Mr. Robot: Season 1
Unfortunately much of television has been reduced to hackneyed variations of a few basic themes. It’s as if development meetings to create new series have been reduced to the first five minutes of an improvisational group act; a random down, verb and perhaps an adjective or two and you have a premise. For the USA basic cable network they’ve always marketed themselves as the network with ‘characters’ by which they mean it take the basic shows that were used to and change one of the leads into a very quirky person such as the detective with OCD or detective who pretends he’s a psychic only mother and daughter team of bounty hunters. While the essence of this stated mandate is true it comes down to soccer moms exchanging recipes for tuna casserole, what into ingredients might be a bit different but it is basically the same side dish. Then, last year, they premiered a series that immediately caught my eye; ‘Mr. Robot’. I could tell by the promo that it had something to do with computer hackers and it seemed to start Christian Slater, and after that always enjoyed watching. When I noticed a few other familiar faces I was admittedly intrigued so that when it showed up on my current television series to review queue I was rather anxious to begin watching.
In the past I’ve gotten into a series that held a significant amount of promise only to see it canceled, often before the last episode of the season could be broadcast so the more I continued getting into it and came to enjoy it the greater my fear that would be unceremoniously canceled. Thankfully that is not occur in the second season will be starting very soon. The most important thing about this series is that in the 10 episodes that comprise season one the show never disappoints, not even for one single moment. It is intellectually challenging delving into the strange world of black hat hackers but not in the usual ‘techno geek’ stories we have become used to lately. It is usually very easy to assign a general genre to television series but in this case it overlaps quite a few and does so in such a way that it excels in each category it encompasses. The one that comes most readily to mind as apropos for the show is it is a mystery and one unlike anything you’ve seen on television.
Elliot Alderson (Rami Malek) is a computer savant able to look at a programs code and ascertain not only how it works but more importantly he’s able to uncouple flaws potential to be exploited. You can also tell a lot about the mindset of the program because Elliott programming code is just an extension of language and just as you can tell a lot about a person by how they speak and the choices of their words, Elliott can readily separate kindred spirits were consumed by computer programming in the corporate lackeys is churning out code driven by a need to meet a deadline. It has a psychological price to pay for his computer wizardry, he is all clueless but it comes to interpersonal relationships in any social setting. He has had one friend with stayed with them for most of his life, Angela Moss (Portia Doubleday) was much better adjusted socially albeit with a few insecurities of her own. They both work for computer security company, Allsafe Cybersecurity; Elliott helps Angela when she is over the head with the technical aspects of her job. Allsafe’s largest client, and the main reason they are be able to stay in business. They are multinational conglomerate that is fundamentally the epitome of the military industrial complex. Their corporate logo is a giant slanted letter ‘E’, similar to Enron a few years ago. Elliot’s mind he always refers to it as the ‘Evil Corporation’. Just one of their functions happens to be [maintaining] most of them were major banks.
Psychologically Elliott is barely able to hold onto reality. He has regular appointments with the court ordered psychiatrist, Krista Gordon (Gloria Reuben), was generally concerned with them particular that he is not made significant progress in all the time that he is the patient. Primarily she is treating him for clinical depression and social anxiety one of the major aspects of Elliott’s life is he is addicted to morphine. He tries to balance off the effects of that drug by abusing another, suboxone, which helps with withdrawal symptoms from morphine. There are a lot of people who deal with that drug on the street Elliott is particularly concerned with is one connection, Shayla Nico (Frankie Shaw) was also nominally his girlfriend; a drug deal with benefits.
One day Elliott runs into a man who appears cheerful enough is always dressed in cloth jacket emblazoned with a patch that reads, ‘Mr. Robot’. Despite an affable demeanor Mr. Robot Is Exceptionally Focused on Recruiting Elliott into His Group Both hacktivists, fsociety. Their goal is to have the most significant redistribution of wealth in history by attacking the main service of the Evil Corporation. With the initial attack catastrophic damage was barely avoided by Elliott making him a hero in the eyes of his employers as well as the senior management of E-Corporation. The many aspects that really allow the series stand out from the rest it’s not the usual two-dimensional noble hacker versus corrupt monolithic corporation. This is very much a character driven drama that goes beyond just Elliott and his problems with socialization. Angela is living with Ollie Parker (Ben Rappaport), a fellow employee at Allsafe an extremely ambitious. He has very little concern over who he has to step over on as he rises in the corporate hierarchy. Corporate intrigue runs deep is one of the main themes men E- Corporation’s CEO, Terry Colby (Bruce Altman) is frame for the cyber-attacks. From the audience’s perspective it’s not as if he was an innocent man frame for this crime, he was well deserving being stripped of his corporate position is not for the reasons stated.
Elliott is drawn into the orbit of one of the more aloof members of fsociety, Darlene (Carly Chaikin), who is usually seen in the background with the trademark dark black eyeliner and the only constant cigarette. The reason for her concern with Elliott becomes known later on and is one of the many big reveals the season contains. As far as Mr. Robot and his cadre of hackers are concerned there is very little you can trust what you can superficially discern. Every character has a closer to just rating to surface. Another popular archetype is magnificently blended into this highly complex first season is the big caper. Rather than robbing a bank or stealing from a casino Elliott and his cohorts are attempting to break into Steel Mountain, the most secure computer data backup facility in the world. It is necessary for fsociety to circumvent the multiple layers of physical, electronic and digital safeguards that protects the all-important data backups. If they can coordinate destroying E-Corporations server records of everyone’s that as well as destroying any possible backup the system of credit that permeates our society be completely destroyed resetting everyone’s debt back to zero. Elliott’s talent for finding and circumventing weaknesses a plan is hatched that would be the envy of the possible missions force.
Elliott also has the concerned with some irate drug dealers and is constantly hiding from either them or corporate security. Throughout it all Mr. Robot always seems to pop up in the least expected spot ready to cajole necessary blackmail Elliott into finishing the downfall of Eco-Corporation. This is the type of television series that benefits greatly having a Blu-ray or video-on-demand copy. The numerous plot lines is so intricately woven together that the resulting tapestry is beautiful to behold wonderful to experience but demand some extra attention to make sure that you report every nuance that possible the story has to offer. This is the kind of story that has hidden meaning in every layer that it employs. Even the names of the episodes relate back to the world of hackers with the title of the episode written in the form elite-speak, favored by that community formatted as a filename with the extension be good different audio/video file format such as ‘MOV’, MPG’ or ‘FLV’. You don’t have to be a real cyber maven to understand the series as most of the more esoteric terms are explained within the context of the episode but if you have ever written code, deciphered code or taken it upon yourself to alter code then you’re going to find a certain something special about this series.