Grim_Noir Gets Reprogrammed By Mr. Robot


Title: Mr. Robot

Writer: Sam Esmail

Director: Niels Arden Oplev

Starring: Raimi Malek, Christian Slater, Martin Wallstrom, Carly Chaikin, Gloria Reuben and Portia Doubleday

Creator: Sam Esmail

Airing on: USA Network

Reviewed by Grim_Noir

The people who are annoyed by Sheldon Cooper as a representation of geek culture on The Big Bang Theory are going to hate Raimi Malek’s Elliot, when Mr. Robot debuts on USA Network this Wednesday night (June 24th).

Elliot’s googly, yet dead-eyed stare is definitely off-putting. He’s delusional, quiet, anti-social and pitying of anyone dumber than him. Elliot doesn’t like being touched and has trouble saying “no” to anyone. He’s also a world-class I.T. security expert with incredible hacking skills. By night, when his low-level job at the online protection start-up is over, he is a grey-hat cyber-vigilante. He has a drug problem, which he believes he has under control. And, although Elliot pines for his childhood friend Angela (Portia Doubleday) from afar, he has no qualms about sleeping with his drug dealer when he’s bored. In other words, he’s a high-functioning sociopath; a less homicidal Dexter.

You quickly realize that Elliot has no real friends. Angela holds him at arms length emotionally and appears to view him as some sort of charity work/social experiment. Her boyfriend spouts self-help platitudes trying to buddy up to his girlfriend’s oldest friend. Elliot’s coworkers are as spacey and antisocial as he is. His boss, Gideon, views him as a valuable cog in his machine, but a cog nonetheless. And Elliot spends most of the time billed by his analyst (Gloria Reuben) deflecting and psychoanalyzing her.

Mr-Robot-Elliot Alone

One night, after his cyber-Batmanning is done, Elliot’s paranoid internal monologue on the subway is interrupted by a strange, seemingly-homeless man talking directly to him. This man, wearing a serviceman’s jacket with the label “Mr. Robot,” seems to know everything Elliot has been up to, and offers Elliot even bigger corporate fish to bring down…in exchange for some confidential information… As the titular character, the mysterious anarchist “Mr. Robot,” Christian Slater is electrifying. He is charismatic, smart and doggedly determined to reach his goals. Most importantly, he is gleefully, unrepentantly fun, and fun to watch. Like Bruce Campbell in Burn Notice, the energy level of the whole series jumps to “11” whenever Slater is on the screen.

Externally, Mr. Robot is about destroying the world of the over-privileged (the “top 1% of the top 1%,” as Elliot calls them). Slater’s character sees a pattern of dominoes that must be toppled for his endgame to succeed. And his endgame is brash, indeed: Take the .1%-ers money, distribute it to the other 99% (each according to their needs) and then erase any trace that the Moneyed ever had that money originally. Only now, reasons Mr. Robot, in a world monitored by computers, can this financial egalitarianism work.


Notoriously, Sam Esmail has told everyone who will listen that he created this show as a reaction to the flood of nonsense cyber-babble on the airwaves today. He feels that the world of cybercrime, hacking and the real “DarkNet” are much more thrilling than anything we’ve seen on network television. And he seems to be living up to that promise: They do make a Denial of Service attack (and defeating the attack) exciting, easy to understand and visually interesting in the pilot.

However, most of the real dramatic tension is driven by, and centered on, Elliot. Is he the hero or the bad guy? Does he even have a moral compass? Does it matter? If not, what does that say about US, the viewers? Is any of what Elliot sees or does “real?” We flow in and out of his delusions with him and only know what he tells himself. How much, exactly, are we being Fight Clubbed?

I feel sorry for those people who will write off this show because they don’t feel like Elliot is one of them. Mr. Robot is fierce & dark, and I say, with no hyperbole, this could be my next Breaking Bad



Ol' Grim Hisself

* GRIM_NOIR may be an Elliot. Please comment below and/or follow @Grim_Noir on Twitter or “Friend” on Facebook or Good Reads.

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3 Comments to “Grim_Noir Gets Reprogrammed By Mr. Robot

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  1. Roland says:

    I Loved the first episode def different from your average show.

  2. Grim_Noir says:

    Definitely agree with you, Roland! My favorite part was, when episode one ended, I still had NO IDEA where this series was going. I got the same feeling from the first episodes of “Breaking Bad” and “The Shield.” Can’t wait to see more

  3. Roland says:

    After finishing the second episode I think I’m in for the long haul. Still don’t know where it’s headed long term, but that is a good thing me thinks.

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