Title: Mr. Robot
Air Date: 08/19/2015
Genre: Cyberpunk, Thriller
The cinematic presentation of Mr. Robot thankfully doesn’t undermine its focus and emphasis of character development and examination. While each episode continually addresses the issues at hand, and it does feel like one continuous long film, it’s all the better for it. Episode nine isn’t as good as episode nine for a number of reasons, but it doesn’t necessarily mean it is a bad piece of television.
Mr. Robot loves its flashbacks, and they are a nice break from the initial story while establishing the various histories of the characters and shedding some revelatory information on their origins. The flashback at the beginning of this episode features a message that’s odd. It does fit within the confines of the show, and is also the driving force of Elliot’s actions throughout his crusade with fsociety, but when described so bluntly, I’m not sure I like Elliot’s cause or mission anymore. Suddenly, the conflict between E-Corp and fsociety seems less like a modern day David vs. Goliath with tinges of grey inserted amongst both sides. I’m not sure I like that. I appreciate, though, how interesting it is to see how far back Mr. Robot’s ties go to Evil Corp.
This episode plays on Mr. Robot’s likability in the series. His life and overall relation to the main story takes a much more dramatic turn. Christian Slater’s character is often snarky, wise-cracking, and a source of much of the show’s energy. However, he too grounds himself with a much more serious and solemn presence. It’s a testament to the actor’s range that the transition is so smooth; there’s no other way to describe it. The character of Mr. Robot is supposed to grab the attention of viewers. I feel as if he is supposed to be the center of attention when Elliot is not. It works in previous episodes, and it still works here, even when the character is much more serious than before.
However, the revelation of his true nature is a great twist, and it also provides even more great character work for Rami Malek’s Elliot Alderson. I looked at every confrontation and meeting between Slater’s Mr. Robot and Malek’s Alderson with an even greater admiration for the characters that are brought to life on the small screen. For once in a television show, I really felt like the writers have provided us with a special, raw, and emotional trip inside the mind of a character.
While the rest of the episode, and presumably the season, depends on the success of its third act twist, the smaller. ancillary storylines do not. Wellick does not need Slater’s Mr. Robot, nor does Angela, and the Chinese hackers have no use for him as well. For once, the smaller side stories failed to really grasp me. I was interested at the turn Angela was taking, as she began to think solely of herself, but I think the rationale behind her actions need more time and space for one to really understand, grasp, and appreciate.
The same should be said for Tyrell’s story. All of a sudden, he just completely gives up like that? Where is the same fight in the man who scored countless promotions and viciously climbed the corporate ladder? Once again, this is a backstory for the character, a man whose origins are demystified. I think the end result and near resolution of Tyrell’s story in season one in this episode would be much more appropriate if we simply had, at least, another season with the character.
However, this is still a great episode of television. I really enjoyed the emotional deviations from the cold-hearted hacker notions this show has expertly utilized. It was a nice change of pace as the events of the past few weeks finally caught up with the characters. The show also carefully nods in appreciation and reward to those who have paid very close attention as to how the entire series began. By tying the very beginning of the series together with the present episodes, it treats the viewers with maturity and respect. While this does bring into question how further seasons will logically happen, and this is distracting given how early Mr. Robot was renewed for a 2nd season, it does feel nice to see that particular detail evident once again.
The penultimate episode of Mr. Robot is much slower paced than previous episodes, and doesn’t quite reach the climaxes of its predecessor, but it still is simply great television that must be watched.
- Story: The story is weird at this point. While the twist does make sense, in relation to what we know about Elliot as well as the story and his conditions, it feels like it should have moved to this point halfway through the season. The sudden twist does determine a majority of the story’s direction from here on out, and it’s no doubt compelling, but it feels very late.
- Acting/Characters: The acting is great, and it might be one of the best-acted ensembles in television right now. This episode combines well acted moments that display humanity and humility while retaining the hard, cold, yet determined delivery of its corporate half. Christian Slater deserves special recognition, as his Mr. Robot really comes full circle. He really sells the character to the audience.
- Cinematography: The great cinematic presentation this series may be known for continues. It still feels like a film, with Fincher-esque lighting and camera shots that encompass the scale of each scene. But it does know when to pull back the camera and focus on capturing the actors as performers.
- Organization: It’s a weird twist that may have served the story better in the middle of the season. Since the twist does come at the end of the season, it does make you question how important any character is out of Elliot’s family and friends. The show doesn’t do a good job of connecting the other characters to Elliot’s realization, but the great acting more than makes up for this weird placement.
- The main twist is fitted neatly into the show's theme
- Christian Slater's performance
- Logical season 2 set up
- ...but it's an odd twist when you think about it
- Tyrell's story seems out of place
- The smaller stories don't depend on the big twist as well
Liam has been watching movies and too much tv since they took Batman: The Animated Series off the air. He can be found on Twitter tweeting and retweeting nonsense.