Mr. Robot isn’t for everyone, that’s for sure.
When the show first debuted last year, I watched the first two episodes then soon lost interest. Recently, I decided to give the much-acclaimed series another shot, and found myself completely engrossed in its strange world.
My fascination in the show is completely due to Rami Malek’s astounding performance. The actor is downright transcendent as a security engineer who suffers from social anxiety disorder and depression. Malek commits to every single look and line, and wholly immerses you in Elliot Alderson’s unhinged psyche. It’s a truly unforgettable performance, and I couldn’t be happier to see the actor win the Emmy Award a few nights back.
The great thing about Mr. Robot‘s debut season is that there are no false promises. The entire season builds up to one cataclysmic event that ACTUALLY happens. Other shows would sidestep such a development, but Robot takes the risk, and that makes me respect the show a whole lot more. In addition, the fact that Elliot is such an unreliable narrator due to his mental state adds a complex and unpredictable layer to the entire show. I’m not entirely sure where the narrative will go in season two, but I certainly can’t wait to find out.
There is one flaw however: Angela Moss – Elliot’s coworker and childhood best friend. Much like Daredevil‘s Karen Page, she slows down the year’s momentum with her repetitive storylines. Thankfully, her arc ultimately amounts to something worthwhile as she joins the very company that caused her so much havoc. Let’s hope the writers can salvage the character and her annoyingness in season two.
Bits & Bytes
– I was completely captivated by the fact that Elliot takes drugs, in addition to withdrawal medicines at just the right dosage so that he avoids becoming a complete addict. Wow.
– Quite surprisingly, my favorite part of the season is Elliot’s relationship with his shrink Krista. That final monologue (found below) is just glorious.
– My jaw literally dropped when Elliot tried to kiss Darlene and it was revealed that she was his sister (and Christian Slater as his father). What a perfect Fight Club-esque gamechanger.
– Speaking of Darlene, Carly Chaikin is superb in the role. I first discovered her on Suburgatory, and she’s even more perfect here with her stoicism and coldness.
– Tyrell strangling Shannon on the roof was just vicious wasn’t it?
– BD Wong was quite enthralling as Whiterose, the head of the Dark Army. I especially liked his/her obsession with time.
– Standout character: Joanna Wellick played by Stephanie Corneliussen. Her evilness was kind of bizarre at first, but I grew to love the character’s perverse behavior (induced labor anyone?). The fact that she becomes a regular in season two is even better.
– Loved that we finally got to re-watch the scene from episode two with Elliot falling off the ledge. He really was on his own!
– Bone-chilling moment: one of Evil Corp’s head honchos shooting himself on live TV. Wow!
Krista: What is it about society that disappoints you so much?
Elliot: Oh, I don’t know. Is it that we collectively thought Steve Jobs was a great man, even when we knew he made billions off the backs of children? Or maybe it’s that it feels like all our heroes are counterfeit. The world itself’s just one big hoax. Spamming with our running commentary of bullshit masquerading as insight, our social media faking as intimacy. Or is it that we voted for this? Not with our rigged elections, but with our things, our property, our money. I’m not saying anything new. We all know why we do this, not because Hunger Games books makes us happy but because we wanna be sedated. Because it’s painful not to pretend, because we’re cowards. Fuck society.
Elliot: Am I crazy not to like this guy? Among some of his Facebook likes are George W. Bush’s Decision Points, Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen, and the music of Josh Groban. Must I really justify myself any further?
Elliot: What good will that do? You don’t take down a conglomerate by shooting them in the heart.
Mr. Robot: That’s the thing about conglomerates, they don’t have hearts.
Mr. Robot: Besides, the entire company is gonna be reeling from all the data dumps we’ve got in store for them… and man, do we have some goodies. Some good old-fashioned executive racism, sexism, fascism. Trust me, we are gonna “ism” so much all over them they won’t be able to see straight.
Mr. Robot: That neat little ditty was Trenton’s idea. She may look innocent, but I’d be careful. She’s got some Allah Akbar in her.
Mr. Robot: Tell me one thing, Elliot. Are you a one or a zero?
Mr. Robot: How do we know if we’re in control? That we’re not just making the best of what comes at us, and that’s it. Trying to constantly pick between two options. Like your two paintings in the waiting room. Or… Coke and Pepsi. McDonald’s or Burger King? Hyundai or Honda? Hmm. It’s all part of the same blur, right? Just out of focus enough. It’s the illusion of choice. Half of us can’t even pick our own… our cable, gas, electric. The water we drink, our health insurance. Even if we did, would it matter?
Elliot: I’ll never slip up like that again. I’m gonna be more normal now. Maybe Shayla could even be my girlfriend. I’ll go see those stupid Marvel movies with her. I’ll join a gym. I’ll heart things on Instagram. I’ll drink vanilla lattes. I’m gonna lead a bug-free life from now on. Anything to protect my perfect maze.
Tyrell: I’ve seen our waiter here for the last… seven years. Must be in his 50s, maybe has kids, divorced, second wife, more kids, and I wonder, what must he think of himself? His life’s potential reached at a 30 grand a year salary, an economy car he still owes money on, two-bedroom apartment, child support, coupons. I couldn’t bear it, a life like that. The life of an ordinary cockroach whose biggest value is to serve me salad.
Lawyer: Guy in the suit. Twice convicted of sexual assault, charged again this past weekend. Raped his pregnant girlfriend. Bashed her head in with an Xbox. Claims she cheated during Halo. Yet I have a better chance of defending him.
Elliot: You told me I should tell you the truth.
Elliot: Everything I say will still be protected and confidential? I’ve been lying to you. I don’t take my pills. But you don’t either. Your refill frequency for Ativan doesn’t match your prescription divided by the dosage. This morning… you bought a tall hazelnut latte. Paid for it on your Evil Corp card. By text, you justified the indulgence to your sister because Evil Corp gives you double rewards. But those points only accumulate on travel expenses. You’re not good with money. On paper, your Thursday 2:00, Marilyn O’Brien, is your doppelgänger. I think you’re encouraging her to leave her husband… because you’re tired of being dumped. You like porn, especially anal. Whether you like it yourself, I don’t know. That’s not relevant to me. You’ve told your best friend Jennifer that you wish your mom would die. I sometimes watch you on your webcam. You cry sometimes… just like me. Because you’re lonely. I don’t just hack you, Krista. I hack everyone… my friends, coworkers. But I’ve helped a lot of people. I want… a way out of loneliness… just like you. Is that what you wanted to hear?
Angela: I’m not working there. They killed my mother.
Colby: And every fast food joint around the corner delivers diabetes to millions of people. Phillip Morris hands out lung cancer on the hour, every hour. I mean, hell, everyone’s destroying the planet beyond the point of no return. Are you really gonna start taking all of these things so personally?
Mr. Robot: (to Elliot) You’re starting to attract some attention. I recommend you get one of those Bluetooth headsets. That way people just think you’re the local douche.
An engrossing and clever drama packed with powerful twists and a star-making performance.