Thursday, March 29, 2018

The Robot considered

I've never mentioned before that I've been watching the US cable show Mr Robot via season pass purchases on Google Play.  (Nearly finished Season 2 now.)

It's an interesting, somewhat flawed show about a gigantic banking/tech industry hack and its consequences, and I offer the following observations:

*   it's a really great looking show, as long as you like dark, noirish interiors.  I had no idea so many people in New York managed to live with so few lights turned on inside!   But the composition of shots and the muted colour palate of everything is generally impressive (it looks designed for cinema as much as for television) and suits its bleak story and characters.

*   Season 1 had the big reveal at the end, which wasn't that big of a surprise, really.   But I seem to recall episodes did move forward with a greater speed that Season 2. 

*   The weird eccentricity of some choices in the story were on full display right from Season 1.  It's puzzling why Sam Esmail, the creator and sometimes writer and director, felt inclined to throw in some S&M and bisexual bedroom antics for one of the key characters (and his wife), as well as have him commit a murder for reasons that appear extraneous to the main plot.  (Perhaps something is about to be revealed at the end of Season 2?)   He is rather like a mini version of the main character from American Psycho, and it's always a worry as to what may happen when he turns up.  Then there's the mysterious but apparently important protagonist who appears to be transgender, or transvestite.    Odd.

*  The show is, apparently, incredibly authentic in terms of how it shows hacks being performed.  It goes out of its way to show computer screen shots with lots of hacking code/commands, and I have read that IT folk watching are delighted that it all makes sense.   It's kind of impressive to know it takes that degree of technical care, even if it doesn't mean much to 95% of the audience.

*  Season 2 suffers somewhat from an excess of flashback that's not always clearly identified as such for a while, some other confusingly structured storylines,  and many slow, slow dialogue scenes in dark rooms (of course) which have been inclined to put me to sleep.  But then suddenly it has one innovative and very clever episode that really impressed, and the show seemed alive again for the next few episodes too.   The Dark Army keeps popping up and machine gunning people in some (very literal) suicide attacks; the trans person does some surprising and un-fully explained things; cryptocurrencies are mentioned more; and it seems worth watching again after I had earlier said I might not bother buying Season 3.

I hope the series manages to tie up all the lose ends one day...

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