Following on from the success of season 1, Mr Robot picks up where it left off, furthering the story about the shady underworld of hacking E corp. With varying episode lengths, two-parters and a more experimental aesthetic that’s a little hit or miss at times, the second season is still high quality but it can’t quite maintain the lofty heights set last year. With a lot of the season dominated by parallel story lines, the plot feels a little disjointed at times, offsetting the pacing that remained so strong last year. Despite this, Mr Robot is still as enthralling as ever, ending with another unresolved, open finale ready for the third season.
A lot of the second season is dominated by Elliot and his inner turmoil. After the shocking fight-club-esque reveal about Mr Robot (Christian Slater) during season 1’s finale, the shock waves of this are felt through much of the first half of this season. It’s here that the hedonistic, experimental styles are thrown in with varying degrees of success. There’s a 20 minute segment imitating a sitcom, complete with canned laughter and bright visuals. Drug-induced camera movements and effects greet another episode and whilst it’s definitely worth commending the bold approach to storytelling, it’s almost too artistic at times and distracts from the overall plot line.
Whilst Elliot struggles in seclusion, the parallel story sees growing pressure on FSociety following their successful hack of the global economy and Tyrell’s (Martin Wallström) disappearance. With an FBI investigation led by spunky Jersey girl Dominique (Grace Gummer) and Darlene (Carly Chaikin) struggling in her role as leader of FSociety, there’s a really interesting dynamic at play here that boasts an air of anxiety and tension over the 12 episodes. The various characters stumble and bleed into one another’s stories and whilst this still throws up some exciting plot developments, Elliot remains the focal point of the season and his scenes are the most endearing – especially with the returning narration over his storyline that heightens the mood.
Other key characters also play a part this year but with the numerous different plots running parallel to one another, the more focused narrative approach last year is lost with so many characters wrestling for screen time. The second half of this season is by far the stronger of the two parts and its here that the pacing improves, building toward the climactic ending where Elliot once again plays a key role in the plot and has far more screen time.
For all the experimentation at play here, there’s no denying that the cinematography is as good as its ever been in the show. There’s an interesting use of lighting too – bright whites for the E Corp offices juxtapose nicely with the dark seclusion of FSociety and the soundtrack that accompanies these visuals accentuate this style. There’s a real mash-up of genres ranging from techno and indie punk right through to orchestral strings. If anything, the music’s arguably better this year and nails the chaotic mood gripping much of this season as E Corp fumbles to recover from FSociety’s hack.
With the excellent cinematography and a gripping plot line, Mr Robot is one of the best shows on TV right now and easily the best exclusive on Amazon Prime. With a third season already green-lit, things certainly look promising for this cyber-thriller that manages to maintain the same standard set in the first season. Even if it’s not quite as tightly woven, Mr Robot is a great show and its bold, experimental style helps it stand out from the mass of other shows, even if this style sometimes conflicts with the cohesiveness of the plot.
Verdict - 8/10