BY KATE STANHOPE
The hacker drama made a splash at its second Comic-Con appearance with a little help from the notorious conglomerate and the infamous Red Wheelbarrow.
Mr. Robot once again set up shop — literally — for its second appearance at San Diego Comic-Con; however, the outside appearance of this year's activation might make true fans of the hacker drama think twice before entering.
Located at 327 4th Ave. and running Thursday through Saturday (11 a.m. to 7 p.m.) and Sunday (11 a.m. to 4 p.m.), the experience gives a big nod to 2016's VR experience that took place at a re-creation of the '90s-era Mr. Robot repair shop once owned by Elliot's father.
While the repair shop might be closed up — it is 2015 in the series canon, after all — right next to it, a new, and very familiar business has sprung up: an E Corp. bank branch. After waiting in line — eager viewers started holding court at 7:30 a.m. Thursday — attendees will receive an Ecoin card (as pictured below) in a nod to the Ecoin currency system established in season two of the series, and that will once again play an important role in the upcoming third season, set to debut in October.
Once users register, they'll be able to use the 20 Ecoin value on the card at nearly 20 locations across downtown San Diego including Burger Lounge, New Yorker Pizzeria, Ghirardelli Ice Cream and Chocolate Shop, and even San Diego Trading Company for a Red Wheelbarrow BBQ T-shirt — a nod to the Red Wheelbarrow that served as an important motif throughout season two of Mr. Robot (and is also the title of the official Mr. Robot companion book co-written by series creator Sam Esmail.) Ecoin users are encouraged to look for signs outside businesses like the one above to know where they can use their new Ecoin cards.
Additionally, all Ecoin users can hop next door to, yes, Red Wheelbarrow BBQ for a free pork slider and milkshake since Red Wheelbarrow is serving as E Corp.'s launch partner for the San Diego pilot program.
But seeing as this is Mr. Robot, the experience doesn't stop there. Users are encouraged to read between the lines on the materials handed out and posted relating to the E Corp. experience. Those who look hard enough just might learn something about the upcoming third season. (As is true with the series itself, the activation encourages fans to keep an eye out for Easter eggs.)
As evidenced by the elaborate setup, this year's Mr. Robot activation was many months in the making. Series creator Sam Esmail, who will also directed all season two episodes and will do the same on season three, worked with the USA Network digital team to ensure the experience stayed true to the plots established in the series and to approve materials used in the activation.
"Nothing can contradict the story, because everything is part of one big story," USA svp of digital, Jeffrey Kaufman, told The Hollywood Reporter at the activation.
The immersive activation is just one part of USA Network's descent onto San Diego for Comic-Con tied to the upcoming third-season return of the series. The NBCUniversal cable channel is also hosting panels for the Carlton Cuse drama Colony and the upcoming Psych reunion movie.