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Mr. Robot Season 4 (2019) Review

Mr. Robot - Season 4

Mr. Robot Season 4

Age Rating: 860949[1]
Cast:
Rami Malek as Elliot Alderson
Carly Chaikin as Darlene Alderson
Portia Doubleday as Angela Moss
Martin Wallström as Tyrell Wellick
Christian Slater as Mr. Robot
Michael Cristofer as Phillip Price
Grace Gummer as Dominique “Dom” DiPierro
BD Wong as Whiterose
Elliot Villar as Fernando Vera
Ashlie Atkinson as Janice
Creator: Sam Esmail

Set during the 2015 Christmas holiday, the fast-paced season will be one filled with answers, hacking and blood. Elliot (Rami Malek) and Mr. Robot (Christian Slater) are getting back to work and down a path that could prove endless. But have they crossed a line?

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Mr. Robot was already a fantastic show, Season 1 was a great start, Season 2 was solid while having its issues, and Season 3 took the show to new heights. However, much of how a show is eventually perceived depends on how well it finalises its story and characters at the end. With that being said, Season 4 is not only possibly the best season of the whole show, it’s one of the most memorable and satisfying conclusions I’ve seen to a TV show.

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It goes without saying, but there is a spoiler warning for the previous seasons leading up to this one in this review. An interesting aspect to note is that the whole show is stuck in 2015, this season picks up with having only advanced to just before Christmas 2015. As America recovers from the Five/Nine Hack, the focus of the narrative shifts to a somewhat heroic Elliot as he sets his sights on taking down Whiterose and her Dark Army. The show ups its game to deliver one very eventful season, one that raises the stakes for every character whilst delivering some of the best television in recent years. Season 4 really does feels like a true send-up of the first season everyone fell in love with, and everything that first season promised the show could be is what the final season is. Mr. Robot’s final season can be best described as incredibly emotional and heartbreaking; the opening moments of its first episode really does establish how much of a gut punch the whole season is. Season 4 runs for 13 episodes, making it the longest in the show’s history, and unlike say season 2, its time is not put to waste. I blasted through the episodes back-to-back, it was incredibly riveting and intense, even the slower paced episodes worked appropriately for the story and characters. As said previously, the main drive of this season is Mr. Robot taking down Whiterose, however there’s also plenty of other things happening at the same time. For example, there are episodes that focus heavily on the relationship between Elliot and Mr. Robot, which shows them more closely aligned in their goals compared to the past couple of seasons. This new dynamic is interesting and the writing definitely takes advantage of that, for instance, the narration to the audience that was done by Elliot is mostly done by Mr. Robot in this season. Additionally, as the season progresses, a lot of the sub-plots from the past and present interweave with Elliot’s journey. I won’t give too much away for fear of spoilers but suffice to say the final few episodes turn everything we’ve learnt up until this point completely on its head, delivering a shocking couple of plot twists to round out a thrilling and intense final season. Even on its last season, there are plenty of surprises that a lot of audiences won’t have expected. These plot twists are so good that it actually paints the entirety of Mr Robot’s early seasons in a completely different shade and I’m sure this will be a show that will be completely different to watch a second time through.

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The acting from everyone as usual is fantastic. Rami Malek and Christian Slater remain as brilliant as ever, and the change in their dynamic will be a treat for many. Rami Malek has always owned his role as Elliot Alderson but in this season in particular, he really shows his diversity and range with an absolutely stunning performance. There is particularly one episode (if you watch the episode you already know which one) in which Elliot learns something significant, and Malek’s performance is nothing short of spectacular and heartbreaking. This season also gives Christian Slater a lot more material than he has had since the first season. Slater is excellent in the role of Mr Robot, and his shift in character this season makes him much more intriguing than ever before. Many of the other actors playing the major roles of Price, Whiterose, Darlene and Dom all bring their A-game here and are given enough screen time to really flesh out their characters. Some characters get more attention than others, for example I would’ve liked to have seen more of Tyrell Wellick, but on the whole everyone’s stories were handled well, and as usual they were performed greatly. Outside of the main cast, one of the standout performers was Elliot Villar as the character of Vera. Vera had a small supporting role in the first season before he disappears from much of the show, only to return for this season. While he has a smaller role in this season, he’s great in his scenes, and especially shines in one particularly significant episode.

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All 13 episodes of this season are excellently directed by Sam Esmail, Mr Robot is on a technical level is in a league of its own when it comes to tv shows. The cinematography and visuals remain outstanding, and the sound design and score are top notch as ever, with composer Mac Quayle as usual somehow managing to top his work with every season. In its third and fourth seasons, the show has taken its stylistic ambitions to new heights. In season 3 it has a whole episode that was filmed and edited to seem as if it was taking place in a long, continuous single shot that darted and weaved in and around a massive skyscraper. I won’t go into season four’s own stylistic achievement of filmmaking, but just know that it only features two lines in the entire episode, and considering the stuff that happens in that particular episode, it’s incredibly impressive that that pulled it off.

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Mr. Robot’s fourth and final season is nothing short of outstanding, not only managing to produce its best season yet, but also able to wrap up the storylines and characters in such an impactful and satisfying way, while providing so many unexpected surprises throughout. Everything from the writing, directing and acting is at the show’s best. If you loved Mr. Robot from the past few seasons, I think you’ll really love how the final season turned out.

Mr. Robot Season 3 (2017) Review

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Mr Robot Season 3

Age Rating: 860949[1]
Cast:
Rami Malek as Elliot Alderson
Carly Chaikin as Darlene Alderson
Portia Doubleday as Angela Moss
Martin Wallström as Tyrell Wellick
Christian Slater as Mr. Robot
Michael Cristofer as Phillip Price
Stephanie Corneliussen as Joanna Wellick
Grace Gummer as Dominique “Dom” DiPierro
BD Wong as Whiterose
Bobby Cannavale as Irving
Creator: Sam Esmail

Picking up immediately following the season two cliffhanger, season three explores each character’s motivations and the disintegration between Elliot (Rami Malek) and Mr. Robot (Christian Slater).

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Season 2 of Mr. Robot, while good, did feel a little disappoint when compared to its previous season. While it was ambitious and ended strongly enough, Season 2 was bogged down by self-indulgence and some storylines that seemed to be going nowhere. Even though I liked it, parts of it did feel like a chore to get through. Season 3 however is a noticeable step up and a real return to form for the series, a lot more focused and constantly engaging from beginning to end.

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This goes without saying, but this review will contain spoilers for seasons 1 and 2 of Mr. Robot. The action picks up from where we last left the show, with Elliot having just been shot by fugitive and former E Corp senior VP Tyrell Wellick. Angela is working with both Tyrell and the Dark Army, and Darlene is now serving as an FBI informant for Dom who, along with her colleagues, is still trying to get to the bottom of the E Corp Hack. A large part of season 3’s success comes from how it deals with that season 2 cliffhanger. Something that also made this season quite interesting is that Elliot and Mr. Robot are now individual personalities. This creates a new and interesting dynamic between those characters and others in their sphere. It also gives Season 3 a clearer narrative structure, as Elliot’s two personalities now rarely appear in the same scene together. and aren’t aware what the other is doing. It adds an extra level of tension and allows the audience to better understand every character’s motive, all while avoiding a simplistic ‘good vs evil’ narrative.

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For those already weary at the prospect of more episodes rife with frustrating mind games, just know that in season 3, Mr. Robot is much more consistently assured and compelling than it was in its uneven second season, while still having plenty of floating questions and mysteries. Esmail cleverly retrofitted some of the less clear plot points and character decisions in the past by filling the audience in on the missing parts (even dating back to season one) – all without being too much, or feeling dumbed down and just explained to us.  You do get some of the answers that many of us wanted, including what exactly Tyrell had been doing while he’s been away for most of season 2. It’s a tight season at 10 episodes but it’s very eventful and tense throughout, characters are placed in very dangerous situations in the story. The main arc of the season, centered around the Dark Army’s terrorist attack and Elliot’s attempts to stop it, comes to a head in a sensational midseason double-bill, and I won’t spoil it but it’s excellently done. As season 3 picks up and races forward, the series continues to poke fun at itself, this season particularly has a good sense of humour. Episode 2 for example opens with a mostly upbeat eight-minute sequence that follows Elliot as he re-acclimates to daily life as a corporate drone. The series also gets back to letting viewers dive into big questions of government control, corporate greed, the rights of citizens, and the power and shortcomings of technology. The season doesn’t really end with a cliffhanger, but it does end in a way that makes you excited for season 4.

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The acting from everyone is fantastic as usual. Elliot Alderson and Mr Robot get more focus in this season compared to the last, and thus Rami Malek and Christian Slater get to shine more. With their new dynamic (as mentioned much earlier) this means that Malek and Slater are more united ever as actors because they’re called to dip into each other’s performance tics in specific scenes. Both continue to give very compelling performances. The returning supporting cast including BD Wong, Grace Gummer, Carly Chaikin, Portia Doubleday, Martin Wallstrom, and Michael Cristofer also perform quite well in their parts. All of their characters are taken in more interesting directions than before, and as a result they get to do a lot more. There’s some particular standouts. Portia Doubleday’s Angela Moss is placed in an interesting position as she’s now working for the Dark Army, and she gets to stand out, especially in the second half. Speaking of which, there’s a lot more screentime for BD Wong as Dark Army leader Whiterose as we learn more about her, and as usually he’s fantastic in the role(s). The biggest surprise however is Tyrell Wellick, played by Martin Wallstrom, he’s taken to a whole other level in this season. It’s almost a reinvention of the character that we knew from him in the first two seasons, and Wallstrom does some excellent shape-shifting to pull that off. Bobby Cannevale also joins the cast as Irving, a fixer of sorts for the Dark Army. Cannavale maintains a chill, chatty demeanour throughout, and was quite entertaining to watch. He could’ve easily come across as too cartoonish, but Cannavale is so immersed in character that it works, he’s terrific.

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Sam Esmail directs every episode, some which started from the second season and continuing through to the very end of the series. Esmail remains a flashy and ambitious filmmaker, framing certain shots to be extra-top-heavy and capturing chaotic scenes via lengthy tracking shots, but in ways that feel more natural and doesn’t feel like it’s showing off. This is a show which moves its cameras like no other, plays with reality like no other, blends timelines across seasons like no other. His use of long one-take shots were particularly effective, it helps that this technique is saved for moments so dramatic you’re not even looking for the cut. Speaking of which, there’s particularly one episode which is made to look like it was in one shot, this episode remains one of the best episodes of the entire series and for good reason, it’s incredible impressive. The score by Mac Quayle is even better here than in the past seasons and it was already amazing.

Mr. Robot - Season 3

Mr. Robot Season 3 is a return to form for the series. From the first episode to the last, it’s a tight, incredibly tense and entertaining ride. The writing is incredible with compelling character work and social commentary, the visually striking direction is only improving as the show continues, and the performances from the stellar cast are fantastic as always. It continues on the ambitions brought forward from season 2 and is as precise and well put together as season 1, while also making itself quite distinct in tone and style. It’s a strong contender for best season of Mr. Robot, it’s between this and the final season.

Mr. Robot (2016) Season 2 Review

Mr. Robot - Season 2

Mr Robot Season 2

Age Rating: 860949[1]
Cast:
Rami Malek as Elliot Alderson
Carly Chaikin as Darlene Alderson
Portia Doubleday as Angela Moss
Martin Wallström as Tyrell Wellick
Christian Slater as Mr. Robot
Michael Cristofer as Phillip Price
Stephanie Corneliussen as Joanna Wellick
Grace Gummer as Dominique “Dom” DiPierro
BD Wong as Whiterose
Creator: Sam Esmail

Series 2 of Mr Robot follows Elliot Alderson (Rami Malek) as he comes to terms with his mental health issues. Along with the other members of ‘fsociety’, he must cope with the hackers’ impact on Evil Corp.

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I loved the first season of Mr. Robot, its first season quickly had me hooked, so immediately afterwards I jumped to Season 2. I liked it quite a bit, however it doesn’t quite work as well as the first season. In fact I’ve noticed that for most people, season 2 is easily the worst of the 4 seasons. It had some visible flaws, but I liked it overall.

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Early disclosure: this review will contain spoilers for season 1, so I’m now more free to talk specifics. Season 2 starts off fairly soon after the end of the previous season. Elliot is now isolated away by himself as he’s coming to terms with his mental state (i.e. Mr. Robot being an personality of himself). Then there’s plenty of other multiple plotlines happening including Angela at her new job at E Corp, the members of fsociety after the hack, the FBI investigating, and plenty more. The writing is still mostly solid and I was invested throughout, even with its slower moments. It is a darker season for the show and continues its delving into interesting ideas. It shows that there’s plenty of story left to be told in further seasons after the end of the first season. It was also quite interesting to watch how the world reacts to the big hack at the end of the last season. The first season was pretty straightforward. With season 2, it feels like there’s so much going on while not much is actually happening, if that makes any sense. I’ll dedicate Elliot’s story for a whole paragraph because there’s a lot to get into there. The rest of the plotlines are a bit all over the place, and they don’t always progress a considerable amount. Some bits are interesting like the worldbuilding, for example we get to learn more about Whiterose and The Dark Army. At the same time other aspects aren’t so great, especially when it comes to focus. For example, the show even spends so much time with Tyrell Wellick’s wife. They easily could’ve reduced the amount of screentime on that plotline, and having watched the whole show, I still don’t know why it was as prominent as it was. Even that one plotline aside, they all feel restrained and held back. Not only are there so many storylines and characters in this season, but they are mostly separated from each other, which didn’t do the season any favours. In season 1 their stories are interwoven, and they are always interacting with each other. All these storylines being separate made the season feel disjointed. Something clear is that this is a season of mystery building, with many questions floating around. What happened to Elliot’s 3-day blackout? Where is Tyrell Wellick? What is this phase 2 that’s being talked about? It really does seem determined to not give the audience answers right away, like show creator Sam Esmail deliberately held back a lot of the answers towards the end of the season.  So you’d think that Season 2 would hopefully reveal something significant by the end. Unfortunately without getting into it too much, there’s not a lot of answers you get. There’s maybe one reveal that matters, the rest of the reveals were underwhelming, predictable, we don’t care about them, or we still don’t know the answers yet. A lot of the show spent more time asking new questions than giving answers to questions that we had from the last season. It does get the vibe of stalling, especially considering how well tuned the rest of the seasons are.

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A large reason of why there’s issues with this season is how they handled Elliot’s plotline. Elliot is keeping himself isolated while he deals with his multiple personality issue with Mr. Robot, and there’s a mental battle between the two as the former is trying to get rid of the latter. Something to note is that neither of them are in this season as much as they were in the first season. Elliot and Robot are far too removed from the rest of the cast for far too long. Keeping the main characters separated from the rest of the cast for the first half of the season created a new dynamic status quo that I was happy to roll with for the first 2-3 episodes, but after that you really feel the greatly reduced pace of the narrative. This particular story arc takes place over 7 episodes, over half of the season. Now there is a twist that does explain things, but it does link into something from season 1 which is so inconsequential to the overall story. It actually feels something of a waste of time looking back at it. I don’t think it’s necessarily bad. This plotline is meant to be more of a character study for both characters. I really liked their interactions, and I enjoyed some of the interactions he made with some of the introduced supporting characters. However it just wasn’t handled the best.

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Something that hadn’t changed between the seasons of Mr. Robot was that the acting remains great as always. Rami Malek is once again excellent as Elliot Alderson, and gets plenty of time to shine. Christian Slater is also again really good as Mr. Robot, there’s a mental battle between him and Elliot and that’s really the driving force for the first half of the season (if there is one). Some characters from season 1 gets to have more to do in this season. Darlene Alderson played by Carly Chaikin (recently revealed as Elliot’s brother towards the end of the last season) is now the leader of fsociety now that Elliot isolated himself. Angela Moss played by Portia Doubleday has a more interesting role as she now finds herself working at E Corp. Two new characters who were briefly in the last season also get more presence here. One of them is Phillip Price played by Michael Cristofer, the CEO of E Corp. The other is played by BD Wong, who is Whiterose, the leader of the shadowy hacking group the Dark Army, who also happens to be China’s Minister of State Security. Both characters and performances are great and scene-stealing, and Whiterose is a particularly intriguing character. A new character to this series is Grace Gummer as Dominique DiPierro, an FBI agent investigating the E Corp hack. This plotline gives the perspective from the FBI, which is to be expected but DiPerro’s character and her performance makes it feel more than just an obligatory procedural. Gummer does a great job at making her character feel as isolated from the rest of society as Elliot, just on the other side of the law. Additionally, there’s other supporting characters who shine even with less screentime, mainly Joey Badass and Craig Robinson during Elliot’s plotline.

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Mr. Robot is still fantastic on a technical level, it’s shot incredibly well and has a very distinct style and a unique look. The score from Mac Quayle is still amazing and the sound design is effective. The editing choices continue to be great, it even goes further psychological, especially now that it’s established that Elliot is an unreliable narrator. The film really takes advantage of this greatly to result in some fantastic sequences. Speaking of unreliable narrator, the narration from Elliot to us, his imaginary friend, is here again, and once again it’s handled well.

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Mr. Robot Season 2 for sure has some issues, mainly with the writing. The attempt to slow the story down and ask more questions, whether it be to stall or to genuinely build intrigue, doesn’t quite work effectively. With that said, the acting and characters are fantastic, on a technical level it is perfect, and as someone who was hooked on the first season, I was interested to see where the story would go next. Out of the 4 seasons it’s my least favourite but it’s still really good, and no doubt if I rewatched it would probably have a better opinion of it. If you really liked the first season, you’d probably be able to get through it even if you have issues. However if you just got through the first season of the show, and you’re not hooked yet and hope that season 2 will be the point where it clicks for you, unfortunately you might have to wait till season 3 for that.