BY ALEXANDER ZALBEN
Want to get some revealing clues about Mr. Robot Season 3? Then hopefully you have a strong stomach -- both for what terrible secrets you might find out, and for eating lots of delicious pulled pork sandwiches.
That's because USA's tripped out thriller has once again set up shop at San Diego Comic-Con, bringing cryptic codes and some tantalizing teases along with the free food. And as TV Guide got a sneak peek at the shenanigans hacktivist group fsociety, sinister organization The Dark Army, and multi-national company E-Corp are up to at the annual pop culture conflagration, get ready for some (but not all) of the download on October's debuting third season.
Last year, Mr. Robot established a base in San Diego's Gaslamp district, reproducing Mr. Robot's (Christian Slater) computer repair shop and Elliot Alderson's (Rami Malek) apartment for a VR experience; so in what has to be the most immersive, continuous experience we've ever seen, USA set up shop next door to that location, leaving last year's storefront covered in tattered posters and condemned signs. Instead, the conceit is that you're setting up an account at The Bank of E, using their proprietary E-Coin, a currency created in Season 2 to battle the effects of fsociety's successful hack.
This isn't some simple photo booth, though, or other de rigueur activation: E-Coin can actually be used throughout San Diego to buy food, with further puzzles and challenges down the road unlocking more E-Coin, which unlocks more food, etc., etc. The first place you need to head with your new Bank of E card, though, is next door to Red Wheelbarrow BBQ. The red wheelbarrow -- a poem by Carlos Williams -- featured heavily in Season 2, leading to a menu from the aforementioned restaurant that tied into a key moment in the first part of the season finale.
Here, we finally get to see the restaurant, complete with free pulled pork sandwiches (which were, according to TV Guide's video producer, "cold but delicious") and milkshakes. The real draw, though, are the posters hung around the walls, doors, and more. Savvy fans will start to see patterns emerge before they run out of time (remember, "every second counts"). Without ruining too much of the fun, various puzzles will lead you to another, secret location. And there you'll get to live out one of the most memorable, most terrifying scenes from Season 2.
But TV Guide, you may be asking, what about those spoilers? This sounds like all fun and games, and scenes from last season. You are correct, imaginary person I'm conversing with! Once you solve all the puzzles, you'll be treated to not only a phone call from a fan favorite character, but a brief, non-recordable glimpse at stills from the upcoming season.
Here's what we can tell you, based on the information we got: The Dark Army's plans go far beyond the financial destruction of E-Corp; if you think E-Corp CEO Phillip Price (Michael Cristofer) is the real threat, think again; and not everyone is walking away at the end of Season 3.
Oh, and guess what? The activation will be showing off new photos every day, meaning you'll have to go back, eat pulled pork, and go through one of the creepiest experiences ever in order to truly reach "enlightenment."
Because based on what we saw, next year there may be nothing left of the world to build a Mr. Robot experience out of. At least we'll always have those sandwiches.
Mr. Robot returns to USA in October of 2017.