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The Mr. Robot Hack Report: There weren’t any hacks

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This episode was mostly character development, which is awkward given the conceit of this column

Mr. Robot is back, and the C Y B E R is back, too. The show takes a special interest in showing off the details that usually get glossed over, often drawing on real hacks and real cybersecurity problems. So after every episode, I’ll be breaking down who got hacked, how, and with what. It turns out, there’s a lot more to each one than you can see on-screen.

This was a really interesting episode! We found out what Tyrell has been up to since the 5/9 attack (basically all of the second season), and got a lot more insight into his fraught relationship with Elliot. Tyrell has been through a real journey since last season, and now we finally get a sense of how his devotion to Joanna and their newborn son both drives and undercuts his commitment to the broader anti-capitalist crusade.

Unfortunately, this isn’t the Nuanced Characterization Report; it’s the Hack Report — and aside from some Stage Two visualizations and the occasional webcam login, there were barely any computers at all this week. So instead of the standard cybersecurity rundown, I’m going to use this space to dig into two weird things we learned about Irving that I found amusing and worthy of further attention.

RICHARD GERE, BESET BY TABLOIDS

Part of Tyrell’s Rural Torment is that his only connection to his wife is through Page Six, which is reporting on Joanna’s divorce and post-5/9 relationship with a local DJ. As Tyrell is taking his frustrations out on some lumber, Irving shows up to comfort him, telling him not to believe what he reads in the tabloids. “Those tabloids, they’re always full of shit,” he tells Tyrell. “Look at how they almost ruined Richard Gere’s life.”

So what did the tabloids do to Richard Gere?

Throughout the 90s, rumors circulated that Gere had been admitted to a hospital with a live rodent (either a hamster or a gerbil) lodged in his rectum. Snopes currently rates the story as false, but that hasn’t stopped references from popping up in The Simpsons, South Park, and Saturday Night Live. The National Inquirer seems to have devoted significant resources to nailing down the story ("I've never worked harder on a story in my life," an Inquirer reporter once said), but no one’s ever turned up any firm evidence to support it. But thanks to folks like Irving, the legend lives on!

IRVING’S NOVEL IS NOT VERY GOOD

We also learn that Irving is surprisingly engaged with literary culture! In one scene, he listens to the audiobook of Gore Vidal’s Death Likes It Hot (not considered his finest work).

After his heart-to-heart with Tyrell, we also see Irving is working on a novel of his own, titled Beach Towel. We even get a brief peek at the novel, as Irving works on a scene during his off-hours. The prose is a little rough, but you have to remember it’s a rough draft:

Chapter 4: A Wink Gone Wrong

Jonathan lay there, prone, cheek pressed against the asphalt, his mouth filling with the metallic taste of pennies. As his mind re-booted, recovering from the sudden stun, he now began connecting dots, running through all the possible reasons as to why someone should want to assail him in the parking lot of a Publix — — but there were just too many recent developments to draw a reasonable conclusion.

Then Jonathan saw a woman with wildly overdone Smokey Eyes eyeshadow standing behind his assailant. “Oh, her,” he thought. “This is all a misunderstanding.”

And sure enough, it was. The events leading up to present, Jonathan sucker-punched in a grocery store parking lot — — his reusable shopping bag on its side, the chocolate cake he had been instructed to pickup from the Bakery skittered across the pavement in its plastic shell, the SpongeBob depicted in colorful frosting now warped and grotesquely skewed — — could be traced back to a simple, harmless, miscommunicated facial gesture.

A fact that Jonathan tried to articulate as he pushed himself off the ground. “This is all a misund— —” But this factual basis for a resolution went unheard or unheeded as Jonathan took another blow, slumping back down to the parking lot pavement.

“You been sweatin’ my lady,” he heard the man say as he saw work boots approach. Shit. Steel-toed.

“Can you...just...wait a second?” Jonathan said, pushing himself up again.

Jonathan looked up at the man. Took in his burly, sunburned arms. His eyes unreadable, but intent unmistakeable, behind mirrored Oakley sunglasses. Then again at the tattered steel-toed boots. The story his appearance told was that of a guy who worked outside, a guy who worked with his hands. Meaty damn hands.

Maybe it’s a window into Irving’s matter-of-fact worldview, itself heavily influenced by detective fiction? Or maybe this is foreshadowing some tragic parking lot fight in the plot to come? Either way, he’s gotta cut down on his dashes.


That’s all I got for this week, but now that we’re caught up to the present, we should have plenty more hacking next time around. (Not that I don’t love character-based storytelling. It’s just not really my expertise as a reporter.) And as always, feel free to hit us up if you have any questions, either on Reddit, or on Twitter under the hashtag #Robotaftershow.