BY COSMIC DEBRIS
The death of two journalists in Virginia derailed the final episode of the new critically acclaimed show “Mr. Robot” on USA Network Wednesday night. The producers stated that because of the apparent similarities between the plot and real life the season finale would be postponed until the beginning of September out of respect for the victims of the Virginia tragedy.
Now I don’t know if you’d exactly call that a spoiler alert because Mr. Robot is one of those shows that has so many twists and turns that at some point you’re going to feel you’ve traveled back into “Breaking Bad” territory and that nothing is quite as it seems at first glance.
If there’s a hole in your collective hearts and minds that has been left empty by the departure of Walter White and Jessie Pinkman almost two years ago, then I think you’re in luck because Mr. Robot is here to patch up your software and give you something to look forward to every week.
Mr. Robot takes its cues from recent events such as Edward Snowden’s leak of NSA files, the Occupy Movement and the Arab Spring. And with the recent Ashley Madison hack the events of Mr. Robot are more current than ever, tapping into a digital zeitgeist that groups like Anonymous are exploiting to maximum effect; breaking into company and government databases worldwide, leaking information by the data dump load, and executing a moral stance from behind a veil of masked secrecy.
New York City and its boroughs are the background for the events in Mr. Robot and they’re used to perfection be it Coney Island or the hundreds of subway stations that lead in and out of Manhattan. It’s also a show that feeds on the increasing paranoia of a world under constant surveillance from all possible persons and organizations. It basically says if you think you’re being watched, then you probably are.
The show follows an elite hacker named Elliot Alderson who works for a cyber security company AllSafe by day. At night he takes on the guise of a hoodie-wearing vigilante who decides that infiltrating companies and individuals on his own time is the way to make a dent in a world where more and more control is given up.
Then into his life steps the mysterious Mr. Robot (Christian Slater) who’s basically got big plans for Elliot and bigger plans to take down the biggest company in the world: Evil Corp. You might recognize Evil Corp’s logo as it closely resembles that of Enron what with the capital E tilted back like an executive relaxing after a hard day of stock market manipulation and martinis. Rami Malek plays Elliott and right from the get go you believe this dude means business. He stalks about Manhattan with just enough morphine in his system to fight his ever present paranoia and the anxiety disorder that comes with life in the big city.
Although this show is currently cable only in the United States, it will be beginning its Canadian run on September 4th at 10 pm on Showcase. There are some slightly nefarious ways to see the show ahead of that air date – methods that would be a fitting tribute to a show that’s basically about subverting the status quo through backdoor means. And that being said it’s interesting to note that USA Network’s parent company is NBC Universal. If you follow the money trail, you end up realizing that the world’s biggest media conglomerate Comcast(according to Forbes.com) owns all of NBC and its subsidiaries (including sports teams, theme parks, etc.,) and therefore owns a show that’s basically about a new fangled Tin Man giving a big oily slap upside the heads of the corporate overlords we’ve all come to detest.
Go figure. Another thing that’s setting the bar for this show is the respect it’s getting from real life hackers who’ve spent years watching Hollywood’s lame attempts at demonstrating their abilities in movies like “Hackers” where elaborate computer animations and keyboard fu all add up to eye rolling ridiculousness. The only complaint I’ve heard of so far is that the show was forced to use a fake IP address in the same way Hollywood had to use 555 (or KL5 for you oldsters) prefixes when phone numbers needed to be uttered within a movie or TV show.
Adding to the Big Apple vibe is a very nice nod to Bret Easton Ellis’s “American Psycho” and loner fuelled movies like “Taxi Driver” and “Death Wish” where vigilantes had to step into the open to make a difference in an indifferent world.
So sit back, shut the curtains, turn off the lights and delve into the workings of Mr. Robot. But make sure your deadbolts are slotted and secured because in a world where you don’t who’s watching it’s good to take analog precautions in an increasingly digital universe.