USA has always been a TV channel I associated with blue skies and pleasant times. It was a brand they meticulously put together for themselves. First they cancelled any shows with intriguing high concept premises, like The 4400. Then they brought on more and more shows quirky spins on classic TV dramas. Burn Notice (it’s a spy show, but the spy’s been fired!), Royal Pains (it’s a doctor show, but the doctor treats super rich people!), and Suits (it’s a lawyer show, but one lawyer never went to law school!) are all pretty decent shows that fit inside the same box.
By the way, the king of this box was Psych. The most quirky detective show to ever air.
But last summer USA gave up on the blue skies dressing for something much MUCH more down to Earth. A hacker-thriller positively dripping with style, the biggest surprise hit of last summer this side of UnReal. Mr. Robot‘s pilot premiered online early, and it was so popular USA picked the show up for two seasons before it even aired on TV.
Mr. Robot is about Elliot Alderson, an antisocial yet generally altruistic hacker who discovers a secret hacktivist group during his cyber-security job. That group, F-society, led by the mysterious and captivating Mr. Robot, wants to eliminate the world’s debt almost entirely held by the multinational conglomerate E-corp. Or, as Elliot hears and sees it, Evil Corp. They recruit Elliot to spearhead their attack and save the world from debt.
When USA decides to swing for the fences, they SWING. And Mr. Robot comes out with one of the most confident hour and a half long pilots I have seen. The cinematography in particular is top notch, constantly taking shows from odd angles meant to make the audience feel uneasy simply because they are framed so oddly.
Rami Malek, who you’ve seen just about naked if you’ve ever watched Need for Speed, is Elliot. The man has serious mental health issues and deep paranoia, but damn if he can’t hack.
Cristian Slater, you know, from
Breaking In Heathers, is Mr. Robot. He’s basically doing his Cristian Slater thing full tilt, and its magnetic here.
To be honest, you probably haven’t heard of the rest. The other regulars on this show will henceforth me known because they were here.
Portia Doubleday is Angela, Elliot’s childhood friend who is too good for this world.
Carly Chaikin plays Darlene, who is far and away different from her character on Suburgatory. I promise, Darlene grows on you.
Martin Wallström is Tyrell Wellick. Basically Macbeth if Macbeth really wanted to be CTO of a tech company.
Most importantly though, there’s Stephanie Corneliussen is the absolutely terrifying Joanna Wellick. Basically Lady Macbeth, only also a Danish supermodel.
The second season begins this Wednesday on USA, and from what I understand it’s already been picked up for a third. The creator originally thought of this concept as a movie, and season one would have been act one. So after all the insanity last year, that’s only the beginning of the story.
It has been scientifically proven that spoilers don’t ruin the experience of a story, but if you’re still against them then don’t watch this trailer for season two.
Season two will be adding two prominent players to the mix. Grace Gummer will be an FBI agent after Elliot and F Society. And, coming completely out of nowhere, Craig Robinson (yeah, from the Office) will be playing… someone! No idea who! I’m speculating he’ll be Doug Judy, the Pontiac Bandit.
If you want to get on board with the hacker series nobody saw coming last summer, you can catch up on all ten episodes of season one on Amazon Instant Video for free with Amazon Prime. Make sure you stay past the credits of the season finale, there’s a post-credits tag.
New episodes will be airing Wednesdays at 10:00. I’ll see you there, friend.
PS, They even make fun of Hackers!