Although I was a dissenter, few new series received the kind of widespread love Mr. Robot did when it debuted last year. Now back for a second 12-episode season on July 13, the Golden Globe- and Peabody Award-winning USA Network hacktivist series has expanded its scope considerably into, to quote co-star Christian Slater, the “infinite loop of insanity,” with encryption as the key.

Launching off its once-too-constraining and obvious Fight Club influences, Mr. Robot, as I say in my video review above, has become far more interesting – and I’m definitely along for this zeitgeist ride.

Picking up not long after the debt-cancelling E Corp hack by digital vigilantes fsociety, the far more nuanced second season sees a very pissed off Barack Obama, gunshots, some Wall Street vandalism, ransom money performance art and the stakes rising as the FBI close in and the U.S. economy shutters and sputters.

deadline-review-badge-dominic-patten

With emboldened performances from Carly Chaikin, Grace Gummer, Matin Wallstrom, and Portia Doubleday, the addition of Craig Robinson and a main vein into this year of election, Brexit, Clinton campaign and DNC hacks and populist anger on all sides of the spectrum, Mr. Robot feels far more plugged in now and not just playing games with its influences.

A great part of that, at least from the starkly stylized Season 2 episodes I’ve seen, comes from lead Rami Malek’s hauntingly complex work. Without giving anything away, having stripped down his delusional and destructive Eliot character, Malek and series creator Sam Esmail have now started a process of re-construction that offers possibilities far beyond the Mr. Robot’s original boundaries.

With its motto this year that “Control is an Illusion,” Mr. Robot also says that intentions don’t change the world, and that’s right on some level. I’m still not sure if Mr. Robot will change television, but I know now it’s transcending its origin to find root in a reality that just feels rotten to many – and that’s something you’re going to want to hack into.

Click on my video review above of Season 2 of Mr. Robot for more meat on these digital bones.

This review originally posted on June 30.