TV Review: Mr. Robot - Season 2

Kicking off its second season with revelation after revelation, cyber heist after cyber heist, and psychotic breakdown after -- well you get the point, the hacker series of Mr. Robot returned triumphantly this past summer as it continued the tragic tale of expert hacker and social hermit, Elliot Alderson, as he struggles to take control of both his sanity and his world-altering actions. Building upon its mind-bending twist from last season, and tossing in a plethora of enigmatic new characters, Mr. Robot again managed to construct a fantastic season of intrigue, suspense, and cynical humor.


(Minor spoilers from Season 1 ahead...Proceed with caution)

With expert hacker Elliot Alderson (Rami Malek) now off the grid and living with his estranged mother -- following the sudden disappearance of E Corp ex-Vice President Tyrell Wellick (Martin Wallstrom) -- the insurgent hacktivist group fsociety is left under the leadership of Darlene (Carly Chaikin), with its new purpose redefined by the success of the group's latest world-altering hack. With Elliot's grip on reality slipping deeper and deeper into darkness, as he battles himself in the form of Mr. Robot (Christian Slater), the stakes are even greater now as the hunt for fsociety begins. But with deadly hacker gangs, morally-ambiguous FBI agents, and unflinching businessmen at their throats, it'll take a lot more than a keyboard and a monitor to stay one step ahead of the hack.

Diving back into this addictive series of criminal hackers and shady corporations, I was, to no surprise, met with yet another season of brilliant directing, writing, and acting. Bolstered not only by Rami Malek's riveting performance as a hacker who has stuck his nose way too deep now to ever come out unscathed, but also the unique design of the show by creator and director Sam Esmail, Mr. Robot again reminded me of one of my favorite shows on TV, NBC's short-lived psychological-thriller Hannibal. A series that not only continues to slip under the radar as one of the most socially-aware things on TV today, but also build up an exclusive fan-base that dedicates itself to keep the show alive and kicking, Mr. Robot, like Hannibal, managed to kick off another season that gave its fans exactly what they wanted -- a dynamic continuation that reminded us why we adore this show so much.


While its unique premise of a renegade group of hackers struggling to take down a megalomaniacal international corporation kicked along effortlessly, pitting its cast of morally-ambiguous techies against malicious gangs and persistent FBI agents, another key element to the series' premise was the true reason I was drawn back into this riveting show. Circling around the psychological battle of identity and sanity within the mind of the show's protagonist, Elliot Alderson, as he fends off the hovering persona of his dead father, Mr. Robot, creeping over his shoulder, the inner war of action and reason that continued in Season 2 was one of the things that reminded me just how brilliant this show is. With phenomenal performances from both Malek and Mr. Robot's Christian Slater, the internal decay of Elliot Alderson's mind and the sadistic arm-twisting of Mr. Robot created a spectacular tension throughout the entire season. Working to make amends with -- or more specifically, completely eradicate -- the constant voice of the ghost inside his head, Elliot's tragic journey into never-ending darkness remained the most compelling aspect of the show.


Built up for the most part by its main cast -- including Malek's delusional and damaged protagonist, Slater's maniacal conscious within his son's decaying mind, and Carly Chaikin's ambitious hacker leading the show as fsociety continues its revolutionary quest -- Season 2 of Mr. Robot was also greeted with a gracious handful of new faces. Two of the most intriguing characters to come out of this season had to be Grace Gummer's driven FBI agent Dom DiPierro and BD Wong's enigmatic Whiterose. Two of the biggest threats that Elliot and the rest of fsociety tangle with throughout the season, these two new players in the hacker revolution presented a radical -- if not slightly strange -- perspective to the show. One a hard-edged cop whose lonely life allows her to connect (on some level or another) with the hackers she's tasked with taking down, the other an allusive figure of authority obsessed with time and its many consequences, these two characters breathed new life into the show, their realities bleeding ever-so-slightly into one another to push the show to a redefined level of intensity.

This season also saw the further development of a number of recurring characters, from Elliot's mysterious new ally in Martin Wallstrom's Tyrell Wellick to Wellick's conniving wife in Stephanie Corneliussen's Joanna Wellick. While the former may not appear in the second season much at first, his disappearance at the conclusion of the first season stirring problems for Elliot and his allies, the latter made a much great impact this season than she previously had. Once a simple housewife of the pioneering future CTO of E Corp Tyrell, Corneliussen's conspiring Joanna soon ventured onto her own path to the top, as she quickly adapted to life without her husband. Driven, hard-edged, and devilishly beautiful all in one, her character matured into one of frightening delight as her arc from last season developed exponentially with the absence of Wallstrom.


Overall, with its cast maturing into increasingly more intense roles and its writing and direction taking on a refined level of skillful craft and superb intelligence, the second season of Mr. Robot may have followed pretty close to that last season in terms of formula, but it still effectively kept me on the edge of my seat with every new episode. Its premise and design making into one of the most socially-aware and interesting shows on television right now, if you haven't gotten into this hacker thriller yet, you're missing out.

I gave Season Two of Mr. Robot an 8 out of 10 for its breathtaking direction and style, its captivating premise of cyber-terrorism and all its cruel intentions, and its fantastic performance by leading man Rami Malek, who plays crazy and socially awkward a bit too well. 

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