Elliot, Strangelove, and Stage 2
Is Elliot Enabling (not disabling) Stage 2?
Last week, during Eps3.1, Elliot was almost strutting his way through his daily work at his new E-Corp job all while “really” trying to destroy his own Stage 2 plan (which, you may remember, he totally forgot about while he was in jail during Season 2).
However, I have a sneaky suspicion that Elliot, unbeknownst to him, might be enabling Stage 2 and not destroying it.
So, let’s quickly review the elements of Stage 2 as they were explained to us at the end of Season 2:
- Evil Corps is trying to reconstitute it’s data by driving the backup paper copies of all the data from 71 shipping points to a building in New York City.
- The Dark Army, Elliot, and Tyrell Wellick are setting that building up so that when all the information arrives, there will be an explosion taking out all of the data (and anyone else who happens to be in the building at the time.
Tyrell shot Elliot because he was about to do at the secret Stage 2 location what he is now trying to do from inside E-Corps. He has a three step plan:
- Reroute all the paper copies back to the 71 shipping facilities but make it look, through hacking the manifests, like they have all safely arrived at the building in NYC.
- Block the UPS malware by requiring any UPS updates happen only after digitally signed encrypted keys from E-Corps have been produced.
- Convince E-Corp that centralizing the data for recovery is a mistake and that there should be digital copies (and presumably some kind of security that moves the data at random intervals so that it cannot be targeted on any particular server).
A few days ago, Josh Wigler at The Hollywood Reporter suggested that Elliot’s plan contains one unique flaw, that Mr. Robot has access to all of Elliot’s information because he is Elliot.
Good theory but technically incorrect.
Dissociation, Partitions, and Firewalls
Last year, as some of you may remember, I spent several weeks doing a bunch of research on Dissociative Identity Disorder and learned that the different parts of the fragmented whole (I have called them E Prime, Elliot, and Mr. Robot) can firewall information off from each other and do not have to share information with each other (I included links to medical and psychological articles about this last year but don’t really want to go dig them up again right now).
In other words, Elliot doesn’t know what Mr. Robot is up to unless Mr. Robot wants him to (and that is also true for Mr. Robot in terms of Elliot).
A few examples to prove this point, remember:
- Elliot had to hack Mr. Robot using lucid dreaming to find out that Tyrell was alive and how to find Tyrell.
- Mr. Robot himself explained the firewall in the last episode of Season 2 (which explains why Elliot doesn’t know what Stage 2 is)
Mr. Robot: “You said to Darlene before we started this thing that we had to go all the way. It was all part of the plan. Otherwise, what was the point of the hack? If we were going to do this, we had to go all the way. And that, Elliot, is what I want. It’s what you asked me here for.”
Elliot: “Then tell me, what is that, exactly? What is “all the way”?”
Mr. Robot: “This is where we get into trouble. You’re meant to know only as much as you can handle. When you wander outside of your realm is when we end up fighting.”
This was also discussed at length in the Red Wheelbarrow book where complex negotiations over information sharing between Mr. Robot and Elliot start to take place (and bear fruit during Season 2).
Anyway, this firewall works both ways, Mr. Robot doesn’t have access to Elliot’s ideas/memory unless Elliot wants him to OR Mr. Robot hacks him through some sneaky means (like lucid dreaming).
Or maybe, while he doesn’t know the details, he already knows the plan?
The Best Laid Plans Of Personality Fragments
So Elliot’s plan should be safe, right?
Sadly, I still think there is something rotten in E-Prime and here’s why:
- General Principles: Mr. Robot is all about showing you one thing to distract you from what is really going on. There is NO reason to believe that Stage 2 hasn’t changed
- Mr. Robot already KNOWS the exact plan Elliot is trying to execute.
How do I know this? Because Elliot already told Mr. Robot his plan. Remember this exchange from Season 2:
Mr. Robot (or Tyrell, can’t remember but Mr. Robot was present): “What are you doing?”
Elliot: “I’m hacking the firmware like we discussed.”
Mr. Robot: “We didn’t discuss sh*t. We’re not hacking anything.”
Elliot: “This will level that building and kill people.”
Mr. Robot: “Elliot, you need to leave that computer alone. I’m confused. It’s over.”
Elliot: “I’m deleting the malware.”
Mr. Robot (or Tyrell): “Elliot, I wouldn’t do that. You can’t delete that.”
Elliot: “Not only am I gonna delete it, I’m gonna get rid of the backdoor.”
Also, the whole reason that Mr. Robot has established a relationship with Angela is so that he can use her to hack Elliot (and Angela is using Mr. Robot to keep Elliot on task).
So it stands to reason that Mr. Robot has changed the plan (because he is anything but stupid) and designed it to use Elliot’s strategy against him.
I suspect that since he cannot actually know the nuts and bolts of how Elliot will block the original version of Stage 2, Stage 2 itself Mr. Robot would have to adapt to come into concert with the outcomes Elliot shared with him at the end of Season 2.
Many moons ago, I suggested a Dr. Strangelove theory of Mr. Robot (there have been many direct references to the Kubrick film throughout — like the flier to “The End of the World Party”).
More specifically there was a discussion where (on behalf of ‘whiterose’) Phillip Price leverages Terry Colby during Season 2 to get China exclusive mineral rights from the United States to mine the Congo.
Here was my comment at the time:
What if Stage 2 has become sending salted or cobalt bombs to all of the 71 shipping facilities?
Probably a little fantastical, since as of last week China had yet not procured the mineral rights from the UN vote, but keep it in mind.
My suspicion is still that Stage 2 has shifted from taking out the one NY building to something having to do with taking out the 71 buildings which house the documents.
I have a bit of circumstantial, but important evidence that buttresses this suspicion. A few days ago, the E-Corp account sent out a training link to everyone who became a member of E-Corp (of course I am a member) and along with the actual training video from Eps3.1 it also included:
- Employment Forms (W4s and 401 K etc.)
- Half-Filled out HR complaints (all against Samar)
- A map of the 71 facilities
Hmmm. If the 71 facilities themselves were not important, why were they shown last year during the finale (on a map), this year (as stuff was being shipped back to them), and in this E-Corp package?
So, in summary, I suspect that the target of Stage 2 is now the 71 facilities and not the building in NYC.
As usual, I could certainly be wrong (The contemplation moves me very deeply).
And don’t miss my long-running recap: “Who Is Mr. Robot’s Landlord?”
I have been suggesting since Season 1 that the idealized vision of Edward Alderson in Elliot's memory was not the real…onpiratesatellite.com