Mr Robot aired recently on the USA Network and it is nothing like this:
Ergh, I’m not sure whether I can go on after that…
Anyway, if imdb and the first episode is anything to go by, this is bound to be a classic. So far the series tells the story of Elliot, a computer security technician who works as a consultant to a big technology conglomerate ‘E-Corporation’ which has some parrallels to Google, except for the fact that E-Corp goes against the “Don’t be Evil” belief system of Google, but instead feeds the ongoing drive towards corporate greed and consumer debt.
There will be some minor spoilers going ahead as always..
Elliot is in therapy, and I dare say that we will get some more idea of why in the coming episodes, there is allusion there to ‘yelling’ and ‘delusions’ however we don’t get too much of an idea what this is about.
Given there is a lot of reference to Elliot’s inability to connect with people, there is a tendency to believe that he fits somewhere on the Autism Spectrum, but again given the limited information it is difficult to call this one. Autism and Asperger’s (now encompassed as Autism Spectrum Disorders) are somewhat socially relevant, with more information available to people, therefore it is not a long stretch to say that the writers have gone down this path, but I am not so sure of that. Elliot seems to have a rich interior world and beliefs that go against the mainstream in addition to the social deficits that he suffers from. My (very) early thoughts are that Elliot shows traits from one of the Cluster A personality disorders, which not only explains his social issues but also his non mainstream beliefs about the world.
For 80’s aficionados, there is Christian Slater, seemingly as the eponymous Mr Robot (only referred as such by a generic name badge on a jacket) who runs an anonymous group of hackers from Coney Island. The interactions with him are only brief and obviously foreshadows what is to come later.
We follow two storylines, both of Elliot’s – his desire to protect the people around him and also the world at large. In the first arc, we see that Elliot engages in the hacking of people close to him to learn more about them and the people around them who, he perceives, may harm them. This seems to be his best way on connecting with people, to understand them through their social profiles and their online bank accounts and take action on what he feels is best for them.
The second story follows Elliot following his sense of social justice – initially hacking and informing on a coffee shop owner who is running an illegal pornography site in the background of a legal business. Mr Robot fits in here and appeals to this sense of justice, allowing Elliot the chance at pursuing this justice in a bigger way than he ever has before.
As for the tech side of the show, I would say that it is relatively realistic, using a Linux environment, not sitting in front of a graphics based system and also showing that even the best can sometimes be bested by a malicious worm or piece of code. I just can’t understand why they didn’t unplug their computers when they were being hacked…..
From the start we are aware of shadowy ‘men in dark suit’ types that may be following Elliot, and that is an ever present theme of the show. But are they really following him, or is it part of the delusions that are referenced in Elliot’s interactions with his psychologist? Something which is ever present is the idea of E-Corp being referenced as ‘Evil Corp’ – is this, again, part of Eliiot’s delusion? Even on the tickers on the news channel it is referred to as such – is this that everyone sees the corporation for what they really are, or is this feeding into the idea that Elliot has created a fictional world around him that helps him to deal with other people and the idea that he can’t engage with them. This, in particular, strikes me as a bit St Elsewhere, but instead of a kid with a snowglobe it will be a neckbeard eating Doritos in his mother’s basement? Only time will tell…