Warning: General spoilers ahead.
One of the big hits of this spring’s SXSW in Austin was the pilot episode of Mr. Robot, set to premiere June 24th on USA in the U.S. As the momentum has built toward the show’s launch, USA has released the pilot online — in English and Spanish.
The first episode, “eps1.0_hellofriend.mov” is a trippy hour that introduces us to Elliott, a data security programmer by day who is a hacker for good during his off hours, when he’s not self-medicating to deal with childhood demons and crippling loneliness. We are privy to the running narration in Elliott’s head as he struggles with what to do, when to do it, who to trust, and how to just live in the world that is so busy, and false.
His longtime friend, Angela, is the only one who can navigate his quirks, which include hacking her online personal life. It’s something he does for everyone he has any kind of relationship with, including his therapist, played by Gloria Reuben. When he’s approached by the mysterious Mr. Robot (Christian Slater), someone who really could be a figment, and I’m not wholly convinced he isn’t, his professional life and personal motivations to hack merge, and he has to decide whether that’s a path he can follow.
I really liked it, and it reinforces a lot of what I tend to believe about the evolution of the hive mind as everybody shares their tiniest minutiae in the online world but can’t hold a conversation in the real world without stopping to glance at a screen. I’m old enough that I find that terrible. I’ve been online for 20 years, and it gave me a career — no doubt — but I also willfully unplug from it every day because on its own, it’s not a whole life.
Rami Malek is very good as Elliott. I adored him in Need for Speed, which was my guilty pleasure DVD fixture last fall. I love that he was picked for this role. He inhabits Elliott with the exact right amount of disillusionment combined with an inability to completely detach. No spoilers, but I’ll say I saw what happens with the dog coming a mile off, and I smiled hugely when it did.
Christian Slater is perfect as someone we don’t wholly trust (or in my case, believe is a three-dimensional human being). The cast also includes Portia Doubleday (Mr. Sunshine) as Angela, Swedish actor Martin Wallstrom as a corporate executive we also probably shouldn’t trust yet, and Suburgatory‘s Carly Chaikin as Darlene, a black hat hacker who bristles at Elliott’s arrival (again, not 100% they’re real) .
You can see the pilot now below. Click here for the Spanish version.
Here is a sneak peek to set it up:
Photo courtesy of Peter Kramer/USA