US Director Sam Esmail’s thriller series Mr Robot is based around hacker Elliot Alderson (Rami Malek) who takes on the “top 1 percent of the top 1 percent”.
This could all go terribly wrong. It’s like Batman—but with up to date IT and where the baddies are corporations. It doesn’t avoid all those potential pitfalls—the force of evil has the cringeworthy name “Evil Corp”.
But it still manages to take a profound swipe at our society, with an original plot line and characters.
The first episode begins with Elliot sitting down next to “Ron”, the owner of a coffee chain.
He frequents the coffee shop because of the incredibly fast wifi connection, but hacked Ron because “good only exists with conditions”.
Ron’s using the network to hide a server running a paedophiles’ website. Elliot isn’t after blackmail, and Ron’s arrested from his anonymous tip-off.
Elliot is convinced he’s being followed because of what he does. He knows he’s gifted and can see the reality behind the appearance, but at the same time feels all the more isolated.
Elliot is the personification of alienation. He breaks down crying because of that isolation and loneliness people can feel.
Elliot complains that we want to be numbed by consumerism and looks for the worst in people.
But he can only make a real human connection other than with long-time friend Angela (Portia Doubleday) when he’s numbed by morphine.
He’s “vigilant hacker by night” and just a “cyber security engineer by day” who can recite his staff number.
While Elliot feels trapped within a society that thought Apple CEO Steve Jobs was a great man, he also tries to use his hacking skills to challenge that reality.
By the end of the first episode he’s working for “F society”, who plan to take down the financial sector.
The show is full of nods to capitalism from Anonymous hackers to Adam Smith’s “invisible hand”
But what makes the show interesting isn’t that. It explores an individual dealing with the frustrations of living under capitalism.
You’ll take different things from Mr Robot. Whether that’s the critique of the 1 percent or Elliot’s alienation.
Either way, it has a lively plot and isn’t too predictable. It will keep you hooked.