Golden Globe-winning USA show Mr. Robot was initially promoted with a series of ads designed to create a mysterious, somewhat sinister vibe. The equally atmospheric premiere offered what seemed a simple enough story on the surface, focusing on a brilliant but socially awkward security engineer and hacktivist Elliot (Rami Malek) who is recruited to hacker group Fsociety by its anarchist leader Mr. Robot (Christian Slater).
As the series progressed with Fsociety’s plans to cripple the impossibly powerful Evil Corp, the storylines expanded with complex debates on corporate greed and ethics, activism, the increasingly unfair economic divide, and the tidal wave of privacy and other social issues that the technology age has thrust upon its often-unaware participants.
Season 1 looked at the world in the wake of the Sony and Ashley Madison hacks, and season 2 will delve into similar issues. According to Variety, Mr. Robot creator Sam Esmail revealed at this year’s SXSW festival that the upcoming season will cover the themes of privacy and data encryption, along the lines of the real-world battle between Apple and the FBI over allowing law enforcement a way to bypass a phone’s security features.
“What’s weird is we’re really going into thematically talking a lot about encryption and privacy, and this whole thing with Apple and Tim Cook happened, which I… think is a really important issue that we’re really going to get into in the next ten years or so. It’s not something that I think people really understand the nuances of, but it’s going to be interesting public discourse about it, because it really brings up the idea of the rights to privacy and do we have them, do we not?”
Esmail previously assured fans that many of season 1’s questions would be answered in season 2, and one of the major issues is the fallout from the hack of E Corp. We’ll apparently be seeing a lot of actress Grace Gummer, who will take on the role of Dominique “Dom” DiPierro, a young FBI field agent leading the investigation into Fsociety.
“Elliott committed a crime in the first season, and we’re gonna see the ramifications of that in the second season, I think that drives a lot about what the second season’s all about. And that’s why there’s the introduction of law enforcement that was kind of intentionally not shown in the first season, so that opens a whole new dimension there. And really I think the second season is about [Elliott and Mr. Robot] — that internal struggle, what does that look like, and how are they going to reconcile it?”
Elliot, who often speaks to the “audience” about his motives and fears, turned out to be the most unreliable of narrators in season 1. While viewers always had an uneasy feeling about the scattered timelines and skewed, sometimes drug-fueled point of view, several big twists in later episodes revealed that Eliot’s mind is fragmented into at least three different voices. Everything that happened has to be viewed through a new lens of suspicion, and theories abound on which characters may also turn out to be figments of Eliot’s damaged psyche.
Despite its overall hallucinatory vibe, Mr. Robot was always intended to strike chords of realism that viewers could relate to. The showrunners wanted the hackers to look, think, and act like they do in real life, rather than some glossy Hollywoodized version. Season 2, with FBI consultants also on hand for the writers, will hopefully also be able to attain that intriguing blend of creating a thought-provoking 5-minutes-into-the-future setting and delving deeply into Eliot’s complicated perspective on reality.
Mr. Robot season 2 will premiere in summer 2016 on USA.