officially obsessed with Mr. Robot
March 18, 2016
I’m five episodes in and I’m officially obsessed with Mr. Robot. It’s the spiritual adaptation of Neuromancer we always wanted but never got.
I’m obsessed because it’s so smart and detail-oriented I already want to scroll back to the beginning and stop every frame to pick apart the details. I want to google every arcade game in fsociety’s hideout to see if they’re real or if they mean something. So many scenes have signs and wordage in the background (“Concessions,” “No Refunds”), and you know every single one of those had to be put there on purpose and has to mean something. And that’s just the start.
I’ve been looking for some kind of annotated guide or list of allusions, but most of what I’ve found is broad. The plot to erase all credit card info is just like the plot in Fight Club! Tyrell Wellick is just like the guy in American Psycho! Well, yes. Those are influences, not allusions. Here’s what I’m talking about:
Tyrell. You cannot put that name in a cyberpunk show and not evoke Tyrell Corporation from Blade Runner. It’s too unusual a name. It’s too unusual a first name. Now, give that name to the show’s unbelievably psychotic villain, and it means something.
And what was the cheesy 80’s hacker movie they’re watching in the hotel room while Elliot is withdrawing from morphine? While they’re discussing how real hacking never looks like Tron? I didn’t quite catch it and I want to know.
But here’s the one that has me frothing and questioning my sanity. Okay, in the fifth episode, they’re in the van, and the big slobby hacker from fsociety is eating a hamburger and a spot of ketchup drips onto his shirt in a perfect line? That has to be a direct allusion to the last page of Watchmen. You know the one I’m talking about, where the intern at the conspiracy magazine is eating a burger right before finding Rorschach’s journal, and the imagery recapitulates both the drop of blood on the Comedian’s badge as well as the ticking of the Doomsday Clock. Anyone who grew up immersed in 80’s cyberpunk tropes — as the makers of this show clearly, absolutely did — would also have a more than passing familiarity with Watchmen, and this can’t be a coincidence. But what does it mean? Is fsociety about to blow open a conspiracy they know nothing about? Is it just meant to mark the ticking to the banking doomsday they’re trying to bring about?
That’s when I thought maybe I was reading too much into it (and dude, I never think I’m reading too much into it). I mean, maybe that detail is just there to show that the guy’s a slob.
And maybe the global megacorp isn’t watching my every keystroke as I’m typing this right now.
But maybe they are.
(NO SPOILERS PEOPLE! I’m only five episodes in. I have so much more to obsess over and I’ll get to it soon.)