Mr. Robot All Style And All Substance

July 14, 2016 - Opinion, Sci-fi,

Author: Mark

USA Network’s Mr. Robot season two started last night, continuing the tangled story of Elliot, fsociety and Evil Corp. Bolstered by much critical acclaim from last year, the sci-fi cyber-thriller is pushing new boundaries in the story and how its told. The awkward yet somehow very much like real-life dialog pacing is back, and so are the interesting camera angles and framing. Actors and items of interest are intentionally cropped off a side or hanging at bottom of the frame, sometimes leaving us to wonder should I be looking at Angela or that thing on the table. But this year the level of David Fincher artistic style has been increased, and its working. (Not coincidentally, the show is a coproduction with Anonymous Content, where director, David Fincher, honed his craft his style with movies like Fight Club.)


I would like to compare the color pallet of last years show to this season opener. The watercolor paints of gray and blue when outside, and browns, yellows, and strange greens when inside is even more intense this year. Tensions build as more time is spent watching the window drapes blow in the wind, and we wait longer for each scene to start as we drink in a few establishing shots – that may, or may not have anything to do with the story. Like a (good) Coen Brothers film, all of this working flawlessly, its adding to and advancing the story on another level.


Of course you need a damn interesting story to balance this visual style, otherwise that is all you do is watch curtains sway in the wind. Focusing mostly on Elliot so far, Mr. Robot has reached deeper into his world and pulled out an even richer, more complex individual than even last season predicted. He dispenses his monotone monolog, addressing the audience with a calm respect. All the while he struggles to maintain control even tho it might be an illusion – it is all consuming to his charter right now. But the story is larger than Elliot and it seems we are going to take a deep dive into many interesting, flawed, and crazy charters this year. Including but not limited to their drug use, binge drinking, S&M sexual desires, and general malformed lives.


The visual style of Mr. Robot gives us more insight into these charters unsettled headspace but can they keep up tension all season without turning into a Andy Warhol art film? Season one was a successful first test of this device, and seasons two has calmly increased the volume to a level where all style and all substance is working wonderfully. Mr. Robot has graduated from Fight Club (which was awesome) and has begun a post doctorate degree which I hope it can finish (Creator Sam Esmail has imagined a five-season arc of dark recesses that we can look forward too.) , because I’d love to read the thesis.