WARNING: This article contains spoilers for Mr. Robot Season 1
One of the reasons why Mr. Robot is such a great show is that it has one of the most interesting and unique main characters we have seen in television in recent years. From his psychological issues to his drug usage, Elliot Alderson is a very complex character, one that even psychiatrists have attempted to analyze. So please, bear with me while I try to deconstruct this character and his reasons for acting and thinking the way he does.
Let’s start with the most basic information we’ve got: Elliot is a 28 year old man who lives in New York. His job is very relevant to the story: he’s a cybersecurity guy working at E-Corp by day, and a hacker at night. We still don’t know where his knowledge on computing comes from, but we do know that it’s something that runs in the family (Darlene is a hacker and Edward ran a computer store). Besides that, Elliot’s job doesn’t require for him to socialize with other people, and, as he explains at some point, hacking is his way of interacting with other people.
This brings us to the most complex aspect about Elliot: his psychological issues. It has been argued that Elliot suffers from social anxiety, depression, insomnia and mania. Sometimes, his anxiety leads to paranoia and, in extreme cases, delusion. Apart from all that, Elliot is also an introvert, often preferring to be alone than being in company of others. He doesn’t like to be touched either. I don’t think I need to say how important it is to have a main character like this on cable television, especially considering the stigma that society has towards many of these mental disorders. Elliot also does drugs and automedicates. He usually takes morphine and, in some occasions, recreational drugs such as Ecstasy. Fortunately, he does quit on using them, something that was very hard to do.
Far from alienating the viewers from the main character due to his mental condition, Elliot Alderson awakens that “rebel side” that we all have. Whether you spend all day hearting things on Instagram and drinking Vanilla Lattes or reading about conspiracy theories about the US government, I’m sure at some point you have had a moment of doubt about our own existence as a species, whether we’re going the right way, or whether we have lost our identities at some point along the way. Are we really free or are we living under the illusion of choice? Are we being sedated by popular culture? Is having our entire social lives on Facebook safe? Etc.
So how does a person like Elliot behave around others? Elliot has very few friends. But the ones he has, matter a lot. One of them is Angela, his best friend from childhood and co-worker. The other was Shayla, his drug dealer and friend with benefits, who was sadly killed. Shayla brought the topic of sex to the table and whether it was possible for a person with social anxiety to have sex with someone other than a romantic partner. Even though Shayla and Elliot were pretty close, I was also surprised to see them hooking up, even if Elliot was high at the moment. It wouldn’t surprise me, though, that Elliot was just indulging in self-destructive behavior. Elliot strikes me as the kind of person who wouldn’t think of sex as a big deal, but then again, he does hate being touched. He also has a strange relationship with Tyrell, who is the complete opposite to him. The season finale ended in a very big mystery regarding Tyrell’s whereabouts and what exactly did he do with Elliot during that time gap, so there’s still many things we don’t know about what we can expect from their relationship.
He also has his sister Darlene. As a matter of fact, both Darlene and Angela work as the guiding lights in Elliot’s life. Not much else is known about his family. We only know that his mother was abusive and that his father, Edward, died from leukemia, presumably caused by ECorp a long time ago. We also know that he got along really well with his father, which is probably the reason why his subconscious chose him to recreate his other identity, Mr. Robot.
Elliot hates society. He says it in this scene from the first episode, he repeats it in several occasions, and he chose the name “fsociety” himself. However, it is very likely that, despite his social anxiety, Elliot doesn’t dislike persons, but people. He dislikes mass behaviour and how easy it is to manipulate the masses through media and consumption. Elliot’s plan and end goal is basically to create a utopia. Sure, erasing all debt and taking down corporations is something that fsociety is capable of doing as hackers, but that’s not going to change the way the entire human race behaves as a society. Let’s just say that, once you’ve hit the “restart” button, there’s no guarantee that the “machine” won’t repeat the same error again. I’m sure this is something that it’s going to be addressed next season after Elliot has figured himself out (if that’s even possible at all).
All in all, Elliot is one of the most complex characters on television right now. And that is saying a lot considering that this show has only released 10 episodes so far. Sam Esmail has created something wonderful, from the representation of giving us a mentally ill person as a main character, to the originality of having an unreliable narrator through his internal monologues. Let’s just say that I will probably have to write another Character Analysis for this character after Season 2 ends, and I really can’t wait for that.