Unlike the rest of the world, I wasn’t head over heels in love with MR ROBOT season one. It wasn’t bad by any means, it was actually really excellent, I thoroughly enjoyed my time with it, but it was far from great. Everyone just wanted a new show to love, so they decided that the hip new hacker series starring Rami Malek would be it.
This is something that happens, for one reason or another, the cultural hive mind just lands on something and decides this is the new thing to adore. It happens regardless of quality or actual deserving content. How anyone could believe MR ROBOT is a better show than HANNIBAL or THE LEFTOVERS is beyond me. MR ROBOT is very good. Very well acted. Very well shot. Very well written. It really is better than most other shows, but there are plenty of series better than it, plenty of shows more deserving of the applause, awards and adulation. But, I digress.
I finished season one with a feeling that this was very good, but that it could have been even better. I wasn’t that fussed about a second season, but thought maybe the sophomore outing will take what worked about the first and improve on it. So when I sat down to watch season two’s premiere, I was pretty disappointed but not exactly surprised. This is still the same show, and for those that loved the first set of episodes, it seems like you won’t be turned off by what is on offer here. The show still looks great. It still sounds great. The energy is cool and the acting is smooth and the plot is engaging enough. But unfortunately this first episode at least was all pretty… meh… a so so premiere.
It wasn’t a bad episode, and it hasn’t put me off wanting to watch at least another episode or two, but it just wasn’t that interesting. Essentially we are picking up pretty soon after season one finished. The attack on the economy has taken place, the establishment is trying to get a grip, fsociety is celebrating their success and Elliot is slipping further into insanity. The puzzle of Elliot’s mental well being was one of the things that worked so well about season one. We didn’t quite know what was happening, if he was insane or not. It was good fun to watch play out. The trouble is now that we know he’s mad, that Christian Slater isn’t real, the fun of season one isn’t quite so… fun. They tried to compensate by exaggerating the downward spiral his mind has taken, and it’s decent stuff, the journal he keeps of his confrontations with Slater — his dead Dad — are reasonably entertaining, but my issue with this show is still the same. This is just FIGHT CLUB the TV show. MR ROBOT unapologetically rips off the classic David Fincher movie and it really bugs me.
Everything from the apathetic narration of its quirky protagonist, the dual personalities of the lead where one creates an anarchic terrorist organisation, the saturated colour scheme, the plot to overthrow the banks and erase debt, the cadence of the heroes speech, even the god damn use of The Pixies song, ‘Where Is My Mind’. It’s all so similar, it’s all so borrowed and transparent. It’s just not original. It’s one thing to be inspired, and how could you not be by FIGHT CLUB, but come on… this is a little much. And a lot of this stuff is apparent again at the start of season two, basically now a sequel to the 1999 cult film, the story of what happens once Edward Norton learns of his insanity and blows up the world.
None of this is to say there won’t be good times ahead for MR ROBOT, that there won’t be quality entertainment and solid drama over the coming weeks. This is a good show. It’s a very good show. It’s just not an original one. It at least has the chance to branch off now, it can move into uncharted territory after moving past FIGHT CLUB’s end point, and I am sure it will all be done very well. I’m just not as impressed as everyone else. There is better TV out there. There is more original TV out there. And I wish we would all give the affectation a rest. Because guys, it’s not that wonderful. We know this… right?