“Mr. Robot” is a rare feat of television that dares to break the rules. USA Network’s revolutionary new series boldly stares society down and unspools a cautionary tale geared towards corporate America and the ugly world we live in. The innovative cinematography perfectly captures the beauty of chaos surrounding our everyday lives. Each carefully crafted element involved in the camerawork expertly mimics and expands on the mental state of Elliot, the main character.
Elliot, played by Rami Malek, is a man in his twenties who lives to hack. Any curiosity or mystery he wishes to expose is right at his fingertips, waiting to be revealed. In a world where almost everything is digital, anything is possible in the hands of a computer genius, including ending the world. The limitless power Elliot has at a keyboard, recognizing every code and equation as reliable, is especially dangerous when the one uncertainty in his life is himself. Elliot suffers from a mental disability that alters the world he sees. He is on a mission to hack into the the evil company “E Corp” and implode it, ending the idea of power-hungry conglomerate corporations eagerly spreading their influence. This will inevitably lead to the end of the modern world. As Elliot gets closer to achieving his goal, his thoughts become increasingly rampant and off-kilter. The severity of this sickness is unknown as the show is told completely from his perspective, immersing us into his world of paranoia. Everything depicted on-screen may or may not be real. This leads to an indistinguishable blur between fact and fantasy—the ultimate unreliable narration. Small details that are slightly odd are a reminder that this entire series is seen through Elliot’s biased eyes. Often while watching the series, the skewed narrative is so enrapturing that it is accepted as true until it jolts the viewer awake to what may actually be happening.
The most disturbing quality of the show is the question of why we, the viewers, are in Elliot’s head. The answer is that we are Elliot’s imaginary friends hearing his inner narrative. “We’re all living in each other’s paranoia,” Elliot hisses to himself as his plans are in motion. “I wish I could be an observer, like you; then I could think more calmly.” This ingenious breaking of the fourth wall establishes that the series is not afraid to step out of bounds.
Christian Slater plays the character Mr. Robot himself. Slater expertly contains the same terrifying unpredictability and questionable sanity that he once channeled in the cult classic “Heathers,” where he also played a terrorist. However, instead of enticing Winona Ryder to blow up a high school, in “Mr. Robot” he entices Elliot to blow up corporate America. Other characters are power-complexed Tyrell (Martin Wallström) and his wife, Joanna (Stephanie Corneliussen). They are easily the most greedy and psychotically strategic power couple on television since Frank and Claire Underwood of “House of Cards.” Elliot’s minimal support system includes Angela (Portia Doubleday), his doe-eyed childhood friend who attempts to bring him back to reality until she falls down the rabbit-hole herself, and Darlene (Carly Chaikin), a fellow hacker who helps him with his man-made apocalypse.
“Mr. Robot” is difficult to discuss without spoiling its many brilliant twists and turns. The overarching concept that pushes the series down its warped and frenzied path is the idea of humanity’s modern state. If the world is fragile enough to collapse after a few strokes on a keyboard, is it best if everything comes to an inevitable end? Would humans be better off climbing out of our self-made coffins? With the ambiguous cliffhanger that ended its first season, it is clear that the only way to find out is to stay tuned.