USA Network’s groundbreaking television series Mr. ROBOT returned this week and proved that Season 1.0 wasn’t just a chance encounter. The hacktivist series Season 2.0 opener arrived just as the show and lead actor Rami Malek received Emmy nominations for last year’s efforts. Every bit as compelling as what we liked best about its freshman season, Mr. ROBOT still has it all–intrigue, paranoia, and real-world parallels that should glue all of us to our TVs for another round of drama. And bewilderment.
Season 1.0 had a few slips with episodes and subplots, reminding us it’s not easy to maintain excellence with a program so esoteric in its direction and plotting. So beginning the season with a strong, fresh, and still unnerving first of a two-part story arc, titled “Unmask,” is something of a relief. The show is still jarring in its intentional lack of clarity and slow reveal of what is happening next, yet it’s in part why we keep coming back for more.
The high point makes the viewer want to go back and re-watch all of Season 1.0 to answer the question: Have we ever seen Malek’s character Elliot actually smile or really laugh? It’s such a rarity that it seems even Elliot’s own hallucination of his father (Christian Slater) is suddenly hesitant and fearful of him when Elliot bursts into some maniacal hysteria. Credit goes to showrunner Sam Esmail for revisiting all the series leads in a new way as we wonder what ever happened to Tyrell Wellick (Martin Wallström).
Carly Chaikin’s Darlene, Elliot’s sister, is more confident this year, showing what a female Elliot may look like if he ever was able to take control of his psyche. Will she ultimately be the one to take down E Corp?
Elliot’s old best pal Angela Moss, played by Portia Doubleday, is back, working as a public relations manager with a viper-like sense for business. While at the same time this year she seems as hollow as Elliot was portrayed last season. She always seems to be the simmering kettle ready to explode.
Elliot’s former boss Gideon (Michael Gill) is back, too. Why does he keep returning to Elliot? And what’s the story with Tyrell’s bizarre wife (Stephanie Corneliussen)? We’re also anxious to see how characters played by Grace Gummer and Craig Robinson (and his awesome bloodhound) are involved.
The characters are so interesting that MR. ROBOT’s hook–the Occupy Wall Street movement, the cyber-terrorism, the eagle call for a grassroots Bernie Sanders-esque political upheaval–could be overlooked. Yet Esmail won’t let us forget that ransoming computer hacks for millions of dollars from the loathsome E Corp execs and watching some nicely spliced President Obama commentary on background television sets are what the show is about.
It’s definitely worth coming back for more. Catch Mr. ROBOT Wednesday nights on USA Network.