Mr. Robot
How Sam Esmail's Brave New Series Blindsided Me

"Mr. Robot"


Trailers

What Up Yo.

Mr. Robot.

I first saw posters for the new series on subway walls that spoke to me.

They screamed Tyler Durden.

With copy like:

"Our Democracy Has Been Hacked"

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"Fuck Social Media"

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"Fuck The System"

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I was down.

It was a new series from the network that gives us Suits, USA.

But this wasn't Suits.

This was something else entirely with all the energy of a series provoking a revolution.

I would add it to my list.

My Pop had passed when the first episode aired.

I needed a dose of visual storytelling that would break through the cracks in the walls of my grief.

Something that wasn't light & fluffy, but relevant, honest, daring...smart.

Something to wake me back up.

With just those few advertisements, I entered the first episode.

The cast flashed before me on the screen.

Created by newcomer Sam Esmail,  I was unfamiliar with his work.

I had no idea what I was in for.

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Rami Malek.

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When I first saw Remi, I don't know, but last year he appeared on a network series I can't remember the name of  for the life of me (Believe ?)

He was a guest star for one  of the episodes.

His eyes conveyed so much emotion, I couldn't stop watching him...and by the end...I found myself praying  he would get his own series:

"This actor should lead a series...he's incredible." I thought to myself.

And now, here he was, the lead in the ominously titled "Mr.Robot".

I threw a fucking parade in my mind.

Then Michael Gill's name showed up on the screen.

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The celebration continued

Watching Michael Gill in season two of "House Of Cards", playing the smart and vulnerable president against Kevin Spacey's snake in the grass Vice President Frank Underhill...he and Spacey played off each other wonderfully.

Gill conveyed a depth to his character that allowed us to care about him deeply.  He transcended the screen with his performance.

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While he was overlooked by many for his performance in the series,  I found it beautiful.

So much so that I began my review of the second season of "House Of Cards" with two words:

"Michael Gill"

And Christian Slater.

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Listen.

In the late 80's through the early 90's, Slater dominated.

But as he grew older, the industry couldn't cast him as the "teenage rebel" any longer and we begin to see less and less of him.

Then he  finally entered the world in which he belonged....the world of television.

He played many characters on promising TV shows, but the networks are just as bad as the film studios out there.

Maybe more so.

They don't listen to their audience, they listen to...well who the fuck knows.

But when you cancel a show as visionary as, for example NBC's Hannibal...three seasons in, the best season  of the three,  you can tell there is no loyalty to the highly talented crew both behind and on the screen.

With the wonderful art  they are all created together, the meticulously crafted series was canceled for reasons I don't want to understand.

Fucking impatient idiot fucks. (Couldn't write that in Rolling Stone)

These networks don't support the storytellers, it's all "what have you done for me lately".

To them storytelling a business.

We the audience are children, investing ourselves in the story being told to us.

The networks come into our bedrooms as our mothers read us our bedtime stories and, in midsentence, they snatch the book out of our mothers hands, turn around and slam the door behind them.

But that's a whole other article.

When I saw Christian Slater's name here... then saw him appear on-screen as the mysterious leader of the underground anti-corporate, cyber-terrorist group F-SOCIETY... I was thrilled.

Slater, unshaven, wearing a "Mr. Robot" baseball cap, chain-smoking, had been given the role us Slater fans have been waiting for him to play for 15 years.

This isn't Slater from "Pump up the Volume"...this is Slater 2.0.

Mature, wise and seasoned.

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On Point.

His character is fascinated by Elliott, who is a brilliant hacker, who suffers from memory loss, and acts as a vigilante by night. He exposes the bad elements of society to the authorities all while being addicted to snorting morphine to stay level and keep balanced.

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(On NBC he probably would have been hooked on NyQuil.  Chicken shit fuck faces. Don't mind me, I just got the news on Hannibal before I started this review)

He  lives alone.  He has a routine and it works for him.

Then he is approached by Slater to join F-Society.

Is F-Society Mr. Robot?

WRONG!!!!!

The tables are turned.

Elliott hacks and keeps files on everyone he knows.

He knows the details, the intimate details, of everyone in his life,  from his boss to his friends to his psychiatrist.

We learn the inner workings of his mind through voice over.

He speaks to us as if we live in his head with him.

He  accuses us, he confides in us and defends his actions to us.

A few things have to come together to pull off a successful narration in visual storytelling,

The writing, the pacing, the right voice... And the conviction the actor has while delivering the voice-over.

Remi Malek masters each of these traits..

We all, mesmerized by digital technolog, willingly hand our lives over to it.

This show points this out to us and lets us know just how naïve and at risk our privacy is in this day and age.

The Internet is  still the Wild West.

When Slater's character approaches Elliot, he knows him inside and out. Knows his secrets, talents and tragic past.

How his father died of leukemia due to a toxic waste dump that knowone has been indicted for 15 years later, but one company is most likely of committing the crime.

This was also the fate for his best friend Angela's (Portia Doubleday) mother.

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A life long friendship between them was formed early on in their childhood after their shared tragedy.

She is the only true friend Elliott has, but he always keeps her at arms length.

The mysterious character Slater plays offers Elliot the resources and team to wage, take down and the expose  E-Corp...or Evil-Corp.

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They are the billion-dollar global conglomerate that rules the world of Mr. Robot.

They are most likely responsible for the toxic waste dump.

Elliot accepts hesitantly, and soon they begin to run ops strategically, publicly hacking television networks and getting the message out there that they exist and that their purpose is to expose and bring Evil Corp to justice.

He meets the F-SOCIETY crew in an old, run down arcade.

Is the arcade called Mr. Robot?

WRONG!!!

Elliott and Angela both works at a cyber security firm, All Safe Security.

They are a high-end cyber security company who's  biggest client happens to be Evil Corp.

Michael Gill plays Elliot's kind and sensitive boss, Gideon Goddard...the CEO of All Safe security.

He loves and cares about Elliot. He nurtures him and his gifts...but he is constantly worried about him.

Then there is Martin Wallström as Tyrell Wellick, Brilliance.

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He is the Budd Fox of Evil Corp, trying by all means to become the chief technology officer there.

People stand in his way and we soon learn he will go to great lengths to achieve his goals already my with his beautiful, pregnant and vicious German wife.

 

I have given you just enough to watch,

 

So what and who is Mr. Robot?

Fucking watch the show (Yes. You find out.)

 

Think Breaking Bad meets Fight Club meets Halt and Catch Fire, with a fascinating storytelling technique, performances and voice over by Remi Malek, this series is gasoline drenched, high-octane visual storytelling that hits like a sledgehammer.

I could tell you more but I don't want to.

You should be as blind as I was walking in.

I will tell you this right now, presently we are one night away from the season one finale...and I'm at the edge of my seat.

The ride is has been incredible.

This is too daring, provocative and smart for NBC, CBS, ABC.

This belongs at USA or AMC, or HBO if they would get off their high horse.

These networks, unlike the broadcast networks, allow their shows to breathe.

To live to see another year.

And I am now going to put Netflix in that class, as I have been watching the sensational "Sense8" by the Wachowski's.

They are now officially a dependable source of high-quality,  long-format, gasoline drench visual storytelling.

Viva La Revolution.

With these networks, we the children can lay  comfortably while our mothers and fathers tell us our bedtime stories without fear of the network Gestapo kicking our bedroom doors in.

Sleep tight.

- Wes Candela, August | 2015

"Mr. Robot"


Episode Previews


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