The line between fiction and reality seems to be thinning day by day. Life imitates art, or is it the other way around? While Mr Robot did just about everything right in its inaugural season, some had thought that the best show currently on television had faltered in its second season. Burdened by the weight of high audience expectations or some just losing interest in figuring out exactly what it is. Cmon, people don't have time to decipher the show's form-bending gimmicks and tricks, search for Easter eggs or watch a slow burn trinitrotoluene detonate our ADD. While we might expect layers thick with meaning, justice and righting social ills and MANY unpredictable twists from season three...one thing needs to happen. We need to stop talking about Fight Club.
Many parallels have been drawn between the series Mr. Robot and the movie Fight Club. Series creator Sam Esmail has even admitted to being heavily influenced by the 1999 David Fincher film in countless interviews. Everything is a remix and if there is one thing that both of these works do have in common is that they both utilize the 'Unreliable Narrator' trope.
With Elliot established as a very unreliable narrator there's a curious game being played by Esmail into which the audience has been unwittingly recruited whereby not only is the reality in which this mischievous, nasty, treacherous tele-drama has set its action becoming increasingly suspect, but the audience's own perceptual integrity is being challenged, as well. We're being made, repeatedly, to question not only Elliot's sanity but our own, and this seems to be not just a preciously clever dramatic tactic to heighten the tension but also a supremely effective device for sustaining its unprecedented level of psychic connection with what I can only describe as the audience's shared delusions. It's as though by having us suspicious of every last detail of what we're witnessing—because we're so emphatically reminded that what we're seeing and hearing may very well be the feverish hallucination of the profoundly disturbed protagonist—we're being prompted to surrender ourselves to the less rational, more intuitive and extra-perceptual aspects of our consciousness which is the realm of experience that is more universally shared; the collective unconscious.
The destruction of everyone's financial debt/record is the objective of The Narrator's/Tyler Durden's grand scheme in Fight Club and is the guiding conceit which Mr. Robot has been methodically—and ironically—deconstructing for two seasons. Where Fight Club is an extremely funny satire of contemporary civilization taking particular aim at our alienated society, our increasingly absurd culture, and our vacuously materialistic ideals, Mr. Robot on the other hand is much more so a grim and savage critique of the very notion of progress. However, Email manages to extricate an impressive amount of humor from his disturbingly dark and somber story, and often enough the humor is profoundly hysterical.
The obvious and unavoidable dire consequences of annihilating the planet's financial records is the logical failure which ultimately prevents Fight Club from being a sincere critique of society and appropriately is Mr. Robot's jumping off point; the salient issue which must be addressed if the show is to be appreciated as a genuinely worthwhile critique of our current condition. The seemingly impossible challenge of improving in a meaningful way the rapidly declining condition of civilization is Mr. Robot's subject as well as it's operating procedure for commenting upon other popular films, TV shows and literature which presume to offer valid or even remotely viable answers. It's easy to endorse mindless—or even mindful—destruction, but to conceive of a truly transformative reality capable of salvaging us from our fast approaching miserable fate necessitates some superhuman ingenuity.
Season three of Mr. Robot will premiere on Oct. 11 on USA Network. BINGE the first two seasons for free on Amazon Prime.
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