Fans of Mr Robot have grown accustomed to twists and turns that combines Fight Club and The Matrix (without the fist fights or gun battles) into an ugly critique of society that often hits too close to home. This review is for the ones who haven’t seen it yet, either in whole or in part, and are considering watching or finishing the series. As usual, no spoilers ahead.
It’s important to address those of you who are going to hear your friends or family discussing Mr Robot and may consider watching it. Do so. Season one will blow you away. Season two will do it again to a lesser extent. Season three is necessary even if it’s not as good as the previous two. And as you go through season four, you’ll quickly realize Sam Esmail saved his best for last. It’s rare for a show that entered with as much fanfare and buzz as Mr Robot to improve upon itself in its final season, but in the vein of Breaking Bad, The Americans, and The Wire, the show ended better than it began, which is saying a lot.
First and foremost, it’s mindblowing throughout. This is part and parcel for the series that built a following because of the twists and turns, but instead of slapping us in the face with something that wants to be bigger than previous turns but actually just borders on ridiculous, the show actually pulls it off. This is only possible based on the way the show was crafted from the start. Esmail knew the entire story arc of Elliot Aldreson before the very first episode was filmed.
But it’s more than just narrative efficiency and plot twists that makes Mr Robot special. The final season is Hollywood art at its finest, at least on the small screen, and allows Esmail’s vision to immerse the viewer in the appropriate perceptions of the world he creates. For example, there’s an episode that has only two lines of spoken dialogue, yet it’s done so organically that after it was over, my wife hadn’t even noticed the gimmick. I’m not a fan of gimmicks simply because they’re usually clunky, but the ones employed in this final season of Mr Robot generally hit the mark.
It seems like everyone and their dog highlights the tremendous acting in this series. Rami Malek has skyrocketed as Hollywood’s new golden boy with more awards on his shelf than many seasoned actors. This is why it’s so important to note how stunning his portrayal of Elliot Alderson really is, particularly in the final season. It’s as if the actor grew with the character as they embraced new levels of emotion simultaneously.
It’s almost a shame that Malek was so outstanding in his role because it often overshadowed superb performances by the titular character played by Christian Slater, the steadily unstable portrayal by Carly Chaikin, on-screen awkwardness personified by Grace Gummer, and the most sympathetic villain possible by BD Wong. But it’s important to note that the semi-regular characters were allowed to shine. Bobby Cannavale somehow made comedy menacing. Joey Bada$$ stole the show every time he was onscreen. And it’s a tough call who was the best lesser bad guy between Michael Cristofer, Martin Wallström, and Elliot Villar.
For the briefest of moments, we’re forced to suspend disbelief, only to be allowed to regroup with reality shortly thereafter. That’s all I can say without spoiling it, but it’s an important theme throughout the series. What you think you may be seeing isn’t always what you want to believe it to be, which is why the show had a very real possibility of being a total dud. Following season 3, I wasn’t excited about seeing season 4. Timing worked out and the right circumstances opened up so I was able to take the plunge. I’m glad I did.
Without reservations, I can say Mr Robot had one of the most satisfying endings a series can possibly have. The final season was a sustained crescendo that could have gone badly if Sam Esmail’s vision wasn’t perfect. Which it was.
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