Mr. Robot

From Clockworks2
Jump to navigationJump to search

Mr. Robot (vt Gospodin Robot and variations in various languages). Sam Esmail, creator. TV show. USA: Anonymous Content, Universal Cable Productions (production) / USA Network (US showing), 2015-2018 (and following?). See IMDb for complexities of distribution outside of USA.[1]

Logline from IMDb for whole series: "Follows Elliot, a young programmer working as a cyber-security engineer by day, and a vigilante hacker by night." The generic classification of "Cyber Thriller" is close, but one should add psychological drama and note some roots in cyberpunk.

The show is set in a present-day New York City significant for "E Corp," called "Evil Corporation," opposed by the fSociety hackers, whose HQ is at Eldorado Arcade at Coney Island. That setting has in the background — and available for foregrounding — the Wonder Wheel: an impressive Ferris wheel, an icon of Modern technology. The Arcade also has Thunderball and various other mostly mechanical games, surrounding the cybernetic equipment: modest in appearance but quite powerful; there are also video games but old ones, appropriate for an arcade. Cf. and contrast the TRON movies, and, for premise and the grittiness of the mise-en-scene, FIGHT CLUB.[2]

The show has won critical acclaim and has significant presence on the web; see e.g., the Wikipedia article.[3]

Note especially:

Episode title (and I.D.): "", season 2, episode 2 (or part 2 of first episode, called 2.0), through-number 12 (13 July 2016): Includes a bravura sequence of the hacking of the computer-controlled smart "of E Corp general counsel Susan Jacobs," driving her out of the house.[4] In terms of what we see and hear, this could be a computer-takeover of a person's very personal space.[5]
"eps2.1_k3rnel-pan1c.ksd," season 2, episode 3, through-number 13 (20 July 2016): Begins with our getting background history of the old-games arcade, and ends with FBI agent Dominique following an important murder case to that "fsociety arcade."[6]

"eps2.4_m4ster-s1ave.aes," season 2, episode 6 (sic: 2.4 in title), through-number 16 (10 August 2016): Angela Moss, who knows her way around computers but is no hacker, is the person who carries out the central actions of an up-close and personal hack into the physical network and electronic data-space of no less than the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). The technical detail is such that the sequences would be a combination of thriller and hacker-porn, except that this caper is intercut with plot-lines showing brutal physicality — a brief moment of torture of a minor character and an extended attack on, and domination of, Elliot Alderson, the central character — and sequences of a brightly-lit, wet-ware virtual world of Elliot's TV-sitcom hallucination of a road trip with his family, and a realistic flashback memory of young Elliot riding in a car with his father after Elliott's being bruised in a fight at school and learning his father is seriously ill.[7] 
"eps2.9_pyth0n-pt1.p7z," season 2, episode 11, through-number 21 (14 September 2016): Note Dom's having an intimate/existential conversation with her Alexa "personal assistant" — who sounds like "she" could pass the Turing Test — in an episode where we see Elliot doing a MacGyver[8] cum E.T.[9] high-tech computer hack assisted by household items and Angela locked in a room with what looks like a "tweenage" Angela administering a disconcerting psychological test using relatively primitive computer equipment — on the wall there's a hang-in-there cat poster that goes back to the 1970s[10] — and monitored by someone on the other end of the line of a red dial phone (in the background and adding tension by leaking water: a good-size wall aquarium with at least one large goldfish, or koi, putting together in fairly tight shots of a sparsely furnished room, the human, feline, cybernetic, electronic, and aquatic [the fish apparently dies]). 
"esp3.4_runtime-error.roo," season 3, episode 4 in title numbering, 5 on Wikipedia, through-number 27 (8 November 2017).[11] In introductory minutes note return to one or more quick shots to what in the world of Mr. Robot is identified casually but apparently reliably as a nuclear power plant, but which could be in real life an accelerator such as CERN, with its shape from one angle suggesting a mandala [12]. In the episode itself, Elliot goes into what we might call «Mr. Computer (Program) Mode» talking to us as if he were a sentient program running a self-diagnostic to locate and correct a "runtime-error".
"," season 3, episode 5 in title numbering, 6 on Wikipedia, through-number 28 (15 November 2017).[13] In a battle between Elliot and Mr. Robot for control of Elliot's body, take-over by Mr. Robot is marked by the sound of static and a "Derez" screen effect for the visual ("Derez" from TRON (1982); [14] this can also be seen as a pixelation effect.)
"esp3.6_fredrick+tanya.chk," season 2, episode 6 in title numbering, 7 on Wikipedia, through-number 29 (22 November 2017). Excellent episode but — the usual hacking and threatened hacking aside — relevant here only for a monolog by Leon about four minutes in giving an encomium to the old Knight Rider NBC TV series and its foreshadowing some thirty years in the past the dependence upon technology in the present-time of the show.

Note Richard Greene and Rachel Robinson-Greene, editors. Mr. Robot and Philosophy: Beyond Good and Evil Corp (Chicago: Open Court, 2017), reviewed by Amanda Lerner, SFRA Review #330 (Fall 2019): pp. 170-72.[15].

RDE, Initial Compiler 13Feb18, 5Aug18, 12Aug18, 9-13Sep18; 19Oct21