‘Mr. Robot’ Carefully Crafts a Slow Build in Season 2 (TV REVIEW)

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What felt like a ten-minute episode mapped out the birth of Mr. Robot, and it was glorious. While Elliot deals with his improbable second self, Darlene does her best to keep from falling apart in the wake of the revolution, and Angela continues to sell her soul for validation. Basically things are moving along nicely.

The opening scene introduced us to a gory slasher flick Darlene and Elliot watched as kids, the antagonist of which wears the moneybags mask (Darlene even brings a copy of it over as a Halloween gift) and murders with gusto. As she enjoys the quality time with her introverted brother, Elliot is despondent. It’s not until he pulls out his father’s ‘Mr. Robot’ branded jacket to show off to Darlene that he suddenly comes to life, laying out what will soon become the nefarious destruction plan that we know and love. Darlene knows that Elliot is unstable, at one point he even says to her “turns out I’m crazy.” The fact that Darlene doesn’t acknowledge this clear split is upsetting. Even during last season when Elliot was acting erratic it was almost like she was ignoring his unconscious cries for help. But isn’t that what we all do?

BD Wong was back leading the dark army against fsociety. After warning Elliot of the repercussions and faults leading up to fsociety’s take down of Evil Corp, Whiterose was not pleased. There’s a balance that fsociety didn’t obey, and now they will pay the price. Darlene is feeling the heavy hand of that stress as she begs Elliot to come back and help. She knows Elliot’s triggers and issues, and yet she can’t help but drag him down into the abyss with her. It’s telling of both her character and her insecurities. Darlene puts on a good show, but really she’s nothing without Elliot.

Ray’s character continues to evolve as Elliot attempts to trust him with his secrets. Elliot want’s nothing more than to find someone who understands his plight. He lives alone with Robot pulling strings at any available moment, begging us to help him with an innate understanding that none of it is real. Because of the lack of corporality, there is no relief for Elliot, only a continued nightmare that can only be quelled by abiding the voices that pull him in all directions.

The FBI’s awareness of how ridiculous it is they didn’t see fsociety hiding in plain site is refreshing. They know they’re being led by their noses, and yet they’re quickly falling down a rabbit hole that could swallow them up faster than they can dig themselves out. Dominique’s character held little water this time around, but solely because we don’t need her yet. Romero’s death was the first time Mr. Robot really made a big mistake, and it was his insistence on “cleaning up” that led to it. As everything unravels this FBI/fsociety game of cat and mouse will grow into something bigger that neither of them will foresee.

Elliot’s use of Ray was well played as Ray is using him right back. How he knew about Elliot’s skill set and determination to disrupt the system is as of yet unknown, but there’s an unspoken bond between them that will keep the audience guessing until it’s too late. I did appreciate Elliot’s quick hack into the FBI database as he plugs back into the world for the first time in months. One doesn’t appreciate the nuance and beauty in his work until it’s gone- and now that it’s back we can praise the newly awaken Elliot as he completes the cycle and takes care of his own.

While the season is almost missing an element, so far the transition from the Robot secret to the woke Elliot has been utterly seamless. There’s so much to look forward to with the impending return of Wellick, his crazy succubus wife, Darlene’s break down, and Angela’s eventual destruction or destructor complex coming to a head. Mr. Robot is completely aware of what it is, and what it’s doing, keeping it at the forefront of entertainment in a way that’s both cunning and devious.

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