Previously On: Mr. Robot, Season One & Season Two
For me, peak television ended as soon as Mad Men was off the air. There are good shows that I enjoy, but in a time where there are so many good shows, good isn't good enough. My search for something that was breaking new ground and had something to say that didn't pander, while also maintaining a unique visual sense and featuring strong performances, came up short. Then I found Mr. Robot, the show that I can safely call the best on TV (as long as Twin Peaks doesn't return again). It's smart, its writing and visual styles are second to none; it’s kinky, it's mean, and, most importantly, it's angry. Mr. Robot refuses to flinch when it comes to its fantastical portrayal of mental illness or its rage against the powers that be.
The show centers around Elliot Alderson (Rami Malek), a mild-mannered low-ranking engineer for the cybersecurity company Allsafe. He keeps to himself, feeling more comfortable behind a keyboard than in any sort of social situation. That's largely due to his hatred for the mundane and the faces that we put up to protect ourselves, but also due to his unhinged mental state. Across both seasons of the show, we watch Elliot go through a variety of mental health issues, from a general anxiety to full-blown hallucinations. His most prominent being his visions of Mr. Robot (Christian Slater), a brazen, charming revolutionary who we come to learn is Elliot's father, Edward. The unreliable narrator has rarely been taken to such extremes.
Elliot follows Mr. Robot, the leader of fsociety, a small underground hacker group with eyes on taking down E Corp, a soul-sucking conglomerate that owns a majority of the world's credit debt. The elaborate plan had the team break into the facility where the paper records were kept and destroy them, hacking in and deleting the digital data. Their plan succeeds, thanks largely to the help of Whiterose (B.D. Wong), the leader of the Dark Army, a dangerous Chinese hacker collective with connections worldwide.
Although the plan went off without a hitch, the second season begins with the world in a dark place. With the records gone, the debt that was paid has been reinstated, and all of the world that was relying on E Corps credit is now saddled with a minuscule daily maximum withdrawal. The FBI cracks down on fsociety, the Dark Army are looking to tie up all of their loose ends, and E Corp is investigating those responsible for the attacks. On top of this, Elliot is in prison and doesn't seem all that interested in following through with what he has already started. Even when he gets out, his mental state is such that he doesn't even know what he's done. Mr. Robot was in charge, and now Elliot must figure out exactly what he did while his sister, Darlene (Carly Chaikin), struggles to capitalize as fsociety's members get picked off one by one.
The second season ended with more questions than answers. Tyrell Wellick (Martin Wallström), a former high-ranking E Corp executive turned fsociety convert, initiates Stage 2 of a still mysterious plan. Elliot lays bleeding in front of Wellick, the result of him trying to put a stop to the plan. The last remaining members of the original fsociety have been approached by a known Dark Army assassin. And the FBI have Darlene, showing her that they've put the pieces together.
Not knowing Elliot’s fate is excruciating, as I wouldn't put it past this show to do something as drastic as actually killing the main character. The entire second season went by and we didn't get a single concrete answer as to what was happening. Hell, half of it was spent in a prison that was presented to us as a free choice that Elliot was making, and one episode was spent almost entirely in a ‘90s sitcom featuring ALF. I'm fine letting Mr. Robot lead us on in season three if it means we get to spend more time watching mind-bending cinematography and Rami Malek's absorbing presence.