Director: Sam Esmail
Writer: Sam Esmail
Starring: Rami Malek, Portia Doubleday, Carly Chaikin, Michael Cristofer, Stephanie Corneliussen, Martin Wallström, Christian Slater, Michel Gill, Sandrine Holt, Gloria Reuben, and more.
Episode length: 42 minutes
The season opener isn’t exactly what you might expect. It mostly focuses on Elliot wrestling with his demons, and its hard to say who’s winning.
This is a review of a sneak preview of the season 2 premiere of last summer’s biggest hit, that aired on Sunday, July 10th, 2016.
eps2.0_unm4sk-pt1.tc is an unusual title, for an unusual episode, even for a show as unusual as Mr Robot. This episode appears to be part one of the two-part season 2 premier that airs in America on Wednesday, July 13th, 2016.
This episode is a classic blend of all the things I remember about this show from last year, Its occasionally bleak, surreal, and sometimes disturbing content was a reminder that the show’s instantly sobering, and engaging effect on the viewer was still potent, and Elliot’s narration, combined with the show’s soundtrack were still hypnotic in their effect.
Basically this episode concerns itself with how everyone responds in the aftermath of last year’s cyberattack. those targeted by it, as well as those who carried it out. Despite initially seeming bleak, dreary, and slow paced, it moves right along at a pace that belies the mood of the show, and the events on the screen.
That’s the thing about Mr Robot, its doesn’t fit the normal definition of a tv series in a lot of ways, its more of an experience that happens to be on tv. It does things most other shows don’t do, or would even dare to do. Its an experiment that is pushing the envelope of what we think of as a tv show. This the evolution of tv literally happening in front of our eyes, and Elliot (Rami Malek) is the face of that evolution, making him a 21st century icon.
(*warning spoilers follow*)
The episode begins with a visual collage of the events of last season, in a jumbled synopsis, that serves to refresh our memories in the unlikely case we have forgotten. This is a disturbing and surreal segment that segues into a flashback of a significant moment in Eliot’s life, the time his dad accidentally pushed him out of a window of their home. This effectively sets the stage for the mood of the episode, and helps define the events that follow.
Next is a scene that seems to be the last time Elliot saw Tyrell Wellick (Martin Wallström), at the amusement park/former headquarters of F-society. It portrays the moment when the virus is uploaded into the system it has since damaged, and transformed into an out of control mess. One of the biggest mysteries we were left with last season is what became of Tyrell?
We join Elliot, who has been doing the same thing every day for a month since the cyberattack. he is intentionally making his life as uneventful as possible sticking to the same boring routine every day in order to chastise and hopefully purge his demons and take control of his life. He is at war with his demons in the form of Mr Robot/his dad (Christian Slater), and Dad’s not happy about it.
This is war, and its not clear who’s winning. This symbolic entity is far more threatening, and hostile, than he was ever depicted before, even going so far as to repeatedly shoot Eliot in the head. Elliot wants to know the whereabouts of Tyrell, and what happened to him, he can’t remember parts of what occurred and his alter ego is not cooperating, and refuses to give him the information.
This implies that Eliot may have done something bad, maybe even killed Tyrell, but that might just be what the show wants us to think, and we have been fooled by this series before, and led to reach conclusions that are not true
Its a stalemate, for now, with Elliot refusing to go forward with his life until he gets what he wants, and the demons being just as stubborn, refusing to budge until he does. This is a portrait of insanity in a nutshell.
Elliot has gotten closer to a complete break from reality and is inching nearer to complete psychosis. In other words, Elliot is getting closer to going completely batshit crazy. The show uses visits with his therapist, Krista Gordon (Gloria Reuben), along with a journal he keeps, to let us inside Elliot’s head, but just enough to be a tease of what’s going on.
He’s visited by Gideon Goddard (Michel Gill), the owner, and head of Elliot’s former employer Allsafe, who the FBI have been harassing since the cyberattacks. He pleads with Elliot to help him out somehow, and when the response he is looking for is not forthcoming, because Elliot is engaged with Mr Robot in his own reality, he threatens to throw him under the bus and feed him to the feds.
Yes, F-society was successful in uploading its virus that had a big impact on the business world, but the exhilaration, and sense of victory, that followed their deed at the end of last of year’s season, is no where to be found. Instead of a glorious bloodbath, there is only a quiet pause, as if the world has stopped to catch its breath after a long climb up a hill.
Signs of the cyber attack are on tv, quietly depicted by shots of President Obama speaking about it, and trying to calm any fears the public might be having. The FBI has announced that Tyrell Wellick and F-society were responsible for the attack, and Leon Panetta, as himself, describes the cyberattack as the equivalent of Pearl Harbor, in terms of the damage its done.
Along with this, the only other real sign of the aftermath and its results are captured in a scene depicting an upset woman in a branch of Evil corp’s bank, and trying to resolve a problem with her mortgage payments and bills.
She ‘s justifiably upset, because, as she says, if the shoe was on the other foot, the bank would be taking her house away. The teller is unable to be of any help, because the computers are down , or not working as they should, and when the woman tries to cancel her account, she can’t, because again, the computers.
While the teller is trying to get her wonky computer to work, the computer is freezes, and a screen pops up with an image of a creepy-looking jester, along with a counter counting down to things getting worse. This is accompanied by a demand for money, millions of dollars to be paid by E-corp before the countdown ends. Its on every computer screen in the bank, and one gets the sense everywhere else too.
On another front, Darlene, and few core members of F-society are carrying out deeds of revolution in a manner akin to the social activists of the 70’s designed to undermine the society they wish to bring down. They cut the balls off the Wall St bull, and and hack into, and take over the smart home of E-corp’s chief counselor Susan Jacobs, aka Madame Executioner (Sandrine Holt).
Darlene, however is not exuberant over their victory, she is angry, and acts like a woman who, after months of foreplay, and finally getting the sex she craves, has been denied the mind blowing orgasmic experience she was expecting, and got nothing instead.
She interrupts the party mood of her associates and makes a speech that acts like a splash of ice water down their backs, exhorting them to action, because she feels like they haven’t won, at least not yet, and this is no time to celebrate, but a time to take the fight to greater lengths. Darlene is behind the demand for money, which may not be a good idea.
Finally we come to the E-corp executives, casually lounging in their castle in the sky, removed from all the turbulence below them, and calmly discussing their options of what to do next regarding the extortion demand. Phillip Price (Michael Cristofer), the E-corp CEO, seems unfazed and even a little amused by the situation, They go round and round for bit, but finally decide to capitulate to the demand for cash, This where the episode ends.
This episode was more in the way of reacquainting us with the series after it being away for awhile, there were no big events or mind blowing developments this time around, just a somewhat quiet reintroduction to Elliot, his world, and the others that populate it.
It was nice to see the cast at work once again, its a great one, but we didn’t get to see everybody this time around. The episode left me with the same feelings the show left me with last year, that is was over too quick, and the desire to see more. I think part of the appeal this show has for me is the unorthodox way it goes about telling its story, but the story itself, and the people that populate it, is big part of what I like about this show too. The season 2 premier (and the rest of this episode) airs tonight, at 10pm Wednesday, July 13th, 2016 on the USA network.
Here’s some good news. It has been reported that The USA Network has given Mr Robot season 2 an extended run. We’ll get 12 episodes of Rami Malek wearing a black hoodie this year, rather than the 10 that came with season 1.
Also new this year, Mr Robot is getting its own after-show show by the name of Hacking Robot, which will air on The USA Network after each episode and unpack the biggest moments.
Welcome back Mr Robot, nice to see you again.