Saturday, April 07, 2018

ATLANTA: "Teddy Perkins": What the faduck?

I'm gonna outline how I think the mechanics of this amazing slice of gothic horror worked. A (hopefully) straightforward-ish explanation of what people did when and why. If you haven't watched the episode yet, stop reading now, for beyond this paragraph, there be spoilers!~

My take is based on two big asks, the true identities and relationship between "Teddy" and "Benny."

1. The man who introduces himself as Theodore "Teddy" Perkins is actually Benny Hope. There has never been a "Teddy" apart from this alias of Benny's. Darius is basically correct that Benny created the "Teddy" persona to cover up/deny what he did to himself—and what happened to him—as Benny. Sometimes, Benny himself forgets that he's Benny, turning his cover into a genuine delusion.

2. "Benny," the man in the wheelchair who shows up at the end of the episode, is actually Benny's father. I like to think that he's actually Benny, Sr. and "Teddy" is Benny, Jr., which helps explain why "Teddy" without hesitation says, "Benny! You're alive!" when he rolls out of the elevator.
Of course, it could simply be the delusion.

What happened…

1. "Teddy" kills "Benny" a short time before Darius arrives. Benny stabs his father in the gut while he's in his wheelchair in the upstairs piano room. Darius's arrival apparently interrupts his clean-up of the scene. 
2. When "Teddy" explains to Darius that he doesn't have a butler, he plays back his reminders. "Wash your hands…immediately," is a reminder to clean his father's blood from them. 
3. When "Teddy" goes wandering off after that, Darius can't stand to remain in the room with the crack'd Owl's Casket. So he goes wandering as well. We then see that "Teddy" has the mansion wired for video, and can see and track a visitor's movements throughout his home. 
4. Eventually Darius follows the sound of piano music upstairs to the piano room. "Teddy" keeps him from entering, but Darius can see a wheelchair set in front of the upright with colored keys. This clicks for Darius as matching the progression of photos in the hallway, which show Benny as he ages, the last one depicting him in a wheelchair and covered up against the sunlight.
Why was "Teddy" playing the piano when he should be focused on covering up his father's murder? Probably cuz he's bonkers. He doesn't record reminders for himself for nothing. =) 
5. "Teddy" shoos Darius away from the piano room, explaining that he'll see him downstairs with his glass of water, promising a mix of brands. This gives "Teddy" time to finish cleaning up the Piano room. 
5.a. This might be when "Teddy" moves his car. See also 7.a. 
6. After meeting up again in the gift shop, "Teddy" leads Darius to what will be his prized exhibit, a room dedicated to "Great Fathers." Featured center stage is a manakin or tailor's dummy dressed in a suit whom he calls his own father. This is when "Teddy" explains how his dad set he and his brother on a regimen at an early age to become not just good at piano, but good at life. 
6.a. I think that in "Teddy's" completed version of this exhibit, that manakin would be upholstered with his father's skin, or perhaps completely taxidermically replaced. =) 

 7. When Darius suggests they finally cut to the chase and close the colored keys deal, They return to the upstairs piano room. The wheelchair we saw earlier is gone. After "Teddy" leaves to turn on the elevator, Darius notices a drop of blood on one of the keys. "Teddy" missed a spot when cleaning up. 
7.a. This might be when "Teddy" moves his car. See also 5.a. 
8. Darius loads the piano onto the elevator and presses the button for the first floor. However, he ends up in the basement—"Fine, destiny." There he encounters "Benny" who is actually "Teddy," dressed exactly as we last saw him, but with the addition of a black hat, wrap, gloves, and a blue face mask/bandage that covers everything but his eyes and mouth. Darius sees through this charade, but plays along because, bonkers, remember? Without speaking, "Benny" communicates to Darius that Teddy will kill them both and that he needs Darius to get him a gun from the attic to protect himself. Darius plays along and tells "Benny" that once he moves his piano into his car, he'll be back with his gun. 
9. Darius rolls the piano out the front door only to find that his U-Haul has been blocked in by the Hopemobile. He goes back into the mansion to find "Teddy." He finds him reviewing some home movies of one of Benny's piano session with his abusive drill sergeant of a father. Darius explains that he's been blocked in. "Teddy" says that he'll move the car. I think at this point, "Teddy" might be fine letting Darius leave with the piano. However, Darius then asks to use the bathroom, which to "Teddy" sounds like an excuse to move around the house. "Teddy" was the one who chalked to Darius in the basement that a gun was in the attic, so he assumes that that is where Darius is heading. Now Darius is a potential evildoer-slash-enemy, whether he believes it was "Teddy" or Benny he spoke to in the wheelchair.
You can see the flick of the switch in "Teddy's" face when Darius asks about the bathroom. 
10. "Teddy" has Darius cuff himself to a chair in the foyer. This allows him to put down the gun and have some last words with Darius. His plan seems to be to kill Darius and stage things to frame him as a home invader who killed "Benny," his father. 
11. Darius may be the best possible person to stop this gothic clockwork. But even his grace is not enough. Just as "Teddy" denies Darius's beautiful notion of Stevie Wonder's seeing through music, the elevator arrives, revealing the real "Benny."
Donald Glover's "Teddy's" look of shock through the mask of his face is amazing.
"Benny" picks up the shotgun and kills "Teddy."
We know this is the real "Benny" and that he's been attacked by "Teddy" because although he does seem to be wearing exactly what "Teddy" was wearing when he appeared to Darius in the basement, his white shirt is soaked with blood over his belly and otherwise blood-spattered, too. 
12. "Benny" motions to the still handcuffed Darius to give him the fireplace poker. In shock and perhaps gratitude, Darius complies, too late realizing that "Benny" needs it to push the trigger with the gun pointed at himself.
I *think* that explanation of events works out pretty well. We only ever see photos and film of *one* child, and that is Benny Hope. There is no Theodore Perkins. "Teddy's" story of how his father trained Benny for greatness is supported by the home movie clip we get to see. It's not hard to imagine that at some point, Benny, perhaps already a caregiver for his father, snapped, and began returning abuse on the man, physically turning his father into a copy of himself, and ultimately killed him…

…planning to turn him into a prized museum exhibit. =)

Also, I don't think that "Teddy" was planning to frame and kill Darius the whole time. That exchange they have in the screening room felt to me like a (bonkers) test, and when Darius asks about the bathroom, he fails it.

Question: Did anyone catch what message board Darius learned about the piano on? Sounds something like "Buy-something-King," but not tight/short enough to be "biking."

However, The Girl came up with an even more satisfying take. After watching with her—her first, my third viewing—she suggested that I might have the "Teddy" and "Benny" thing reversed. So, "Teddy" is the father, and "Benny" is actually Benny Hope. I *really* like this idea. That makes the father's name Teddy, and he's the one who's speaking to Darius throughout the story. Benny is Teddy's son, and he's the one in the wheelchair who shows up at the end. If you watch again, keep this possibility in mind when "Teddy" speaks about his father and reacts to Darius's comments about abuse and sacrifice. Also at the pride implied in the conversion of the home into a museum.

This also adds even more chill to "Teddy's" hope early on that at the end of "Benny's" suffering they might get a masterpiece.

The Girl also explained to me that the Jacksons' parents had cosmetic surgery to match the surgically altered noses of their children. I'd never heard this before. This hints to me at a backstory of father Teddy seeing Benny altering himself, perhaps to the point of illness, and doing the same to himself, so that they would appear very alike to anyone who didn't know really know them.

I kind of wish that the episode had ended with "Benny" unlocking Darius's cuffs before killing himself. Then Darius could hightail it out of there on his own, before the cops or anyone else shows up, and the entire episode could be framed as a kind of haunting, an interaction with ghosts, a projection of a dark "what if?" from Darius's own life. Crazy talk, I know.

Alas, not to be. It all (sur)really happened. And, man, I really hope later episodes refer back to this one somehow. Maybe musically? Perhaps they've already played music by "Benny Hope" in season 2 episodes and we just didn't know.

I *really* hope that Darius doesn't count the outcome of his f'd up day out as one of his two life regrets. He did everything he could to get that piano, as well as curb "Teddy's" madness. Part of me does hope that we get to meet his agent of regret-death, tho.

Darius should be able to get that piano out of impound. After all, he signed the papers, right? And he sure as faduck deserves it.

Keep on keepin' on~

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

MR ROBOT: Season 3: Mandela Effect & a Day Off…

Hello, friend.

Collecting some bits and pieces that connect to the so-called Mandela Effect and M-Effect adjacent phenomena in the universe of MR. ROBOT. Note that this is no doubt far from comprehensive. As any watcher knows, this show goes deep. =)

Elliot’s employee ID number…

072391. As a date, this is July 23, 1991. The date on which Nelson Mandela died as reported in a non-non-fiction essay published in South Africa in 1991. Before the essay was identified as non-non-fiction, this was passed around as a possible artifact/proof of the Mandela Effect. The ME explains that the phenomena of a great many people remembering hearing that he died in the 80s when in fact he passed away in 2013 is the side effect of a manipulation of the past of our timeline (somehow imperfectly allowing for some people to remember the original, or earlier timeline’s history) or the memory/history of an alternate timeline somehow psychically bleeding into ours.

This Esmail Egg is not strictly speaking evidence on which to build a logical theory about the MR. ROBOT universe, but a wink and a nod for us, the audience, a hint, but, y’know, possibly a misleading one.

Project Berenstain…

The FBI runs an illegal surveillance initiative dubbed “Project Berenstain.” Within the world of MR. ROBOT, we’re not given a reason for this code name, but the first reference that comes to mind is the children’s book series, the Berenstain Bears. Why that would be associated with surveillance, I do not know, but maybe that’s the point in choosing a project name for the FBI. Not to be clever about it, but to name it according to some agnostic system or order—children’s book characters in alphabetical order?—and so, give nothing away about the nature of the program in the name, right?

However, in *our* universe, “Berenstain” is another collective memory glitch of the Mandela Effect. Many—including myself—remember the bears’ family name being spelled with an “e,” “Berenstein.” Seriously, I pronounced the name like “Einstein.”

Darlene’s a Sinbad fan!

In an episode this season we got a glimpse of Darlene’s monitor which showed her torrenting SHAZAAM (1996), a movie that I believe was manufactured by the Internet (as Photoshopped posters, cases, fake trailers) in response to another Mandela Effect glitch—a memory of Sinbad playing a genie in a kids movie. The movie that seems to have inspired that mismemory, or overwritten it, is KAZAAM (1996), which starred Shaq.

What does this mean?

I’m sure there are more Mandela Effect droppings in the world of MR. ROBOT, but this is all I’ve got in my head just now, sorry. Still, in a story with BACK TO THE FUTURE REFERENCES, discussions of alternate timelines, and a cameo by what appears to be a particle accelerator, I don’t (want to =) believe they’re insignificant.

Assuming these facts of the reality of MR. ROBOT matter, they tell me that what we’re watching on the show is an earlier iteration of our own reality. So, when we examine the world and history and people in MR. ROBOT, we are seeing the source of the apparent aberrations we are now pointing to as evidence of the Mandela Effect. In the universe of MR. ROBOT, the bear family was named Berenstein, Sinbad starred in Shazaam, and Nelson Mandela passed away in the 20th century (I don’t believe that last event was reported in the show in any way, but please allow me the zany extrapolation). Then *something* altered the history of that universe, maybe once, maybe multiple times, ultimate resulting in *our* universe, one in which the bears are the Berenstains, Shaq played Kazaam, and Nelson Mandela died in 2013.

Could that *something* be WhiteRose and the Washington Township project (transferred, recreated, or completed in the Congo)? Has WhiteRose worked out the psychohistorical math to send information back in time to alter history so that the Washington Township leak never happens, Edward Alderson and Emily Moss never get sick and die, their kids grow up with their parents to be very different people, and WhiteRose herself is reborn as B.D. Wong, star of stage and screen, as she’s always truly wanted to be? =)

I go on about this rewriting of reality in this post: Some Pre-finale Big Picture Theories…

Note that this bothers my brain a bit because in changing reality to change herself, WhiteRose may alter events so much that she will never acquire the resources to create and use a time travel device in the new reality (not that B.D. Wong couldn’t make it happen, I did say “may alter” =). If MR. ROBOT only allows for one precious universe/timeline, then that could result in a paradox (that may or may not be resolved by the universe itself somehow), but if it allows for multiple timelines, then she will have created a new reality (possibly ours), but not overwritten her current one. Sad.

If you like this idea, here’s a fun thought… Think of the universe of MR. ROBOT as the first, original timeline. If WhiteRose’s machinations lead to the creation of *our* universe and our Mandela Effect is real, then the Elliot and Angela and Dom and Tyrell that we’re watching have no equivalent to the Mandela Effect in their world. There are no memories or history of a previous iteration of reality to leak into theirs.

Also, if the universe is as good as a simulation and hackable, then something something something… =)

Take the day off!

Something I’ve noticed that I consider ME-adjacent, in that it reinforces for me the experience of MR. ROBOT as an alternate reality…

When you compare the dates in MR. ROBOT to the days of the week they should fall on in our world, when it’s noted, they appear to be one day off. Someone pointed this out to me in season 1 or 2 but I can’t remember the details. I think it must have been about 5/9. In season 3, I noticed it when several people refer to the execution of Stage 2. They give the date as September 29 (2015) and refer to it as a Monday. On our calendars, 9/29 fell on a Tuesday.

I also found this little rabbit hole…Dom’s badge number: 22958. At least, I think that’s what it is. She identifies herself by it when she calls OpCenter for help. As a date, it becomes February 29, 1958. A leap day, but one that never actually happened! And the title—as ”Feb 29, 1958″—of a poem by Allen Ginsberg about a dream he had “last night” of meeting T. S. Elliot (aka Terribly Sexy Elliot). I’m no poemologist, but I take the the poem to be Ginsberg recounting a dream of himself dreaming of an evening spent with an imagined version of his hero. MR. ROBOT-y enough for you?

Be seeing you.

Keep on keepin’ on~

Monday, December 11, 2017

MR. ROBOT: Season 3: Some Pre-finale Big Picture Theories…

Hello, Friend.

Gonna ramble on some Big Ideas that might explain what’s going on in the WhiteRosey sectors of MR. ROBOT…


The universe is a simulation, or at least effectively functions and exists as one, and WhiteRose is able to hack it. Currently only to a degree. She can copy and paste elements that exist and have existed in the universe. She can edit them, but only in certain ways. She currently has limited write permissions.

We've seen her do this when she copied a young Angela from the past and pasted her into the present to interview the adult Angela.

We also saw *someone* do this when Trenton's brother (who actually left town with his parents) was copied and pasted onto the beach next to Elliot. Each of these instances was edited, tailored to accomplish a certain task. This is the kind of "undo" that WhiteRose has promised and tantalized Irving and Angela with.

However, he cannot yet deliver what Angela wishes for—the return of her mother and Elliot's father, hale and hearty. Editing them to the degree that they would be cured and healthy is currently beyond WhiteRose's power. She needs to proceed with her Congo project in order to gain that ability. WhiteRose's ultimate goal is to be able to edit the universe so that she can make lasting and stable changes, for herself, and to herself. In order to achieve that, anyone and everyone may be expendable, but also revivable.


WhiteRose already possesses time travel capability, and she's used it countless times, each time tweaking events to get closer to an ultimate desired result. She doesn't believe in coincidence because when it occurs around her, she's had a hand in manufacturing it. In the events and timeline we see unfolding on the show, Elliot Alderson is the right person with the right connections and experiences in the right place at the right time for what WhiteRose needs to be done. I do not think that WhiteRose's time travel allows for a person to get into a DeLorean in 2015 and step out of it in 1985. Instead, what she can do is send herself (and maybe others) information. Maybe it's "psychic," a la PRINCE OF DARKNESS, but I prefer to think it's electronic, a la STEIN'S GATE. An email with an attached document sent from her personal server in 2015 to her AOL address in 1990.

How would this help WhiteRose? I'm gonna run thru a couple of *hypothetical* loops to demonstrate…

Let's say that in a previous iteration of the universe, WhiteRose identified Edward Alderson, Elliot's dad, as a useful tool in a takedown of ECorp and the global economy. He was poisoned by ECorp and had the coding/hacking chops to damage them. WhiteRose could have used her resources to encourage him to make the attempt. It fails. Edward can only do so much damage to ECorp in the 90s before he dies. However, his son grows up to be an accomplished hacker at a time when ECorp is committed to digital records and vulnerable to a catastrophic attack. But for whatever reason, this Elliot doesn't have the drive to pursue such a course. At the same time WhiteRose, Zhang, and the Dark Army try many paths to sink the economy and gain leverage for acquiring the Congo, but none pan out.

When WhiteRose believes she's exhausted her options in that iteration, she assembles an information payload—added to the one she received from her previous older self—for her younger self. ZIPs it, attaches it to her Chronomail, and hits [SEND]. The next iteration begins. This time, WhiteRose tweaks details at the Washington Township plant so that Edward dies earlier (perhaps by stepping up the timeline of her pet project there?). In the wake of his father's death, this Elliot makes toppling ECorp his lifelong goal. He grows up and assemble the fsociety team, but he's too reckless, and he gets himself caught or killed. His aggression needs to be tempered. He needs to be introduced to some already available channels instead of brute forcing his way every step of the way. Again, WhiteRose has many irons in the fire, but none prove successful. She assembles a new payload, updated with this iteration's edits and outcomes, and clicks [SEND] again.

The next iteration begins. This time, WhiteRose engineers events so that Elliot has a sister and a best friend who share his interests and motivation. Darlene is another hacker, naturally more reckless than Elliot, enough so that Elliot has to step up his responsible side. Angela is another victim of ECorp, whose shared orbit guides Elliot to a position beside her at AllSafe. This Elliot wants to take down ECorp, has the skills and access, and is levelheaded enough to accomplish it. However, when he does the math and comes up with an unavoidable body count, he cannot go through the hack, at least not 100%. WhiteRose takes notes and launches the next payload into the next iteration.

This time, WhiteRose somehow gets Edward to reveal his illness to Elliot in secret, leading to the first time Edward pushes his son out the window, and so, the introduction of Mr. Robot. Everything goes nearly perfectly, but the hack is thwarted. There's one piece missing, and WhiteRose thinks she's located the raw material from which to carve it. She adds her new experiences and insights to the next payload and begins the next iteration.

This is the one we're watching. The one in which Elliot breaks his father's trust, angering him enough to push him out a second story window, creating Mr. Robot. The one in which Mr. Robot recruits fsociety and plans the hack. The one in which Angela's influence gets Elliot to the place he needs to be—Allsafe—to enable Mr. Robot's hack. The one in which they both meet Tyrell Wellick, the final (perhaps) piece of the puzzle, and low and behold, a bloodless 5/9—well, y'know, not counting the aftermath—and leverage enough for WhiteRose/Zhang to acquire the Congo!

If this is the furthest that WhiteRose has gotten, then she is in truly uncharted territory. We've seen how she has numerous strategies in play (influencing the media to pump up a certain pompous buffoon's Q rating), and I think it's in that same vein that she turns to Grant for his advice in light of Elliot's proposal of Stage 3, something that would not have come up in any previous iteration of events. WhiteRose has the coltan mines of the Congo now. Maybe Elliot *has* outlived his usefulness. No doubt she's already made notes for her younger self to take steps to quell the unrest in the Congo so that her pet project can be transported there hassle-free in the next iteration.

And what is her pet project? Her ultimate goal? Y'know, assuming she's already got this method of time travel? What could top that?

What about the ability to run these iterations as simulations, allowing her to not have to *live* each iteration? Not that she feels it, but intellectually, for a hacker of time, that's got to be aggravating, right? Of course, each of those simulations is an iteration, too, so a subjective, paradoxical advance.

How about hacking reality? Basically, the ability I discuss in my first theory. I feel like WhiteRose's ultimate goal involves taming cosmic forces to perhaps selfishly right a personal (cosmic) wrong. Did Zhang ever have a sister? Do Zhang and WhiteRose each wish to live as two separate beings? Or is WhiteRose her true self, and Zhang a mask? Would WhiteRose wish to recode herself as a biological woman? Or somehow able to transform at will? Perhaps her pet project, once complete, can realize these wishes.

This would also make her promise to Angela a deliverable one, as I describe above.


I would *love* for WhiteRose to have or be working toward, classic pulpy scifi time travel, but I just don't see it working out. Assuming that's the goal, and that she achieves it, she can't use time travel to go back and change or fix anything without endangering the machinations she engineered to enable it in the first place. Which logically means she can only go forward in time, and aside from hoverboards and gambling, where's the fun in that, right?

Huh. Something (zany) just occurred to me. Maybe she wants to go *all the way* forward, to the Singularity and/or Omega Point. Sorry, "and/or" because I forget if they're mutually exclusive. I’m fuzzy on the details of each. In any case, once then-there, assuming there isn't some fascist super villain who's somehow able to dominate the state, WhiteRose can live or relive any life she would want…or something. Right?

Yeah, like I said, that *just* occurred to me.

Multiverse-hopping also sounds like fun, but I'm not seeing the upside to that, either.

Maybe WhiteRose has been contacted by an alternate version of herself and given instructions on how to bridge and cross 'verses, but to what end? A Council of Cross-Time WhiteRoses who manipulate markets and technology across timelines? I'd *love* that, but it seems incongruous with the fabric and feel of the MR. ROBOT we've watched for three seasons.

Maybe WhiteRose speaks of these things in earnest with certain parties in order to manipulate them, as dramatically seen with Angela. Irving has mentioned that he doesn't find the possibility of some kind of undo (Angela and Irving never name it) completely unbelievable, and I love the idea that such a promise is part of Irving's motivation, but just as likely is the notion that Irving is toeing the line with Angela, saying what he's supposed to say to keep her motivated.

But you *know* Irving wants WhiteRose to deliver a reality in which BEACH TOWEL is a huge best seller and optioned for an HBO series, right? =)

Some last bits of crazy talk…

  • Washington Township has been the home of WhiteRose’s project for a very long time. If time travel is in play, maybe it’s only available for the lifetime of the functioning core of that project. How the heck is she having that “packed up” and moved to the Congo? Or is she having a second/newer facility assembled there?
  • What properties of the DRC region and/or coltan would be so valuable to the presumably exotic science involved in WhiteRose’s project? EM radiation? Magnetism? Radioactivity?
  • The Mandela Effect is visible everywhere in the show—and I *love* it—but maybe that's just the reality that this show lives in.
  • I'd like for there to be an opposing force to WhiteRose, someone we haven't met yet, who's playing the game at her level, or maybe even one level above, unknown to WhiteRose. Maybe it's a future Elliot. Or someone we've been told is dead. Or an alternate WhiteRose. Maybe Elliot's landlord (is that Guillermo del Toro or G. G. Martin? =) is the Yoda to WhiteRose's Emperor?
  • I think that someone or organization has repurposed Flipper's chip and is using him to track or spy or spoof Elliot and Mr. Robot. Krista's dick ex returning Flipper to Elliot as a curse on him was just a bit too dramatic for me to be legitimate.
  • Does WhiteRose know that Elliot shares his body with Mr. Robot? Does she *recognize* this dual persona existence because she does the same with Minister Zhang? Were WhiteRose's parents exposed to the same poison cocktail that killed Elliot and Angela's parents, but under different circumstances?

I know I've got more crazy talk in my rusty innards, but it's not coming to me just now. Hopefully events and revelations in this week's episode will rule some of it out. Just as likely, tho, it will inspire more. =)

Be seeing you.

Keep on keepin' on~

Friday, December 08, 2017

MR. ROBOT: 03x09: Eps.3.8_Stage3.Torrent: Angela and Phillip…

Hello, friend.

Several moments from this week's ep have gotten some fleeting ROBOT-y thoughts to coalesce into almost-theories…
MR. and MS. ROBOT?

When Angela discovers Leon waiting for Elliot in his apartment, she freaks, believing them to be in cahootz against WhiteRose's plans, which she believes will bring back her mom and Elliot's dad. We see her packing up her life into a cart and hitting the street, all the while apparently verbally checking in with herself, and possibly Qwerty. Of course this gets me thinking…

Angela is experiencing a second persona the way Elliot has been. Maybe we're witnessing a relapse or reversion, and she's had this second self—Ms. Robot?—since she was a kid, around the time Elliot's and her parents died.

How would this be possible? Whatever killed their mother and father in the Washington Township power plant also affected them. I'm unclear on the nature of the carcinogenic exposure, as well as when it occurred and over how long a time, but for the sake of this crazy talk theory, let's say that exposure happened/began before Elliot and Angela were born (and before the reported *leak*). So, their parents were already exposed when the kids were conceived. The power plant contaminant affected Edward Alderson's and Emily Moss's physiology in some way and these changes were passed on to the children. After they were born, it manifested in this potential for bifurcation of personality. So, they're mutants, and their mutation allows their single brains to be hosts to more than one mind.

Or…Angela is just talking to the fish. =)

The fish who spoke to Elliot in his withdrawal visions.


At the first meeting between EvilCorp and Allsafe, Phillip Price seems to recognize Angela. Sure, it could be from the Washington Township class action suit, somehow, but I'm thinking that he might have been reacting to her resemblance to someone that he does know—Angela's mother.

Remember Emily Moss's living funeral shindig? Lawyer Antara Nayar mentions an anonymous would-be benefactor (again) to Angela's mom, and she refuses the offer (again).

I'm suggesting that Phillip Price is Emily's biological father and Emily is his illegitimate/estranged daughter. This blood tie is a family secret kept from Angela. It's possible that Emily doesn't know, but there was something in the way she reacted and turned down the offer that has me thinking she knows who made it. Angela's father might know—he walked away from the convo when the offer to cover Emily's treatment came up—and is respecting Emily's wish, or perhaps honoring some legally binding contract, by keeping schtum about it.

Could Phillip's reaction to Angela and the medical care offer be explained by Phillip being *Angela's* bio-dad and Emily's one or sometime affair? Emily worked for EvilCorp at the Washington Township power plant (doing what?). From what position with what duties was Phillip Price promoted to CEO? Maybe his pre-CEO responsibilities included administration of or visits to the Washington Township facility, where he and Emily became familiar and then began an affair.

Perhaps Emily broke it off once she got pregnant, and uncertain of the paternity, or played it that way with Phillip. Or maybe Phillip broke it off when he started angling for CEO and got himself into a position that took him away from Washington Township? Yeah, that might make things a little…smoother. Maybe he ghosted before Emily even knew she was pregnant. Only after the leak and Emily's illness (and Angela's birth) did Phillip re-enter her life, but only as this anonymous benefactor.

Hrm…Maybe paternity isn't "necessary" at all here—just an affair…or dalliance. Who knows? Maybe they shared was some simple, singular, Christmas Miracle-ish moment of kindness once? Y’know, like accidentally killing someone together and burying the body. The usual. =)

How about Phillip takes a shine to Angela (and so, Allsafe) to kinda-sorta-honor Emily? Could Phillip ever have been—or actually still be, under his crusty layers of greed and villainy—the kind of man Emily would actually fall for? Did Emily make Phillip a better man? For a time?

Some show facts/history may easily bust these ideas—I readily admit my MR. ROBOT memory could definitely use an upgrade—but I do like riffing on theories and connections like these, almost as much as I enjoy considering the multiple choice options the show's given us for WhiteRose's Undo device or project… Time travel, parallel worlds, cosmic (re)programming…

I do so dig this show. =)

Keep on keepin' on~

Sunday, July 02, 2017

BABY DRIVER: Edgar Eggs!

Edgar Eggs—They're kind of like what people call Easter Eggs in other films, but with a quality that's distinctly Wrightian. What follows is a collection of notes and details from the film—references, motifs, callbacks, and connections—narrative, filmmaking, and personal—inserted and/or found (or imagined by me =) in the perfectly timed rhythmic clockwork beauty that is BABY DRIVER.

Please note that my memory for quotes is tres imperfect these days. I may present some dialogue in quotes or screenplay-ish format, but it's best-of-my-recollection, and the result is likely paraphrased.
Now entering SPOILER CITY…

The Octane Shuffle

On his Octane run after the first heist, Baby musicals his way down the road to "Harlem Shuffle." As he roughly follows the song's instructions, the song is backed up by the city itself, its lyrics presented in graffiti art, spray paint, and signs in Baby's environment. And it's not just static. In at least one instance, the graffiti on his way back from Octane is different, added to, compared to the graffiti on his way to Octane. A piece of wall that echoes "Right" the first time, also tells him "Shake Shake" the second.
Also, on the way to Octane, along with Baby’s “Harlem Shuffle” track syncing with graffiti and posted words in the environment, we see Baby match poses with a mural of a guy looking up to the sky and play “air horn” in front of a show window featuring a trumpet.
Also also, on the way to Octane we overhear a guy on the phone telling someone that they're late. On the way back from Octane he passes the same guy dressing down the other guy in person about having to be on time.
Just before leaving Octane, a girl across the street catches his eye, right in front of a graffiti'd heart. It’s our Muse, Debora, but Baby doesn’t know that yet. By the time he exits the coffee shop, seconds later and heading in the same direction as her, she's mysteriously disappeared. On his way back to the Healey, he dodges a face-to-face with a policeman, two-steps around a sandwich board doomsayer telling him that he must save himself from sin, and when crossing the street, a police car just passes him by before turning on its siren. Signs and portents.
I wonder…Could the lyrics to “Harlem Shuffle” be a map to one of the getaway scenes? Or the acts and plot of the entire film…? Certainly can’t put it past Professor Wright =)
Baby makes another Octane run after the armored truck heist, considerably less joyful, and for us, abridged. Along with the change in the cover of "Harlem Shuffle" it's a great barometer of a downward, darkward, trend in Baby's crime-adjacent fortunes.

What's on the Telly?

When Baby flips thru channels at home w/Joe early on, I was hit with some deja view to the channel-hopping in SHAUN OF THE DEAD which connects clips from different shows to create a message about what's actually going on before our heroes quite suss it out. That's not quite what happens here, but the apparently random snippets of content do end up being (1) useful and (2) meaningful.
1. Useful?

If we pay attention, we learn that Baby doesn't just electronically remix (Kid Koala!) the samples of the people in his neighborhood that he records on his microcassette recorder. He also does it conversationally. When he finds himself at a loss for original words, he verbally samples/replays dialogue—from art and life—that he's stored on his personal hard drive. So, on the TV, we see Alfalfa of THE LITTLE RASCALS squeaking out "You Are So Beautiful." These are the words that seem to uncontrollably fall from his lips soon after meeting Debora. On the TV, we see John Krasinski holding Meryl Streep in some farewell moment in I-don't-know-the-movie, no-doubt-cheekily announcing, "They grow up so fast, don't they?" When casing the post office with Nephew Samm, that's what Baby says to cover up his flub of a guess at the boy's age…
TELLER: How old is he?
BABY: Four.
SAMM: I'm eight.
BABY: They grow up so fast, don't they?
On the TV, we see Mike telling Sulley in MONSTERS, INC, "You and I are a team. Nothing is more important than our friendship." Later, this is what Baby tells Doc to reassure him of his loyalty and commitment to him. The clips are tools that Baby adds to his inventory for later use. They also serve as a Wrightian map of events to come.
It's not just media Baby remixes, tho. He pulls from life, too. In the elevator down after the first heist, he hears Darling approve of Buddy's post-heist celebration plan…"That's the finest wining and dining of all the wines and dines in town." And that's how he describes Bacchanalia when he suggests it to Debora for their first date. Of course, the suggestion itself is a Buddy sample.
I've gotta wonder if Edgar Wright is a fan of a particular sketch from THE CAROL BURNETT SHOW, with Alan Alda as guest. It was an immediate favorite when I saw it as a kid. Alda plays a fellow on a date who seems to be quite the charmer, saying all the right things. I forget if the date was at her place or maybe they show up there at the end of the night, but once she turns on the TV, we learn that most of what he's said to her have been lines from the movies. I think he denies it for a while, but when he finally breaks down into an emotional confession, a few seconds later, we hear that very same confession in the dialogue of a movie of the week. Genius.
It's probably very telling that that sketch should burn itself into my brain, eh? =)
2. Meaningful?

At the end of this series of channel flipping clips, we land on coverage of a bullfight. We see a matador stepping around a skewered but still strutting bull. We hear, and see via cc, the announcer…"The bull still stands.” In the moment, that seems to be a comment on the conversation between Baby and Joe. Baby has just told him, "One more job and I'm done." Joe tells him that he doesn't want anyone to get hurt, so Baby promises that he'll make sure nothing will happen to him. Joe explains that it's not himself he's worried about, a concern which somehow sails over his high-altitude head.
However, before we cut to the next scene, the bullfight announcer continues…"The bull still stands…Bloodied, but not defeated. Gaston could not finish him on horseback and now must try his luck on foot." To different degrees, this predicts what happens to Baby after the post office robbery and also in his finale duel with Buddy in the parking garage. Post-post office, after skewering Bats, Baby (and Buddy and Darling) have to abandon their steed and escape on foot.
By the way, the meaning behind the name "Gaston" can be stranger or guest.
Later, when it’s down to Baby and Debora vs. Buddy, they start car-v-car (the red Challenger and the police cruiser), but Baby tells Debora they have to get out of the car so that he can end this, and although he does that just to get into a different car, the final confrontation has all of the players on their feet. Well, y'know, until they’re not any more.
I think the second time we see Baby or Joe channel-hopping at home, Noel Fielding appears on screen for a few seconds. On my first screening, I thought it was a clip from THE MIGHTY BOOSH, but now I realize that it’s from the video for Mint Royale’s “Blue Song,” which Wright directed. It was sort of an early short form riff of his full-blown BABY DRIVER concept—a wheelman waiting on his crew to the sound—and duration—of a favorite song of the right length. A very fun watch and listen.

Speaking of Prophecy…

I covered this in my "BABY DRIVER: What's in a name?" post, but I think it's worth mentioning again for anyone who's going back for more. Pay attention to what Griff says about and tells Baby in his little tirade after the heist. I'm fairly certain every bit of it is true or will be proven true by the end of the film. Baby *does* think himself, if not better than, then outside and apart from, the crews that he works with. He can't be in crime and not be a little criminal. He will have blood on his hands.
His closing remark is something like…
GRIFF: Gotta hand it to ya, Totem Pole. I don't know if you're brave as shit or scared shitless, but you're gonna have to figure it out…Which one are you?
Courageous or cowardly? Baby himself doesn't know, partly because he probably hasn't thought about it, partly because he hasn't put himself in a place where that's truly been tested, but it will.
Actually, now that I think about it, on that matter, Griff is not right. It's not either-or, because Baby is both scared shitless *and* brave as shit. That’s kind of the point.

Bo's Diner and the Laundromat…

Thinking about Bo’s Diner's decor theme and wall art…The big long wall has a mural of a couple in a convertible heading down Route 66, apparently a replica of postcard art that Debora later sends to Baby while he's in jail.
Soon after Debora and Baby first speak at Bo's, she excuses herself and tells him to feel free to ask her any questions he might have. When he calls after her to do just that and ask about the "Baby" song she's singing, we see her turn back to look at him with that wall mural as the backdrop, a premix of the moment when they hit the road together, first in Baby's vision, then in reality, five years later.

How about the laundromat's decor theme and wall art? Space-y, featuring rockets and rows of laundry machines against a field of stars. Something fun to note: at whatever hour it is Debora and Baby hit the 'mat, everyone's drying their clothes in loads of red, blue, and yellow—popping primaries. A perfect musical film backdrop to their subliminal dance number. =)
Does Baby ever actually eat, drink, or order anything at Bo's?
Where is Bo’s Diner? If ever in the area, gotta go—gotta go!
I wonder if the decor in the diner and laundromat was redone for the movie, or was left as magically found?
We see Baby dial up Bo’s Diner before he leaves to take Joe to safety—555-1270. I think that was it. December 1970? Does that line up with a significant birthday or cinematic event?
What it *does* line up with is a car part—a Steeda Mustang Pedal Kit, Manual! =)

The Rainbow Connection…

POSTAL WORKER: Everybody wants happiness, nobody wants pain, but you can’t have a rainbow without a little rain.
This after saying she’s working “9 to 5, just like Dolly.”
It’s a sweet connect to the rain that falls the next day, the day of the post office heist, and the rainbow that appears five years later when Deb picks up Miles on his release from prison, ready to drive west on 20 in a car they can’t afford with a plan they don’t have.
I guess that’s romantic? Sounds like a lot of stress to me. =)
A slight stretch, but a little more “rain” falls during the parking garage duel, when the sprinklers kick in.
It may also be a callback to Debora's first anonymous and unacknowledged appearance in the film, during Baby's first "Harlem Shuffle" to Octane. A headphoned Debora (who's not yet looking like a zeb-o-ra) passes Octane on the other side of the street. When Baby spots her, she crosses directly in front of a graffiti'd heart sitting on rainbows, sync'd of course to a nice beat or sting in the music. I *think* they're rainbows below the heart. Something to look for on my next screening.
Also, kind of walking the long way around, a figurative-to-literal connection to Paul Williams!
Dolly Parton -> imparter of Rainbow wisdom -> “The Rainbow Connection” -> written by Paul Williams.

An Educated Guess From an Uneducated Man…

Bats at Bo’s does a "reading" of Buddy and Darling. He calls Buddy out as an ex-Wall Street schmuck who played harder than he worked, running up debt that would "make a white man blush." He left behind a wife and maybe kid to run off with his favorite stripper and crime it up in a world of "three things—money, sex, drugs, and action…Oh, shit! That's four."
When he boils it down, he explains that Buddy and Darling rob banks to support a drug habit. Bats does drugs to support a bank robbing habit. They’re on vacation; he’s at work.
The look on Buddy's face tells me that Bats is spot-on. BTW, Jon Hamm kills in this film! =)
Buddy's got nothing to say, so Darling takes this opp to respond for both of them, explaining that Bats may think he's the crazy one in the crew, the wild card, but he's never seen Buddy when he's been pushed. "When he sees red, you won't see anything but black…" Darling's explicit warning for Bats actually predicts Buddy's relentless pursuit of revenge on Baby for her death.

Walter Hill Connections…

Walter Hill is the director of the 1978 getaway driver flick, THE DRIVER (and THE WARRIORS and 48 HOURS). I've only just recently seen THE DRIVER for the first time and it is definitely the godfather of dozens of heist and chase films I've seen over the years. It's uncanny how I recognize it now in the DNA of the likes of HEAT, THE ITALIAN JOB, and DRIVE. Kind of a missing link between LE SAMOURAI and RONIN. Edgar Wright acknowledges the film's huge inspiration on him and his filmmaking and he pays his respects in a couple of sweet ways in BABY DRIVER.
If you sit through the credits (and you should—these people made the film you just watched!) you'll see that Walter Hill played the court ASL translator for Baby's foster dad, Joe. He does not appear on screen. We only hear his voice as Joe signs…
JOE: He's got a good heart. Always has. Always will.
A minute or so later, we learn that Baby's been sentenced to a minimum of 5 years in jail, and we see him serving his time as prisoner number 28071978. That's 28-07-1978, aka the 28th of July, 1978, the original release date of Walter Hill's THE DRIVER!
Note that I did not pull that out of my wazoo. Seeing that number on screen, knowing it’s Edgar Wright at the helm, I just had a feeling, so went googling for info about THE DRIVER to uncover that connection.

Falcon Driver?

Oh, man! Who is responsible for Baby’s wardrobe? For half if not most of the film, he is strategically yet uncannily decked out in duds that scream “Han Solo” to me. I’m talking A NEW HOPE—black vest over white shirt with dark pants.

(Baby’s taste in clothes—as well as his backstory and talents—inspired this BABY DRIVER: Nerf Herder mashup… =)
After the film, I was told that our Baby, Ansel Elgort, had been on the short list for the young Han Solo film. I honestly had no idea as I did and do my best to block that sort of “news” as much as possible when it comes to films I’m looking forward to.
Was this Wright, Elgort, or another member or members of the crew expressing their support for HANsel? I have no idea how the timelines of young Solo casting and BABY DRIVER shooting line up. But if the decision was made before shooting, maybe Ansel’s turn as Baby becomes a kind of what-could-have-been/what-you-missed strutting? =)
When I heard about the LEGO MOVIE directors being dismissed from the project, I thought that maybe they’d seen BABY DRIVER and realized that Edgar Wright had already made the movie—what’s the point now? =)
And in the Hollywood minute before Ron Howard was announced, I wondered if maybe BABY DRIVER might possibly be the perfect proof of capabilities for Wright as the new director. Alas—*sigh*—not to be.
I wonder just what the heck happened with Disney/Marvel/ANT-MAN and Wright.

Musicians in BABY DRIVER…

When Baby delivers his coupe de grace in the parking garage…
BABY: Fuck you, Buddy.
A perfect phrase and sentiment all on its own, but me being me, I do also wonder if he's paraphrasing Elvis—FYB vs TCB?
When Baby does speak more than a couple of syllables, his southern drawl definitely vibes Elvis for me. And although we don't hear his voice when he's lip syncing to the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion’s “Bellbottoms” in the opening heist, he’s definitely channeling Elvis hard in the moment. Or channeling Jon Spencer channeling Elvis. In any case, the impression is made, and it stays with me.
Who gives Baby his mail in jail? Whoever it is has a very unique look—maybe costumed in an ill-fitting uniform?—a Sam Elliot mustache, and a distinctive voice. In the in-order-of-appearance credits, I didn't see him, expecting to find "prison guard" at the end of the list, after "judge." Later, on the twitters, I saw a tweet asking Edgar Wright who Jon Spencer played, and a reply that explained he was the prison guard! Yeah, I do not know my music or musicians very well, so never could've called that on my own. What a perfect cameo, though, right?
I can thank the end credits for informing me that Doc likes to hang out at Bacchanalia with Big Boi and Killer Mike (of Run the Jewels), two artists who contributed "Chase Me" to the movie's soundtrack.

Note that a lot of the above appeared in earlier posts here and here, but this rambling above is the most developed crazy talk (so far).
I've got some more half—well, more like quarter—baked thoughts, but will let them cook a while yet before posting. Don’t wanna give anyone blog salmonella. After all, these *are* made with eggs.
If you’re interested in seeing some BABY DRIVER fan art poster designs inspired by Edgar Eggs, click here. =)
All you need is one killer track…
Keep on keepin' on~