Who is Mr Robot?
Sam Esmail’s Mr Robot may have been an unknown quantity amongst a good proportion of those who regularly watch television shows, but following the first couple of episodes it made a substantial mark on social media. And rightfully so, too, as Mr Robot is one of the most intelligent pieces of television drama in years.
Mr Robot follows anxiety-ridden computer programmer Elliot Alderson (Rami Malek) as he copes with the world’s constant struggles by hacking everything and everyone around him. He’s an information sponge, but rarely lets anyone inside. He keeps a close-knit group of people with him, although they never really have any say in how he perceives them and calling them ‘friends’ might be a little too kind.
This small group of people is comprised of Angela Moss (Portia Doubleday), a friend of Elliot’s since they were both children, and further down the line Darline (Carly Chaikin), Shayla (Frankie Shaw), and Krista (Gloria Reueben). Each of these characters have an instrumental impact on Elliot’s life, although ironically they never really know what’s going on with him.
The story of Mr Robot is fairly complicated, and by the finale is a tight weave of staggered storylines and complex relationships, although the basis of the series is based around Elliot and fsociety – an anarchic group that’s planning to change the world. It’s almost reminiscent and a play on what we see today with hacking groups and their attacks on some of the biggest companies in the world, and Sam Esmail and his team of writers completely nail the convoluted and staggered feeling of the present day and technology with aplomb.
We perceive this world of Mr Robot, which is quite obviously reminiscent of the one we live in today, as Elliot’s conscience – there’s a mountain of monologues and a tirade of questions and answers that pop up throughout each of the ten episodes. Elliot’s view is distorted to that of the normal, average person situated in Mr Robot, and as such helps gives a unique and often intriguing look at the world presented in front of him. Elliot’s close-mindedness to those around him almost feels ironic in a way, as Elliot’s real-world interactions aren’t usually fueled by the knowledge he’s gained from hacking the character in question, but instead utilized to keep him from looking suspicious of such activity. He merely looks like a bystander to the average person, but that’s what makes him such an interesting character.
As a hacker, Elliot’s life is always on the line. Just because he has the essence and ability to expose whom he deems toxic to the world doesn’t necessarily scream justice, and this can often lead to dire and often troubling circumstances – of which Elliot finds himself in more often than not throughout the season.
It’s through the use of the questioning of what’s right and what’s wrong that pushes Mr Robot to levels only the best of television can deal with, and more often than not there seems to be an insurmountable amount of grey area surrounding that. Mr Robot doesn’t hold your hand throughout the season, as it expects you to understand what it’s giving you and to make the connections without the necessary need to spoon-feed you. It’s what makes the series and the story such an excellent piece of television, and further encourages speculation and conversation with those close to you when the credits roll.
Mr Robot’s cinematography further emphasises the unique perspective Elliot is living in and how we perceive it, as it’s almost reminiscent of the cinematography you’d see in American Horror Story. Tilted camera angles and long, drawn-out shots seem to be the mainstay of Mr Robot and cinematographers Tod Campbell and Tim Ives have done a great job in emphasizing the tone and feel of the show through the use of at times quite awkward and in-your-face angles and shots.
Similarly, the sound design and score in Mr Robot is excellent, giving it a real sense of identity. From the opening credits to the final shot, there’s a sense of the unknown and urgency throughout, and that’s a credit to those working on the sound of Mr Robot and how important a role it plays in both the story and the character development.
One of the best parts about Mr Robot is that you can always go in with an open mind. The series likes to deviate and dance around the main plot and utilize its supporting characters when given the chance, and that’s actually quite refreshing. While the plot is fairly centered around Elliot and fsociety, we get quite an interesting look into the life of hackers and potentially even the real truth behind how technology can ultimately be our greatest downfall. There’s subtle references littered throughout the series and tech-heads will certainly garner a bigger appreciation for the show because of that, although those who just want a good story will no doubt find something to love too.
Mr Robot’s first season is complete excellence. It’s a series that is unlike anything I’ve really seen before and it’s littered with unique, albeit quite likable characters, an interesting and at times entrancing storyline, and brilliant writing that pushes you to think and understand instead of being spoon-fed. Sam Esmail’s latest is quite simply a television show that can’t be missed and it’s absolutely worth your time, whether you’re a tech-head or not. The boldness and nuance of Mr Robot is unlike any other, and it’s by far one of the best television shows in recent memory.
Creator: Sam Esmail
Directors: Sam Esmail, Jim McKay, Tricia Brock, Deborah Chow, Nisha Ganatra, Niels Arden Opelv, Christoph Schrewe
Stars: Rami Malek, Carly Chaikin, Portia Doubleday, Christian Slater, Martin Wallström