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Proto-Cyberpunk Pragmatism

Mr Robot’s Fantastic World of Science Fact

Rami Malek as Elliot.
Portia Doubleday as Angela.
Christian Slater as Mr. Robot.
Portia Doubleday as Angela and Carly Chaikin as Darlene.
Martin Wallström as Tyrell.

How can the most compelling work of speculative fiction of the summer not actually be science fiction? Mr. Robot shows we are already living in a science fiction dystopia, inextricably conjoined with unimaginable technology and skillfully manipulated by powerful multinational corporations.

Mr Robot the series portrays a world on the precipice of a very real digital revolution. When a small band of revolutionaries named Fsociety reaches out to a talented hacker named Elliot, his orderly world becomes chaotic. There are twists and turns — some more obvious than others — but ultimately this a tale of Elliott’s difficult journey of self discovery.

The casting is excellent all around, but the mentally unstable characters shine. Rami Malek delivers a compelling and decidedly non-neurotypical performance as the protagonist hacker Elliot and Christian Slater teeters on the edge of madness as the leader of a radical digital rebellion. Martin Wallström’s Tyrell starts off as merely ruthless, but undergoes a slow burn toward insanity.

The women in Elliot’s life are in stark contrast to the men. Portia Doubleday as the timid Angela and Carly Chaikin as the impulsive Darlene are both more grounded, and perhaps even represent the two conflicting world: corporate stability and safely vs revolutionary anarchy and excitement. But more than mere metaphor, these ladies each undergo an evolution as the series progresses.

There’s more Mr. Robot to come, but the lesson from season one is clear: We’re all beaten and battered by our past, but with determination — and perhaps a touch of insanity-fueled genius — the future is ours to shape,

Written by in September of 2015. Last edited July 2017.

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