Mr. Robot (USA Network)

Elliott is a quiet computer security expert by day, crusading hacker by night — we first meet him bringing a child porn purveyor to book.  But when the firm’s biggest client removes Elliott’s  friend from their account in a particularly humiliating way, Elliott is disturbed.  And when he meets a curious character on the train — the eponymous Mr. Robot — who offers him the chance to bring down the Evil Corporation, and maybe the world financial system to boot, Elliott is all too willing to go along.

We know, right from the beginning, that something is not quite right with Elliott.  He lives alone, has no social life, takes carefully controlled levels of opiates, and visits a psychiatrist, apparently under duress.  But since we see most of the action from Elliott’s point of view, it takes us a while to figure out just how messed up his view of events really is.  He’s the ultimate unreliable narrator.

As has become traditional, pop culture references are scattered around the episode like Easter eggs.  Most of these are based on music I’ve never heard, or cult films I’ve never seen, and so go right over my head.  But every once in a while there’s an Easter egg aimed directly at me.  1994 World Series?  Never happened.

Rami Malek, best known to mass audiences as King Tut in Night at the Museum, does an outstanding job as the enigmatic Elliott.  The supporting cast is very good, too, particularly Christian Slater as Mr. Robot.  And, unusually for a low-budget cable production, this is a show set in NY that is actually shot in NY (at least the street scenes).  A number of scenes are set in Coney Island which, however seedy it may be during a NY summer, is strangely beautiful in the winter.

I haven’t figured out whether this quirky, unusual show is good or not.  But it sure is entertaining.  And it’s certainly not predictable.

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