One of the greatest pieces of the visual medium (because it probably should not be labelled film) of all time is Breaking Bad. I have, perhaps sadly, watched it all the way through multiple times, and for those who are just starting I recommend the same thing to all, if you reach a point where things are slow, boring, or unbearably dark, skip ahead…
The first and second season have a hump point, and while it may be necessary to watch these parts to truly appreciate every aspect, it is not necessary to watch these parts to simply enjoy the rise. The hump is the exposition of Walt’s mediocrity, his pitiful struggle with working poverty and cancer, his pathetic home life, and the monotony and incompetence of the entire life through which he struggles. It is not that any aspect of his life is so egregious, so SAD, or so dreary that it seems unbearable, it is the frustration with his failure is so relatable, and so tangible is the stagnation and disrespect which pervades this waste of life that once held such great expectations, it can be too close to reality, and therefore can be a hump, turning people away from the story before it takes off.
Mr Robot is not Breaking Bad, but is thought provoking and fascinating in a delusional psychoanalytic anti-capitalist utopianism that hasn’t reached this level of popularity since Fight Club was turned into a David Fincher film. It also has a hump, which falls at the end of the third season.
Mr Robot promises liberation, an end to the monopolist rule of a single corporation which produces nearly all of the sold hardware, software, and everything in between that power our sad modern lives, which essentially consist of cheaply produced Chinese-made spyware devices, cheaply produced Chinese-made clothing, and fast food and processed foods consisting of cheaply produced Chinese-made soybeans and by-products of the Chinese meat industry. The fact that this satire so cruelly reflects the reality of life in modern America driven by not only, but perhaps two overpowering tech companies, Apple and Amazon, are jarring.
In season one, one hack cripples the corporation. In season two, one hack becomes two and now the evil Chinese government and the allied criminal hacking organizations through which it does much of its bidding (more real than fiction) also come into play. By season three, this now dystopian society is on the verge of collapse.
The monopoly has now been exposed as a power oligopoly and is more powerful than ever, and the writers (and the mind-numbingly frustratingly stupid protagonist nearly suicidal in his shameful lack of self-awareness that the two parts of his make up his whole being) start toying with the idea that actually, pre-hack monopolistic capitalism wasn’t so bad after all. Don’t we actually love credit cards, one brand for everything, and our 401k and future being at the mercy of the market? Maybe attacking corporate capitalism was stupid after all and we should just be happy with the wonderful system we have.
This is the exact point in the series when I gave up about a year ago. In my post-motorcycle accident painkiller fuelled boredom of the past 10 days, I want to finish this show once and for all so that I can delete it off of my hard drive permanently, and intend to get through it, yet find myself as unmotivated to continue as the first time around.
Why make a piece about utopian dreams crushed, waste 30 hours of my time with this pointless narrative, and then suggest to me that the next 15 hours will be the protagonist reversing all of his actions to restore the benevolent monopolist and reverting to a pre-hack status quo? This suggests that the entire story is not an external conflict against problems in society, but are internal problems amongst those enough who are so sick that we don’t just love corporate capitalism. Not only would that make this entire show an immense waste of time, it sounds increasingly like a pedantic propaganda piece sponsored by Amazon about why we should embrace free markets and authority figures.
I know that they can not possibly end the show the way that it looks like it might, or the writers would probably have no career in television again (I pray, although Amazon Prime has more and more original content…). Still, driving the narrative to this very pointless point, and suggesting that there is no alternative future, only dystopia, except by reverting to the very mediocre past and embracing the status quo, this is a very poor motivator for anyone to finish this series.
I look forward to hopefully posting kinder words in a few days once the writers figure out their mistakes, and I also look forward to being able to walk normally, and having a continuous coat of skin running down the side of my body once again, so that I don’t have to spend my days watching old USA series. Until then,