Just this Easter long weekend, I ‘discovered’ a gem of a show. Titled Mr. Robot, the series features the tech exploits of systems engineer Elliot (Rami Malek) as he hacks his way into prisons, big corporations, crime bosses, and even his shrink. I’ve heard of it at the Emmy’s before, but decided to check it out just then. No firewall or password is too difficult for Mr Alderson, as together with his band of misfits at Fsociety, they reclaim what corporate America has appropriated. As mentioned, Elliot has a day job as an engineer in AllSafe. He is tired of the mundane, and does not try to fit in.
He lacks superpowers, unlike The Flash. He does not lay a claim to the throne, nor does he battle zombies. He is more like Dexter Morgan, a vigilante who takes it upon himself to take out the trash. The similarities don’t end there; their day jobs bore them: Morgan as a forensic expert at Miam PD; Alderson as the aforementioned tech guy at AllSafe. Make no mistake: they are both extremely good at their jobs, perhaps too good. They also have addictions: Dexter, as a serial killer, while Eliott goes for morphine. What strikes me even more is that no one at the office suspects him; they act with total license. While Dexter keeps blood slides as his trophy, CD’s filled with classified content, is what satisfies Elliot. Like Dexter, he makes damn sure to leave no trace of his handiwork behind. There’s also the supporting Asian guy in both offices, and they likewise wear glasses.
The main difference between the two vigilantes is that Dexter works alone, while Elliot spearheads a team of anarchists at Fsociety. Christian Slater is here as Alderson’s mentor, the aptly named Mr Robot. Dexter embraces his inner monster, with his dad, Harry’s early help. However, Elliot does a lot of cha cha before accepting his role at Fsociety. Alderson’s hacking prowess reminds me of Edward Snowden. Forget the fallout; he looks so cool. I’ve seen most of the first season and I am well pleased. It’s action packed, funny, and has a beautiful story.
The programme’s galaxy does not merely revolve around Elliot. His relationship with family, friends, co-workers, and unsavoury types, powers the show. Like many good series, the settings change often. Set in NYC, it also has scenes in upstate New York. Whether it’s his rundown apartment, to the AllSafe office, from Fsociety’s unofficial base to the commode of Angela (his old friend) and Tyrell (his big fan), there is no shortage of inviting locations. There’s also a fair bit of scenes on the go, like his commute on the subway, or when he walks his dog for a pee. There is even some foreign tongues (Swedish and Danish), adding flavour to an already smashing production.
More than locations, characters, and relationships, the show tackles some heavy issues. For instance, our world is big on privacy and the show offers its take on a potential global cyber war. The programme makes us think of the worst-case scenario, and confronts those issues head-on. The series likewise explores other material such as drug use and domestic abuse, as with Elliot’s fractured relationship with his mum. Infidelity is another one, with Elliot considering whether to act, and devastate his friend, or leave things as is. Don’t let the weary eyes fool you: when it suits him, he can obliterate bonds with a simple fly by.
These are played out in eloquence, as Eliot grapples with his thoughts in raw monologues, all with sumptuous visuals and moving tunes. This reminds me of both Heroes and Six Feet Under, especially with Elliot’s imaginary, confronting outbursts. Killer themes are not enough; sound editing is everything. Make no mistake: Mr Robot is very philosophical, despite the material canvassed, with Elliot’s rumination allusive of Sam Mendes’s esoteric cuts in American Beauty.
Coolest TV show, period
What makes Mr Robot so relatable? I guess it’s because he’s as flawed as anyone, in spite of his genius. Like him, I bring a backpack and wear a hoodie (not often), but, unlike him, I do change my jacket after a few washes. Moreover, I do not walk in and threaten my enemies with their browsing history and guilty pleasures. While Alderson operates in the great unknown, we can learn many lessons from him regarding the perils of the net. In short, the programme considers some of the foremost issues of our time. Watch your back.
I wasn’t able to collect my book at the local library prior to the long weekend. I thought I was in for a painstaking holiday, but Mr. Robot saved the day. While I haven’t quite finished the first season, I’m looking forward to keeping up to date on Fsociety. In my opinion, the show is, quite simply, the coolest one on telly. You can’t go past a badass hacker, his friends, his genius, his workplace, his shortcomings, his love interest, his shady past, highflying present, and ripping future. The pitch-black screen, which concludes every show, only adds to the enigma. If you want kickass TV, look no further. It’s time to crash on Elliot’s place.
****(Out of four)