Mr. Robot: eps3.8_stage3.torrent
December 8, 2017 9:04 AM - Season 3, Episode 9 - Subscribe

Mr. Robot goes to Tyrell's home, where they both meet Price who announces Tyrell will be the figurehead as the new CTO of Evil Corp. Tyrell realizes he is still the Dark Army's puppet. Elliot resurfaces and finds a message from Mr. Robot that the FBI is owned by the Dark Army. Darlene seduces Dom to steal her badge. Angela slips deeper into her delusions. Elliot decides to take down the Dark Army, so convinces them to meet with him by telling them there is a Stage 3.
posted by fimbulvetr (12 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I really hope that Dom and Darelene were setting Dom's boss up to catch him out as Dark Army. Otherwise I have serious concerns for Darlene's survival.

Whiterose losing her temper to the sound of glasses being played was incredible. I wonder though if she's really committed to killing Elliot. It almost seemed a little too easy for him to hack the DA.
posted by roolya_boolya at 11:00 AM on December 8, 2017

I hope you are right about Dom and Darlene. It definitely looked like Dom was starting to clue into what was going on. Otherwise, Dom seems to be stuck carrying the idiot ball.
posted by fimbulvetr at 11:11 AM on December 8, 2017 [2 favorites]

Poor Dom. :( Watching Darlene play her was just brutal. I never thought I'd have my eyes glued to a screen, hoping against hope that two women *won't* make out - but that's what good writing and acting does, I suppose.
posted by Mr. Excellent at 11:38 AM on December 8, 2017 [1 favorite]

The Dark Army would like a share of the idiot ball -- or idiot flash drive -- as they uploaded Elliot's malware into their system. Admittedly, I don't know anything about hacking or malware, but I didn't quite buy that.

I just can't quite believe that Whiterose is a villain yet. I'm holding out hope that she's ultimately working for good somehow.

When Philip Price shook his head after telling Tyrell that he wouldn't advance past CTO, I laughed. Michael Cristofer is so good at those little moments of quiet dismissal.
posted by gladly at 11:39 AM on December 8, 2017 [1 favorite]

> The Dark Army would like a share of the idiot ball -- or idiot flash drive -- as they uploaded Elliot's malware into their system.

I saw it as relatively believable - the way I remember it (and I don't have it handy to review at the moment), the exploit was embedded into a PDF that looked like it contained valuable information for them - pretty credible as far as targeted social engineering goes, as this is a common exploit vector, and one of the most effective.

This all happened fast, but I'm pretty sure I saw the meterpreter shell running, so I think it went down like this... the PDF itself didn't "upload" malware directly, it instead was used to open a tunnel up (reverse shell or otherwise), providing remote access for Elliot. Creating a PDF that opens a tunnel of various types is something that's relatively easy to craft with tools like Metasploit. If one takes at face value Elliots competence and skill, it seems reasonable to believe he could have knowledge of a zero-day exploit or similar that the Dark Army would not know to look for.

Further complicating detecting this sort of exploit is that the connection gets initiated on the victims side, and connects from the inside out, which can be masked to look as innocuous traffic... as opposed to trying to connect from the outside in, which is rather simple to prevent, and is more difficult to mask.

Since the PDF was from an image of Elliots laptop (I think?), it didn't have the same outright suspicion as one delivered from a phishing link or similar. This showed quite a bit of cleverness on Elliots part, leaving an exploited PDF on his own machine, knowing it would get either confiscated or imaged... a form of social engineering that I had never really considered before.

Now, in a real forensics environment, this would be opened with a non-networked machine, probably using a virtual machine or something else that would "contain" anything that could go wrong. But you could assume that not EVERYONE in the Dark Army is a polished professional, or they could simply be overconfident in their own defenses. And it looked like it was being opened by a lower-level Dark Army member who may not be quite at the same level of skill/paranoia. One who likely wouldn't be much longer for this world afterwards.

(Again, can't entirely remember every detail, so please correct me if I'm wrong on any of this)
posted by MysticMCJ at 12:01 PM on December 8, 2017 [12 favorites]

You've convinced me! I think the show lost me with their level of sophistication in that op.
posted by gladly at 1:21 PM on December 8, 2017

MysticMCJ, you provide more details than The Verge's Hack Report for this episode is less than impressive ("we can't see any actual coding, so ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ ")

Here's a bit (of deeply technical speak) about meterpreter, and how it's involved in Metasploit (Wikipedia). But it does mention the Ecoin popup as the likely culprit to actually carry out the attack. And Hack Report also identifies the possibility/likelihood that Dark Army anticipates this -- particularly tied to Phillip Price's comment "World catastrophes like this, they aren't caused by lone wolves like you. They occur because men like me allow them. You just happened to stumble into one of them."

The Hollywood Reporter's podcast ep on this episode gets into details of Elliot's hack:
Let's dig into specifics, beginning with Elliot's big move at the end of the episode: owning the Dark Army. That's exciting! Can you talk through how he accomplished this feat, for the laypeople in the back, as well as what this means for Elliot and Mr. Robot at large as we head into the season-three finale?

Alright, so Elliot sets up a meeting with the Dark Army through Irving (Bobby Cannavale). He knows how paranoid they are about recording devices. (We've seen evidence of this in prior episodes.) He thinks that they will most likely confiscate his phone and/or his laptop when he shows up to the meeting, especially if he says his Stage 3 plans are on the machine that he brings with him. They take his laptop and install their own monitoring software … think of it as a virus that gives them access to every file on his laptop. Later in the episode, a Dark Army operative reviews the contents of Elliot's machine and opens the Stage 3 file that Elliot left on there. That file infects the Dark Army operative, which gives Elliot access to the Dark Army's command and control center. Elliot set up the Dark Army because he knew they would open that file. We'll learn more about what that means for Elliot and Mr. Robot in the finale, but Elliot now has access to every computer that the Dark Army has ever hacked.
(Emphasis original)

Fun fact: not actually mentioned in the episode but in The Verge's Mr. Robot after show episode (YouTube) -- Elliot met with the Dark Army crew on Roosevelt Island, the very narrow strip of land in New York City's East River. There wasn't much of note on this after show, tbh, but Grace Gummer (Dom) was a guest on the episode, talking about what sees as Dom's background. But they did hit on something particularly in this episode: Darlene looked as if she was going to allow herself to get close to someone emotionally, while Dom finally found some companionship; instead, the end was the opposite - Darlene was just there as an intense bit of social engineering, while Dom turns completely cold humans. But Dom also keeps from letting it hinder her work, as she flips into badass pro mode in the interview room when Santiago tries to re-direct Dom from Darlene pushing "we can undo this, you can be heroes" to Santiago telling Dom "this is about you and your lapse in judgement."

So now I'm hoping Dom and Darlene work together to fix things ... but in reality, I'm certain they'll try and it'll all fall down around them. (Then again, Dom survived the Chinese heist, hopefully she'll survive this, too.)

If nothing else, The Verge has a fun contest for artists: draw something with Price and Whiterose (Michael Cristofer and BD Wong), the guests for next week's episode, post on Twitter and all that, and the top 5 pieces will win Mr. Robot swag which includes an Ecorp tote bag, a keyring/bottle opener, and Elliot’s notebook from last season.

Final tangent: cute call-out to Alexa's Daily Five/Nine, "an interactive story game inspired by the appearance of the Amazon Echo in USA Network’s Golden Globe® and Emmy®-winning series MR. ROBOT."
posted by filthy light thief at 2:34 PM on December 8, 2017

OK, there's more good stuff from THR's talk with producer, writer and technology expert Kor Adana
During their first argument since the Cyber Bombings, Mr. Robot calls Tyrell a puppet, and Tyrell shoots back with a very familiar retort: "No puppet! No puppet! You're the puppet!" How much debate was there in the writers room about including this overt "Trumpism," and what made it feel organic and true to include in the end?

I don't think there was ever any debate about it. It was one of Randolph Leon's favorite things to say in the room whenever we discussed the infantile and stupid things that came out of our embarrassment's mouth. (By the way, I have no problem saying Donald Trump's name. I just think "our embarrassment" is the most fitting label to use when referencing him.) We knew we wanted to incorporate the puppet quote in one of our scripts at some point. It felt organic for Mr. Robot and Tyrell in this moment because Tyrell truly is a puppet with the Dark Army pulling the strings. He's in such a delicate emotional state that we buy him replying to Mr. Robot's accusation in this way. Another puppet-related Easter egg for you: In episode 303 (which Rosanne Tan also cut), we used a song called "I'm Your Puppet" by James and Bobby Purify. You can hear it after Irving lies and convinces Tyrell that he'll get to see his wife and son again.
I'll be honest - that "puppet" moment made me laugh. And I love that Kor calls out the Easter eggs here, which makes me feel like this is a lot closer to the deep-diving look at the episode that I want after the Better Call Saul insider podcasts. Then there's this:
Looking past the immediate danger Dom and Darlene are likely in given the traitorous Santiago's physical proximity to both women in a moment when the Dark Army has every reason to order their deaths, is there reason to think these characters could have a successful relationship at some point down the line? Or is their current relationship too complicated for any mutual happiness?

I actually asked Kyle and Courtney this question. Their response was, "What is happiness?" We all shrugged. Tears formed in our eyes. None of us said a word after that. Okay, that last part didn't happen.
That description of sadness made me think of another Trumpian Times thing: Melissa McCarthy as Sean Spicer:
"When he entered the room, the crowd greeted him with a standing ovation which lasted a full 15 minutes, and you can check the tape on that. Everyone was smiling, everyone was happy, the men all had erections, and every single one of the women were ovulating left and right. And no one was sad, those are the facts forever."
So yeah, The Hollywood Reporter's recap is way more useful, and fun, than The Verge -- sorry kids, but I want meat, not memes.
posted by filthy light thief at 2:45 PM on December 8, 2017 [2 favorites]

Ryan Kazanciyan, tech consultant for Mr Robot has written up Elliot's hacking process in this episode. While most of it goes way above my head it does indeed seem that he was shown finding specific zero days to use to infiltrate the Dark Army network.
posted by roolya_boolya at 5:06 PM on December 8, 2017 [2 favorites]

I just love that the evil transgender Chinese hacker lord has someone playing glass harmonica in her apartment. Someone presumably very trustworthy, overhearing all the plans. It's even more absurd than a Bond villain. I like it.
posted by Nelson at 8:56 PM on December 14, 2017 [3 favorites]

I just can't quite believe that Whiterose is a villain yet. I'm holding out hope that she's ultimately working for good somehow.

I think Whiterose's casual disregard for human life clearly makes her a villain. The question as I see it is more whether her motives are purely base self-interest, or whether she is high on her own messianic supply and thinks she is beyond good and evil, or whether she thinks that in the final reckoning her actions will be good in some cosmic inhuman utilitarian way, or etc.
posted by en forme de poire at 10:49 PM on January 18, 2018

that puppet quote was HILARIOUS, i immediately recognized it and i knew y'all would too.

yeah see, having your own trusted personal glass harpist is the level of villainy we all should aspire to.
posted by numaner at 11:07 PM on June 13, 2018 [1 favorite]

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