‘Mr. Robot’: Same show, two different seasons
Katie Lee Madonna | Tuesday, October 4, 2016
The season two finale of “Mr. Robot” aired Sept. 21, leaving leading character Elliot’s future and the outcome of “fsociety” dangling in a web of betrayal and backstabbing espionage. Yet after watching season two, it is hard to understand if the events are truly happening to Elliot or if they are all just in his mind. Gambling off the success of season one, season two dares to play mind games with its devoted, excited fan base.
Season one introduced us to Elliot, an activist hacker, who is unable to understand proper social interaction, a factor which contributes to his need to work with computers and his friend Mr. Robot, portrayed by Christian Slater. Through precise storytelling, Elliot’s motivations and family relations delicately reveal themselves with suspense. The producers seem carefully aware of how smart “Mr. Robot’s” audience is, and thus break the fourth wall often. Season one thrillingly introduces us to major players in the tangled game Elliot plots against E-Corp, a multi-national corporation, as well as his allies in “fsociety.” Cinematography similar to “Fight Club” and a complementary film scores by Julian Scherle and Rendra Zawawi contribute to a sleek final product fit for iPhone junkies.
Billed originally as Christian Slater’s comeback, “Mr. Robot” defied critical and commercial expectations. Slater gained fame in the late 1980s with the break out dark comedy “Heathers.” Slater plays Jason Dean, a high school student who accidentally begins killing fellow classmates for their actions as bullies. His emotional rawness and Nicholson-esque delivery branded Slater “The Next Jack Nicholson.” After “Heathers,” Slater frequently wound up cast in roles as a loner and vigilante in films such as “True Romance” and “Pump Up the Volume.” It doesn’t take much to link the similarities between “Mr. Robot’s” Elliot and Slater’s former lead roles. It is no surprise that Slater is a producer on “Mr. Robot” as well.
Each component of “Mr. Robot” is executed with precision and a slickness that matches its dark, edgy and resonating content. The hacker suspense show grapples with a multitude of themes, including social isolation, mental illness, corporate abuse and negligence, and sadistic and masochistic dynamics inside a marriage.
Yet what would a show about hackers be if not an examination of the darker parts of humanity? Our computers and hard drives say as much about each one of us as much as our everyday thoughts do. Hackers unearth our inner thoughts, actions and intentions. Therefore, a show about hackers demands exploring human behavior and relationships hidden from professional and polite everyday life.
“Mr. Robot” takes advantage of the collective subconscious in America brewing since the Occupy Wall Street movement in 2010 that then expanded into Bernie Sander’s political movement. No longer it is just youth culture or activists that applaud the latest Anonymous cyber attack on a multinational corporation; it is former white-collar workers displaced by the new job market that join in gleefully cheering. “Mr. Robot” has punctured an emotional chord currently running through American culture — which is why it has garnered such accolades as the Peabody Award, Golden Globe for Best Drama Series and recently an Emmy win in the best actor category.
Aiming towards Millennials, a hard group to please, “Mr. Robot” puts in the work to create a realistic and gritty world true to cyber punks. Producer and creator Sam Esmail hired FBI crime unit consultants to guide production and staffed a writing room with cyber security experts.
Season two switches storytelling tracks — some scenes turn out to be pieces of Elliot’s imagination. Why does Elliot keep going back to the computer: Is it is really just isolation and loneliness that drives him to fight?
We will have to wait and see when season three debuts in 2017 on USA Network.