The brilliant USA Network series Mr. Robot, in which every episode is written and directed by showrunner Sam Esmail, follows Elliot (Rami Malek), a cyber-security engineer who became involved in the underground hacker group fsociety, after being recruited by their mysterious leader, Mr. Robot (Christian Slater). Following the events of fsociety’s hack on multi-national company Evil Corp, the second season is exploring the consequences of that attack.
While at Comic-Con to chat with fans about the show, co-stars Rami Malek, Christian Slater, Carly Chaikin and Portia Doubleday were tight-lipped when it came to revealing any secrets, but they spoke with press about getting the scripts for all 10 episodes before Season 2 started shooting, character evolution, tell a story with an unreliable narrator, the personal connection between Elliot and the audience, Elliot’s strong moral center, and the evolving dynamic between Elliot and Mr. Robot. We’ve compiled a list of 12 things that you should know about Season 2 of Mr. Robot.
For Season 2, showrunner Sam Esmail wrote every script (along with the writing staff). The cast got all 10 episodes up front, and they shot the episodes all at once. Over the course of two days, the whole cast read through the episodes so that they were all on the same page with what their characters arcs would be.
- Rami Malek wanted Elliot to be different in Season 2, and to see him grow and evolve. A more frenetic person is there now.
- As much as you put the things Elliot is encountering into question because he is an unreliable narrative, they’re not trying to shock people or create gotcha moments. He’s just a person who suffers from some very difficult mental issues, which can be difficult for an audience to sit through. But he’s ultimately more reliable than many people would think he is, as you wouldn’t want to go down that path with someone as questionable as he could be.
- There’s always going to be a very tight personal connection between Elliot and the audience, and a mutual dependence on one another. At times, knowing he has someone to listen while going through the hardships is what’s getting him through everything that he’s going through. You’re in it with him the whole way, and there will be trust issues and moments of confidentiality.
Malek believes that Elliot has a very strong moral center, at his core, but he can also do very malicious and questionable things. He’s just human and flawed, and they don’t shy away from that.
- The relationship between Elliot and Mr. Robot is evolving and changing in Season 2. He’s no longer an idealized vision for what Elliot would have liked his father to be, if he had lived. He’s now starting to exercise his own will, in a lot of situations and scenarios, making it a real power struggle between the two characters. Said Christian Slater, “Initially he was the manifestation of someone Elliot truly loved, and he needed to lead him and guide him along this path. As long as Elliot is moving in that particular direction, we’re fine. As soon as he starts to put up barriers and walls, and things like that, and takes them off course, I’m not going to be happy about it.”
- The relationships and interactions that Elliot has with men all influence who he wants to become. Said Malek, “I always talk to Sam about Elliot’s relationship with his father. I ask him question after question. I think being burned by someone you’re so close to, at a tender young age, you’re always looking for certain mentors, whether it’s Gideon or Craig Robinson’s character, Ray. It’s nice to see Elliot have moments with these new men in his life. It might either solidify a response or an opinion he has about men and father, or it might alter it, depending on the way Sam has cut this show. I have no idea. I think all of these relationships ultimately call Elliot’s upbringing into question. They will definitely alter his progression as he moves forward, thinking about who he wants to be and the man he’d like to become.”
Angela, played by Portia Doubleday, has had a huge shift in Season 2, and now she’s working in an environment that’s both incredibly dangerous and very seductive. She’s repressing shame and guilt for being there, and she’s repressing her emotions, which she’s been told get in the way of her productivity.
- Doubleday said that Angela might not be separated from Elliot for too long, since the show does focus on the Elliot-Angela-Darlene dynamic.
- You will get to learn a lot more about Darlene in Season 2. It hasn’t been easy for her to take control of fsociety, but she has no choice but to do so. Said Carly Chaikin, “At this point, we’ve really just destroyed the world. If we don’t follow through with this and don’t keep going until the end, than we’re leaving the world in shambles. With Elliot at our mom’s, trying to get off the grid, and the other members of fsociety backing away, if she doesn’t take that control then she’s leaving the world worse than it was and she’s the monster. She can handle it pretty well, but at the same time, she’s upset about what happened. She just has to step up and do it.”
Chaikin said that Elliot is so important to Darlene, but she was devastated when she realized that he didn’t even know who she was. You will get to see how everything started, but they were supposed to do it together, so it’s hard for her not to want him there to help her. It’s a complicated dynamic between the characters.
- Chaikin loves getting to explore all of the complexities of Darlene. She said, “We’re all wearing masks. What we are trying to portray is different than how we actually feel. It’s been great to be able to have all those layers to play with.”
Mr. Robot airs on Wednesday nights on the USA Network.