Mr. Robot: The Complete First Season: Intriguing Premise, but Flawed Execution (Blu-ray)
“Mr. Robot” is a high-tech tale that delves into the hacking world through the eyes of Elliot Alderson (Rami Malek), an expert with computers who is also almost entirely a recluse. His only so called “friends” are a co-worker, Angela (Portia Doubleday), who’s known him for many years, and his drug supplier, Shayla (Frankie Shaw). When the biggest corporation in the world, E Corp., gets hacked, he helps to fend it off as part of AllSafe, the internet security company that he works for. However, following the hack, Elliot is approached by the group that supposedly instigated it, led by a mysterious man known as “Mr. Robot” (Christian Slater). It is his hope to have Elliot join his team of expert tech wizards in completely bringing down E Corp., therefore wiping out all debt and any strangle hold it might have on the people. In other words, they wish to start a revolution.
“Mr. Robot” is the kind of show that starts off with such promise, offering up a pilot that draws you into this dark world where just about anything can be done with a few keystrokes. We are introduced to a fascinating character, one who barely has any human connections at all, is brilliant with computers, and could help change the course of history by helping a small group of hackers take down a gigantic corporation (Evil Corp., as it’s deemed). There’s so much going for it, and it leaves you wanting to know what’s going to happen next immediately, but then something rather unfortunate happens. Instead of building upon that potential, what we get for most of the remaining episodes are ones that seem less interested in building the characters and plot, and more so obsessed with keeping the show so low-key that it barely seems to register a pulse for much of it.
In a sense, you could say that it becomes rather distracted, focusing on uninteresting events like a young, power-hungry exec’s attempts to secure the position of Chief Technology Officer at E Corp, and the extent to which he is willing to go to get it. For a while, it’s a satisfactory break from the main plot, but when you realize that it doesn’t have much to do with anything, and isn’t really getting anywhere, you begin to see it exactly for what it is: a distraction, or even filler. Or take for instance Angela’s role later on in the season, where she becomes part of a lawsuit against E Corp. Again, it serves very little purpose, and merely has you wishing that it would get back to the main plot, which had been the show’s main enticing element in the first place.
There are times when it does succeed rather well. For instance, in episode four, Elliot and his hacker acquaintances must infiltrate a nearly-impenetrable data-storage facility. It’s riveting, and is infused with enough tension to have you glued to the screen as they ty to pull off a nearly-impossible task. Episode six is another similar instance, this time involving a drug dealer forcing Elliot to help him escape prison, or else he’ll have Shayla killed. Again, it’s a tension-infused episode that has you on the edge of your seat as you wait to see if he’ll be able to pull off this incredible feat. If anything, these two episodes show exactly what most of the season was missing, mainly a good dose of excitement and stories that actually give the characters something compelling to do, as opposed to the damaging, low-key approach most of the season takes.
“Mr. Robot” is a show that had such potential, but refusing to build upon that potential, we’re left with a show that only comes to life in spurts, while being quite content in letting the characters and plot remain static (and that’s not even to mention the laughably-bad plot twist in the second-to-last episode). At least you can say that the show is rather aptly named, for it ends up feeling rather cold and distant, squandering its intriguing human characters in a plotline that is more automated than cultivated. It’s not without some well-functioning parts, but overall, the machine just doesn’t work.
“Mr. Robot: Season One” comes to Blu-ray in a 1.78:1, 1080p High Definition transfer of excellent quality. Every episode presents a perfectly clear picture that ensures the best viewing experience possible. The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio is equally impressive, giving you all elements of the soundtrack from the dialogue to the score in outstanding quality. Overall, the show has been given exceptional treatment, leaving no room for complaints.
Making of Mr. Robot (12 Minutes): A decent behind the scenes look at the creation of the show, featuring interviews with the cast and crew.
Deleted Scenes (13 Minutes): A hearty portion of deleted material that may be of interest if you’re curious to see what didn’t make the final cut.
Gag Reel (5 Minutes): A rather flat collection of outtakes.
“Mr. Robot” sets up an intriguing premise and a fascinating lead character, but its failure to build upon them results in a show that is just as cold as its aptly-chosen title. The show is not without its notable elements, including constantly strong performances from Rami Malek and Christian Slater, and a few episodes that go the extra mile to deliver a compelling storyline. However these are merely patches on the show’s more deeply-rooted problems. This is a show that could have easily worked really well. It’s just a shame that they chose not to take advantage of everything it could have been.
Available on Blu-ray and DVD starting tomorrow.
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