Quick question: what just happened?
For all intents and purposes, it’s a safe assessment to say that there is no other show on TV quite like ‘Mr. Robot.” Season 1 opened our eyes to the possibilities of how a cutting edge hacker-centric story like this can play out. Cinematic in quality, unflinching in plot and forward-thinking with regards to characters, it immediately hit a bunch of Top 10 lists and garnered Emmy recognition.
Season 2, however, has been a different beast entirely. With Sam Esmail gaining full creative control as the writer and director of every episode, not only has the story taken a darker — and more violent — turn, it’s also explored the repercussions of the events that lead up to f society’s 5/9 attack. Yet, for all the buzz surrounding the show, its second season hasn’t had the same appeal.
One thing’s for certain, though. After Wednesday’s (Aug. 17) episode, titled “eps2.5_h4ndshake.sme,” it’s going to be difficult really figuring out what is real and what is not, moving forward.
So let’s just get down to it then … It has taken seven episodes to reveal that Elliot (Rami Malek) is not at his mom’s house — staying away from computers and Mr. Robot (Christian Slater) — but is in fact incarcerated. We’re going to assume he’s in prison for the 5/9 attack and not Tyrell Wellick’s (Martin Wallstrom) murder. That, too, felt like a lie.
According to Mr. Robot, he was the one who killed Wellick — but we’re not sure that’s the truth. Mr. Robot hasn’t built a trustworthy reputation, thus far. And the audience was never shown what transpired after Elliot reached into the popcorn … so, we’re siding with his f society misdeeds.
What about Ray (Craig Robinson), then? The owner of the illegal website — Dread Pirate Roberts, if you will — was very much a real person. From the looks of his office, it’s safe to assume that Ray was an employee at the jail — but not high up on the ladder. Possibly in a janitorial position, he not only had access to the building’s medical ward, but also its basement.
When looking back on previous episodes, it’ll probably be much easier to point out the clues that show Elliot’s true reality. That rotary phone on the wall, the confined feel of his mother’s home and the simplistic nature of his bed all felt out of place. With all that out of the way, what comes next?
It seems that he’s made a mends with Mr. Robot, accepting himself in the process, which will only lead to some troubling possibilities down the line. And then, there’s Leon (Joey Badass). This whole time, Elliot has presented the man as a simple Seinfeld-loving sponsor when in reality, he’s connected to Whiterose (BD Wong) and The Dark Army.
Does his role go any deeper than this? We don’t think so. But after watching him take out that gang of white supremacists — as if he were Daredevil incarnate — it’s safe to say he fulfilled his duties.
Where do we go from here? Honestly, with so many questions as to what’s real and who’s not a figment of Elliot’s imagination, we have no clue. And for the first time in a while, the show is back to walking some dangerous, and entertaining, ground.
“Mr. Robot” airs Wednesdays at 10 p.m. ET/PT on USA.