The third series of techno-thriller Mr Robot premieres in the UK on Amazon Prime today, and critics are calling it the best season yet.
The opening episode of the new ten-parter picks up where season three left off. Vigilante hacker-hero Elliot Alderson (Rami Malek) has been shot after being tricked by his sinister alter ego (Christian Slater) and evil E Corp exec Tyrell Wellick (Martin Wallstrom) – who, it turns out, is not a figment of Elliot’s imagination after all.
Things look bad for our leading man, but the show’s creator, Sam Esmail, told Entertainment Weekly that the latest series will see Elliot “trying to bounce back and fight against the people who have been using him”.
Reviewers have welcomed the show’s return. Mr Robot has got over its “sophomore slump”, says Todd VanDerWerff on Vox. The critic says it is “finally evolving into the show it always should have been, and you should watch it”.
The hacking thriller is “much funnier” than before, adds VanDerWerff, the “philosophising is more nuanced”, and there’s some great new characters, including used car salesman Irving, played by Bobby Cannaval. The show even attempts to tackle the issue of Trump, although since the series is still set in 2015, this proves problematic.
All the same, Mr Robot takes a clear stand against the US president, says Josh Wigler in The Hollywood Reporter. In the premiere, Elliot delivers an “epic monologue” that “breaks the fourth wall” as he speaks directly to the camera about how his world has spiralled out of control, with his harsh words juxtaposed against footage from Trump’s presidential campaign rallies.
Wigler points out while it’s not the first time Mr Robot has evoked Trump, this time round the president “looms over” the show, even though we never actually see the man himself.
The season three premiere is a “masterpiece”, says Entertainment Weekly critic Daniel Franich, achieving a “just-right mix of straight thrills and Big Idea texture”.
It blends a “noir-ish amorality with madcap slice-of-the-headline storytelling”, Franich says. The result is as “noir as a blackout, and as sparkling as the stars over a city gone dark enough to see the sky”.
This is certainly “a promising start to a new season, and the surprises lying in wait have us excited”, says Liz Shannon Miller on IndieWire.
We no longer wonder, as per the season one tagline: “Who is Mr. Robot?” But, adds Miller, we still don’t really know for sure, and “that’s what keeps us hypnotised”.