Clocking in at an hour and five minutes, the pilot for Mr. Robot is about twenty minutes more than it needs to be. Despite its extended length it is definitely one of USA’s most promising shows in recent memory. It’s dark, full of several twists and turns and has a truly award-worthy performance. All of this just in the first (albeit very long) episode.
He’s a Vigilante by Night, Techie by Day…
Mr. Robot opens with our bug eyed protagonist, Elliot, confronting a local coffee shop owner. Elliot has hacked into the owner’s Wi-Fi network and discovered the owner’s true name and his secret child porn website. While it appears at first that Elliot is doing this for blackmail and profit, the truth is more noble. Socially awkward and antisocial he might be, but Elliot has a flair for the dramatic. He’s merely telling his nefarious coffee seller for personal satisfaction in seeing him squirm. The cops are already on their way.
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Elliot’s day job is a lot more boring. He works for an internet security firm that contracts out to bigger companies. Among his coworkers are his childhood friend/unrequited love interest, Angela, her douchey boyfriend, Ollie, and a herd of background nerds that look like the background nerds of every other show.
…And An Relentless Cynic All the Time
Rounding out the supporting cast is Elliot’s therapist, Krista. Krista is seemingly the one person, (besides the audience), that Elliot can talk about his many neuroses and paranoia. Krista is also one of the only people that Elliot seems to genuinely enjoy. He’s still hacked into her local network though, but it’s for her own “protection”. He sees that she has turned to online dating and her latest paramour makes Elliot uneasy.
Though Krista tries to help Elliot, he’s a little too cynical and stubborn for a simple pharmaceutical fix. Elliot’s cynicism isn’t helped by that fact work involves him doing security for the largest capitalist corporation in the Mr. Robot universe. Their name is E Corp, but Elliot and everyone else seems to refer to them as Evil Corp. It’s not an inaccurate nickname because Elliot has a run-in with one of Evil Corp’s executives, Tyrell Wellick, and Tyrell is one foreign accent and furry cat from being a Bond villain.
Evil Corp vs. Mr. Robot
Elliot is not Evil Corp’s only enemy. While Elliot is tailing Krista and her boyfriend on a date, again for Krista’s “protection,” Angela calls him. Evil Corp is being hacked and they need Elliot to stop it. Elliot comes into the office and through his super smart hacking skills is able to stop the attack. Once the attack is ceased, Eliot notices an electronic signature of sorts that could help the hacker get back to Evil Corp’s system. Elliot has the chance to delete but doesn’t.
On his way back home, Elliot is accosted by a charismatic homeless man. The fact that he’s played by Christian Slater tells us he is important. There is also the fact that his jacket has a name tag that reads “Mr. Robot.” Anyway, Mr. Robot tells Elliot that he wants his help and tells him they have things to discuss. Mr. Robot is the one who hacked into Evil Corp and wants Elliot to help him with a project.
Mr. Robot takes Elliot back to an abandoned arcade where he is working with a group of other hackers. Later, Mr. Robot tells Elliot that he plans to pull down the establishment by taking down all the major corporations. Once the economy collapses, he hopes to redistribute all the wealth. Their first target is Evil Corp. Elliot is reluctant to agree so Mr. Robot gives him an option. Elliot can plant evidence that frames one of Evil Corp’s executives, Terry Colby, as the mastermind of the hacking attempt or Elliot can do nothing and forget the whole thing.
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Don’t Mess With Angela (or Krista)
Elliot wrestles with the decision. It is at a meeting with Evil Corp that he makes up his mind. Terry Colby talks dismissively to Angela and has her removed from the meeting. It is for this casual act of jerkwardness that Elliot decides to frame him and hands over the evidence to do so to Evil Corp.
When Colby is not immediately arrested, Elliot gets anxious. To distract himself, he commits to fully finding out everything he can about Krista’s shady boyfriend. He discovers that the man is married and is using a fake name to cheat on his wife. Elliot tracks him down and gets him to confess the truth to Krista and break up with her.
The next morning, Terry Colby is finally arrested. Elliot rejoices for his victory over the establishment but is quickly surrounded by a group of men in black suits. They usher Elliot into a black van and deliver him to Evil Corp headquarters. Elliot is taken to a boardroom where he is greeted menacingly by Tyrell.
Mr. Robot airs at 10pm on USA.
(Image courtesy of USA)