Mr. Robot s1 ep 1

By day Elliot (the excellent Rami Malek) works for Allsafe, a cybersecurity firm which protects corporations from online attack. Among Allsafe’s clients is E Corp, the epitome of corporate nastiness, known to Elliot as Evil Corp. He has a therapist; he’s supposed to be on meds, but either supplements or substitutes with a carefully-calibrated dose of morphine; he’s socially awkward and doesn’t like being touched, although frankly I thought this was overplayed a little: after some molly he seems to be more than happy to sleep with his dealer. And one of his colleagues is his childhood friend Angela (Portia Doubleday), with whom he seems to be, perhaps, a little in love. Which would be good, because CJ and I have been bemoaning the lack of shipping opportunities on TV recently, and Angelliot is one I could get behind.

When he’s not working, though, he pulls his hoodie on and roams the streets, either literal or virtual, using his skills to right wrongs and mete out some vigilante justice: we first see him, in fact, when he confronts – with righteous, bug-eyed intensity – someone who runs child porn sites. He’ll also take care of his therapist’s dodgy boyfriend, and keep an eye on Angela’s romance as well.

One night, as part of Allsafe’s team, he manages to stop an attack on Evil Corp’s network, but once he’s inside the server he declines the chance to delete the malware. This is shortly thereafter revealed to be a test, set by the mysterious Mr. Robot (Christian Slater), who takes him to FSociety, a hackers’ nest on Coney Island. Their plan is to bring Evil Corp down, and to achieve the greatest financial redistribution in history by wiping all the debt records it holds. (The logic is a little shaky at this point, but let’s go with it.) So will Elliot throw his lot in with FSociety? Is anyone who, or what, they seem to be? Why were the heavies at the end delivering Elliot to Wellick, Evil Corp’s tech guy, and what does he want?

Mr. Robot isn’t, it should be said, without flaws: I thought this pilot episode,, was perhaps a little too long. Christian Slater’s style sits uneasily with the rest of the show. I could have done without the repeated blathering homilies about the evils of capitalism, although I would imagine they play well to the target demographic. (I’m not saying that I necessarily disagree with them.) And I don’t know how I’m going to feel about the very clear implication that some at least of what we see is a hallucination on the part of Elliot: the fact that he, and therefore we, see and hear “Evil Corp” for E Corp whenever it shows up is enough in itself to make that point. I’ve been known to get fed up with dream sequences, unreliable narrators, and that sort of thing.

But is Mr. Robot good? Oh yes. It’s terrific. At times I was reminded of Dexter when it was cool: the moral vigilanteism co-existing with a hint of sexy amorality, the deadpan voiceover, the protagonist who says things like “I don’t know how to talk to people”, and “What I wouldn’t give to be normal. To live in that bubble”; and, as it turns out, the souvenirs he keeps of his successful takedowns. But it’s a different show, and there’s much more to it than that: I was struck, in fact, by the way in which Mr. Robot, and the world it’s set in, seemed fully-formed from the very first scenes, as if the people behind it know exactly what they’re doing and where they’re going. I’m in. Weekly (or whatever) reviews.


3 thoughts on “Mr. Robot s1 ep 1

  1. Snoskred October 21, 2015 / 12:14 am

    I too was struck by the Dexter similarity, with the folder full of takedowns.

    The pilot could easily be my most favourite pilot ever. It was extremely well done. Some of the shots in there were amazing. That ferris wheel scene was visually stunning – incidentally that was the first day Rami and Christian worked together, riding a ferris wheel all day long. And that ending, breaking the fourth wall.. great stuff..

    I loved the montage set to “If you go away” by Neil Diamond. And that first scene with Ron – which at the beginning I was not a huge fan of due to the subject discussed – but wow on a rewatch, Rami was just killing it with the super huge eyes and amazing performance. I’ve become a huge fan of his work since this show.

    Since I was such a Breaking Bad fan, and I spent so much time actually watching TV *with* Vince Gilligan via commentary tracks, it is like I have a Mini-Vince in my head now, who says things like “That’s a great shot” when a great shot is seen. When watching Mr Robot, the Vince in my head never shuts up.

    The little program we use here to keep track of our tv shows – when I add one, The Other Half sees I have added it, and he will go and read the synopsis. Mr Robot was the first time ever that he has said to me “I think I would like to watch that show with you”.

    So we did watch it together, every week for 10 weeks on a Thursday afternoon he would arrive home and I would have been sitting here for 2 hours desperately resisting the urge to watch it. We truly enjoyed it and both of us are big fans of the show.

    After the show ended, we decided to try watching another show together – we chose 24 which we had never seen before. This was a terrible mistake. Maybe 7-8 episodes in, we personally wanted to strangle 99% of the characters ourselves, and we would be screaming at the teevee – usually TELL HER or TELL HIM, because the characters on that show had a wonderful habit of keeping stuff to themselves! And Mini-Vince was ominously silent. Perhaps he too was kidnapped.

    We gave up at the end of that first season, and I suggested that we try watching Breaking Bad, which The Other Half has not seen. We are 6 episodes in and he is enjoying it thus far, plus it is nice to watch it together.

    I will be rewatching Mr Robot with you – of course, not for the first time. I think I have seen the pilot maybe 10 times now. There is so much detail packed in to each episode that they do require more than one viewing to catch everything. Plus there are many little easter eggs of awesomeness, such as Sam Esmail standing on the train and looking directly into the camera right at the start of the pilot..

  2. Jed Bartlet October 23, 2015 / 8:01 am

    Interesting to know about the ferris wheel scene, Snoskred. That was great, even if I’m not yet convinced that Christian Slater is quite on the same page as the rest of the cast.

    • Snoskred October 23, 2015 / 10:24 am

      I did not know those kinds of ferris wheels existed – when the carriage was sliding down the tracks towards Elliot, that was an awesome moment. I suspect it must have been a terrible nightmare for the editors and sound crew to put together, though.

      Christians character is sort of an updated Happy Harry Hardon from Pump Up The Volume with a hint of JD from Heathers. I’m a big fan of both of those movies plus of Christian. I’ve become a huge Rami Malek fan now, as well.. 🙂

      And I LOVE the fact that they have Skee Ball in their hacker lair. The amusements are very photogenic..

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