That Mr. Robot and Elliot are the same person ought to ring some alarm bells, and it initially filled me with worry. A show can’t set up a twist that’s somebody else’s twist! Would this reveal ruin everything that had come before? Is this show stupid?! This isn’t just influence, this is highway robbery. Who is Mr. Robot, asks the ad campaign? The answer is Tyler Durden. But, where this could be a huge, devastating problem, I think there’s a way to imagine that this particular debt and Esmail’s management of it are what make Mr. Robot genuinely great. There’s no anxiety to this influence; just preternatural chill. Thrill, even. The show luxuriates in its stolen goods, pays for hot dogs with marked bills, leaves a trail of cryptic clues for the rookie detective. Like the best serial killers, Mr. Robot wants to get caught.
So a TV series identified by its influences is not just okay, it’s natural. In other words, Mr. Robot’s pastiche quality may be its defining trait, but that doesn’t mean it’s negatively defined by indebtedness. Just because a work owes something to another work doesn’t mean that it’s plagiarism or hackery. L.A. review of Books
25 October 2015