The Following Review is Spoiler-Free
You know, monumental moments in television like Twin Peaks: The Return, Breaking Bad seasons 4-5, True Detective season 1, and Fargo season 1 may still stand the test of time as my personal favorite periods of television. However, despite these being my favorite stages in TV history, I have never, in the history of my life, run across a single season of television in which every episode was at an A+ perfectionist’s level—nor did I ever think I would witness a season of that caliber in my entire life. Unfortunately, Mr. Robot season 4 is made up of roughly only 92% of A+ episodes. There is one episode in the season that is decent at best. But, that’s about the closest I think we as viewers and binge-fanatics have ever gotten to witnessing a perfect season of a program. Season 4 almost did the impossible, but like the impossible, it would be impossible for it to be possible—duh?
This, without the intention of sounding pretentious, legitimately feels like a 13-hour movie; a cinematic masterpiece, actually. The story this time around appears so focused on one grand plot-line, and more worried about structurally implementing a cohesively satisfying thread. It feels like a Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows or a Return of the King closer to a holy, beloved franchise. It reasons with a familiar three-act shape like most movies do, and decides to really ensure that its story reaches conclusions that feel earned yet utterly shocking. There are savage, crucial crunch-points in the season that truly set are characters up for challenges that put in motion a very movie-sequel-esc vibe.
The cinematography pallet in season 4 is even more motion-picture-esc than the previous three seasons which for a long period of time were being complimented for their movie-like aesthetics. The shots and visual directing in this season are eye-suckingly complex. If you pay attention or even momentarily glance at a majority of frames in this season, you can spot out just how particular in detail they are; the screen is always glittered with intentional meaning that adds substance to the story being told. This whole entire season—on par and along with last year’s other mini-series, Too Old to Die Young—manages to look better than 99.9% of movies that come out today.
Another strength worth mentioning about season 4 is how personal of a treatment each major character—and not just Elliot—receives during the show’s runtime. We get a ton of important information on the main antagonist, Whiterose, returning character Fernando Vera has an intimate position in the season’s narrative, and I genuinely believe that this season did Darlene’s character more justice than the previous seasons have given her; this really is the Alderson siblings’ season. Even the filler episodes in this fourth season are so respectful in their exploitations of both Elliot and Darlene’s self-acceptance and past traumas, as well as other character’s identifications—whether they’re awful or mediocre human beings. It was almost like Sam Esmail sought out to make every episode work as its own distinct masterpiece—with divergent, thematic purposes in each 50-minute counterpart.
I think it’s also sweet that, behind the red curtains, this is an entire season dedicated to the brass-bound bond between siblings. Where in moments that seem as if life is close to the end, the show decides to passionately express Elliot and Darlene’s heartwarming connection to a T. In essence, season 4 is a family survival story, a weird one at that, sure, but an intense, lethal survival story, nonetheless.
Okay, now let’s get a little more geeky about the season’s technical proficiencies; we are talking about programming-nerds’ favorite telly program Mr. Robot, alright. SAM ESMAIL’S DIRECTING IN THIS SEASON DESERVES ALL THE AWARDS. The way the camera moves in this particular season is sincerely a luxury that we don’t deserve to have. Did any of you recently see 1917 (Sam Mendes’s WWI film) which just came out in theaters? You remember how smooth and intricate the movement of the visuals were in that movie? Now imagine someone implementing those techniques for 13 nearly hour-long episodes. You know what? Sam Esmail might be a legit god, disguised as a filmmaking god.
So let’s talk about the elephant in the room. Episode 7, 407 Proxy Authentication Required, is one of, if not, the greatest episode of television in human history. Mark my words, they’re going to be making live theatrical stagings of this episode—it even has the five-act, play-like structure to go with it. From where the orchestrated music is intricately placed, to the divine-inspired dialogue that sounds like it’s coming straight out of some sacred, religious texts, to the high-budget cinematography, and Sam Esmail’s Gaspar-Noé-like directing, this episode indisputably proves itself deserving of the title “modern-day classic.” Some other key players that make this episode Shakespearian as hell are just how psychologically tormenting its extreme scenarios and story reveals are. Rami Malek’s acting here is unreal and deserving of countless praises. Simultaneously, the episode also answers the biggest question us viewers have had since season 1 in the utmost effective way possible: “Why does Mr. Robot exist?”
Additionally, the final three episodes are the best kind of “strange” that Mr. Robot has proved to be a master act at flaring. The series decides to end on a corny conclusion that’s the kind of corny conclusion that paranormally succeeds because of how imposing the inventive execution of it is. In many finales to great long tales in any form of media, the typical way to end something would be to flash our main character into the beats of all the major events that they have been through and try to find some compromise to transform it all into an uplifting final note. And, while Mr. Robot does this unapologetically, it does it in a manner that makes sense in consideration of everything that has been leading up to this moment, while also hinging on the mentally psychological hallmarks that Mr. Robot is known for. It takes a full circle around this applicable idea of how boundless the brain can be—something that Mr. Robot has been aiming to complete since day one. Plus, it does it with a bittersweet, acid-trip sort of pizazz, which is what Esmail seems to be the best at manufacturing.
It’s difficult to explain into words why Mr. Robot is something TV fans must see immediately. Like any other television show, it’s not a life or death situation if you don’t see it. But, for those who want that Breaking–Bad-esc rush that they’ve been missing since day 1 of that show’s 2013 final episode, I recommend binging Mr. Robot. If anything, just watch the entire show so that you can witness 407 Proxy Authentication Required. That episode alone is worth the 36-37 hours of your time.
Mr. Robot Season 4 Math:
401 Unauthorized = A+
402 Payment Required = A+
403 Forbidden = A+
404 Not Found = A+
405 Method Not Allowed = A+
406 Not Acceptable = A+
407 Proxy Authentication Required = A+++
408 Request Timeout = A+
409 Conflict = A+
410 Gone = C+
eXit = A+
whoami = A+
Hello, Elliot = A+
Final Verdict: A
“Mr. Robot” season 4 is now available to stream on Amazon Prime.