Before reading this review, know that it contains major spoilers from the first season of Mr Robot. If you haven’t experienced this brilliant show yet, then I recommend watching it before reading this review. The second thing worth noting is that this review is based on my second viewing of the first season. There is a plot twist that will be explored later in the review that warrants revisiting the season again just to see how it all unfolded. And the last thing to mention about this review is that it’s based upon the unrated version of the series. Mr Robot is currently available on Amazon Prime and Comcast On Demand with more adult language than the aired television version. And while the story isn’t affected by the change in any way, it’s worth noting for this review since it does darken the tone of the show more.
Mr Robot is a series that follows Elliot Alderson, an internet vigilante hacker, as he joins in on a hacker group’s plan to take down one of the biggest corporate businesses in the world. Mr Robot, leader of F Society (think anonymous),reaches out to Elliot in hopes that he will assist the group in taking down Evil Corp and erasing the world’s debt in the process. Meanwhile, Evil Corp’s Senior Vice President of Technology, Tyrell Wellick, tries to manipulate his way into a higher position. Tyrell forms a complicated relationship with Elliot, whom works for the cyber security company that manages Evil Corp’s servers. As the plan to take down Evil Corp grows closer, Elliot has to deal with the planning for the cyber attack, figuring out what Tyrell wants from him, as well as elements of his personal life falling apart.
Elliot is one of the most complicated characters on television. And due to that, the storytelling from his perspective is very unique. Elliot suffers from multiple mental illnesses, and has to attend mandatory therapy and take prescribed medication for his condition. He also suffers from drug addiction as well. It is revealed early on that Elliot breaks the fourth wall by addressing the audience as a created character in his head. It would be revealed later how delusional Elliot is when he discovers more about F Society and Mr Robot. After discovering that Mr Robot is actually his deceased father, he’s eventually force to confront the shocking revelation that Mr Robot is in fact another personality that he created within his mind. Elliot is Mr Robot, and his alternate personality formed and launched F Society without his knowledge.
What’s brilliant about Mr Robot is how it’s narrated by an untrustworthy narrator. And because of this, the trust the audience has in Elliot’s ability to tell his story as he sees it is strained. What is fact and what is delusion? Elliot can’t tell the difference at times, and we’re left to make judgement on our own. The series is written in a way that makes a second viewing more enjoyable than the first. Little hints to the reveal of Mr Robot existing in Elliot’s mind is sprinkled throughout the season, but it’s so well hidden that it only becomes apparent during another viewing. The first hint given to the audience is that we are in fact a created person in Elliot’s head. He speaks directly to us through the fourth wall, but makes it clear numerous times that he created us in his head. As a viewer, we accept this fact without ever considering that we may not be the only voice in his head. So the fact that Elliot is extremely mentally unstable enough to imagine some of the things he’s experiencing never cross our minds.
Another hint to the big twist of the show is that both Elliot and Mr Robot never seem to address the rest of the members of F Society at the same time. One may linger in the background while the other speaks directly to members. Mr Robot may stand in front of Elliot, or respond to other members talking, but never gain acknowledgement. Once viewed for the second time, the hints in the dialog and responses that may have seemed random from the other members of F Society becomes clearer.
Mr Robot is a triumph for USA Network. It’s a huge step away from the days of Monk and Psych and in to AMC and HBO territory. The network itself seems to be in a state of shift as the shows it’s mostly known for are starting to gracefully wrap up to make room for more grittier series and raunchier comedies. The award winning Mr Robot is at the forefront of the network as one of the best new shows on television. The acting and dialog is phenomenal, the storytelling is unique, and the social commentary delivered by the show will leave you speechless at times. Mr Robot is complex and, at times, hard to watch. It’s engaging and never insults your intelligence. And despite delivering a stellar first season, the show is just getting started. Mr Robot is well worth a first and second viewing.