Thursday, July 2, 2015

Mr. Robot -

There are inherent strengths and weaknesses in any story presented from the point-of-view of an unreliable narrator. In that vein, USA Network's latest stars Rami Malek as cyber-security tech Elliot Alderson who spends his off-work hours as an expert hacker. Struggling with social anxiety disorder, a contempt for corporations, a morphine habit, and a history of mental illness that includes hallucinations, Elliot is approached by a stranger (Christian Slater) who offers to make all of Elliot's dreams come true by inviting the hacker into a select group whose target is to bring down one of the world's largest corporations (which Elliot's day job just so happens to offer a way in).

Although the class warfare and hacker manifesto that the central character in Mr. Robot exposes is nothing new, Elliot is hardly a typical prime-time leading character. Caring more for others (including his oldest friend and his therapist) than he will ever admit, the hacker lives by a code and a core set of beliefs. Presented from Elliot's perspective it's hard to gauge exactly where reality blurs into fiction. Are the men in suits following him real or merely figments of his imagination and paranoia exacerbated by his recent choices? And what of Mr. Robot (Slater) and his hacker friends who only ever communicate to directly to Elliot (and seem to be ignored by any other witnesses). Could they all be nothing more than figments of the hacker's elaborate fantasy?

"" sets up the world and its characters but leaves much left unexplained. The unreliable narrator is a double-edged sword, but for at least the first episode the series uses it to its advantage by presenting an unique character and set of circumstances which I'm going to be interested to see explored more fully over the coming weeks. It's been awhile since USA caught my attention with a new series, but Mr. Robot might just fit the bill in reminding us that unusual characters are indeed still welcome on its airwaves.

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