One episode was provided prior to broadcast.
Who could have expected that USA would be behind the show of the summer? By the end of its hour-long pilot episode, Mr. Robot is already one of the most ambitious and involving dramas on television, a tech-savvy conspiracy thriller about nothing less than the downfall of our corrupt system, barbed with punk-politic antagonism, bathed in Internet-age anxieties and blessed by an intensely hypnotic lead performance from Rami Malek. You’d be well-advised to log on early.
As played by Malek, hacker Elliot is one hell of a hero. For starters, he hates you, me and just about everyone else lapping up this consumer product. Elliot’s hatred is all-consuming, and Malek’s sunken-in eyes and impassive droning somehow communicate an animal ferocity raging beneath his veneer of disinterest. By day, he’s a tech geek employed by a cybersecurity firm. By night, though, he’s a lone-wolf, hoodie-cloaked hacktivist who stalks the evildoers of the world from behind a keyboard.
Elliot despises the depravity of capitalism in our society, represented by a greedy, ubiquitous corporation called E-Corp (the characters dub it Evil-Corp), and he quietly defies it through extralegal activities like busting a coffee shop owner for making child pornography and scanning his therapist’s (Gloria Reuben) love life for potential heartbreakers. Without him, wolves in human skin would continue to prey on the weak, aided and abetted by the everyone-for-themselves gluttony of the American socioeconomic system.
Mr. Robot is, like Elliot, cynical to its core. Its lead character, prone to monologues addressed to an imaginary audience in his head (aka: us), speaks at length about the corruption of the modern era, in which powerful men run the world from the safety of the shadows, manipulating the masses through advertising, corporate chess games and a monopoly over the wealth. Someone needs to hold the powerful accountable – but with the corporations’ talons in everyone, who but the anonymous can do so? Elliot rages night and day, but he doesn’t have anywhere to direct that aggression, and so it eats away at him like yet another parasite.
One day, after saving a client from a pernicious virus that seems to address him personally, Elliot is approached on the subway by a mysterious hacker (Christian Slater), who shares a name with the series. Mr. Robot offers Elliot a place in his elite squad of anarchist techies, who plan to upend E-Corp and eventually bring the entire capitalist system crashing down by wiping out debt across the board. But are these underground operators the cure for society’s sickness or another virus that may be something even worse?