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12th October 2015

TV Binge: Mr Robot

The gritty anti-capitalist thriller, Mr Robot, convinces with strong characters and intriguing plot twists

Fight Club fans are in for a treat with this new USA Network series. It follows anti-hero Elliot, an anxiety-plagued security engineer who can only connect with people by hacking them. On top of that, he’s an unreliable narrator due to his morphine usage and constant paranoia. His lonely life suddenly receives meaning when he gets recruited by an anarchist hacker called Mr Robot, whose aim is to cancel all debts and to take down a large corporation known as Evil Corp.

With a more realistic depiction of hacking, a strong plotline and gritty cinematography, this series has a lot of potential to become a massive hit. The pilot of the series was so well received that it was renewed for a second season before it premiered. Furthermore, current issues and American capitalist culture are portrayed so accurately that the release of the season finale had to be pushed back due to a scene that had similarities to a tragic shooting at a Virginia TV station that had taken place on the same day.

Rami Malek convinces in the role as the wide-eyed, naïve and socially inept protagonist Elliot, who acts as a cyber-vigilante in his free time. The series manages to portray an introvert without using too many clichés. His inner world is vivid and based on intuitive hints, which he applies logically in real life while hacking, but as so often with ingenious introverts, his life is solitary. People around him struggle to connect with him and attempts to integrate him fail repeatedly. His work colleague Portia (Angela Moss) and his psychiatrist try their best to get through to him but the only people to whom he feels connected are the hacktivist group called fsociety. The underground hackers led by Mr Robot (Christian Slater) are equally weird, and their common purpose connects them.

Although Elliot cannot identify with most people, his strength is to analyse and identify problems and he applies these skills to understand people so well that he guesses their Facebook passwords in seconds through social engineering. His abilities do not stay unnoticed, and in the beginning of the series, he is shortly tempted to work for the corporate site after getting an offer from the sly but charming Tyrell Wellick (Martin Wallström), who is the Senior Vice-President of Technology at E(vil) Corp. Elliot is often contrasted with Alpha males such as Tyrell and, similarly to Fight Club, Mr Robot deals with Elliot’s lack of traditional masculinity.

The series is definitely worth a watch, although the first few of the ten episodes have a rather slow pace, which is intended in order to emphasis the boring reality of Elliot’s office job. Character development has a high priority, too.

Another strong point is the inclusion of minority characters, especially since the series criticises societal problems. The series combines everything millennials could hope for, and trippy plot twists are guaranteed. Lean back and delve into the mind of Elliot, and don’t forget to make your passwords safer!

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