I always had a blast telling my fellow movie and TV junkies that I watch Mr. Robot. Surprisingly, nobody really knows that show, even considering its great cast (yes, I mean Rami Malek) and cultural vibe. Before the fourth season aired, the marketing campaigns around this series were pretty minimal and it was still at a time when Rami Malek was pretty much an unknown. Indeed, before the actor showed his genius in Bohemian Rhapsody (2018) with his excellent portrayal of Queen’s lead singer Freddy Mercury, he was mostly known for his role as Elliot in Mr. Robot. In a world still dealing with the aftermath of the Occupy Wall Street movement, the rise of social media and the Cambridge Analytica crisis, this is a show that deals with the most toxic impacts of our connected society.
I first discovered the show in 2016 when actor and producer Christian Slater (he played alongside Sean Connery in an excellent movie named The Name of the Rose in 1986) won the Golden Globe award for his acting as Mr. Robot. We were preparing for the 2016 elections and I found that the themes of the series were dead on. Mixing politics, goth culture, cyberpunk, hacking and Millenials culture, this was a show for my generation. Try to merge House of Cards, 24 and The Social Network together, you get something amazing like this show. Well written, well-acted and definitely well shot, there’s still time to discover Mr. Robot before it ends. Yes…the fourth season presently airing will be it’s last, and I will truly miss it.
Created by Sam Esmail, a truly amazing writer, I’m so happy to introduce you to the world Mr. Robot.
What’s this about, you ask me? Four seasons in, we follow the story of Elliot Alderson (Rami Malek, always in his traditional black hoodie), who works in a cybersecurity company named Allsafe, subsidiary of the corporate giant E Corp (known as “Evil Corp” for most). He works alongside his longtime friend Angela (Portia Doubleday) and for a new mysterious boss named Tyrell Wellick (Martin Wallstrom). Unsure of his allegiance, depressed and obsessed with computer hacking, he tries his best to survive in this hyper-capitalist and connected America. One day, he is approached by an excentric figure named only Mr. Robot (Christian Slater, quite good here) and his partner Darlene (Carly Chaikin), who invites him to join the ranks of F Society, a radical hacker movement (exactly like Anonymous) who wishes to liberate corporate America from the clutches of E Corp. Of course, his life will rapidly change after he accepts the offer, as we will learn more and more about Elliot, his goal and his troubled past. To keep us in the loop of this plan, Elliot will sometimes break the fourth wall and talk to us directly to let us in!
Of course, I can’t go into too many details in order to avoid any spoilers, but other characters will join the crew along the way and a LOT will happen.
What I find so awesome about this series is that it feels so actual and strangely realistic. Nothing seems supernatural, even as the worst aspects of our connected society are exposed here. People are constantly on their phones, their personal information too easily accessible on the cloud, economic meltdowns after a single push of a button and, of course, corporate greed of the top 1% that dictates the lives of the 99%. Even though E Corp is a fictional company, not once do we not recognize the America that is depicted on the news every day all through the series. Sam Esmail’s narrative genius lies in his ability to extract all the benefits and joys of modern society and only present the worst parts of our daily lives, making Mr. Robot almost exclusively about the dark side of life. Even better, you can also see archival footage of actual American presidents like Barak Obama and Donald Trump to comment on events linked to what is happening in the story, a bit like director Robert Zemeckis did in Forrest Gump (1994).
See Mr. Robot as your own inner demons who take control in order to survive, this is pretty much how the show perceives us today. It might seem like a “downer”, but believe me, it’s not.
On the downside (even though I like this kind of stuff), the dialogue is fast and very technical in many scenes, making it hard to fully understand Elliot’s coding language. You will see many scenes of Elliot typing and coding for a specific purpose, which might become a bit repetitive after the first seasons. However, fear not, the plot only gets better and better!
I can’t say much, but I can easily confirm that season 4 is so far my favourite, as we witnessed the first good and pure moment in this cruel world. A few tears might even roll down your cheeks, as it was the case for me. The show remains dark and many characters like Elliot stay very depressing, but we grow to care about them nonetheless, as each season exposes a little more on who these kids really are deep down.
Fair warning though, this show is a bit rough and might not be for the faint of heart. This is a series about the “deep web”, technological terrorism, social abuse and political terror…nothing too joyful. In fact, except maybe on a few brief occasions, you might see a smile on someone’s face, but it overall remains serious business. You must really be in the mood for this, this is a portrait of our ugly selves.
This is the show who put Rami Malek on the map and for good reason. I’ll be sad and nostalgic when the final episode will air, but it was a good ride overall. Surf the wave before it is completely over, you won’t regret it.
My grade: 8,5/10
Seasons ranked (so far):
1. Season 4 (really good stuff)
2. Season 1
3. Season 3
4. Season 2