Mr. Robot Season 2 Review
***Major Mr. Robot spoilers ahead
Mr. Robot delivered an incredible second season, continuing to break barriers and assert itself as one of the most thought-provoking and artful T.V. shows of all-time. While there is infinite analysis one can engage in, this blog post will keep it simple with 2 pros and cons of Season 2.
+ Is Control an Illusion?
Mr. Robot firmly established this question at the beginning of the season. Many shows establish similarly thought-provoking questions at the beginning of a season or series but over time abandon them for plot or fan service. Mr. Robot, a show that is refreshingly dedicated to always serving the characters before plot or fans, dedicated itself to wrestling with the question of control all season. The most obvious exploration of this question begins and continues with the struggle between Elliot and Mr. Robot. But ultimately every developed characters grapples with this question, even individuals like White Rose and Phillip Price who seem completely in control with everything figured out. Just as fascinating are Angela and Darlene, two characters who at times seem firmly in control but are forced to confront the illusion of that belief.
By the end of season 2 the question isn’t answered across the board. The answer really varies depending on the characters in question. And that’s exactly how it should be. Mr. Robot resonates with so many because it dares to explore complicated questions in-depth without definitely answering them.
+ Breaking Barriers and Manipulating Viewers’ Expectations
The most memorable example has to be when Mr. Robot immersed Elliot in a sitcom world featuring a laugh track that responded to jokes about cancer and abuse in addition to ALF’s hit and run of Gideon. Even the “commercials” during that segment were part of the show.
But Mr. Robot went much further. The protagonist hid from us that he’s in jail for more than half the season even though we witness everything that happens to him in jail. Angela is abducted, and interrogated by a small child with the weirdest questions ever in the world’s creepiest room ever. The show continues to bait us with possible answers to the mysterious whereabouts of one of the most important characters, refusing to answer the mystery until the finale.
While breaking these barriers and manipulating viewers proved to be consistently bizarre and at times even frustrating, each broken barrier and each manipulation moved character development forward. The sitcom world leads to a groundbreaking point in the relationship and understanding between Elliot and Mr. Robot. The abduction and interrogation of Angela leads to a fascinating conversation between her and White Rose that provides incredible insight into both characters. The Tyrell mystery offers a great deal of clarity where Joanna Wellick is concerned. The culmination of the mystery reshapes our understanding of Tyrell and his feelings for Elliot. Furthermore, it shatters the tenuous trust built between Elliot and Mr. Robot and challenges the question of whether control is an illusion like never before. And the jail twist plays a pivotal role in the audience understanding how Elliot chooses to cope with Mr. Robot and the fallout of the 5/9 hack and the nature of our relationship with Elliot.
– The Death of Gideon
Gideon proved to be a delightfully rare individual in this show. He managed to be intelligent, compassionate, driven, and anxious while also having no ulterior motives or Machiavellian schemes. Kind of like Davos Seaworth in Game of Thrones, he provides a breath of fresh air in a story filled with many ruthless, conniving, backstabbing individuals. I really enjoyed his character in season 1 and was looking forward to seeing his character evolve in the wake of 5/9.
Thus, his death frustrated me for many reasons. It partly felt like the show just wanted to throw something shocking into the season 2 premiere, and they decided Gideon’s death fit the bill. I understand that with AllSafe finished, Elliot stuck in jail and Angela entrenched at E Corp, and Gideon having revealed all he knew to Dom and the FBI, there didn’t seem to be much of a direction for the character to take in season 2. But his death was executed in such a blatantly random and messy way. Everything about Gideon’s death felt as though it didn’t belong in such a brilliant and clever show like Mr. Robot. And with everything this show has accomplished, they could’ve found a much better direction or at least ending for Gideon’s character.
The death of Gideon also frustrated me because it didn’t serve as much mystery and as much of a catalyst as it could have for season 2. I largely feel this way because of how Gideon’s death is contrasted with Romero who we find out in the episode after the premiere has also been killed. Romero’s death sends Darlene and fsociety to the brink of full panic mode, heightening their paranoia and fear of the Dark Army while also leading Dom and the FBI to significant clues concerning the truth behind the 5/9 hack. Gideon’s death could’ve been utilized just as well as Romero’s death. Many characters acknowledge that Gideon’s death is a terrible tragedy, but other than how his death is connected to the Dark Army and the 5/9 hack, only Elliot is emotionally affected and that’s evident in that the only time we see Gideon again is in the bizarre sitcom hallucination Mr. Robot creates for Elliot.
I’m convinced that there’s more to Gideon’s death and the man who shot him in the bar. And in the finale we at least get an answer of how Romero died, but no answers about Gideon’s death or his killer. In a really strong second season, Gideon’s death felt like a weak link and an itch the show didn’t know how to properly scratch.
– Absence of Shayla
Shayla’s death is one of the most significant, shocking and emotionally devastating moments in Mr. Robot. With her death contributing to Elliot further spiraling and his overall character development in season 1, I found it both disappointing and surprising that she doesn’t even receive a single mention in season 2. While much has happened since Shayla’s death and Elliot is busy with an endless series of battles both internal and external, I don’t buy that he’s moved on. He hasn’t allowed himself to grieve and he’s buried his emotions where Shayla is concerned. Still, I wish she’d at least received a mention during one of his inner monologues. Such an important character should not just be forgotten and cast aside the season after their death. Her only “appearance” all season is when her picture and information does appear on Dom’s web revealed to Darlene in the season finale. I hope via Elliot Shayla’s death and how it’s still influencing him comes back into play.
Ultimately the most significant pros turned out to be overarching elements the show excelled at while the cons are about specific details that bothered me. While not perfect like the first season, the second season of Mr. Robot is incredible in countless ways, many of which I didn’t even touch on in this review. This show is one of the most thought-provoking and daring on television. I can’t wait for season 3.