BY LAURA PRUDOM
In the Season 2 finale of Mr. Robot, Tyrell Wellick (Martin Wallström) tells our troubled protagonist Elliot Alderson (Rami Malek) about a William Carlos Williams poem called "The Red Wheelbarrow," but that's not the first time we've come across the phrase.
Eagle-eyed viewers likely noticed that the words were scrawled across the front of Elliot's journal from his time in prison earlier in the season, before fellow inmate "Hot Carla" burned it. Now, thanks to series creator Sam Esmail and writer Courtney Looney, fans can peel back the pages and learn what was really going on inside Elliot's head during that time period on the show, as well as getting a hint about the significance of those words moving forward.
The novel, "Mr. Robot: Red Wheelbarrow," will hit shelves on Nov. 1, and in a panel at New York Comic Con, Esmail gave fans a few hints about how the tie-in book links to the series as a whole.
"Tyrell, in the final episode of Season 2, quotes this poem to Elliott and there’s a bond formed between these two, which is actually a moment that happens in Season 1 after the scene between Mr. Robot and Tyrell," Esmail explains. "That poem, that phrase, 'Red Wheelbarrow,' sticks in E’s mind and becomes a code word that he’ll later explore in Season 3, but that becomes the inspiration for the book. This is everything between Seasons 1 and 2, the 30 days that we lapsed between the two seasons."
Esmail stresses that this isn't just a promotional tool for the series, "it's a story" in itself, and if you want to try and unravel all the mysteries of the show, it's vital reading.
"There will be stuff in here that will matter. Do you need to read it in order to understand everything? Yes, but understanding everything will probably never happen," Esmail laughs. "If your goal is to have an answer for everything that will happen, you should read the book, but you should also watch the VR film and play the mobile game," since all of the show's tie-in properties serve a narrative function, Esmail says. "It’ll have its own clues and its own answers that you won’t see anywhere else."
In addition to offering insight into Elliot's mental state during his time in prison, the book also adds depth and context to his dynamic with Hot Carla, says Esmail: "Honestly, there’s a real interesting relationship that develops between him and Hot Carla that we never really get to delve into in the show, but we get a backstory of their relationship and what Hot Carla meant to him. If you read the book and you rewatch Season 2, it’s kind of interesting to see how close they are and it informs the small exchanges between the two of them."
Esmail also promises that there's some "good Leon stuff in the book," and for fans of the character who proved to be Elliot's savior — and seemingly a Dark Army acolyte with mad assassin skills — during his jail time, the showrunner says that "Leon is definitely one to look out for in Season 3."
Not only will the book provide Elliot's perspective, it will also feature Mr. Robot's POV whenever Elliot's alter-ego takes over; the book was even written using Rami Malek and Christian Slater's handwriting to convey those mental shifts.
Unlike Elliot's voiceover in the show, which Esmail notes is sparingly used, the journal is a much more honest representation of Elliot's mental state and emotions. "It’s a vomit of his thoughts. It was tough in that regard because it was unrelenting; we couldn’t cut away like we did in the show," Esmail notes. "We probably know him better than anyone else at this point because we had to go so deep into his mind."
Mr. Robot will return for Season 3 next year on USA Network.