SPOILER ALERT: This story contains details of tonight’s Mr. Robot Season 2 finale. There’s a scene in tonight’s season 2 finale of Mr. Robot “eps2.9_pyth0n-pt2.p7z” where Elliot Alderson’s (Rami Malek) hacker sister Darlene (Carly Chaikin) sits locked in a Q&A room across from FBI agents Dom DiPierro (Grace Gummer) and Santiago (Omar Metwally). She’s just lost her boyfriend Cisco in a restaurant shootout. In shielding questions, Darlene evokes the Fifth Amendment until Santiago informs her that the Patriot Act supersedes her rights since she is “an enemy combatant.”
Having weathered a similar terrorist incident in China, the Feds believe that Darlene is linked to the fsociety militants behind the huge 5/9 hack that’s thrown the United States and its biggest conglom E Corp into a financial nosedive (events largely inspired by the 2008-09 economic collapse). Already, as seen in the finale’s epilogue, two of Darlene’s hacking associates, Mobley (Azhar Khan) and Trenton (Sunita Mani), the latter a female Muslim, have fled from New York City to
what appears to be Burbank, CA Phoenix where they’re posing as Fry’s Electronics clerks. Trenton no longer wears the hijab we’ve seen her in throughout the series. The time is August 2015 and President Obama has declared that Tyrell Wellick (Martin Wallstrom)–who has been missing all season–is responsible for this mess. Mobley and Trenton think they can reverse the impact of 5/9.
That’s just some of the hell that our Mr. Robot protagonists are currently weathering. But as Mr. Robot season 3 extends into the first half of 2016, before the November election, it will be intriguing to see how the nation’s radically-changing socio-political landscape will impact their lives.
“The sentiment and the outrage and the support of Donald Trump; the groundswell by which he rose to become the Republican nominee, that sort of atmosphere is going to be used in the Mr. Robot universe and amplified by this great economic collapse which is happening like a slow car accident. What you’re seeing is the events that stoked those (Trump-like) sentiments,” says Esmail who is heading back to the writers room soon and will continue to direct all of season 3’s episodes, just like he did in season 2. In the Emmy press room on Sunday, Malek dropped the news that he already shot a scene for season 3.
“There will be a lot of overlap,” Esmail says about melding current events into Mr. Robot season 3, “the increased terrorism and domestic violence that has gone on, a lot of that will play into the Mr. Robot universe.”
Recent episodes of Mr. Robot call to mind quite prominently the late 2014 Sony Hack. While Sony was rumored to be plagued by North Korean and U.S. hackers, on Mr. Robot E Corp is undermined by a partnership between a Chinese group (The Dark Army) and Elliot’s fsociety. Instead of the U.S. government bailing E-Corp out, it’s China with an interest-free $2 trillion loan. Pulling the strings behind the scenes is the Dark Army’s transgender leader Whiterose (B.D. Wong), who E Corp believes is an ally when she’s dressed as a man. Esmail and his writing and tech staff, “already knew a big hack like Sony’s was possible before it occurred. The Sony Hack validated the stakes to the public eye,” adds the creator.
“The next world war won’t be fought with nukes, but with information, economics and corporate warfare,” said Esmail, “That’s the pool we’re trying to swim in. China getting involved with E Corp and saving it; the impact of something like that is so much different than drones and missiles being launched. It’s more psychological and cultural.”
While season 1 dealt with Elliot’s self awareness, season 2 with revolution, Esmail tells Deadline that season 3 will be about “Disintegration” as Elliot and his figment-of-his- imagination-father Mr. Robot split further apart against the nation’s recession.
Critics likened season 1 of Mr. Robot to Stanley Kubrick’s canon and David Fincher’s Fight Club, but with its subtle hints and McGuffins, season 2 is arguably an homage to Bryan Singer’s The Usual Suspects with its continued jawdropping reveals, i.e. we shockingly learn that Elliot has been imprisoned throughout most of the season, and finally tonight we receive clarity that Tyrell is absolutely alive and has been hiding from the government. For a moment, Mr. Robot convinced Elliot that he shot Tyrell. Even fans were convinced of this after after Elliot retrieved a gun out of the Coney Island popcorn machine in this season’s first episode. “Mr. Robot lied,” explains Esmail, “Elliot is convinced up until the end that Tyrell isn’t real, and it took a gunshot (by Tyrell) to snap him back into reality.”
Also in tonight’s episode: Elliot tells Tyrell that his wife Joanna is looking for him. Will they finally reunite next season? “Potentially” teases Esmail.
However, there’s a bomb that’s poised to level an E Corp building at the onset of season 3 that’s part of a second phase plan by the Dark Army, Tyrell and Mr. Robot. Even Angela (Portia Doubleday) is in on it. When Elliot tries to thwart the plan, Tyrell shoots him. Joanna has been beaten up by E Corp CTO Scott Knowles, who has been holding Tyrell’s severance package hostage. But she’s planning to frame him for Tyrell’s disappearance. Darlene’s fate rests in the hands of Agent Dom, who is hellbent on finding Elliot and Tyrell, the architects of the 5/9 hack.
Ever since Mr. Robot‘s season 1 ended a year ago, USA has been non-stop in its promotion of Mr. Robot, with Esmail and the cast literally jumping into 2015 year-end awards PR cycle. After winning Golden Globe for best drama and actor Christian Slater, team Mr. Robot‘s hard work continued to pay off as Malek broke Emmy form, taking the lead actor drama trophy; a win which rarely occurs with first-time nominees on a new show. In addition, Mr. Robot won best dramatic score and earned USA its first drama series Emmy nomination.
“It’s well deserved,” says Esmail about Malek’s win. “The only way that the Emmy win influences anything in the writers’ room is that it validates what we already know and that is Rami is an amazing actor. The win doesn’t weigh on our creative direction of the show; we have a lot of integrity and try to be honest with the story line and the journey of Elliot.”