USA Network’s beautifully shot, richly acted surprise hit Mr. Robot quietly yet quickly built up a massive devoted, energized fan base when it premiered last summer with an ultra-compelling mix of storylines that echoed and amplified real world tropes and movements almost in real-time: Occupy, doxxing, data breaches, hacks, Anonymous, late capitalism, etc. More importantly, Mr. Robot tapped into that feeling many people have that things are not right, that the deck is stacked, that the whole system has to come down for us to truly be free. It is The Matrix for a new generation, a much more literal exploration of “the real world.”
At the center of season one is Elliot (Rami Malek) a most unreliable narrator. He is dealing with paranoia, schizophrenia, anxiety and a host of other crippling mental disorders that he self-medicates with illicit drugs, including heroin, and self-imposed isolation. Elliot also happens to be amazing on the keyboard and can hack just about anything on the planet. He cleans up enough to briefly get a job at AllSafe, a cyber-security firm who happens to have E-Corp (“Evil Corp”) as a client.
Evil Corp. is the embodiment of the modern corporate bogeyman: a gang of suits who meet in smoky rooms and swank clubs plotting capitalistic world domination. Millions of people globally are subservient to the institution through debt and thusly Evil Corp is too big to fail. When the shadowy hacker group “fsociety” emerges and recruits Elliot via “Mr. Robot” (Christian Slater), a plan is hatched to blow up Evil Corp’s data and set everyone’s debt clock back to zero and start all over, nice and fresh.
Elliot’s compadres in fsociety include Darlene (Carly Chaikin), a no-nonsense hacker extremely passionate about tearing down the walls. Darlene has a sweet spot for Elliot which is later revealed to be a family connection in a Fight Club-esque whirlwind episode. Elliot’s close friend Angela (Portia Doubleday) also works at AllSafe, and eventually Evil Corp. Rounding out the cast are the amazingly creepy Tyrell Wellick (Martin Wallstrom), a climber in Evil Corp. who isn’t above murder,and his delightfully “off” wife Joanna (Stephanie Corneliussen).
By the end of season one, fsociety’s plan to reshuffle the deck by destroying Evil Corp’s data has apparently worked: Global markets are in shambles, there is no debt, and the streets are electric with young people looting, running, and wearing the fsociety mask. Elliot awakens three days after the hack in Tyrell’s SUV, totally unsure of where he has been or what he has been doing. Tyrell is being blamed for the “5/9 Attack,” and in an ominous cliffhanger, the leader of The Dark Army, the Chinese hacker group that helped fsociety with the attack is seen chatting casually with the CEO of Evil Corp.
Season Two starts 30 days later; here’s what we know and some of what we hope to learn:
A Revolution Needs A Leader
fsociety’s plan to disrupt Evil Corp. was only the beginning. Now it’s time to move on to bigger goals. While we see that the 5/9 Hack did have some effect, members of fsociety (particularly Darlene) seem to be disgruntled with the outcome and eager to do more damage. There is a certain uneasy frustration that the winners and losers are still winners and losers. Will a public face for fsociety emerge and lead? Is it Tyrell? Elliot via Mr. Robot?
Meet The New Boss, Same As The Old Boss
It appears that Evil Corp. was certainly damaged by the hack, but not quite as badly as we originally thought. Why are executives not jumping out of windows to their deaths? Why are they buddying up to the Chinese hackers? Are they really all that evil or is there something darker, more insidious behind the scenes?
Elliot’s Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day
Elliot is even further off the grid, living at home with his mom, continuously struggling with his mental demons and the occasional appearance of Mr. Robot. He is spending his time with a small group of friends including Leon (Joey Bada$$) and Ray (Craig Robinson), while trying to dodge the encroaching investigation by an FBI agent (Grace Gummer).
Time Is On My Side
We’re expected to learn what happened in the three days between the 5/9 Hack and Elliot’s awakening. We can assume we haven’t seen the last of Tyrell, and what’s with the Dark Army leader and her obsession with time? What has Darlene and the rest of fsociety been up to in the last 30 days while Elliot hides out in suburbia?
Season 2 of Mr. Robot premieres at 10pm ET Wednesday July 13 on USA; new episodes will be available Thursdays on-demand.