Mr. Robot, is the USA Network’s hacker drama that tells us the story of Elliot (Rami Malek), a computer programmer who works for a cyber-security firm and is recruited by an underground hacker group run by a man known only as Mr. Robot (Christian Slater) to bring down corporations including the ones his company is hired to protect.
From the moment Elliot first exposed a massive child-pornography ring enabled by a coffee shop’s lightning-quick Wi-Fi, I knew that the show had potential. I had the same gut feeling that I had when I watched the Breaking Bad pilot. As soon as I was done watching it, I wanted more. Now that I have just finished watching the fifth episode of the show I’m convinced that Mr. Robot has the potential to be on the same level as “The Wire”, “The Sopranos” and “Breaking Bad”. Yes, The show is that good! The USA Network is also convicted that they have something special in their hands since the show was already renewed for a second season.
The show does a very good job tracking Elliot, a cyber-security technician by day, vigilante hacker by night and his alliance with the techno-anarchists group questing to liberate
us from “economic slavery” by obliterating all record of global debt. The show also tracks Elliot’s antagonist, Tyrell Wellick played by Martin Wallström, a highly driven business executive whose Machiavellian pursuit to become chief technology officer is very disturbing.
The timing for this type of show is perfect. You cannot read or watch the news and not see some reference to hackers, system breaches or stolen data. It was about time for a TV show to explain how this world works.
Hollywood has a terrible record with “hacking” situations in movies and TV shows, some really bad ones come to mind : Live Free or Die Hard, Skyfall, Blackhat [Thor as a hacker, c’mon!], CSI: Cyber and even everyone's favorite show House of Cards are all terrible executed hacking-wise. Their excuse is always the same, good TV and movies should be fun to watch and real-life hacking is just not, fun. Hacking is more an arduous research and planning but the public normally wants action sequences and not someone sitting in front of a computer. Mr Robot though, is an exception. The show has been widely praised for its technical accuracy and this accuracy comes mainly from the hiring of Michael Bazzell an ex FBI’s cybercrime unit agent. Bazzell left the agency for Hollywood, and now serves as a technical assistant for the show. In a recent interview about Mr. Robot’s attention to detail he said: “I felt this could be the first-ever show that cares about getting hacking right, even if it means altering a story line”, that sounds good to me!
Also, there is a meta quality to the show that is very well done. The meta layer really adds dimension, for example in one episode the terrible 90’s movie Hackers was on, in the background, while two of the characters talked about Hollywood fucking up today's outlook at how hackers do what they do. Another trademark of the show is the use of unusual camera angles. The directors love to frame Elliot, and other characters, to the side or the corner of the shot, and the use of wide angles creates a cinematic effect. Sam Esmail, the show’s creator, has stated in interviews how certain films have influenced his work. There is a clearly homage to American Psycho in one episode which show Tyrell’s early morning workout routine and his well-stocked closet of color-coordinated suits and shirts. Esmail has also mentioned in interviews the debt his work owes to Fight Club. This comment from him led to my favorite thing about the show, “The Fight Club Theory”.
Before I start talking about the show’s conspiracy theory that is floating around the Internet, I would like to disclaim that from this point on I will be spoiling the hell out of the show, so if you have never watched it, you will for sure be spoiled. You have been warned.
The conspiracy going around is that Mr. Robot is Elliot’s delusion, a Tyler Durden character: (i.e. Elliot having a split personality and possibly doing things as Mr. Robot and not himself) and This theory is everywhere in the internet. The subreddit of the show is one of my favorite sources of reading material these days. Right now, is hard to disagree with the theory, actually at this point, it would be a twist if Elliot is not Mr. Robot. The signs that they are the same person are way too easy to spot, like all the times when he confronts Elliot and no one else notices or because no one at FSociety [the anarchists group] ever mentions Mr. Robot. It seems like Mr. Robot is only real when Elliot needs him to be. But that is why I am starting to have some doubts about the theory. Too easy to figure it out. I think that to make this satisfying, Esmail will be obligated to push this further than a simple redux of Fight Club.
Mr. Robot is all about vulnerabilities, whether it’s a daemon, a bug or a secret, everyone has a weakness to hide and the show exploits that very well. The casting is perfect, and no other actors could play Elliot or Tyrell roles as well as Malek and Wallström are doing and the accuracy of the show is definitely very important for it`s success, because if it wasn't accurate, people just wouldn’t care for the I.T. I, for once, am very happy that there aren't any silly computer sounds (annoying blipping when text is scrolling onto a screen or a laughing skull virus), and here very excited for the show and cannot wait to see what the next episodes will bring.