Mr. Robot eps1.0_hellofriend.mov
Bullshit disguised as insight:
I just finished watching the pilot and whew. There’s a lot going on, plotwise, between the hacking, borderline-conspiracy theories and secret exposing.
Mix in mental instability, crippling loneliness, questionable relationships, and Dalia from Suburgatory who I know is an important lady because
- she gets the only Significant Look in a room full of hackers
- that quirky, cool style means she needs to Stand Out
- I’ve seen her in commercials for later episodes
And that’s not even close to everything I was supposed to take in and process in about 60 min. So let’s get started.
This is a pilot, and like it should, it raises A LOT of questions. I could list them all here. I shall spare everyone and list 3.
– How and why did Elliot learn hacking?
– What’s the background on his mental instability?
– How old is Qwerty, what species of fish is he, and what is their average life span? I don’t care if Elliot has a dog now, Qwerty is precious and pure.
You could also make a list. Everyone could make a list and we’ll compile them. Let’s say we get answers to those questions. Now I can guarantee you that I’m gonna have some follow-ups. Futile. Luckily, it’s still intriguing and not painfully overwhelming.
Ok, so one last question- what do we know?
For such a weird character, Elliot’s feelings are quite relatable (at least to me). I can’t help but be empathetic, though his emotions and reactions are more pronounced than the average fellow. Small talk seems to escape him, either because he’s not good at it, it doesn’t interest him, or a combo of both. He repsonds “ok” when the conversationalist was looking for a little bit more. He cries of loneliness in his bedroom (bury me). He tries to go to Angela’s birthday party, but turns away at the sight of the crowd. Although I have also done this, but let’s not go there. Maybe you’ve never turned away from a party, but these feelings of abandonment, anxiety, or just being done talking about the weather, at their core, are omnipresent.
Next, we know Elliot is required to go to therapy (and he stalks his therapist) (nicely). But he likes his Krista. He knows a lot about her. He knows she’s trying, knows that she too understands what it’s like to be alone, to feel alone. He tells her all of this. And then the ball drops.
And Elliot doesn’t really save it too well. Luckily for him, she lets it go.
He probably continues to attend therapy due at least in part to his delusions, which the audience sees some of. He says he’s schizophrenic, or more precisely, he uses the more derogatory “schizo.” He has prescribed medication but instead self-medicates with precise amounts of morphine (and not so exact amounts of other drugs). Someone was abusive towards him, probably his mom, but at least a female authority figure.
The only person he felt he could talk to was his dad. And I believe it because he sure does have a hard time speaking to anyone (out loud). In many ways, his honesty in conversation is refreshing, but ten minutes later he’ll lie to his best friend. He’s now started talking to a “friend” he’s created, the voiceover narration. For a person who seems decidedly ungrounded, his narration is very grounded in the story. It’s not arbitrary, but rather part of his story, though he’s also unknowingly talking to us, the audience. It’s meta, I love it. But also, it is crucial. Is wonderful. Is used so well.
The narration doesn’t just move the exposition along , but rather gives insight to thoughts that would never be shown otherwise. Dude doesn’t talk much. That seems pretty integral to his character. But his inner thoughts are constantly moving, and I’m assuming at this point he’s not lying to the method he created to safely express himself. His contemplations give him a more nuanced voice and reveal a side he doesn’t show any of his “real” friends and acquaintances. It pains me to say, I probably wouldn’t like him or at least “get” him if I knew Elliot in real life.
Granted, the pilot has a complicated story, and the voiceover helps in telling it. I don’t have the slightest idea what Elliot’s doing with the hacking and security. Without the voiceover, it’s random typing. If instead it was engineered that Elliot always explained his every move to someone who happened to be there, it’d seem expedient and out of character. But most importantly, the voiceover doesn’t take over telling the story.
Also appreciated, the voiceover narration and video are spliced and edited together in a fresh and clever way. The various storylines weave and wove exhaustingly. There’s what Elliot’s saying to the voice in his head, what he imagines saying, what he actually says out loud, and are those truths, lies or truths in Elliot’s approximation? The editing cuts from the past to the present and with ELLIOT (V.O.) “This is about last night. I should have gone to Angela’s birthday party, instead I went to–” INT. RON’S COFFEE (FLASHBACK). Clues from his past are seamlessly slipped into the narrative, and there’s circular structure with the scenes with the tip top 1% appearing at the beginning (top of page) and end (below). I like it.
We also know Elliot likes to bust wrong-doers, Catfish style. Except he’s calling in anonymous tips to the police, and Ron’s going to jail.
“See, I usually do this kind of thing from my computer, but this time I wanted to do it AFK. In person.” Elliot, you’re killing me.
He has secrets on basically everyone. I’m all for social media stalking your bff’s new date, but Elliot goes deep. He finds out all about Krista’s boyfriend’s cheating ways and second life, and neatly blackmails him. Although Elliot figures out “Michael Hansen” isn’t the guy’s real name pretty late in the game. Kid needs to watch more Catfish because I figured that out the moment he said cheater. Maybe I watch too much Catfish.
As the season continues, I think this guy is going to be a real player, but we shall see.
Tyrell works for E(vil) Corp (which looks like a mix of Apple and the “E is for everyone” videogame logo (in a world where Steve Jobs also existed)).
Now finally, about Christian Slater who may or may not be the titular Mr. Robot. I am suspicious of you and your possible ulterior motives. So when ol’ CS is trying to convince Elliot to help his cause, he’s saying all the right words. All of them. Suspiciously right. Who’s to say CS hasn’t been cyberstalking Elliot in addition to literally stalking him? In fact, I don’t think he’d be doing his job properly as a “cybercriminal/vigilante/magician/whatever” if he didn’t. So he could be talking about the artifice of money because that’s what he believes, or maybe he’s hitting Elliot where it hurts. Taking down Evil Corp and erasing the debt of the people may be his true goal, part of it, or just key to his manipulation of Elliot.
The irony is, CS’s society rant still isn’t enough (although enough to convince Elliot to bring the tan folder of truth and the blue framing folder to the meeting). Elliot’s power and motivations are partially derived from his views on money, but there’s much more emphasis on morality and oddly enough, from relationships. Busting someone for child pornography or saving a kind woman from a vile cheater seem tidy enough. However, Elliot puts a lot of emphasis on personal connections for a guy whose closest relationships are his childhood friend, the therapist he cyberstalks (and actually stalks), and his drug dealer. Perhaps it’s his desire to escape loneliness that begs the question. In the end, it’s the big boss’s mistreatment and rudeness to his childhood friend, Angela, that finally puts Elliot over the edge and motivates the great folder switcharoo with the (false) incriminating evidence.
I am excited to see how his relationships grow over time, but pretty sure some hearts will be broken (mine).
Overall, a strong pilot. I’m intrigued to watch more. Elliot could easily be unlikeable or just too strange for relatability, but I want such good things for him in a series that’s fairly depressing with a glimmer of sunshine. If there’s any question of tone, this moment pretty well establishes how I expect the whole season to go:
Pretty much, don’t get your hopes up.
I’m expecting a lot of twists and turns and hope I’m ready.
- I love Gloria Reuben as Krista and want good things for her character.
- The cops blatantly and physically turning their backs.
- Your chances of survival significantly decrease when taken to a second location. These are their stories. Dong dong… Wrong show.
- Michael Hansen’s profile is awful. Just read it. Not attractive. Krista, you deserve more than “Baby Got Back” quotes.
- Cleeeever. Near the beginning, in his therapy session, Elliot has a long, imaginary “fuck society” rant. The mark left by the hackers is fsociety00, which Elliot found suspicious. Maybe they’re just mirroring Elliot’s prior sentiments. Later, we find out the fsociety hackers are based at an abandoned amusement park formerly owned by “Fun Society.” The sign is so dilapidated that now it only says “F SOCIETY”. Meanings on meaning.
All photos credited to USA Network