The Emmy-nominated comedy The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt opens with the liberation of four women from an underground Indiana bunker where an apocalyptic preacher has kept them captive and convinced them that the world has been destroyed by a nuclear holocaust. With an armed SWAT officer opening the bunker door, the women rise blinking into a sunny, verdant meadow and are quickly nicknamed “the Indiana mole women” by the surrounding media.
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“It’s been 66 days since the alleged murderers of Vinci City Manager Ben Caspere engaged police in one of the deadliest shootouts in state history. The so called Vinci massacre was determined closed by Attorney General Geldof, who used the conference to announce his candidacy for governor.”
In audio from a local news story spoken over the opening of the fifth episode of HBO’s True Detective, new director John Crowley borrows a trick from Orson Welles’s Citizen Kane, 1941. He uses the press report to provide some of the important details of the story. This helps because writer Nic Pizzolatto seems heavily influenced by director Roman Polanski and writer Robert Towne’s 1974 classic Chinatown. He has layered and cross pollinated corruption, blackmail, lust, incest and environmental terrorism.
“People make the best exploits,” says Elliot in his head, presumably to us, just as he and the F Society team approach the Steel Mountain facility they have been planning on infiltrating for weeks. This is it, the time has finally come for F Society to stop talking about their epic plan and start doing something about it.
It’s the Steel Mountain heist that concerns much of episode six, entitled “3xploits.wmv”, and just as the title promises, much of their plan rests on exploiting the faults in the human mind rather than in the facility’s security system. Finding human faults is not a new notion in Mr. Robot. Ever since episode one, Elliot has continuously flexed his hacking muscles, usually finding his way in by picking apart the person rather than the system.
Sometimes your worst self is your best self.
—Frank Semyon (Vince Vaughn)
One of the most disconcerting plot twists in a recent film was in Alejandro González Iñárritu’s 2006 movie Babel. One plotline revolved around the character Amelia, played by Adriana Barraza. She was to have the day off for her son’s wedding in Mexico, but her employers had to extend their vacation leaving her in charge of the two children. She could not find anyone to watch them for her, so she decides to take them with her to Mexico. The first three-quarters of the story is a quite endearing story of the children being exposed to a different culture. Unfortunately, she then decides to engage in consensual sex with one of the wedding guests. This transgression against the great puritanical code of American movies cannot go unpunished. The story line ends with her penniless—abandoned in the desert in a torn and dirty dress. What seemed so strange was the entire movie was cast like an essay on the innate humanity of all cultures. This kind of misogyny is very incongruous with the theme of the movie. As True Detective continues to unfold, the same puritanical subtext emerges under the layers of lacquered cynicism.
As we enter the fourth installment of Mr. Robot’s first season we begin to recognize some patterns. One specific structural pattern is that each episode has a theme that shows up in the title and is also an allusion to an idea in computer programming. These are introduced within the episode by Elliot’s inner monologue and serve as the backbone for the episode’s development. Last week, the theme was “Bugs,” and explored the problems within each character’s inner code.
This week, we delve into daemons, which Elliot tells us are background programs that run whether or not we are aware of them. Just like “d3bug.mkv”, “da3mons.mp4” uses this computer program as a metaphor for what goes on within our own psyche. Although the last episode tried to extend its metaphor to encompass many characters, “da3mons.mp4” puts the focus squarely on Elliot. This isn’t to say that Elliot eats up a hundred percent of the screen time in episode four; “da3mons.mp4” does make an attempt to remove itself from its main character a bit, with stories that, while somewhat necessary, are a bit clunky in execution.