Mr Robot: eps1.8_m1rr0r1ng.qt (R3v1ew)

Mr. Robot Christian Slater
Before going into the whole episode of Mr Robot Mirroring let us take a look at the opening sequence. This is a beautiful scene however you look at it. It is either a flashback or memory, it can be both, as Elliot is in the room behind the sales desk.

Mr. Robot is on the phone at a small computer repair shop.

A customer comes in and rudely informs Mr. Robot that Elliot stole $20 of his money off the counter and he wants it back. The man is angry, pushy and antagonistic. After his short rant, he then takes on a “let’s be reasonable” tone and ask Mr Robot to do the right thing. He is taken aback when Elliot’s dad says no. The tirade continues, during which the customer is asked to leave and he does so after saying that from now on, he will go to Best Buy.

Elliot is called out and after he initially tells his dad he did not take the money, he then gives the note to his father. Looking at the paper Mr. Robot asks Elliot, “Timecop or Stargate?” He tells his bewildered son that 20 bucks ought to cover the both “of us.” Elliot points at the paper. “Pulp Fiction? Never heard of it,” his father says.

The young boy then asks why he is not in trouble and he is told:

“Even though what you did was wrong, you’re still a good kid and that guy was a prick. Sometimes that matters more.”

After the interior scene with Mr. Robot and Elliot, there is an exterior shot of the shop. A time lapse montage rings the changes of ownership over the years. The name of Elliot’s father’s shop is “Mr. Robot” and at the end of the little montage of shop signs, the place has become an “E Corp” Bank branch.

This pre-credit intro is what helps to make this show almost perfect. Certainly it is all about the hack and Elliot’s schizophrenia, along with all the baggage that entails, but it is also all about the “touch.” That gentle nudge towards an allegory.

Or an ironic message.

One telling us that both Tyrell and Elliot are on a very similar journey. This will not be clear till later though and we have no flashback sequence telling us about Wellick’s backstory. Now it is Elliot’s past we see at the start of the show.

The time of the flashback is 1994, Stargate, Timecop and Pulp Fiction are all playing at the cinema. The World Series has been cancelled, Pentium 90 is the biz in computers and 800 mb hard drives are cutting edge technology.

Elliot’s father is younger, but coughing, and it turns out that the guy is pretty decent. Teaching his kid, not to steal as the disgruntled and rude customer maintained, but that not being a “prick” is important. The lesson is that being someone unpleasant will bite that individual in the butt, whether it is not having their stolen $20 returned, or (later) losing their job at Evil Corp (Tyrell).

Later in the show, Tyrell is confronted by his “father” (Phillip) who punishes him, not for being under suspicion for murdering Scott Knowles’ wife Sharon, but for being Wellick. Clearly, as the receptionist/secretary tells Gordon while cleaning out Tyrell’s desk, the man was not always easy to get along with.

Case in point being Wellick’s firing of this three assistants in a prior episode. The man’s rage and aggression were barely held in check and he did treat subordinates abysmally. His “father” clearly was waiting for the perfect excuse to rid E Corp of the “prick” who clearly is not “a good kid” underneath his misbehavior.

This episode drives home that Elliot and Tyrell are clearly the same side of a coin. Both are advanced in terms of computing and both are damaged and flawed. Alderson’s problems are controlled by his medication and Wellick’s are controlled by his wife. Neither man’s control systems work very well. Tyrell’s own attempt at control, beating homeless men after paying them, did not work very well and he literally went straight for the jugular of Sharon Knowles. His new CTO’s wife who did not play by his rules.

Meanwhile, Alderson has been seeing his dad, working with him, forgetting who Darlene was and not remembering that he started fsociety to begin with. Other things have happened along the way, like the death of Shayla and terrifying his therapist.

The two men have been drawn together, although it is Tyrell who recognized the flaws in Elliot and approached him. Just as he approaches him at the end of this episode. They are soul mates, peas in a pod, each sharing a sort of madness and their fates are intertwined.

Mirroring finally brought things out in the open. Those who have been watching from episode one and suspected all along that Elliot was Mr. Robot were finally proved right. Last week’s reveal that the man was Elliot’s father was the set up needed to follow through with just how deeply Alderson’s schizophrenia went and how much he existed in his other personality.

The scene in the “childhood” home was brilliant and gave us a glimpse of just what functions the “Mr. Robot” in Elliot performed. It would have been interesting to see what happened at that window with just Alderson there.

Another revealing scene was in the hospital where Joanna Wellick has given birth to their son. If there was ever any doubt about who the driving force was in the Wellick household, this scene removes it. Joanna tells Tyrell point blank that if he does not fix the mess at E Corp he has no place with the family. Joanna Wellick is the mover and the shaker in this scenario, Tyrell is just the instrument of her “war machine.”

Angela is shocked to find herself wooed by the devil, aka Evil Corp, after she managed to start up the lawsuit. She comes home to find Colby in her house, talking to her father, and he reveals that his former colleagues at the company want her on their team. She refuses and Colby tells her to think about it for another day. The man suggests that if Angela really wants to change things, to think about doing it from the inside.

By the end of the episode, Elliot is depressed and lost. He wants to pull the plug on the whole Evil Corp take down. Darlene goes to get his medication and Tyrell comes in to talk. He wants to know what Alderson’s plans are and he puts on his “special” gloves to force Elliot to tell him. As he puts the gloves on he describes strangling Sharon Knowles to death and it is a chilling moment.

Elliot takes Wellick to the arcade and as they stand there the popcorn machine starts up…the first thought is of the gun that Darlene hid in there last week. Is it still there and will someone use it?
As the popcorn pops, Elliot tells Tyrell that he wanted to save the world.

*Sidenote* Now that Mr Robot has revealed who the Christian Slater character is, does this mean the last of Slater on the show? Fans of the actor will be wondering and those who point to the Slater “curse” (that love the show) may be breathing a sigh of relief that he is gone.

This was the penultimate episode of Mr Robot and the season finale airs August 26 on the USA Network. Since the series, and Rami Malek will be back for a second season, this next episode will obviously leave things wide open. Apart from smelling a cliffhanger coming up, here is one last “sidenote” for thought till next week.

*Sidenote* Did anyone else think that the destroyed computer shop where Gideon went to collect the hard drives (that Elliot dropped off) looked liked Mr. Robot’s old shop front? Irrespective of whether it was or not, who do you think torched the place? Elliot, as Mr. Robot, or was it Whiterose? Those who want to play may leave their thoughts in the comment section below.

Mr Robot: eps1.2_d3bug.mkv (r3c4p and rev13w)

Tyrell Willick from Mr Robot and Evil Corp
Last week’s episode of Mr Robot, esp.1.1_ones-and-zer0es.mpeg had Elliot being pushed off the high pier by Mr Robot and eps1.2_d3bug.mkv starts off not with Alderson, but with Willick. The Evil Corp exec turns out to be a class A predator, a sort of American Psycho clone who uses violence as therapy, he pays a homeless man to be beaten by him when the CTO position looks to be filled by someone else.

Elliot comes to in the hospital to find Shayla and Krista Gordon standing at the foot of his bed. His drug dealer is there as emergency next of kin and he asked for Krista when he was checked in. After a short Q&A with his therapist, he agrees to participate in drug tests on a regular basis. There is a method to his madness, Elliot knows he can hack the hospital data base easily and fake his test results. He also promises to keep off the morphine, something that he proves to be a lie upon his release.

Back at his apartment building he and Shayla stand outside their flats and she asks if he had anything to do with Fernando,her supplier and the man who raped her, being busted. He says no. Shayla then notices that the doorknob on Elliot’s door is missing and when the two enter, they find Darlene inside. She points out that he needs to “spend a bit more scratch” to get a better system for his door and shows him a magazine article that says Jessica Alba wants to join fsociety.

Elliot kicks Darlene out of his flat.

Ollie is under increasing pressure to load the hacker CD at AllSafe; he has a deadline of 100 hours to infect the computer system at work. After a briefing by his boss Gideon, the security team get an invite to dinner and Elliot says no initially. The two men have a private chat and Alderson smooths things over. Heading back to his desk Elliot sees Mr Robot sitting in his chair. After a brusque interaction, the two head to a bar next to the building for a chat.

In the bar, Robot apologizes for pushing Elliot off the pier but the hacker does not believe him. Mr Robot leaves saying that without Elliot, there is no plan. Alderson thinks he has been given a chance at a “normal” existence; drinking vanilla lattes, “hearting” Instagram posts and asking Shayla to be his girlfriend. He goes back to work and accepts the dinner invitation.

At AllSafe, Ollie is about to load the CD when Angela comes up. He quickly takes the disc out of the tray and the two leave work. Willick is having a conversation with his pregnant wife or girlfriend before he goes out. He tells her not to “stay up.”

Elliot asks Shayla to be his girlfriend and learns that despite his hacking her accounts, he really did not know everything about her. The drug dealer is quite creative and seems to be gifted in the area of fashion design. They head to the dinner and during the evening Alderson and Gordon bond further and the man gives Elliot a hug.

Angela and Elliot talk and his best friend recalls wanting to be Claudia Kincaid from The Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler when she was little and he talks about getting lost back when there were no Google maps. Elliot muses that he could get used to the “normal life” when he gets a text.

He turns on the television.

A news report about Colby, the sacrificial lamb set up by fsociety earlier, is now being touted as the man responsible for the many company deaths of Evil Corp employees from leukemia. Mr. Robot has dangled the one bit of bait that Elliot is incapable of ignoring and his short-lived dream of living a normal life is shattered.

Tyrell heads to a gay bar, picks up Anwar and has sex with him in order to bug the man’s phone. Willick is not just a predator, but a sexual predator and omni-sexual creature. It is easy to see that with the “wannabe” CTO of Evil Corp, sex is just another weapon or tool to get what he wants.

Ollie confesses to Angela about the CD and his dalliance with Rebecca. At first she wants to leave him but after a little thought decides to stick with the love rat and infect the company as required. Angela is terrified that if they do not, she and her father will lose everything from identity theft. Ollie is not too keen on the plan and the two decide to work on a solution together.

As the strains of an operatic solo begins Gideon discovers the bug for fsociety that Elliot left on the server and makes a call. Tyrell is forced to have 50 Shades of Grey sex with his wife and she tells him to invite new CTO Scott Knowles to dinner. The opera reaches a crescendo as Elliot heads to the arcade and, with the rest of the team watching, sets up his laptop saying, “Here is the plan.”

In this episode of Mr Robot Elliot discusses bugs, which he equates to secrets or hidden messages. As he ruminates throughout the show about debugging and discovering bugs, he also takes a moment to consider being normal. The scene where he asks Shayla to be his girlfriend and discovers her “bug” or that “hidden maze” that he speaks of during the episode is touching and shows that not everything that the hacker does is all encompassing. The human factor, which he has issues with, eludes him.

The idea that the Christian Slater character Mr Robot is actually Elliot’s invisible friend or a schizophrenic hallucination or another personality of his own making teases the viewer enough to keep things interesting. Tyrell Willick is turing into a very multifaceted bad guy and one to keep an eye on. This young exec wants to win at any cost and if he discovers Elliot’s complicity in fsociety’s plan, things will get very ugly.

Mr Robot continues to be “in the now” and a show that places emphasis on the new reality. Rami Malek still rocks it as Elliot and his voice over makes the show work on so many levels. Christian Slater is excellent as the shadowy Mr Robot and Martin Wallström is suitably disturbing as the Evil Corp baddie. Portia Doubleday is getting into her part as Angela well enough that the character is becoming a favorite and Carly Chaikin is perfect as Shayla. Catch the show on USA network Wednesdays and later on-demand. Simply great TV this and not to be missed as Elliot Alderson and Mr Robot are both addictive as the morphine that the schizophrenic hacker ingests.

Mr Robot: Hello Friend USA Network Equals Falling in Love Again

Still from Mr Robot with Rami Malek
With all the substandard shows on offer across the plethora of television networks, the appearance of Mr. Robot and its premiere episode of Hello Friend on the USA equals falling in love again. This first look at the new series introduces viewers to Elliot, a gifted schizophrenic, who appears to have a bit of autism in his makeup, who works in cyber security by day and hacks users as a past time.

The hero of the piece, played by Rami Malik (Night of the Museum 1,2,3, Need for Speed) is all “deer in the headlights” wide-eyed and spacey. Not all the time, but at the start of the show his look is a bit disconcerting. Despite this socially inept man’s odd appearance and the fact that he is speaking to an invisible mate, Hello Friend, which is the excuse for Malik’s voice over narration of events, thoughts, and plot line directions; Elliot is likable and the audience are drawn to him. While in real life he could be a bit off putting, in the show the character works.

The computer whiz self-medicates by snorting morphine, which he obtains illegally from a “pusher” whom he sleeps with later on after indulging in some “pure Molly” with her. This is one of the more amusing moments in the show. The camera pans back from a close up of Elliot smoking to reveal the bare bottom of his dealer as she sleeps next to him. His line about not making decisions while high is delivered perfectly.

The plot, in the premiere segment, has a mysterious chap dressed in white paint-spattered blue jeans, a work coat and white baseball cap following Elliot around. Carrying a paper cup with change in it, the man (played by Christian Slater in yet another try at television) “bumps into” the computer tech expert several times before finally introducing himself, sort of.

The whole series revolves around a group of hackers whose aim is total anarchy through the mechanization of big conglomerate account tampering. The first step is taking down the E corporation, which Elliot refers to as “Evil Corporation” and each time the logo appears that is how it looks, Evil vs E. Nice touch.

The premiere episode is helmed by none other than The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo director Niels Arden Oplev. This goes a long way toward explaining why the show works so incredibly well. Fast paced, splendidly put together and perfectly photographed by Tim Ives, this first episode goes beyond brilliant in catching and keeping the viewer entertained throughout.

Rami Malek is brilliant as the young challenged man who wants to change the world, punish the wicked and free himself of his delusions. Christian Slater, in his role as Mr. Robot, appears to be almost a McGuffin in this series and as such does what he does best; play himself. Slater is always an infinite joy to watch in anything as he brings much to the table playing various versions of himself.

Portia Doubleday is not allowed to do much. Her character walks around with a “smacked arse” look stamped on her face and has abysmal taste in men. She is also Elliot’s best friend and has been since childhood. Angela does appear to have some romantic inclination towards her pal but does not act on it.

With one filming location at Coney Island, and who wouldn’t want to take their coffee break at a ferris wheel that still works, the show looks very in the “now.” With the plot and the way that Elliot sees the world of the Internet, Mr. Robot may become one of the best shows on television, beating Stitchers, Wayward Pines and Bates Motel as the new “must see TV.”

Mr. Robot premieres properly June 24 on USA network but can be seen now on the Internet. This is one new show to be excited about, it certainly got my pulse racing and made me fall in love with American television all over again.