Last year (2014) The Honorable Woman snagged two TVolution Honors: the Bravest and the Best Freshman Drama of the summer.
A creative field plump full of fascinating fare, makes it that much more challenging to declare one show deserving of the title “Best” over another when all, worthy of making the list, are extraordinary.
This year, no question, Mr. Robot is the BFD of 2015. Why, Mr. Robot is the Best Freshman Drama of 2015 is another matter.
For newbies who’ve yet to tunnel their way through the TV maze, this shadowy, psycho-tech thriller is equal parts original and odd in a way that makes it more than ‘Unique.’ Rigorously peculiar, Mr. Robot is also captivating in an ‘I don’t want to get close to you so much as be absorbed by your mysterious brilliance’ sort of way. (*See Note Below)
Mentally gifted, central character Elliot (Rami Malek), probably tested off the I. Q. charts before he took his first baby steps. However, exceptional gifts are often accompanied by exceptional challenges. i.e.: Elliot finds it near impossible to socially interact with anyone outside of a couple of people (his childhood friend and his neighbor… somewhat) in what is deemed to be normal, by society’s standards. He sees a psychiatrist, (Gloria Reuben), but to what end, it’s left unclear.
Malek has taken to this character as if it were designed with him in mind. Elliot is a guy who appears clinically depressed. When he dares to stick his head out of that mode he’s often operating in a mentally comatose or drug induced state. It would be so easy to appear one note or with the emotional range of a droid. Malek, however, exhibits an expanse of emotions, from the subtle all the way—in varying degrees and intensity—toward extreme. He does so, with a natural fluidity that borders on scary, but never strays outside of Mr. Robot’s stringent structures created by Sam Esmail. It’s hard to conceive of anyone other than Malek as Elliot.
He works in IT as a cyber-security engineer for AllSafe; a company providing internet security for large corporations. One of his issues, out of many, is that his company’s largest client is Ecorp; a massively powerful entity which has its hands in every area of everyone’s life and is the organization Elliot holds responsible for his father’s suicide.
So when a mercurial figure wearing a jacket with a Mr. Robot patch (Christian Slater) approaches him with a scheme that involves a major hack on Ecorp, Elliot is… let’s say… conflicted.
(Aside: Elliot hears and sees the word “Evil” whenever anyone utters E-Corp or if he sees it in print)
To top that off, he’s being followed and he, we—because he confides in us, the viewers, from time to time—are not sure by whom. At first we think it’s an underground Robin Hood-like activist organization—fsociety—who strives to recruit him for their ultimate goals.
The waters become even murkier when he appears to be tailed after they have sucked him into their ranks. Are they so lacking in trust they continue to follow him even then? Or are they being targeted on their own accord because they are—after all—domestic terrorists?
There are many-many trails and other, equally disturbing characters who wonder in and out of Elliot’s sphere. Some hover about in the clinical living-on-the-edge corporate world, others occupy the dingy, living-on-the-edge psychotically hazardous druggy world. Twists are cleverly executed and the ensemble cast is excellent in skill as well as their quirkiness.
I repeat-watch scenes that really grab me immediately. The first scene of “hellofriend.mov” (Mr. Robot’s pilot episode) was one of those: It was so gripping, I nearly fell out of the chair in an effort to get closer to the TV.
Mr. Robot is smart, intense, funny and brave. In an era where our digital data risk is always at defcon four, it is also timely.
Creator, Sam Esmail has done that rare thing: harnessed entertainment lightening in a bottle.
Mr. Robot gets The TVolution’s highest regard: Piping Hot!
♦ ♦ ♦
NOTE: *(I mean really, for as strange as he is, who wouldn’t want to be as brilliant as Elliot)
What: Mr. Robot on USA
When and Where: Mr. Robot, Season 2 returns early summer 2016. Until then, what are you waiting for? Rewatch and look for all those clues you missed the first time or if you’re a newbie get all onboard with all 10 episodes and watch back to back at USA Network.
Creator: Executive Producer / Writer: Sam Esmail
Cast: Rami Malek, Christian Slater, Portia Doubleday, Carly Chaikin, Martin Wallström
Executive producers: Sam Esmail, Chad Hamilton, Steve Golin, Niels Arden Oplev
Producer: Igor Srubshchik
Co-producer: Gregg Tilson
Director (pilot): Niels Arden Oplev
EDITOR’S NOTE: Last May, I thought I’d seen everything with over 150 shows set to premiere or return within a two to three month period. The number rose this month to upwards of 460 shows over the oncoming year.)
It’s going to be an energizing year. It is a tuff, though pleasurable, task to take on.
Hang on All!!