10 Things You Need to Know Before You Watch 'Mr. Robot' Season 2
A lot of "Mr. Robot" viewers got a real sense of what reality-challenged lead character Elliot was feeling as the series' phenomenal first season came to an end: did that really happen, or what? It did, and it's about to happen again.
With the much anticipated Season 2 of the USA Network's hacker-centric sensation debuting July 13th, there's plenty to know about what's coming next -- and yeah, that means spoilers aplenty from Season 1 loom ahead -- now that our socially anxious anarchist Elliot has discovered, as we did, that even amid the twists and turns of his unusual life he's maybe not the most reliable narrator to be had.
Let's take a look at what audiences can expect from Season 2 of "Mr. Robot" ... and it may go without saying, but "the unexpected" ranks pretty high.
1. Elliott Will Look to Himself -- and Mr. Robot -- for AnswersIf you had discovered that the mysterious techno-revolutionary you'd been talking to and taking direction from the entirety of a TV season was, in fact, actually a hallucinatory manifestation of your long-deceased father, you might have some pretty serious questions you'd like to ask yourself about the state of your mental and emotional health, right? So expect Elliot to delve deeper into himself -- and Mr. Robot -- in search of answers.
"I think the whole show has been about Elliot's emotional journey, and I really wanted to focus on that and make it less about the plot," series creator Sam Esmail told the press at USA's Summer Press Day in May. "And so for me, the headline for Season 2 is 'How do these two guys reconcile?' How does Elliot reconcile the fact that he's just been aware of that he's seeing this fantasy? That's the struggle that is going to kind of take over in Season 2."
"It's going to be about Elliot really negotiating with himself," Esmail adds. "I mean, look, it's about a guy who becomes aware of his delusion he's been having. That's a tough pill to swallow. And we are really going to go into the mind of a person who just has become aware of that and what is the next step to that. How do you reconcile that? Will twists organically derive of it? I don't know -- if I were a betting man, I would say 'yes.'"
2. There Will Be Plot Twists (But They're NOT Trying to Shock You. No, Really!)Throughout the first season, "Mr. Robot" never ceased to fire off gigantic, game-changing, didn't-see-THAT-coming reveals that reshaped the show and left viewers' jaws on the floor. So yes, there'll likely be plenty more of those ahead, but Esmail promises that no matter how shocking, those revelatory moments aren't just planted to make heads spin -- they're logical landmarks along Elliot's path.
"I'm not interested in 'gotcha' moments or trying to shock the audience or surprise you -- even though it happens," says Esmail. "I think it really happens because Rami [Malek] brilliantly plays Elliot in a way that draws you into his psyche, so you're learning it with him. As long as that's organic, as long as that feels real, then I think the twists will come from there, but it's not my agenda to keep shocking you. It really isn't."
3. Malek Takes Elliot's Reality -- or Lack Thereof -- Very SeriouslyStar Malek revealed that while "enough was shared with me" about Elliot's overall storyline, he has to keep himself limber, acting-wise, to process and deliver anything that Esmail might throw at him in the story.
"Going into this next season, I've been thinking, 'How am I going to prepare for this?'" the actor explained. "I mean, I can't just walk into the next season and say, 'I'm just going to take off right where we left off, and..." You know? That's just not the way I work. There's a lot of preparation for me into wrapping my head around someone trying to figure out what's going on in his brain and dealing with that. So that's a lot of work that I am going to be spending time on -- and it's already giving me anxiety!"
"I have to prepare for anything at any given moment, and so I go through kind of every direction as to what possibly happened to someone like this, because in his head you never know what has happened," Malek continued. "And I think having to trace back the truth and discover the truth ultimately makes him more complex to play, just trying to decipher what he's actually seen and where he's actually been. When I think about that, that kind of haunts me as a human being, having to do that."
4. Expect a Breakdown of Elliot's BreakdownsAlong with the question of why Elliot's psyche and memories so splintered, another enigma lingers: how long has this been going on? After all, it's been clearly suggested this isn't the first time he's forgotten he has a sister. "In Season 2, there will be a lot more backstory that will be shown," Esmail assured. "And to address that: yes, the time line is going to get a little clearer -- not a hundred percent clearer, because what's the fun in that? -- but a little clearer, yeah."
"This series is filling in the blanks of the past and the present and even, like, the future of this character," he continued. "It's almost like we keep stepping back: you know, you are this close to the painting. You take a step back, and then, you see another ‑‑ you see more of it. You take another step back. You see more of it. I think that's how I'm approaching every season."
5. Minutia Matters!For the more obsessive fans among you, take note that you're not imagining things yourself: those curious little discrepancies you've spotted here and there are in fact there for a reason! Like, did you wonder why, when you watched that Times Square sequence in which Elliot envisions his family and realized there's no visible presence by his now-revealed sister Darlene's younger self? "I had that same question!" admitted Carly Chaikin, who plays Darlene.
Yeah, that was a purposeful omission. As Esmail explained, while still playing his story cards close to the vest, "The answer is: Yes, there is a reason why she's not in the Times Square sequence.'"
6. Angela's on the Razor's EdgeWill Angela become seduced and/or anesthetized by working within powerful Evil Corp, the very company she blames for the death of her mother? "That's going to be a big question in the second season," Esmail promised, who sees the dynamic Darlene and Angela's Occupy Wall Street and Wall Street perspectives, respectively, as interesting and unique, especially as filtered through the eyes of two young women. 'In terms of specifically Angela, that struggle is going to be what kind of overrides her character arc in the second season."
"It was interesting, people's responses at the end, because a lot of people were saying, 'Oh, Angela has joined the dark side,'" said Portia Doubleday, who plays Angela. "What makes it really interesting is that I don't think that she's crossed over. I think that she's more corrupted than she was in the beginning, but is she going to use that to aid her while being in the lions' den? I think she might be in a little bit over her head, but it will be interesting if she can keep herself above water."
7. Whiterose Revisited?One of the most enigmatic and anticipated characters in Season 1 was the Dark Army hacker Whiterose, played by B.D. Wong -- and the season's final sequence strongly suggested that she'll have an even stronger hand in Season 2. But in this case, expect the character's bigger picture to be doled out in even smaller dribs and drabs than the show's other zealously guarded secrets.
"[B.D. Wong] was so amazing in the first season," marveled Esmail. "I would be stupid not to use him more this season, but I do have to use him sparingly because I think a lot of the thing that's great about his character is he's got such a great mystery around him."
8. It's Esmail's Vision, More Than EverAlong with creating the series and writing several episodes, Esmail also got behind the camera to direct three first-season episodes, and he's upping the ante considerably for Season 2: he's directing all 12 episodes.
"Seeing the first season, I just have a very distinct visual style for the show," he explained. "And for me it's actually harder to collaborate when it comes to that aspect the show, so I just figured make it all ... The show's look is so singular that it kind of makes sense in the end, and actually in a weird way -- and I know you are not going to believe this -- I think it's actually going to be easier on me."
9. Plenty of New Faces May -- Or May Not -- Be ThereWhether or not Mr. Robot recedes back into Elliot's consciousness, there'll be plenty of fresh new faces for the hacker-savant to contend with in Season 2, including American Horror Story: Freak Show") as Dom DiPiero, an FBI agent probing Evil Corp; House of Cards") as Susan Jacobs, Evil Corp's counsel general who may hold the key to society's success; hip hop artist Joey Bada$$ as Leon, a close friend of Elliot's; and The Office") as Ray, a man from Elliot's neighborhood who reaches out to him in his time of crisis.
"I think Sam is into the idea of rediscoveries," casting director Beth Bowling told Deadline. "He doesn't want anything to feel like in the TV world, so he always wants to cast things differently than what people would necessarily think it would be."
10. Slater Saw That Big Reveal Coming Waaaaay Before You DidNot so much a tease, but a fun fact -- and proof that the show always plays fair: something about Mr. Robot's nature pinged Christian Slater's radar when he first read the original pilot script. "I thought the Mr. Robot character was very mysterious, and I remember, I said to my agent, "Do you think that guy is really there?'" the actor revealed. "And my agent was like, 'Oh, come on! They would never do that! The show is called 'Mr. Robot' -- it would be crazy!'"
But Slater couldn't shake the notion, asking Esmail point-blank about the character's reality during their very first meeting. "And he said, 'You really want to know?' And then he told me pretty much the whole outline of the thing," recalled Slater. "I was so thrilled and so excited, and I think it put us on the same page from the get‑go. I remember, very much like Elliot throws his arms up at the end of the first episode, I think I did the same thing. I was like, 'Yes! That's so cool!'"
"Mr. Robot" Season 2 premieres Wednesday, July 13th at 10 p.m. on USA Network.