Warning: This post contains spoilers for season two of “Mr. Robot.”
The most recent episode of “Mr. Robot” was a standout in its bumpy second season. The most discussed part was a 17-minute-long dream sequence in which Elliot’s (Rami Malek) life is presented as a 1990s sitcom, complete with a cameo from ALF.
It was a nice change from the norm, but also brought up the big issue that’s keeping season two from being as great as season one: The real problem with “Mr. Robot” right now is Mr. Robot.
As revealed at the end of season one, Mr. Robot (Christian Slater), who was the perceived leader of fsociety, is actually the ghost of Elliot’s father. The plot twist revealed that one of the show’s major characters was just a figment of his imagination. The best thing the show could have done from there was relish in the twist, and then move on.
Instead, it completely leaned into it.
This decision has proven to be somewhat destructive. This is no fault of actor Christian Slater, who’s performance has proven to be a big career comeback for him. But the character has just been standing over Elliot’s shoulder all season, telling him he’s wrong about one thing or another. And every episode, Elliot wants to fight him. It’s getting to be repetitive.
This is also weighing down Elliot, the show’s protagonist and — at one point — one of television’s most fascinating characters. The further the show has dove into his psyche, the more it has veered away from real-life stakes. While the sitcom homage was the most talked about part of the recent episode, it was far from the best.
The best part was watching Darlene (Carly Chaikin) and Angela (Portia Doubleday) try to pull off a heist that involved hacking into the FBI. It contained all the thrills and intrigue the show has been missing for a long time. And the fact that a lot of people are theorizing that Elliot is actually in prison is not helping his story at all.
The Mr. Robot subplot doesn’t feel like it’s providing much more insight into Elliot. Instead, it’s taking the show away from dealing with the consequences of the major E-Corp hack that fsociety pulled off, a decision that has greatly altered the world in many ways.
Now, Slater doesn’t need to be booted off the show for good. He was used for great, emotional effect in a recent flashback showed a young Elliot learning that his dad was sick. It provided insight and enhanced the story. It was a small flash of promise.
What doesn’t help is seeing Elliot and Mr. Robot run circles around each other for an hour a week. While it might sound strange to say that “Mr. Robot” needs to get rid of Mr. Robot, it’s definitely true.
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