The screen remains black, we hear Elliott Alderson (Rami Malek) both greet and immediately inform us of our role. We are his imaginary friend. His companion on this journey. Then we are introduced to another “invisible force” in this world. Only, these people are not friends, but foes. We are shown out of focus business men (they almost appear faceless), yelling at one another, in a conference room on the top floor of a skyscraper, “The guys who play God, without permission,” explains Elliott. Our real introduction to Elliott is when we witness him take down a business owner (Ron), with a fondness for child pornography. The primary purpose of this scene is to show Elliott as a hero. He is a good guy, who uses illegal measures to take down the bad men in our society. We should always trust the hero in the story, right?
By destroying this man’s life, isn’t Elliott playing God? In the virtual world he breaks and enters the personal lives of complete strangers without permission. Consider his take down of Michael Hanson, shown in the very same episode. Elliott decrypts Michael Hanson’s life and complies the information necessary to delete him from existence. In comparison to his take down of Ron, there is a different outcome for Michael Hanson. Elliott decides that the punishment should fit the crime, and insists that Michael cut ties with Krista (Elliott’s therapist). Once you begin playing judge, jury, and executioner, it’s a slippery slop. But Elliott is our hero, who is just trying to protect Krista from heartache. Unfortunately, the disillusionment of being confronted by the truth is still very painful. “The reality of the naive, that’s how I justify this, to keep their optimism in check, to protect them…”explains Elliott. He hides behind this self justification of his actions. Elliott feels powerless in his own life and finds comfort in the illusion of control, while hacking a life. There is a fine line between Elliott and the business men shown at the beginning of the episode. Elliott doesn’t care for money, he’s just trying to save the world.
“You’re hiding again, when you hide, your delusions come back, it’s a slippery slop.” -Krista
The pilot episode by design is circular. Elliott feels that he has been caught by the men in the suits, after taking down Colby. The final shot tracks Elliott making his way into the conference room, with the out of focus business men shown in the opening. Then, Tyrell Wellick’s face snaps into focus and greets Elliott, remember how Elliott greeted us in the beginning of the episode? “Bonsoir Elliott,” this suggests that Tyrell (Martin Wallstrom) will be the face we attribute to “the invisible force in the world”, that Elliott wants to take down. Note, these two characters will serve as foils for one another too.
Elliott is a creator and destroyer of the virtual world, who is attempting to take down a creator and destroyer of the real world. He also created us too, as we are his imaginary friend. So will he delete us in the end?
By Sarah Belmont