This episode features the show’s characters playing chess games, trying to maneuver around others (or themselves) and find peace underneath all the muck. On the subplot side of things, we have Angela going up against Phillip Price and Joanna going up against Scott Knowles, and on main street, we have Elliot actually playing chess against Mr. Robot. It’s not just chess for chess’s sake, though; the episode is using this game to comment on its main character’s desire to unburden himself, to find peace by settling this once and for all. “I can’t hold this in any longer…it’s eating away at me,” Elliot expresses early on, and the rest of the episode is about him grappling with this inner turmoil.
“It doesn’t matter where you go or where you come from, as long as you keep stumbling. Maybe that’s all it takes. Maybe that’s as good as it gets.”
Instability. Panic. A lack of control. This week’s episode of Mr. Robot embraces itself in all its incoherent glory, eschewing an advancement of plot in favor of a deeply unsettling–yet fascinating–collection of scenes. It’s not perfect, but the style of the hour certainly fits with the themes the show is pushing at the moment. “eps2.1_k3rnel-pan1c.ksd” effectively builds up the tension and uncertainty, the “overwhelming fear” Elliot describes as “building, burrowing, and nesting”. It features an amazing montage of Elliot on Adderall, Rami Malek grinning his way into our nightmares as we, the audience, become as disoriented as the characters in the show. It showcases Malek’s talents yet again, both in that montage and in a later monologue about organized religion. It takes more risks in one hour than most of television does in an entire season.
This movie has it all: awful dialogue, wooden characters, irritating stereotyping, and a concept that’s way more interesting than what we end up getting. And yet…there’s something quite enjoyable about a movie like this, one that takes its world to extremes and delivers its messages with a sledgehammer. It’s not trying to be scary or subtle, and going into it thinking it’ll be one or the other is a recipe for disappointment (this should not be classified as horror, by the way). Do I wish a better writer/director helped this concept realize its full potential? Yes. Do I wish we got an intelligent and nuanced political satire? Of course. However, if I have to accept this movie for what it is, then my biggest criticism is that it doesn’t go even more over-the-top. Take stuff like the church scene and constantly pump it with drugs for 100 minutes, and that’s a movie I’d be excited to see.
This is a great group of nominations. Let’s dig in.
–The Americans finally gets nominated, several years too late. Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys have both been giving incredible performances for four years now, and it brings me a lot of joy to see them listed. One minor quibble: “Persona Non Grata” was a good episode, but there were much better candidates for “Best Writing” than that.
-Rami Malek and Mr. Robot getting nominated. I’m surprised not to see Slater here, though.
-TATIANA MASLANY, once again several years too late.
“Don’t you do what everyone else tells you to do?”
In a lean 80 minutes, the series premiere of The Night Of pulls you into a world that reflects our own, utilizing a central murder case to shine a light on the system that runs our lives. It doesn’t seem like a particularly groundbreaking piece of work, but it’s clear that the creative team understands how to take a classic concept and make it more engrossing than ever before. The production values are impeccable, the acting is compelling, and the story is the type to inspire a bunch of scene-analyzing and clue-searching. By the end of “The Beach”, the rest of the miniseries is pretty much begging to be binged.
Let’s get this out of the way first: the film industry overall is better when films like this are made, when distributors like A24 take a chance on something as original as this and do their best to bring it to the general public. It’s such a strangely brilliant concept for a story, and the fact that we all have a chance to go support this in a theater right now is refreshing. Sure, this and The Neon Demon probably have a combined theater life of approximately 3 weeks, but it’s nice knowing that options are at least out there. I will gladly support these smaller films as everyone else is trudging into Independence Day: Resurgence or whatnot, even if what I’m supporting is as mediocre as some of the other summer fare.