In “Red Rose,” Jacob Taylor created a virtual coder forum, but he didn’t know that there would be people trying to conduct their own social experiment via his tool. He didn’t know that what he had created, in desperation, was no less than a potential weapon that could make any person’s life a living hell. Jacob was just looking for ways to express what he felt for his childhood crush, Alyssa.
Jacob belonged to the tribe that observed everything, but they never got noticed by people. He was brilliant in his studies but lacked the confidence to go out there and make an impression. Jacob didn’t think that he was worthy of dating his crush, Alyssa, and he himself placed himself in an inferior position as compared to her. Seeing Jacob, you knew instantly that he was the kind of guy who could listen to you endlessly rant about your life, but it would take a great deal of energy for him to divulge even a minuscule detail about himself. Not that he didn’t want to tell people how he felt, but he never felt that anybody was interested in hearing about his apparently non-happening life. When he got the idea of creating the Red Rose app, he decided that he would document his journey for future generations. The irony of his life was that he knew that he had exceptional talent and a brilliant mind, but he still undermined his own authority and didn’t consider himself special.
In one of the videos he recorded, he says that a girl like Alyssa would never think about going out with a guy like him, and that’s the moment you realize the kind of inhibitions he had. Alyssa was the inspiration behind his creation, but for all the wrong reasons. Jacob didn’t have the key to her heart, so he decided to find the key to her mind. He started chatting with Alyssa on the Red Rose app, though she had no clue that he was the face behind the technology. He began to learn more about her, and the following day at school, he used that knowledge to impress her. But Jacob didn’t realize that just because he had the books that she liked or knew what kind of movies she preferred to watch, it didn’t mean that she would start having feelings for him. Jacob knew deep down that he would still have to go and talk and express what he felt for her. The friends in the coding forum noticed how every data point was a part of Alyssa’s mental landscape, and this is probably where a sinister thought was born in one of them. The majority of the coders were only there to have fun at Jacob’s expense, but there was one who had something else on her mind.
Violating privacy and getting one’s hands on information that could impact the life of a human being was an addictive practice, and Jacob, even at this point in time, did not understand that his tool had the potential to bring about his own doom. The coders started pestering Jacob to ask his muse out. Jacob resisted the impulse for quite some time but eventually accepted the challenge and went to tell Alyssa how he felt for her. It was a known fact that unless and until a miracle happened, Alyssa was not going to accept his proposal, and it had nothing to do with his popularity, his confidence, or any physical trait.
The thing was that Alyssa didn’t have a clue about what he had been feeling for her his entire life. She was not even friends with him, and had it been any other person, they also wouldn’t have accepted such a random proposal. But still, Jacob went ahead, and Alyssa obviously turned down the offer, and he came back heartbroken to his house. The friends in the coding forum mocked him, but there was one coder who asked him if they could talk in person. This individual’s username was the ‘Gardener,’ and the intent to know how his fellow coder was dealing with the rejection moved Jacob. But the thing was, Gardener wasn’t really interested in knowing how Jacob was feeling.
Gardener had speculated that Jacob was in a very fragile emotional state, and if he or she played their cards well, they could gain complete control of his software. Gardener knew that what Jacob had been able to create was no less than a miracle, and having master access was not an easy thing. In that vulnerable situation, if anybody had told Jacob that there was a way to get Alyssa to like him back, he would have given whatever they asked in return. Gardener asked to make him the admin so that she could make some changes in the app and get Alyssa back in Jacob’s life. The plan was to tune out the white noise and make sure that she got manipulated into liking him. Gardner was of the opinion that if they stayed persistent, there would come a time when Alyssa and Jacob would end up together. This was more than enough for Jacob to make Gardener the administrator, and what happened next changed the lives of the people of Bolton forever.
The Gardener took over Alyssa’s life completely, and she became a part of the puppet show that was now being watched by many other sadistic people from around the country. Alyssa got so paranoid that she took her life by jumping from the roof. Red Rose was never meant to do that, but the Gardener had made it into something so devastating that it was beyond the imagination of any coder. Soon after that, even Jacob died, though we still don’t know if he actually took his own life or if he was killed by the Gardener. In the finale episode of “Red Rose,” we finally meet the woman who went by the username “Gardener.” What experience made her into such an evil person is still unknown, though we realize that she wanted to see the world burn. She wanted to expose the hypocrisy of humans and show them their true faces. She believed that everybody was capable of cruelty, and one just had to put them in a conflicting enough situation to unleash the demons inside them. She didn’t think that she was doing anything wrong, and in fact, from the brief conversation she had with Noah, we realized that she was delusional enough to believe that she was bringing about a change, for good or bad, in people’s lives through Red Rose. It intrigued her to know about the extent a human being could go to, and she constantly nudged them towards that. Some went insane, some committed suicide, but few, like Wren, responded in a way that gave her the most pleasure.
It was as if ‘The Gardener’ was playing a game of chess, and she liked a situation where there was a deadlock, and the players were not able to think of what they could do to escape it. There was no evidence that existed against the Gardener, as Jaya had deleted the Red Rose app. The Gardener was roaming free in the city, and she told Jaya that though she could delete the app, the idea that she was already born would thrive somewhere else if not there. Towards the end of the series, we saw that people in Japan got a similar notification and that the phenomenon was spreading like wildfire throughout the world. We’d definitely see the Gardener again in the second season of “Red Rose” and learn more about her past. We would know if there was some specific reason or some traumatic experience that had an impact on her life, which is why she wanted to put people in such difficult situations, or whether she was just a madwoman who derived sadistic pleasure from seeing people rip off their pretenses and transform into savages.