SPOILER ALERT: This story contains details of tonight’s Mr. Robot Season 2 premiere.
“Daydream, I fell asleep beneath the flowers, for a couple of hours, on a beautiful day”.
That’s the first line of Lupe Fiasco’s take on the Wallace Collection’s hypnotic song “Daydream” which plays during the beginning of Mr. Robot‘s two-part season 2 premiere “eps2.0_unm4sk” and its sets the tenor for a very different Elliot Alderson than the one we knew from a year ago. No, this isn’t the angry young man hellbent on taking down society’s Illuminati and exacting social justice via his cyber powers. Rather, he’s a jaded, bitter soul who clings to the corner of his room, having quit technology like an alcoholic who’s swore off whiskey and cigarettes.
Mr. Robot creator Sam Esmail told us at the end of last season, “The show is about a guy who has this (dissociative identity) disorder,” and as such we learn about him and events around him through his own fractured prism. Elliot’s timeline isn’t necessarily shared by those around him. “Elliot has lost his sense of time. When did he lose time before? He created (the hacker group) fsociety but doesn’t remember that. He’s had conversations that he isn’t even privy to,” added Esmail who is currently deep in post production on the rest of the season.
Indeed, that is what plays out here tonight. Elliot tries to rehabilitate himself and earn back a sense of reality at his mother’s house (is she even alive?) as his late master hacker father Mr. Robot (Christian Slater) haunts him and tries to control to him. Season one culminated in this doppelganger reveal–that Elliot and his father Mr. Robot are one in the same–and it looks like we’ll continue to have a more twisted take on this. “I’m going to make you realize that they see me,” Mr. Robot chillingly tells Elliot after the young man learns shockingly from his new neighborhood friend Ray (played by Craig Robinson, “a really complex character who will evolve” says Mr. Robot EP Chad Hamilton) that he’s had an exchange he can’t place despite journaling every move.
“We’re going to see Elliot struggle a lot internally,” explains Hamilton, “the idea that Mr. Robot is a figment of his imagination and based on his relationship with his deceased father is a crazy struggle; Elliot is doing a lot of self exploration.”
Coming away from tonight’s premiere, we also have some clarity on the existence of ex-E Corp suit and former Elliot nemesis Tyrell Wellick (Martin Wallstrom). He went completely off the grid in the season finale. According to President Obama, Tyrell is a wanted man for the 5/9 hack’s overhaul of American society, and at the onset of tonight’s episode, we see Tyrell all too excited to become a part of Elliot’s cause. Tyrell is alive, as we can see, per his phone call with Elliot and the cell phone and music box he left with his wife, Joanna (Stephanie Corneliussen).
“Tyrell is a complicated character who has totally been shunned by the corporation he gave his blood, sweat and tears for, but when he makes decisions, it’s 99% definite,” says Hamilton.
But, as Deadline has learned, if there’s one character who is going to shake things up this season, it’s the S&M lovin’, Lady Macbeth mama Joanna. We’re still itching our heads about her from last season: How the heck does she know Elliot? The look she gave him on the street during the finale says it all.
And Gideon, poor Gideon Goddard (Michel Gill) — a victim of circumstance in fsociety’s takedown of E-Corp. He truly met his maker at the end of tonight; murdered by a fanatic in a gay bar. This comes in the wake of the cyber security chief trying to cooperate with the Feds who believe he’s complicit in the E-Corp hack.
Why kill Gideon?
Says Hamilton enigmatically, “Killing him off is something that came up in the writers’ room and just made the most sense from the story perspective.”
Earlier, we see Gideon meet with a young, redheaded federal agent Dominique DiPierro (Grace Gummer). While we don’t witness much of their meeting, we previously catch a glance of DiPierro ordering lunch, bonding with the Middle Eastern owner of the neighborhood deli, and trying the patience of those customers waiting in line. Watch out for DiPierro. “She’s a very driven FBI agent. I can’t tell you whether she turns to fsociety’s side or not, but she’s very driven by the 5/9 hack and she’s on a quest to right a wrong,” teases Hamilton.
Gummer told Australian news that she’s “the fsociety’s Javert…as with everybody on this show I’m dealing with the consequences and the repercussions of what has happened in the first season, so I’m on the chase.” DiPierro’s season 2 storyline will be separate from Mr. Robot and Elliot’s.
Whether DiPierro bumps heads with Darlene (Carly Chaikin) remains a question, however. Elliot’s hipster sis has been left in charge of the hacker revolution with a rebooted fsociety team in the wake of her brother checking out.
In regards to how Esmail prepped Chaikin for her character’s season 2 arc, the actress explains, “Sam kept mentioning (the musical) Hamilton and the American revolution. Militant is the biggest word we’ve used (around the production).” This year, Esmail is directing every single episode of the season, hence instead of the Mr. Robot production shooting episodes one by one on a weekly schedule (similar to AMC’s Mad Men), the production will shoot a group of scenes from various episodes as dictated by a single location.
“After the hack went down, and with things falling apart, if Darlene doesn’t stand by what she did and see this through, she’d be a monster living in a world of shambles,” adds Chaikin.
But before delivering her George W. Bush-like rah-rah speech to her hackers after their takeover of E-Corp general counsel Susan Jacobs’ (Sandrine Holt) penthouse, we see Darlene on the bathroom floor in tears. Why so sad?
“The world is crumbling and falling apart and there are dire consequences that she’s the root of,” explains Chaikin, “last season she was this unstoppable, untouchable, don’t-give-a-shit person and this season we see her more vulnerable side, masking the doubt of what she did. It’s an overwhelming situation,” explains Chaikin.
But that’s not all.
“She also feels alone because Elliot isn’t there. That’s another reason why she’s having a panic attack. She’s keeps getting more isolated from her brother. All she wants is to be with him,” adds the actress.
Can Darlene also see Mr. Robot? Essentially, in those instances where she conversed with him during season 1, it’s literally been with Elliot. But make no mistake, Elliot isn’t the only one with problems in the Alderson family after getting pushed out the window by dear old dad when he was child.
“Darlene definitely has daddy issues. She didn’t necessarily have the same experiences as Elliot did, but she definitely has trauma from it all. And our mom is definitely not a good person. We have a lot of issues with her. We’ll see more of these relationships come up throughout this season,” expounds Chaikin.
And in regards to a fierce stand-off with Jacobs, Chaikin teases, “We’ll see.”
Other loose ends from last season left untied tonight include E Corp’s involvement in the Congo with coltan mining. It was a business that E Corp chief Phillip Price (Michael Cristofer) spoke to super hacker and possible ally White Rose (BD Wong) about in the wee moments of the season one finale. While coltan yields tantalum, which is used in the production of electronic products, the mass excavation of the ore has been blamed for triggering internal strife in the African country. We don’t know yet how steeped E Corp is in dismantling African countries.
And speaking of the effeminate White Rose (B.D. Wong), where is he/she?