BY SAMANTHA HOLLOWAY
Mr Robot airs at 10pm Wednesday nights on USA (with a rerun at 1, if your TV sabotages you and makes you wait).
It seems appropriate to be typing this up at night well after everyone else has gone to sleep. This week, things got dark--which is saying something, because it started out pretty dark anyway. And it just flew by; it was half way through the show before I even realized what was happening. Mr Robot (the show) seems to have some other dimensional pacing, because it feels like not a lot is happening, but it keeps throwing out details and curveballs and shock waves, and by the end of the episode, which comes way too soon, so much has happened. To whit:
- EvilCorp offers Elliot a job, and he turns it down, which is definitely not going to come back to haunt him (sarcasm)
- Shayla, his dealer, is being abused by her supplier--the only one who can get the medical morphine Elliot needs--so he goes cold turkey off it to disolve her reason for even knowing the jerk
- Fsociety puts out a video demanding the release of the guy they just made a patsy of...for whatever reason
- The fsociety hackers are poking around in Elliot's life
- His therapist is worried about him
- He's basically totally over his job now that he's seen that the alternative offer is an actual thing
- Mr Robot (the person) want to start actual explosive terrorism to expose the weaknesses he needs for his hacking and information gathering
- Elliot's best friend is worried about him, her boyfriend is a scummy cheater, and someone has hacked the webcam(s?) in her house to spy on them
- And Mr Robot (the person) demands personal details from Elliot as, like, a a test of trust and then pushes him off a pier and walks away to teach him a lesson
That's a lot of big movements for one hour (and eight minutes on my TV) in the second episode of a brand new show.
And it's a tighter hour than the pilot. Last week, the middle seemed...not draggy, like so many weird middles are, but overly pessimistic and lacking direction, which, granted, is what Elliot was feeling and since it's such a close first-person of a show it was bound to happen. But this episode kept up the whole hour, has great momentum even when Elliot himself wasn't doing anything, like when he was getting harassed by the awful, awful drug dealer--or when he wasn't hacking because he took his whole system apart to make sure he wasn't being duped.
This is a weird show. And it knows it's weird and it's supposed to be that way, because the characters are weird and the situation they're dealing with, for good for for ill, is a strange mix of uber-reality, hidden truth, paranoia, and conspiracy, and we-the-audience aren't quite sure where the dividing lines are yet. But it's also a really good show, well acted, well paced (mostly), with incredible music, and this neat off-center and slightly-out-of-focus cinematography (tv-matography?) that shows Elliot's not really paying attention and not quite understanding what people say to him.
There's a pretty strong feeling that it's going into Fight Club land, and if that happens, they'd better a) to it very very well, or b) logically derail that expectation into something cool and new--which is what this reviewer is hoping for. But the show as a whole, though wildly original, is aware of it's predecessors. There's shades of The Matrix and maybe even Hackers already, and faint echoes of every techno-thriller that made a mark since, and it still feels like it's own thing, so maybe even a Fight Club ending could be made fresh by these guys and their really long indie movie pretending to be a TV show.
What did you guys think?