Review: Mr. Robot, part 2

Not long ago I posted a review of Mr. Robot.  At the time I was only a few episodes into the season. I found many things to like about the show, but a few things I wasn’t so crazy about. Well, my wife and I finally finished the season, so here’s a follow up on the show.  Should be light on spoilers, but proceed at your own risk if you haven’t seen it yet.

The first thing I have to say is this: it…got…weird.  After my initial review I mentioned to a coworker that I was watching the show, and he asked what episode I was on. When I told him he got a weird grin on his face and said “just wait.”  I asked him what he meant, and all he would say is “you’ll see.” And I did see. Boy oh boy,did I see.  The very next episode was a complete left turn from where I thought the show was headed. As I said before, I like it when I don’t know what’s coming next. But sometimes the “big reveal” is such a radical departure it’s jarring, and that was the case here. Without giving anything away, I’ll just say I had a suspicion about where they were headed with the Mr. Robot character, and I was partially right. But I was also very, very wrong.  I didn’t see it coming, mainly because I didn’t know it was possible for it to be coming.

As a kid I loved reading Agatha Christie, but she could get under my skin when it came time to reveal the murderer. So many times the murderer turned out to be someone you couldn’t suspect because you didn’t know they existed, or they were only mentioned in passing, or they accomplished the crime through such an elaborate set of circumstances you didn’t even consider it. Some of that happens in Mr. Robot.  Kind of irritating, but also kind of cool that they went to such an unexpected place.  Anyway, the writers have given themselves the ultimate ticket out of any corner they write themselves into. They haven’t ventured into “it was all just a dream” territory, but honestly I wouldn’t put it past them.

Something they did that I liked very much was humanize the main villain. For the first few episodes he’s set up as an emotionless machine of evil. But later in the season we see him struggle with some of his decisions. That was a relief. Instead of a Bond villain, he became more human, more driven by circumstance, more desperate.

I had a bit of a problem with part of the show’s premise, in that they kept hammering home the idea that corporations are the source of the world’s problems. Throughout the show they kept up a constant theme that so many regular people are in crushing debt because of the corporations. The show turns that somewhat simplistic view on its head by showing us a glimpse of what the world would be like if corporations just went away…and it’s not pretty.

As the season went on I found myself frustrated at times, but always interested.  There were shocks, surprises, twists and turns.  But no matter what, the one thing that held it together was Elliot.  Well acted, well fleshed out, and always fascinating to watch.   The thing that really pulls me into a show is when I care about the characters. I found myself rooting for Elliot. Even when he was doing things he shouldn’t, I wanted him to succeed. Even while he was helping to save the world by destroying it, I was in his corner.

Up to the last couple of episodes I kept wondering how there could possibly be a second season. After watching them I see how season two will be possible. There are so many angles they can use, so many directions they can take it.  I’d like to say I know where they’re going, but that’s what I said for season one, and I didn’t exactly nail that.

Am I tuning in for season two? You betcha. Do I know what’s coming next? Not a clue.

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