Gabrielle Carroll ‘17 / Emertainment Monthly TV Staff Writer
If you watch the USA Network’s premiere hacking drama, Mr. Robot, chances are that you fall into one of three categories. You either loved season two, you hated it, or you had no idea what was going on. Unfortunately, a good portion of the show’s audience thought the season was a huge let down. Even the ’90s sitcom themed episode couldn’t save it. The showrunner, Sam Esmail, called season one a prequel for the story he really wanted to tell. However, season two felt like a giant stall and here’s why…
The “Big Twist”
For the first seven episodes, the audience was led to believe that Elliot had been living with his mother, but he was actually in prison for a small hack the whole time. More than half the season is much too long for a twist that half the audience guessed after the first episode, especially since it never really paid off. The season’s main arc didn’t really begin until after Elliot’s release from prison. As for the other characters, even they weren’t doing much until Elliot rejoined society.
Because of this “twist”, the show also spent a ridiculous amount of time on the new character Ray. Although skillfully acted by Craig Robinson, what was the point if he would become irrelevant by the end of the season? Seven episodes later and it still isn’t clear if the interactions between Elliot and Ray even happened.
The All Powerful Phillip Price
As for the CEO of E Corp, Philip Price, the audience was left wondering how much power can one man have while still remaining a source of conflict in a story? Not even the U.S. government can say no to his demands. It stops being interesting when a character continually gets everything he wants.
Who is Angela?
Angela was utterly confusing this season. She was almost a totally different person. She went from watching Back to the Future and getting high with Elliot to watching sad self help videos alone and singing a terrifyingly deadpan cover of “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” at karaoke. Her relationship with her father has deteriorated unexpectedly with little to no explanation of why.
So much Joanna…
In season one, Joanna was the sinister wife of the psychopathic E Corp executive Tyrell Wellick. In season two, we got to know her much better, but why? Joanna got so much screen time so that the audience could see her acting sinister and possibly setting up a complicated plan. Turns out, her “complicated” plan was to frame the CTO of E Corp for Tyrell’s involvement in the Five/Nine hack. It all comes to a head in one scene that made all of her previous scenes feel extra. At some point, it started to feel like filler.
Dom and the FBI
Surprise! Dom and the FBI knew everything all along. How convenient. Half the season was spent developing Ray, when we could have been following Dom as she pieced everything together. Instead we watched her talk to her Amazon Echo “Alexa” as she lay in bed staring at the ceiling. Apparently, that was important.
ALL OF THOSE EASTER EGGS??
This season, they really invested more into alternate reality websites, secret IP addresses, hidden images, and even hidden audio in episodes. These started off as intriguing but quickly became circular and to some extent, patronizing. The hand drawn QR code in Elliot’s notebook led fans to the website of the notebook’s brand, but nothing else. Angela’s “Hang in There Baby” cat poster was rendered as audio in the beginning of an episode, as if to tell the audience to “hang in there” because everything will pay off. (It never did.) The majority of viewers didn’t follow these, but those who decided to check them out were left with nothing of value.
Like last season, season two was visually stunning and the acting was impeccable (shout out to Rami Malek for his first Emmy win). But the show is keeping too many cards close to its chest and showing viewers cards that don’t matter. The indulgent writing wasted valuable screen time that could have been used to tell the story that Sam Esmail claimed he wanted to tell all along.