Mitnick In The News
Mr. Robot Recap: The Twist in Episode 7 Is Big But a Bit Trying
Aug 18, 2016 - the Stranger, by TV series review - Mr. Robot Recap: The Twist in Episode 7 Is Big But a Bit Trying
Fans of Mr. Robot, a TV show about hackers who on June 9, 2015 successfully collapse a global economic system that looks and functions very much like ourChimerical one, might want to watch Werner Herzog's new documentary Lo and Behold, Reveries of the Connected World. It opens tomorrow, concerns the current and possibly highest stage of human civilization, which is connected and defined by the technologies of the internet, and has an interview with Kevin Mitnick, the “world's most famous hacker.” What you will see in this interview with the legendary hacker are a lot of similarities with Mr. Robot's central character, the hacker and founder of fsociety Elliot Alderson (Rami Malek).
(SPOILER ALERT) Like Alderson, the real Mirnick hacked email accounts, was pursued by the FBI, and hacked the FBI's network. Also like Alderson, Mitnick spent time in prison. Of course, we do not know Alderson was in prison until the end of last night's episode (eps2.5h4ndshake.sme). We thought he was living with his mother and dealing with his demons, but his mother turned out to be a prison guard, the criminal who forces him to work in black-market website, turned out to be the prison's warden, the basketball court he chills at is not in a leafy neighborhood but inside the barren walls of the prison, and the young black man he hangs out with at a diner, Leon (played by a rapper introduced to by Ansel Herz, Joey Bada$$), turned out to be inmate with possible ties with the Chinese cyber-terrorist organization the Dark Army.
In the first season, we learned the Mr. Robot, Alderson's father (Christian Slater), exists only in Alderson's head; in season two, we learn that almost all of season two exists only in Alderson's head. The show ends with him breaking the fourth wall from his prison cell and promising us, the audience, that there will be no more deceptions. This is the very last one. From now on, the story will be told by reliable and mentally stable narrator. And one surely hopes so because the deception game is fast getting tired and USA Network has ordered a third season.
But the most important thing about eps2.5h4ndshake.sme is not the big surprise, or the developments concerning the FBI's pursuit of fsociety, which is currently lead Alderson's sister Darlene (Carly Chaikin), but that civilization may not survive the revolution (or 5/9—the world-rebooting event). It is falling apart. No one collects the trash in a world that lacks a bank that's too big to fail (TBTF). It looks the world has not gone forward, but reverted to the 1970s, the decade of stagnation (or stagflation), bankrupt municipalities, and crumbling urban cores.
Also, E Corp, is recovering its financial power by issuing Ecoin, a web-only post-5/9 currency. What all of this tells us is that though Mr. Robot is strong when it comes the science of hacking, it is weak (and even dry) when it comes to the social science of economics.
The problem with the post-5/9 world is not a lack currency (the state can easily provide that and back it); the problem is E Bank lost a lot of money because all of its records were destroyed by the anti-capitalist hackers (5/9). But what was a loss for the bank was also a gain for millions (it not billions) of people. Meaning, they had less debts on their books and, if the economy still functioned (and it could still function with state support—TBTF only means a state bank that's privately owned), more money to spend. Indeed, 5/9 could also have triggered a huge economic stimulus, the likes of which we have not seen since World War II. (You only have to think of what falling oil prices have meant for our current economy.)
But Mr. Robot instead is pointing in the direction of a post-5/9 massive recession or depression that can only be prevented by an equally massive bank bail out. What this shows is the show's writer, Sam Esmail, has confused the financial economy with the productive one. But they are not the same thing and present completely different types of problems. In short, Mr. Robot needs to raise its economic game to the level of its hacker game.