BY MATT TAMANINI
On the heels of winning the Golden Globe for Best TV Drama, MR. ROBOT, the most buzzed-about show of 2015, is releasing its first season Blu-ray/DVD on Tuesday, January 12th. The show, a trippy look into the mind of an unstable hacker anarchist hell-bent on leveling the financial playing field, received both critical and public acclaim when it debuted in June. Showrunner Sam Esmail created a world in which nothing was what it seems, prompting the online intelligentsia to speculate about what was actually going on.
Despite countless theories, Esmail and his remarkably talented cast were able to make the eventual reveals both logical and unforeseen; expected, yet satisfying. After one of the best dramatic pilots in recent memory, the season hit a wall for me about a third of the way through; seemingly spending more time diving deep into the main character's neuroses than telling a coherent story. However, as the puzzle started to be pieced together, it was clear that there was no wall, just a beautifully designed foundation.
The benefit of binge-watching the DVD is that you are able to see that building happen at a much more satisfying pace than if/when you watched it on USA. The frustration of having to guess what was happening and then having to wait until next week to find out is gone, and you are able to connect the dots far more easily than before. This is undoubtedly the ideal to get caught up before new episodes debut later this year.
In addition to a Golden Globe winning performance by Christian Slater as the eponymous hacker, Mr. Robot, Remi Malek became one of the year's breakout stars playing Elliot Alderson, "a cyber security engineer by day and vigilante hacker by night," explains Esmail in one of the DVD bonus features. Malek's performance is frenetic, but restrained, conveying most of his emotions via his unusually large and expressive eyes and lethargic narrations. A Golden Globe nominee himself, Malek plays Elliot as a modern day hero, attempting to save the world by first bringing it to its knees. Despite the illegality of his plans, Elliot remains a sympathetic protagonist throughout.
In addition to Malek and Slater, the show also features fantastic performances by Carly Chaikin as Darlene, a member of an anonymous hacker organization who takes it upon herself to look out for Elliot; Portia Doubleday as Angela, Elliot's lifelong best-friend. The pair have been there for each other through all of life's highs and lows. Also, Martin Wallström plays Tyrell, an ambitious young executive at one of the world's largest corporations, whose path keeps crossing with Elliot's.
I hesitate to give any more than those basic descriptions, because I don't want to spoil anything that the roller-coaster first season has in store; trust me, you'll thank me after you watch. As with nearly all shows filmed on the east coast these days, MR. ROBOT employs a stable of Broadway alums including Brian Stokes Mitchell, B.D. Wong, and Ron Cephas Jones. Gloria Reuben also recurs throughout the first season as Elliot's therapist.
In addition to the extraordinary first season, the two-disc set includes some great bonus features as well. There is a nice, little gag reel that shows that shooting wasn't always as intense as the show itself, and there are a handful of deleted scenes also included. However, the most interesting feature is the behind-the-scenes documentary "M4k1ng_0f_Mr_R0b0t.mov." In the feature, Esmail and members of the cast and crew explain everything about the show from its inception to its authenticity to the characters to their individual hopes for the show.
If you were riveted by MR. ROBOT's first season, or if you are ready to jump on the Golden Globe-winning train, this Blu-ray/DVD is one that any television lover needs to have.