Image: Michael Parmelee/USA Network

Hello again friend. The first season of Mr. Robot left audiences with a lot of questions, but it also left civilization on the cusp of revolution. FSociety had struck a major blow to Evil Corp and the whole financial world was on the brink of collapse. But in last night’s season two premiere, we learned that FSociety’s war was more banal ideological rhetoric than than earth-shattering revelation—because nothing actually changed.

When Elliot, Darlene, and FSociety destroyed 70 percent of the world’s debt by wiping the records of Evil Corp they celebrated in their own ways. Elliot by basking in the affection of the voices inside his head and Darlene by partying. But the change they sought to bring to the world was a big bowl of bupkis. As Darlene tells a crowd of FSociety followers towards the end of the first hour of the premiere, “We didn’t make things better.”

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Evil Corp is still being pretty damn evil, and it’s making demands that the whole world scrambles to meet. It demands account holders pay bills even if they’ve already been paid, and CEO Philip Price demands the government shut the hell up when it tries to force him to resign; Angela, a highlight of season one and Elliot’s childhood friend, demands the media acquiesce to Evil Corp’s prescribed talking points, and the media collective says okay.

FSociety’s revolution has stalled and Evil Corp is still on top.

Image: Michael Parmelee/USA Network

But down on the personal level the characters of Mr. Robot are at very different places. The first quarter of the season premiere is given over to Elliot’s new routine, which he intones in a drone like the white noise on the television. Elliot’s ignored the mental health facility he should absolutely be visiting and checked himself into Chateau Mom. It’s a bleak place devoid of personality, paintings, or pastels and it’s governed by the quietly menacing Mama Ratched. When he’s not mutely listening to his new friend Leon nihilistically talk Seinfeld and hang a lantern on every flaw of Mr. Robot’s first season, Elliot’s embracing optimism in church or chronicling his every thought in his journal.

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Only that’s just what he tells his psychiatrist, Krista. They’re still seeing one another despite him cyberstalking her last season and her blackmailing him this season. Maybe the contentious undercurrent of their relationship is why he’s keeping a major secret from her. Or maybe it’s Mr. Robot. The voice in Elliot’s head that bears Christian Slater’s dreamy visage is not dead, gone, or happy. He’s a violently angry specter screaming in Eliot’s ear and holding a gun to Elliot’s head.

The drone of Elliot’s monotonous life is a lie he’s telling Krista (and not the viewer—his normal voice over pal). In reality he’s waging war against his own psyche, and taking bullet after bullet to the head. Ostensibly it’s about maintaining control. The last time he let Mr. Robot out he sent the world into an economic tailspin. Hiding away like a cyber equivalent of Bruce Banner is his way of protecting everyone.

Except that Elliot’s real goal isn’t saving the world from Christian Slater. It’s finding out what happened to Tyrell, who disappeared at the end of the first season and might, just possibly, have been murdered by a voice in Elliot’s head. Elliot is still raging wrathful war, but now it’s almost exclusively in his mind.

Image: Peter Kramer/USA Network

His sister’s war, on the other hand, is being waged via smartphones, social media, and the poorly secured Internet of Things. If you’ve ever wondered why you should be wary of a smart home, than boy is Mr. Robot’s introduction to the Evil Corp Legal Counsel, Susan Jacobs, for you. Darlene abruptly evicts the woman from her home in a harrowing sequence of smart home tech gone awry—though for the amount Susan spent on that set up I’m surprised she just accepted “we’ll fix it whenever” as an excuse.

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Darlene elects to make her new multimillion dollar estate the new headquarters for her much expanded FSociety. On the surface things appears to be the same as when we last saw her. It’s a non-stop party celebrating Wall Street’s balls being in FSociety’s vice! Only contrary to what that hack at Gizmodo claims, the only balls on Wall Street Darlene has are the ones off the bull.

Girl, when not pretending everything is just fine, is sobbing in the bathroom and visually driving home a major theme of the season. Mr. Robot’s heroes are all shattered psyches held together by fragile masks. Darlene is a hot and lonely mess who applies her lipstick like warpaint and loudly espouses rote platitudes to her hungry masses as she waits for someone else to come and take the reigns of the machine she helped build. Angela is a desperate woman with her financial back against the wall who’s applying a facade of heartless frigidity with nightly whispers of cliched positivity chants.

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And Elliot, who built his first mask when his dad shoved him out the window and the doctor then sat him down for a chat, is learning to finally manipulate the various guises his fractured mind wears.

Assorted Musings

  • You know a lot of stuff was happening when the murder of a main character like Angela and Elliot’s old boss gets stuck down here. RIP Gideon Goddard. You were a likable patsy.
  • Other things chilling down here—the chat we need to have about all that money Darlene had burned. If you saw someone burning a few million bucks would you really just watch or get in there and get to stomping? Because I’m not gonna lie, I’d swarm the flaming pile of money.
  • Tyrell may be alive. If he isn’t, though, then his widow is getting kinky with their baby, a baby monitor, and some stranger on the interwebs. To be fair, she’s already rather kinky—I’m excited for the woman behind the S&M stylings to be explored.
  • Hats off to director and showrunner Sam Esmail for that sex scene. It’s some A-plus hiding of bits and bobs.
  • The gunshot wound in Elliot’s head is a tumor right? (Come on guys. It’s a tumor.)
  • And Leon is clearly another personality manifesting in Elliot’s head... right?