Mr. Lost Robot

August 13, 2016

Mr. Robot was one of my favorite new shows of last season (right up there next to The Expanse). The first season of Mr. Robot was a fantastic trip through hacking -- complete with genuine usage of computers and real technology (Raspberry Pi! Whoo!).

(Spoilers from here on out)

At the end of the first season, fsociety finally hacked the world and ruined E Corp's network and databases. It was a stunning season finale that included the reveal that Mr. Robot was Eliot's dead father. The whole first season was a thrilling mind-trip and the payoff was awesome. I was totally looking forward to the second season.

The first two episodes (each more than an hour long) of the second season were tense, tightly written and beautifully shot. The first two episodes continued where the previous season ended. I was hooked. Then Mr. Robot got lost. Instead of dealing with the fallout of the hack, the show spiraled into Eliot's mind and his battles with Mr. Robot. Around and around we went with his mental battle. After a while, it was just punishment for the viewers.

We are introduced to a new character and a seemingly new antagonist -- and a completely new storyline. Mr. Robot started to creak under its own narrative weight. There were times of exposition that just went on too long and dealt with things that weren't interesting. The already dark tone of the show got even darker. But, most disappointing was the disappearance of the thrill of the hack. The second season of Mr. Robot started to feel like the second season of Lost -- after a great first season that introduced us to all sorts of mind-blowing ideas, Lost took a left turn and went down a different street.

So, after watching the sixth episode of season two of Mr. Robot, which started with a bizarre and cringe-worthy throwback to 1980s sitcoms, it feels like the show may finally be finding its footing again. The network-heist portion of the show, after some ALF cameos, had some of the thrill that was found in season one. Some of the extra storylines -- including a character from the first season -- started to come together. The meandering feel of episodes 3-5 started to fade away. I am hoping that Sam Esmail, who has been writing and directing all episodes, continues to pick up the pace and tie up some distracting storylines.

Half-way through this lack-luster sophomore season, Esmail has given me hope that he can still right the ship and give us a thrilling season finale. I have my fingers crossed, but there maybe too much baggage already in the show to end with a bang.


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