Review: Mr. Robot (Season 2, Episode 1)

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Mr Robot's second season hits the ground running with an outstanding opening two-part episode.

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Coming off of a stellar final three episodes from the end of season one, expectations were very high for the return of Sam Esmail’s psychological crime thriller, Mr. Robot. With the previous season ending ambiguously whilst still tying up the over arching story, the two-part first episode of season two is the perfect way for the show to return, answering some questions whilst still keeping us in the dark on what will surely be some of the bigger plot points to come for the show.

Following the events of the fsociety hack on ECorp, dubbed in the media as ‘Five/Nine’, Elliot (Rami Malek) has gone AWOL, leaving fsociety behind and taking up residency with his mother (Vaishnavi Sharma). Elliot’s mental state is deteriorating and he seeks the help of a rigorous daily schedule to keep him sane.

Malek’s work is still incredible, further backing up his thoroughly deserved recent Emmy nomination, as he perfectly embodies Elliot’s physical performance as well as verbal. The cinematography of the show often means that Elliot’s face is taking up the frame or in focus, and Malek’s subtle and nuanced movements are on point to convey his expressions and emotions perfectly. 

Christian Slater also returns as the titular character, but this time with added venom and intensity to the veteran’s performance. His scenes with Malek, as he attempts to bring Elliot back into the spotlight and continue their work with fscoiety, are dark and gripping; it’s a fantastic blend of outstanding writing and excellent acting. Speaking of fsociety, Darlene (Carly Chaikin) continues her excellent work from season one, as she becomes the leader of what seems to be a rag-tag and thrown together shadow of the hacktivist group’s former self. Their first move is to take Susan Jacobs’ (Sandrine Holt), an ECorp executive, home as their base, all through a very well-directed sequence in which the executive’s home explodes into chaos. Esmail knows what he’s doing with his use of sound, camera work and editing, and it works a real treat here.

The overall tone of this episode, as promised by Esmail before hand, is much darker and sinister than the previous season. Each scene seems to be packed to the brim with tension, you feel as if any minute something could go very wrong or shock us, and for that the episode is all the better. There’s something very unnerving about proceedings as well; be it the slightly off kilter framing of almost every shot or the ambient music that bubbles under the surface, Mr. Robot feels like an industrial and urban psychological thriller story for the audience as much as it for the characters.

As mentioned above, the opening episode of Mr. Robot Season 2 does more than enough to satisfy fans with answers to their burning questions (answers which I won’t spoil here), whilst not showing its hand for what is to come. It keeps the perfect balance of clarity and ambiguity, alongside some utterly sensational acting and direction.

Both parts of Mr. Robot Season 2, Episode 1 are available now on Amazon Video, with new episodes released every Thursday.

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The Edge's Film Editor 2017-2018, David has an unabashed love for all things Dave Grohl, Jack Black and Lord of the Rings. A compulsive liar who shouldn't be trusted, David once beat legendary actor David Hasselhoff in a hot dog eating contest and is best friends with Metallica bassist Robert Trujillo, they speak on the phone three times a week.

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