August 18, 2016
Having finished the seventh episode of Mr. Robot's second season, I am annoyed at the show and the seemingly lazy path it took to get to absolutely nowhere. The amount of narrative momentum that the show created in the first season was lost to the first seven episodes of this twelve episode second season. The twist at the end of the episode was projected early on in the season, but it took too long to get there. The antagonist and conflict that was created for the first half of this season seems inconsequential. The way that the conflict was resolved was too quick and easy.
Whether Sam Esmail was planning it or not, Elliot being in a prison or an institution was projected very early in the show -- the routine in the day, the never changing scenery (mess hall, basketball court, church meeting room) and the isolation. And because Elliot is an unreliable narrator, the reveal late in this seventh episode was not as surprising as it could have been. Clocking in at just a minute or two under six hours, the first seven episodes were a waste of time.
In this episode, Elliot finishes the work for Ray -- who I assume is the warden of the prison. Ray realizes that Elliot had turned him it and gives up. And with that, the storyline is wrapped up. Because of Elliot turning Ray into the feds, Elliot is given a pardon and is being let out of jail. The whole Ray storyline was disappointing at best and the conclusion of the storyline was abrupt and unsatisfying. The explanation by Ray of how he came about running a Silk Road type marketplace was a lot of spoken exposition that took place too late in that story arc. This conclusion leads to the question of why Elliot was in jail in the first place. At this point, I don't really care anymore.
Elliot makes peace with his father alter ego that has been protecting Elliot. That's great. But, again, like the Ray storyline, it took too long to get to this point. The overdrawn arc was again concluded with a whimper and not very satisfying.
Like Elliot says at the end of this episode, his whole journey brought him back to where he began. And that is how I feel about this whole season. It has been one long loop that went nowhere and got us back to where it started. Elliot makes mention that it is not about the destination, but the journey. Had this journey been more interesting, less dour and more exciting, I would agree with him. But, this second season has been a dark bore, a long plodding journey that took a scenic route with no sights to see.
Sam Esmail is the one to blame for this season as he has taken complete control of the full season, writing and directing every episode. There are five episodes left, I am not sure Esmail has enough runway left to pull a rabbit out of the hat. The ratings for the show have been in decline and I am wondering if Mr. Robot will survive to come back for a third season.