A gripping show set under the shadow of the cinematic giants that came before it. This will either be a great copycat, or grow to become something amazing in its own right.
It’s the first point of storytelling with film and TV, the point that every critic wields when destroying something a bit too blunt; show don’t tell. So when a series starts off with a long internal monologue explaining exactly what the basis of the show will be, it generally doesn’t play well. That’s where Mr. Robot becomes interesting.
Elliot is a computer expert gone rogue, using his talents to turn vigilante/stalker, he starts building profiles on everyone he knows, and everyone that they know. He does all of this under the guise of trying to protect people and ultimately free them from the commercial society that controls them. Meanwhile, he works at a cyber security firm by day. The main client of said firm is E Corp., or rather Evil Corp, as that is how it is presented through Elliot’s mind. He stands outside of parties, as he’s too awkward to talk to strangers, but then spends the night researching and exposing criminals.
This clearly isn’t enough for Elliot though, who outright explains to you how much he hates society, through a monologue and a slideshow of stock footage. So when Evil Corp begins to be hit by a wave of highly intellectual hackers, and their leader Mr. Robot approaches him with a proposition to bring the world structure crumbling, Elliot can’t help but listen.
Throughout all of this, Elliot tells you everything going on in his mind and explains everything to you, starting right from the first line. Yet it works because that’s the idea. It’s about how this rise in technology and sharing has turned everyone inwards, internalizing thoughts while simultaneously controlling your image expertly.
Everything about this show is laid out in front of you, from the premise, to the themes, right up to the characters. There’s the socially inept hacker, the pretty childhood friend, and her douchebag boyfriend, who is perfectly summed up by having his Facebook profile list Transformers 2 as his favourite movie. Most of all, it wears its influences in clear sight.
It’s written like Sorkin, it’s directed like Fincher, it’s scored like Reznor & Ross. While it may not be up to the same level as these, for a TV production it’s a joy to watch. This show seems very much in control, and yet, why is everything so obvious? Its constantly giving you suspicions that it’s not playing its full hand yet. The show has a lasting effect, and is one of the most captivating opening episodes to a series that I’ve seen in a while. Watch out for the 2015 ‘Best of’ lists, because if it continues this way, Mr. Robot will certainly be there.
Mr. Robot, Season 1 is available to stream on Amazon Prime Instant Video.