Mr. Robot: eps1.0_hellofriend.mov
May 29, 2015 9:17 AM - Season 1, Episode 1 - Subscribe

In MR. ROBOT, Elliot, a cyber-security engineer by day and vigilante hacker by night, is recruited by a mysterious underground group to destroy the firm he's paid to protect. Elliot must decide how far he'll go to expose the forces he believes are running (and ruining) the world.
posted by fearfulsymmetry (40 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
 
There were moments, mostly of acting, where I thought oh this has potential, but it seemed more like a drab House/Sherlock version slicked of that godawful Scorpion.
posted by dorothyisunderwood at 9:33 AM on May 30, 2015 [1 favorite]


You take that back. The only thing this show has in common with Scorpion is they both have computers in them. It may not grab mass appeal but Mr Robot has authenticity coming out its ears while Scorpion is built around hero-worship of a narcissistic con artist & habitual liar & reeks of inauthenticity from every pore. And CSI: Cyber is only marginally better. I have no idea what's planned for the narrative but I'm on board for the ride.
posted by scalefree at 3:01 PM on May 30, 2015 [9 favorites]


I made it 4 minutes; I couldn't even be bothered to let the character finish the scene. I've had more than enough of bland, young, weird-looking misunderstood "geniuses" with difficulty socializing.
posted by Ik ben afgesneden at 3:41 PM on May 30, 2015 [2 favorites]


Overall I liked this and I think this has some potential.

Though half-that is because I think Rami Malek is cuuuute, and I would tune it to watch him brood over a computer. I just wanted to reach through the screen and tousle his silly hair. I also liked the blurring between the anonymous/hacktivist cliches and, "wait, this guy might actually be crazy", leaving me not entirely sure where he was. I have a soft spot for unreliable narrators like that.

As far as shows on TV that have computers central to the plot, this is better than many other shows (I mean CSI:Cyber? I swear they stole their scripts from NTSF:SD:SUV and are daring us to notice) but that's not hard to do. I do not hack the internets so I was content to be all "sure DoS attacks, rootkits, those are things I've heard of".

What really struck me as out of place was all the printing. Printing off log-files and giving them to someone? Do people do that? Do they not realize that they can look at those on the computer? Also Eliot printing things off the internet to keep in his envelope of notes seemed like such an old person thing to do.

There were some parts of the script that seemed to come out of nowhere and serve no narrative purpose:

The conversation about how Elliot uses gnome and the VP of Evilcorp uses KDE struck me as super weird. It seemed like the writers were trying to shoe-horn in the fact that they had googled linux and ...? I can't say I've found someone's choice of desktop manager worth remarking upon, as opposed to say remarking upon what he's actually doing with his computer?

The scene in the plane where Gideon just abruptly comes out of the closet, while great, was then promptly swept aside. Was that just the writers pointing out "hey, we're being inclusive!" Because I would rather they show not tell, that was some strange exposition.
posted by selenized at 11:39 PM on May 30, 2015 [5 favorites]


Oh come on, what multinational company with a security breach will have just three people - maybe 4 or 5 - on a security team to handle a massive data attack that's costing them $16 million (which actually makes them rather small potatoes) an hour or whatever it was, and then flies them to some data center where they have to outrun the code...... It's like with 99% of all medical dramas, you have to accept that nurses and hospital admin staff are invisible and hospitals are apparently entirely staffed by doctors.

The actors, I liked. The premise of the show is fundamentally daft.
posted by dorothyisunderwood at 7:36 AM on May 31, 2015 [3 favorites]


and then flies them to some data center where they have to outrun the code

I totally didn't notice that, I think I've just gotten used to the TV conceit that airplanes are infinitely fast and the airport is just around the corner, because what an amazing waste of time! And for the entire trip to the data center did they just sit in the plane twiddling their thumbs? I thought time was of the essence.

Also, when I think about it, this client is ~80% of their business, has been undergoing escalating attacks by unknown attackers, and at night their cyber-security is left up to a single anonymous flunkie (ok, he had a name, I just can't remember it)? That's one way of doing it I guess.
posted by selenized at 2:37 PM on June 1, 2015


"The premise of the show is fundamentally daft."

That's not the premise of the show though. I read the premise on Wikipedia before watching the pilot and this is what it said:

"The series follows Elliot, a young programmer, who works as a cyber security engineer by day and a vigilante hacker by night. Elliot finds himself at a crossroads when the mysterious leader of an underground hacker group recruits him to destroy the corporation he is paid to protect. Compelled by his personal beliefs, Elliot struggles to resist the chance to take down the multinational CEOs he believes are running (and ruining) the world"

Which, to me at least, makes it seems like a Mr. Robot vs. the Conspiracy show. Kinda like the Invisibles vs. the Outer Church. Hell, this reminded me so much of the Invisibles that, by the time they got to Coney Island, I was looking for blank badges.

Also, interesting visual idea in the end, keeping the foreground blurry and the background crystal clear. That was a nice touch.
posted by I-baLL at 2:41 PM on June 1, 2015 [2 favorites]


Totally grooved on it.
Christian Slater, because he is playing Christian Slater, always throws me out of a show; but that's my thing and I cop to it.
The only thing that bums me out about the show is that I can't stream it from HuluPlus to my TV.
So I guess I'll watch it on my laptop, which seems only appropriate.
posted by Major Matt Mason Dixon at 2:47 PM on June 1, 2015 [1 favorite]


"The only thing that bums me out about the show is that I can't stream it from HuluPlus to my TV."

It's also on youtube:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JpxvvnWvffM
posted by I-baLL at 3:05 PM on June 1, 2015


The conversation about how Elliot uses gnome and the VP of Evilcorp uses KDE struck me as super weird. It seemed like the writers were trying to shoe-horn in the fact that they had googled linux and ...? I can't say I've found someone's choice of desktop manager worth remarking upon, as opposed to say remarking upon what he's actually doing with his computer?

They shoved some terrible "tech lingo" in to reinforce that these are Serious Geeks talking about Serious Computer Stuff, but this was also to show that Johnny Slickback is a real techie, versus the head old dude with his Blackberry. It also sets up Slickback as someone astute enough to pick up on small things, like the envelope swap after Angela was shot down by Blackberry.

I totally didn't notice that, I think I've just gotten used to the TV conceit that airplanes are infinitely fast and the airport is just around the corner, because what an amazing waste of time! And for the entire trip to the data center did they just sit in the plane twiddling their thumbs? I thought time was of the essence.

I thought they flew there because they had to have physical access to the servers, in case they had to manually configure anything, and they would have more security than trying to remotely access the network.

The scene in the plane where Gideon just abruptly comes out of the closet, while great, was then promptly swept aside. Was that just the writers pointing out "hey, we're being inclusive!" Because I would rather they show not tell, that was some strange exposition.

Open up, unload, bond, and ensnare. I thought so at first, but noted the erst of Gideon's exchange. He shared a close personal fact with Elliot to share a personal vulnerability, then unloads personal issues and bonds with Elliot further. This allows Gideon to latch onto Elliot's desire to help and protect vulnerable people.
posted by filthy light thief at 7:52 AM on June 2, 2015 [6 favorites]


I really liked this, but I like modern dystopia tales, conspiracy theories, rage against the international corporate machine, and hacking, so this scratched a number of my itches.

I also thought about Cage's track "Hell Oh," which touches on a number of these themes, includes dark electronic sounds, and a voice that is fairly flat (Cage is more dynamic, but then he's rap-speaking, not acting). And if you're wondering about the David from Sesame Street line, I wondered, too and wrote a post on Northern Calloway's sad life story.
posted by filthy light thief at 7:58 AM on June 2, 2015 [1 favorite]


Christian Slater, because he is playing Christian Slater, always throws me out of a show; but that's my thing and I cop to it.

I read this thread before watching the show, and possibly due to that line, I couldn't take Christian Slater seriously, which made his performances more fun, especially when I mentally augmented his lines like Elliot mentally making all references to E Corp into Evil Corp (which is what we then heard everyone say, right? And does his view of the world shift what we the viewer see? I noticed a line on a subway poster "How do you sleep at night," and later a movie poster for "Villains: Evil Always Wins" that starts blurry then becomes clearly focused, the center of the frame).

For your amusement, my augmented Christian Slater lines:
"Hey, kiddo. What's happening? Exciting time in the world right now. Exciting time. You're on a train with drunk hobo Christian Slater!"
"What about you two? Huh? You guys got any spare change? Help me out? New York's expensive, guys.
Come on. Spare change for Christian Slater? No?"

Elliot: Who are you?
Christian Slater: We gotta wait for the Q.
Elliot: Then what?
Christian Slater: Then we're going to Brooklyn. Out by Coney Island.
Elliot: Why? What's there?
Christian Slater: Coney Island dogs. I'm starving.
posted by filthy light thief at 9:07 AM on June 2, 2015 [9 favorites]


I read somewhere a good pioint that Christian Slater is basically playing an older version of his character from Pump Up the Volume. Which is nice.

Also,

"and the airport is just around the corner"

If the security company is located in midtown Manhattan then, at night, all 3 airports are reachable by car in around 30 minutes.
posted by I-baLL at 9:41 AM on June 2, 2015 [3 favorites]


Steve!
posted by chazlarson at 9:54 AM on June 2, 2015


I know this is off-topic but why does it look like Tom Hanks is taking a dump in front of the class?
posted by I-baLL at 10:09 AM on June 2, 2015


OK, now that I'm not the only one chatting away here, I'll post a few more of my thoughts.

Christian Slater is also playing Peter Pan of Technology, with his lair full of Lost Boys (and Girls), a magical place where you don't have to follow the rules, and everything is fun, and you're young forever. Until he got to the gold standard bit ("Money hasn't been real since we got off the gold standard. It's become virtual. Software. The operating system of our world."), then he's a libertarian, not an anarchist. Gold can be hoarded just as well as virtual money.

And the thing about his dad, the petty crook? It's wage slaves stealing from fellow wage slaves, not about sticking it to the man or the Overlords of the World. And Christian Slater's respect for his dad was cheap and shallow, because getting caught doesn't just mean he wasn't free any more, it means he wasn't as good a thief as he thought he was, or someone was better at detecting his theft than everyone else.

Still, I'm interested in this show at large. I look forward to see the role of Slickback in all this - is the head of ShadowCorp, happy to see Colby brought down? Does he get Colby's spot as CTO, and more power in Evil Corp? He pays attention to details that others miss, so maybe he values what Elliot did.
posted by filthy light thief at 10:22 AM on June 2, 2015 [3 favorites]


Does he get Colby's spot as CTO, and more power in Evil Corp? He pays attention to details that others miss, so maybe he values what Elliot did.

I thought it was going somewhere like that in the last scene. Slickback being the only one sitting down in a room of arguing unfocused business types implied to me that he was seizing upon the chaos and probably knew what was up all along. I got the vibe that the plot from here on will be Elliot balancing his life between Christian Slater and Slickback, but always not entirely sure if he's being played and if so by whom.
posted by selenized at 7:33 AM on June 3, 2015 [2 favorites]


" Slickback being the only one sitting down in a room of arguing unfocused business types implied to me that he was seizing upon the chaos and probably knew what was up all along."

I'll have to go back to rewatch but I don't remember there being arguing in the room. Just blurred faces and then the camera goes to Slickback who enters our depth of field. I think there were other unfocused people next to him but the lack of focus implied more anonymity and a "lurking in the shadows" type of vibe.
posted by I-baLL at 9:19 AM on June 5, 2015


I went back and re-watched, and they aren't necessarily arguing jut talking over one another and gesticulating. This all stops the moment Elliot enters the room.

And yeah, Slickback isn't the only person sitting down, but everyone is clustered around the seat Slickback is sitting in, the only people seated are in the seats near him, the others are standing around him, while most other seats at the otherwise large round table are empty.

The whole tableau seems to be Slickback is the new Dr Evil and the faceless suits are just his business henchmen. At least to me.
posted by selenized at 9:03 PM on June 5, 2015 [1 favorite]


Is E Corp evil? Dunno, but E Corp's logo looks a lot like the Enron logo.
posted by Pronoiac at 9:40 PM on June 6, 2015 [3 favorites]


Ah: it is the Enron logo, according to an interview. And it doesn't air until the 24th, so we'll be waiting for the next one.
posted by Pronoiac at 10:24 PM on June 6, 2015 [2 favorites]


My read is that Mr. Robot is Elliot's Tyler Durden and nothing after he slept with his dealer really happened.
posted by muta at 12:17 AM on June 10, 2015 [11 favorites]


My read is that Mr. Robot is Elliot's Tyler Durden and nothing after he slept with his dealer really happened.

I totally see that now, and can't believe I didn't see that before. I mean do we ever see Mr. Robot ever talk to anyone other than Elliot? Other than coney island hacker girl who could also just as well be a delusion.
posted by selenized at 7:45 PM on June 10, 2015 [3 favorites]


do we ever see Mr. Robot ever talk to anyone other than Elliot?

Didn't he walk up to and panhandle the men in black sitting at the cafe when Elliot is creeping on his psychiatrists and her new beau? Of course, maybe they are also delusions.

Also upthread, using an envelope - I was thinking Elliot had a dead drop of some sort to protect his ass if he ever gets busted. Paper can't be hacked. Send it to a lawyer or lock in a safety deposit box for later, grab when needed.
posted by natteringnabob at 11:34 AM on June 11, 2015


I made a tweet about this show being a bit like Elementary, but with more drugs, and it got fav'd by somebody connected to the show. I mean, maybe that's what they're going for. Who knows?! It was certainly a very compelling hour-long drama, but I would stand by for disappointment in the longer term; how can it keep up such a dark premise (mentally unstable and hallucinating unreliable narrator vs capitalism embodied)?

On the other hand, the main character is ludicrously attractive, so if they can just get him staring at the screen more and looking sad (maybe by making his main crush date a complete bozo, or having his favourite heroin dealer go clean just when he needs a fix) then I'm certainly willing to watch this show. Although less Christian Slater pls.
posted by The River Ivel at 3:57 AM on June 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


If you like Rami Malek, I highly recommend The Pacific.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 4:38 PM on June 13, 2015


I have seen Mr. Robot, and I've also seen much of the promotional materials. The creator promises that there are a lot of little things in the pilot that are going to get a lot bigger (like Gideon coming out... I read that they have just cast an actor as his partner to start appearing a few episodes on). As for the "Fight Club" comparison, I think the scene where Elliot is talking to himself "that couldn't have happened, I must be delusional" was a very intentional lampshading of that trope. The depiction of the 'computer stuff' was better enough than every other "hacker drama" I've seen for me to either miss the dumb stuff or let it slide. (One favorite moment: "What's a rootkit?" "It's like a crazy serial rapist with a very big dick.") Speaking of promotional stuff, I liked the who is mr robot.com website. The old school command line navigation made me chuckle... but there is a video that includes a glimpse of something we didn't see in the pilot: a "Mr. Robot" mask that looks like a cross between Anonymous Guy Fawkes and Creepy Burger King, one of the very few things that made me go "aw come ON". Anyway, this had far fewer "aw come ON" moments than any attempt at Serious Drama I've seen lately, and to me, Elliot is the most interesting protagonist character in years who is NOT a total asshole (I think they left most of the assholery for Mr. R). You know I used to review TV shows professionally, and Mr. Robot is one of the very few recent dramas you wouldn't have to pay me to watch. (Too bad I cut the TV cable at home - I hope they put future episodes up online soon after the airings)

One more thing: this has gotten some very positive reviews, including from Forbes Magazine, which I thought would have more problems with its rather extreme anti-big-business themes. In fact, I'm kind of surprised the suits at USA Network's parent company, Evil Comcast, didn't have second thoughts about promoting this.
posted by oneswellfoop at 8:45 AM on June 16, 2015 [2 favorites]


When Slater panhandles the men in black at the cafe do they react? I don't recall. The fact that all three disappear when he turns back to them could well mean hallucination.
posted by phearlez at 7:40 AM on June 20, 2015


If nothing else, they completely nailed the "first 20 minutes of The Matrix" vibe.

In all honesty, this was far better than I was expecting it to be.
posted by schmod at 6:26 PM on June 20, 2015 [3 favorites]


But, seriously, what actual New Yorker goes to Times Square?
posted by schmod at 6:27 PM on June 20, 2015 [2 favorites]




Well, he might wind up in Times Square if his office is in somewhere in midtown, which would be plausible. I used to work at 40th and 8th Ave, and wound up seeing enough of Times Square for a lifetime.

About the men in black, his psychologist does specifically mention them as things that he's thought of as delusions in the past, so I think the Tyler Durden scenario is still possible, though I hope that isn't the direction they're going in. I do like that the show is keeping it ambiguous, though.
posted by whir at 12:48 AM on June 27, 2015 [1 favorite]




File names of the episode:
eps1.0_hellofriend.mov
eps.1.1_ones-and-zer0es.mpeg
eps.1.2_d3bug.mkv
eps.1.3_da3m0ns.mp4
eps.1.4_3xpl0its.wmv
eps.1.5_br4ve-trave1er.asf
eps1.6_v1ew-s0urce.flv
eps1.7_wh1ter0se.m4v
eps1.8_m1rr0r1ng.qt
eps1.9_zer0-day.avi
posted by Obscure Reference at 7:23 AM on July 1, 2015 [4 favorites]


Did anyone else notice that this was helmed by Niles Arden Oplev, thehe director of the original Swedish version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo? No wonder it had such style.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 11:14 AM on July 4, 2015 [9 favorites]


Watched this a couple of times now. I am looking forward to the new episode on Wednesday.
posted by cashman at 9:51 AM on July 6, 2015


I'm late to this show, but I just watched it on a whim because it was a feature on on-demand. Wow. I am not sure that they can keep it up and keep it making sense, but I thoroughly enjoyed it.

There was some of the "tech speak that most people won't get, so it makes us sound really serious and like we know what we are doing," but I thought it was a really good approximation of "hacking" - typing in a terminal window, using social engineering and associated data to brute force keywords, etc. Avast actually did an "how accurate was it?" interview. (Which misses part of the main hack, maybe? They DDoS:ed the servers, so the normal mitigation technique would be to spread the load onto all the other servers, which is how they managed to infect the other servers with the rootkit. I thought that was how it was explained on the show, anyway.) Way, way, way better than CSI:Cyber or any other show I've seen.

Other things I enjoyed: Rami Malek. How amazingly stylish it was; the cinematography was excellent. The fish named Qwerty. That Elliot rescued Flipper. The fact that E Corp became "Evil Corp" everywhere and for everyone after Elliot explained that he couldn't stop seeing it like that. The ambiguity of if he's just insane or if things are really happening. "He's too old to have a complex password."

Things I didn't like: I about wanted to leap through the screen and tell Victoria to quit on the spot when her boss didn't have her back... Christian Slater - eh, he was annoying at first, but it wasn't too bad.
posted by gemmy at 6:19 PM on July 16, 2015 [4 favorites]


Hi! I'm totally late but enough buzz drove me to finally watch this show. Loved it! I like the socially maladjusted hacker thing. Plotting was fun, writing was not stupid, and Rami Malek is good. Also I'm a Christian Slater fan so I'm kind of on board, even if it's a Lost Boys vibe.
posted by Nelson at 10:42 PM on August 8, 2015


The AV Club didn't cover the first couple episodes of the season. Their review of the pilot is up now.
posted by sparkletone at 11:08 AM on September 10, 2015


So you guys can late pass me, but I'm finally getting around to watching this show (and happy that Fanfare threads apparently don't close).

The scouting and location work on this show is astounding, btw. The broken down arcade at Coney? That's a real arcade called the El Dorado where I have wasted too many quarters. And it's exactly where it's shown in relation to the Wonder Wheel. So many shows, even those shot in NYC, play fast and loose with geography; the only untrue note here was Victoria telling Elliot that Chinatown is a bad neighborhood.
posted by thecaddy at 6:35 AM on July 6, 2016 [7 favorites]


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