Just like everyone else, I was enamored with the first season of Mr. Robot. Elliot Alderson, the unstable, ingenious, drug-addicted web hacker who dropped Evil Corp to its knees, captivated a nation and became the de facto hero of a debt-free nation. Elliot (and his Mr. Robot alter ego), along with his merry band of fsociety misfits, took down the world’s biggest capitalist conglomerate while capturing the attention of the FBI, making an enemy of an economic powerhouse, and dancing with a mercenary hacker group known as the Dark Army.
But….is that what really happened? Maybe…the truth is that season two has left too much up to the imagination. It’s already 4 episodes in and I’m more confused now than ever before. Some could say that’s the sign a good television show, where it gives you just enough so you keep coming back for more, but not enough to understand anything! Me — I’m on the fence about it! I loved season one so much that I’ll invest myself for season two even though the episodes are pretty boring and uncover things at an alarmingly slow rate!
Now, for those of you who are in the hacking world, or know a little bit about it, you’ll know that Mr. Robot brings to the silver screen a pretty realistic and accurate view of hacking. To read more about that, I’ll transfer you to a post here – The Unusually Accurate Portrait of Hacking on USA’s Mr. Robot — check it out, cool read! But I’m not here to talk about its accuracy, I’m here to ask what happened to it. What happened to Mr. Robot? Are people liking this second season, or are they hating it? Again, I’m on the fence, either it’s the worst follow up season to an award winning first one, or it’s the most brilliant sequel season to have ever graced television history. I’ve got thoughts on that later!
But before that, let’s recap season one of Mr. Robot…
Okay, as we all know, season one was just phenomenal. It. Was. Awesome. Period. It takes place in probably the greatest city on earth, NYC, and is riddled with shady characters, uncovered truths, and accurate hacking lingo, which just makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.
Each episode is titled like a computer format file: eps1.0_hellofriend.mov, eps1.1_ones-and-zer0es.mpeg, eps1.2_d3bug.mkv, etc. The first episode we are introduced to Elliot, who’s the main protagonist. He’s a weirdo too, but hey, aren’t most hackers? He works for a company called All-Safe that does cyber-security for the biggest conglomerate in the world, Evil Corporation. More about them later!
Elliot also hacks people’s social media, email, and personal accounts, but he does it to “get close to them” like he eventually tells his therapist. But he also does it to take down rotten m*the#[email protected]!! like the one at the end of episode one who distributed child porn.
During the first few episodes, we are introduced to the merry band of eccentric outsiders that make up fsociety including:
- Darlene – Elliot’s sister (that we don’t find out about until close to the end of the season when Elliot forgets she’s his sister and tries to kiss her, ewww!), she’s the elusive, dark, part-goth hacker who is kinda like Elliot’s right hand and has a strange connection with the unscrupulous Dark Army.
- Romero – the weed-smoking/dealing, wily hacker who isn’t completely sure of Elliot.
- Mobley – a DJ, a hacker, tech support for E. Corp, a trusted internet source who can post anything to Wikipedia, and a loyal soldier to the cause of taking E. Corp down!
- Trenton – the Persian hacker who doesn’t say much, but believes in what fsociety is doing.
- Mr. Robot – aha! The leader of fsociety, and Elliot’s alter-ego. But we don’t find this out until the second or third to last episode of the season. Wonderfully played by Christian Slater.
Now remember, in season one, Elliot was being recruited by fsociety. We don’t find out until later that he is the leader of fsociety. And that truth, that Elliot is kinda crazy, calls into question if any of it was really real? I mean, did they even take down Evil Corp.? I’m getting ahead of myself.
We meet some other people in the first season too:
- Angela – Elliot’s childhood friend and co-worker, she got Elliot the job at All-Safe.
- Terry Colby – the CTO of E. Corp. who gets set up for hacking into E. Corp’s system
- Tyrell Wellick – The interim CTO after Colby gets arrested, and a hacker as well (or a guy who really knows his computers). When he meets Elliot he tells him he uses a “Linux box” which Elliot admires.
- Gideon Goddard – Elliot’s boss at All-Safe
- Shayla – Elliot’s neighbor and drug-dealer (sort of), they also end up having a relationship.
- Cisco – Darlene’s ex-boyfriend and kind of a liaison between fsociety and the Dark Army.
- Philip Price – the CEO of E. Corp. He’s super cryptic and really quite creepy. We see a lot more of him in season two.
- Krista – Elliot’s shrink who is super nice and mild mannered. Elliot hacks her life and ends a relationship (in an illegal way) that could’ve been really devastating for Krista. She does not turn Elliot in to the authorities.
Each and every episode in season one unveils another piece to the puzzle. Another progression in the plot to take down a corporate giant. Another cog in the wheel that keeps the story spinning. Throughout the unfolding season one, there are so many surprises that keep you mystified yet makes you feel like you’re getting closer to the truth.
Crazy (and awesome) surprises in season one (if you haven’t watched season one and plan to, stop reading – NOW!!):
- Elliot meets the hacker group fsociety through a rudimentary hack of All-Safe systems to infiltrate E. Corp. and ends up leaving the file where it’s found (which fsociety asks him to do).
- Elliot meets Shayla’s connect and supplier of morphine, Fernando Vera (he’s a big asshat!), who abuses Shayla, so Elliot puts a stop to that by alerting the cops to his stash of drugs and his online social selling of them.
- Tyrell Wellick enjoys beating up homeless guys, but at least he pays them to do so — weird, man!
- Terry Colby covered up a toxic waste leak that gave hundreds of people leukemia including Elliot’s father and Angela’s mother, so that’s how we understand their tight connection.
- Angela infects All-Safe’s systems using her infidelious (not sure if that’s a word) boyfriend’s computer. His name is Ollie and he’s not really important. He’s an asshat too!
- Vera kidnaps and subsequently kills Shayla to get Elliot to hack him out of prison because someone puts a “hit” out on Vera. Which ultimately ends up being his own brother (Isaac Vera) who wants Vera dead. Vera kills his brother and escapes. My guess is that we haven’t seen the last of Fernando.
- Tyrell Wellick kills the wife of Scott Knowles (the new CTO of Evil Corp chosen for the position instead of Wellick) and eventually becomes a suspect in that murder, rightfully so.
- Angela does some shady shit to get Terry Colby to confess that E. Corp covered up the toxic waste leak. She essentially sells her soul to the devil (Evil Corp) to get a PR job there, which in season two, she excels at. I definitely want to know where this is going.
- Gideon (Elliot and Angela’s boss) is suspicious about the story Elliot spun about the hack on Evil Corp and turns the hacked server into a honeypot. Typically, a honeypot is a mechanism set in place to detect some sort of behavior or action. In this case, Elliot did not realize that Gideon was on to him and that kinda screwed up the relationship with the Dark Army.
- Elliot fixes the relationship with the Dark Army by meeting with Whiterose, a transgender woman who is obsessed with time, she allocates one minute for Elliot’s meeting and he pleads his case convincing her to resume the aid of the hack.
- Elliot Alderson is Mr. Robot, who is the persona of his dead father, but I mentioned this already! Darlene is Elliot’s sister.
- Tyrell Wellick (oh and I forgot to mention his wife is into BDSM, she scares me!!) ends up getting fired from E. Corp but starts to work with Elliot to take them down.
- Elliot blacks out for 3 days and ends up waking up in Wellick’s SUV. He has no memory of the hack on Evil Corp., which apparently succeeded throwing the world into chaos. And Tyrell Wellick is no where to be found!
- The final scene in the final episode in season one shows Elliot opening the door after someone knocks on it, but we never see the visitor. As the credits roll, we see Whiterose dressed as a man talking with Philip Price (E. Corp’s CEO) about the hack – very interested in this!!
As you can see, there were many surprises and they were spaced out beautifully in the first season. Each episode gave you answers, but also left more questions. It was really awesome to see the hack succeed. Now onto season two!
Season Two of Mr. Robot…does it make any sense?
Season two opened with an extended episode (or two episodes put together). And Elliot is out of the hacking game, he’s gone analog! He purposely took himself out of the game because when he’s not his alter-ego, he cares about the world and what happens to it. He doesn’t want to do bad (or what heperceives as bad, because let’s face it, if the credit card companies got taken to their knees, it wouldn’t be horrible. Well, I’m not entirely sure about that!) things, and thinks that Mr. Robot is ruining his life and the life of others.
Elliot moves in with his mother, where there is no internet, no computers, nothing he could get his hands on except for notebooks that he writes in constantly. He is still seeing Krista, his mild mannered shrink, and is telling her the truth about what he feels, thinks, and sees. She is trying to help him through it. But we also see a few new players come in in season two:
- Leon – what appears to be Elliot’s best friend from the neighborhood. Leon just discovered Seinfeld and likes to talk about it a lot to Elliot.
- Ray – (played by the funny Craig Robinson, who isn’t that funny in this!) is a person from the neighborhood who recruits Elliot to do a migration of his website. We don’t know what type of a website Ray has, but it’s definitely shady because he employs some ruffian tactics with his previous web developer and has a tough-looking thug accompany Elliot while he’s doing the migration.
- Dominique – the pretty, ambitious, young, and feisty FBI agent who is hot on the trail of fsociety because of her investigation into the E. Corp hack.
- Elliot’s mother – she just sits on the couch and watches TV. But Elliot tells us she’s “tough.”
- Susan Jacobs – E. Corp’s head council, she’s known as the “Madame Executioner” because she’s stops lawsuits from impacting Evil Corp and in a lot of those lawsuits people died.
I didn’t really like the first episode of Mr. Robot’s season two. Why? Because it didn’t really answer any questions. But apparently my opinion doesn’t really matter because based on this first episode, season two received critical acclaim. Huh? Really? Let’s recap the two-part episode one of season two.
Episodes 1& 2 of Mr. Robot’s Season Two…
Tyrell Wellick records an fsociety video that’s sent out to the world taking credit for the E. Corp hack. Tyrell Wellick has disappeared. Elliot maintains a really boring routine living at his mother’s house, he gets up every morning, has lunch with Leon, visits with his church group, then watches the basketball games at the neighborhood courts. He is essentially trying to beat his own mind, or Mr. Robot, from rearing his ugly head and doing anymore damage than he already has. So he doesn’t go near computers and writes everything down in his journals.
fsociety hacks into Susan Jacobs smart home, where they turn her music up, turn her temperature down, scold her with hot water in the shower, etc. She ends up leaving her posh New York house and goes to her other place outside the city. fsociety take up residence and make her smart home their temporary headquarters. They then execute a hack on E. Corp’s bank and ransom their money, making Scott Knowles burn 5.9 million dollars in the middle of Central Park donning an fsociety mask. 5/9 is significant because May 9th is when the E. Corp hack was executed.
Angela continues to climb up the company ladder at E. Corp by not making nice with her co-workers. She is shrewd and different than she was in season one. She talks with news outlets demanding certian interview questions not be asked and the like. It also appears like she’s abandoned the lawsuit she really wanted to go after in season one.
Gideon meets with Elliot, he tells him that he needs to “do the right thing” and tell the FBI what he knows. Gideon has been cooperating with the Feds and Agent Dominique. While Gideon is at a bar, he meets a guy and they make small talk for a few minutes. Then the guy takes out a gun and shoots Gideon in the throat, killing him! The last scene in the two-part series opener is the phone ringing and Elliot picking it up. The voice on the other end of the line says “Bon-sour, Elliot” and is clearly Tyrell Wellick’s voice.
I know, right?!? WTF is going on???
The next two episodes are even more confusing. We find out the Romero is dead, it looks like someone shot him in the face. Did Elliot kill Romero, remember when Mr. Robot pointed a gun a Romero? Well…that was actually Elliot doing that! Dominque also finds fsociety’s arcade headquarters, that they threw a party at to cover their tracks. But the FBI finds a shell casing!
We see that Whiterose and Philip Price are clearly working together, Whiterose telling Price to “stay on schedule” – whatever that means. We see more of Joanna Wellick, Tyrell’s BDSM wife, who is trying to get Tyrell’s severance pay from Scott Knowles, who won’t pay up because of his grief over his wife’s murder that really looks more like vengeance and not grief.
We have no idea what’s going on in Elliot’s head. He is kidnapped by government looking agents in black Suburbans that take him to a warehouse and shove wet sand down his throat. But it’s actually all in his mind and Mr. Robot is trying to get him to throw up the Adderall pills that he took that ultimately help him ignore Mr. Robot’s tempting pleas to get back on a computer.
Ray is super shady and is trying to recruit Elliot, but we’re not sure what type of business he’s in. We don’t know how Leon and Elliot met, but they are best of friends (if Elliot could really have friends) and they hang out pretty much all the time. Mobley finds Romero’s body and thinks it’s the Dark Army hunting fsociety down, so he (along with Trenton) start to doubt Elliot and also Darlene.
Philip Price invites Angela to dinner with a few of E. Corp’s executives. At the end of that dinner, Price gives Angela a disc that contains incriminating evidence on the two execs they went to dinner with and implicates them in the toxic waste leak coverup. Elliot and Mr. Robot play chess for the ultimate price of Elliot’s mind and control, nobody wins! But Elliot finally gets back on a computer and helps Ray, only to find that he’s doing some shady stuff! Oh boy, here we go again!
Thoughts on Mr. Robot…
I’m not sure where this will lead. As seen in season one, there were so many twists and turns (in a good way) that really kept you guessing, but it also gave you something every episode. Season Two just seems to take. It doesn’t give you much of anything, but I’m still invested because I need to know what’s going on.
Evil Corp definitely doesn’t seem to be out of the game. And with fsociety needing new digs, they seem to be on the defensive. They really need to be on the offensive and continue to clobber Evil Corp. In the fourth (last) episode, Elliot (in a flashback) said that the hard part would be after the attack. Not the attack itself, but the fallout. That fsociety would have to keep up the pressure. The only problem is that Elliot isn’t keeping up the pressure, Darlene is trying to do that. But as we all know, there is no better hacker than Elliot Alderson.
I think there was a turning point in the last (fourth) episode of season two. Elliot finally got back on a computer. That’s what this season needs—Elliot online!!!!! Because let’s face it, without Elliot doing what he does best (hack), the balance wouldn’t work. We need Elliot online to get this season going again. Elliot needs to let Mr. Robot take control, and conquer the big bad wolf that is Evil Corp. That’s the only way I see this show getting to where it needs to go. But the writers might have different plans.
I know this — if Elliot doesn’t get hacking again soon. People are going to get hurt, more so than the ones who’ve already been hurt. People are going to get caught too! But, I guess you could say that if Elliot gets back to hacking as well.
Again, I’m not sure where this season is going, but I want to tell Elliot one thing: Elliot, for the sake of your viewers, get yourself up and get yourself together, it’s time to hack the world!