Hello, friend. Everybody wants to rule the world—to have control over their surroundings, to feel safe, to be aware of everything going on around them. But control is an illusion; a skewed perception of your own security where you hide the truth to protect yourself. It’s just a matter of how deep in the illusion you are.
If you haven’t seen the engrossing first season, Mr Robot follows Elliott Alderson, a twenty-something security engineer for cyber security company AllSafe. Elliott suffers from severe depression and social anxiety that he manages with a morphine addiction, weekly visits with a therapist, and by hacking every single person around him to try and feel closer to them. When Elliott is approached by a hacker group, fsociety, led by the enigmatic Mr Robot he is given the opportunity to be a part of something huge, as the group plan a large-scale data hack to erase global digital debt.
Often when I try to describe the premise of Mr Robot I worry it can seem a bit off putting in a pretentious way, coming across as a Fight Club-esque fantasy penned by a 4chan basement activist. There are a lot of opportunities for that to happen—the masks and all the political allegories can come across a little heavy handed—but the show always manages to save itself by being just so damn smart. I can’t imagine the stacks of notebooks, or rather desktop folders, show creator / writer / director Sam Esmail has to keep track of the world he has created. Not since Lost has my brain been so full of theories and questions, but luckily Mr Robot has a good record of actually tying up all these loose ends.
In writing about season two there is not a lot I can talk about in regards to the actual plot: not because it’s lacking, but because Mr Robot is a richly satisfying psychological puzzle that I would hate to spoil for anyone. What I can say is that after the events of the first season, fsociety continues to function and taunt the rich and powerful in an increasingly dystopian reality, with Elliott attempting to remain off the grid while being slowly dragged back into the world of Mr Robot whether he likes it or not. If you thought the first season had twists, prepare to be left dizzy and be careful of extreme whiplash around the halfway point. Constantly anticipating plot twists can often be exhausting and disappointing, but Mr Robot is so well crafted that you can appreciate each turn, no matter how abrupt and gutting it can be. It’s a show that isn’t afraid to completely flip its own world upside down and leave you struggling to steady yourself again and you can’t even be mad because you’re too busy admiring the set up.
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Rami Malek, now with a fresh Emmy award for his portrayal of Elliott in season one, returns with even more intensity and fragility than thought humanly possible, especially for an actor whose biggest credit until now was Night at the Museum. Christian Slater is back for more deception and scheming as Mr Robot, along with BD Wong from SVU as Whiterose, leader of the Chinese hacker group the Dark Army. There are some pleasantly surprising cameos in comedian Craig Robinson (Pineapple Express, Hot Tub Time Machine) as the delightfully evil Ray, and rapper Joey Bada$$ as Elliott’s new friend, Leon. Esmail has stated he so far has up to five seasons of Mr Robot planned and, as frustrating as that sounds, I am so very ready.