed by Whiterose while an old person, a few decades from now. So, I anticipate there will be a key episode where a younger Christian Slater, especially, is getting influenced by the Chinese from the future in a way that intentionally or not results in the subsequent events playing out as a continuum apart from that of default spacetime. The show we have seen so far is taking place completely in this fork (I suspect this even for the shots from Elliot’s childhood, including his father’s store).
Sidenote: Since Whiterose precisely says, “I hack time.” having her/him do the hack within her presumed lifespan (near-future life extension technology notwithstanding) might seem too soon to be plausible technologically, and even theoretically, for more sophisticated viewers. Initially, I balked at this hypothetical, but have acquiesced to it, given how much license the show takes in certain areas, tempting even the most sci-tech geniuses among us to unsuspend disbelief (but, Esmail does know where to draw the line). So, I ask rhetorically, “Why not accept this technology existing in her lifetime?” Coming to that conclusion is virtually as much a leap of faith as imagining it 200 years from now. Consistent with that, nothing in Gibson’s book even hints at standing on anyone’s shoulders, per se, to reach the shelf where the time tool was placed.
There should be a mapping from the book to the show in at least broad strokes to pay off as the book does. Most of it is puzzling still, but since the show is not billed as being based on the book, at best I would expect only a loose correspondence.
However, the things that are fundamental to the idea of a spacetime fork for influencing the past should be there if I’m on the right track. Plus, there are other plot points and story elements in the book that enrich it and which look suspiciously like those of the show. For instance, The Jackpot in the book may be the global hack Fsociety and the Dark Army have pulled off, which spawns a kind of creeping apocalypse.
Once others who are familiar with the book start thinking about this, it will be fascinating to see their descriptions of potential continua, as it were, of
Mr. Robot, the show.