Mr. Robot “” Review (Season 2 Episode 1 & 2)

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It’s a cliché to say it, but there really is no other show on TV like Mr. Robot. Coming out of nowhere to wow viewers and give USA its first critical darling of the peak TV age, the show examined aspects of capitalist society that most people are happy to either ignore or live with. At the same time, it never existed in strictly black-and-white terms, often showing how flawed the members of fsociety were themselves. Heck, the entire first season was focused through the unreliable narrative lens of Elliot, to the point that we weren’t ever sure if what we were seeing was real.

Elements of that narrative construct remain in season two – Elliot continues to deal with delusions as he attempts to force Mr. Robot out of his mind – but what’s so striking about “” is that it truly does open up the show’s world. Sure, there were plenty of scenes and storylines last season that focused on the other characters, but everything was still focused through Elliot’s story. The first two episodes of season two, however, keep Elliot’s presence to a minimum, allowing the other characters to step into the spotlight and take charge of their own stories.

That’s not to say Elliot is a non-entity; he’s still the main character, and it’s his story that bookends the narrative tonight. Following the E Corp hack, we find him desperate not only to drive Mr. Robot out, but to completely disconnect. He’s moved in with his mother and is doing everything he can to maintain a routine, one that will allow him to distance himself from the aftermath of the hack.

It’s not a fight that’s won easily, though. He refuses to give Mr. Robot anything until he tells him what happened to Tyrell, but that hasn’t stopped Mr. Robot from tormenting him, causing a series of delusions that involve shooting him in the head to slicing Gideon’s throat. On top of that, Elliot realizes he’s losing time when he sleeps, with Mr. Robot taking control of his body any chance he gets. This struggle will no doubt continue throughout the season, and it’s complicated when Elliot receives a call from Tyrell at episode’s end.

But again, the world continues turning without Elliot, and so does the struggle between fsociety and E Corp. The problem, of course, is that Mr. Robot was the driving force of fsociety, the guiding laser that kept everything focused. Without that clear leadership, Darlene is left struggling to keep things moving forward, especially given the new members that don’t understand the challenge that’s still before them. Yes, they manage to get Scott Knowles to burn millions of dollars while wearing an fsociety mask, but Darlene remains frustrated with how E Corp seems to be regaining ground.

Because in this world, happy endings don’t come easily, if at all. The “revolution” started last season, but we weren’t able to see it as any sort of great victory. Instead, as this episode shows, the good continue to suffer while the corporations soldier on. And attempts to lash out end up hurting the few people actively trying to make sense of it all, with poor Gideon being shot to death at the end of the premiere. This is one of the few people Elliot recognized as a genuinely good man, and now he’s gone.

Staying good is a challenge, in both Mr. Robot and the real world. It’s a lifelong struggle, and one that threatens to wear you down. Corruption is dangerously easy to fall in league with, and it’s looking like Angela’s starting to give in. Again, we saw a little bit of this transition in the finale, as she took the E Corp job and coldly dressed down a shoe salesman for questioning her motivations. Here, it seems that she might be done trying to legitimately change things because, well, what has it gotten her? It’s a dark turn for her character, but fascinating to watch. Just like the entire show, really.

What did you think of this week’s premiere? Let me know in the comments!