Mr. Robot is beginning to feel a lot more like a philosophical essay on life rather than a hacking TV show, with Satie’s Gnossienne played in the background. It is perhaps not a coincidence that I have been reading Sci-Fi literature alongside watching Mr. Robot – Arthur Clarke’s collected stories and Bernard Beckett’s Genesis. Yes, this is the literature I fancy but who is Mr. Robot mostly speaking to?
People who love theories, conspirations, explanations of intelligent life’s origin, the meaning of it all.
People who never stop asking… Who are we and what are we doing here?
Mr. Robot Season 2 Philosophical MishMash
Have you noticed the tests, psychological, neurological and alogical, Mr. Robot’s protagonists are put through?
Elliot is driven by the idea of control, creating fsociety, overthrowing Mr. Robot, defining who Tyrell really is; Angela is tested for her empathy in a psychological test crafted by Whiterose, ‘the woman of time’; Joanna systematically receives gifts (coded messages) and is asked to locate Tyrell which would also help Elliot; Darlene is a permanent victim of trauma which has formed her personality and her disorder, living on the edge; Dominique’s loneliness is somehow predetermined and necessary. Even though she has no one else to talk to rather than Alexa, she wouldn’t have gone that far if she was living the definition of happy life (remember how she said she left her well-built existence because something was missing).
All these individual stories are intertwined, monologues are turning into a perpetual dialogue. Where does questions end and answers begin?
The characters’ monologues reveal plenty about the reality they are trapped in.
What do our protagonists have in common? They are all fighting the established system, hacking it, raging against it.
In “Genesis”, the examiners put the protagonist through a specially crafted test because she displayed a certain pattern in behavior.
Anaximander, much like Mr. Robot’s protagonists, is unaware of what is happening, not until the very end when she is given more pieces of the puzzle. Without spoiling the book for you, “Genesis” is all about the evolution of artificial intelligence, which has taken control over biological life. AI which is deprived of humanity’s emotions and hence never fails to do what is needed to keep the established order. Is Alexa the only display of AI in Mr. Robot?
In the eyes of moral, Whiterose and Price are both antagonists but is one of them worse than the other? Is Whitehorse hacking the system built and sustained by Ecorp? Is Whitehorse more humane than Price? Is Whiterose a hacker of time reaching out to individuals showing certain behavioral patterns? The relationship between Whiterose and Elliot really reminds me of Morpheus and Neo’s connection. Perhaps Mr. Robot’s protagonists are all Neos in a program falling apart, in a restarting reality?
The electricity glitches strengthen this “the end is near” feeling. Add Elliot’s mantra – mind awake, body asleep – and you may feel just like Neo when he is plugged in to the Matrix!
The mantra is repeated a couple of times, but the impact on the viewer is strongest when it starts after Whiterose’s speech for Angela in the room, right after the empathy test with the girl. Right after “it all depends on your definition of reality” key phrase.
The Similarities between Mr. Robot and Reality
Mr. Robot is not only based on suggestive thinking but is also shaping as a mirror of our reality, the viewers’ reality. We, the viewers, are invited into the realms of Mr. Robot. Obama is on TV and then his name is mentioned in a conversation Price is having; Bitcoin has been a huge part of the eps2.1_k3rnel-pan1c.ksd episode and the show carries lots of links to real hacks and characters. Many of the hacks in the show are based on or inspired by real events:
The episodes’ titles are also based on hacking and computer terms. In a more philosophical aspect, the titles of episode 10 and 11 – eps2.8_h1dden-pr0cess.axx and eps2.9_pyth0n-pt1.p7z, seem way too convenient. Just read a thing or two about Python, the multi-paradigm programming language, and it may all come to you! Hidden processes and high level programming languages, a distorted perception of reality, glitches in the electrical grid…
In terms of “reality”, just this Monday, the 19th of September, 2016, U.S. District Judge Alison Nathan ruled that Bitcoin is a means of payment and that therefore it qualifies as money. This news comes at an interesting time. As just said, a battle between the real and made up virtual currencies is about to unravel in Mr. Robot’s realms. Is such a “battle” expected to take place “in real life”?
How much of Mr. Robot is actually happening right out our windows, right under our noses?