Making Sense Of 'Mr. Robot': Deciphering Season 2's Key Themes And Speculation On Season 3


*Warning: This article contains many spoilers for Mr. Robot Season 2.*

Mr. Robot is far from conventional, much like the show's protagonist, Elliot Alderson. Considering the big reveal of Elliot's alter ego in Season 1, Season 2 had the task of keeping things fresh, increasing the level of intrigue and building on the shocking finale to its debut season.

Did it deliver? While it's easy to see why some may be turned off by the ambiguity, and painstaking pace at which the audience are given answers, the response is an emphatic yes. There's no doubt the show went in a darker direction, delving deeper into the fractured psyche of Elliot and Mr. Robot, and provided something truly unique in the process.

This is a show that embraces playing with expectations, full of outstanding performances, rich with subtle references and call backs. Essentially, show creator Sam Esmail has perfectly crafted a show that leaves the viewer as confused as Elliot himself. No mean feat.

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USA Network

It was no huge surprise that the finale of Season 2 left viewers with an unbearable amount of questions, and plot threads still yet to be tied up in a natural conclusion. Yet part of the allure of Mr. Robot lies in trying to decipher what on Earth is going on. Let's take a look at some of the key moments in Season 2, and speculate on what may happen in Season 3 below:

The Distrustful Relationship Between Elliot And Mr. Robot

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USA Network

In the center of the whirlwind of confusion, misdirection and plans to shatter the status quo, Mr. Robot is a show dedicated its characters. One of the keys to this season's success lies in how the relationship between Elliot and Mr. Robot evolved after the first season's big reveal.

Early episodes in the season captured the internal struggle between Elliot and his alter ego, with the former going to great lengths to attempt to rid himself of his unhelpful hallucination. Yet it became clearer and clearer that not only could Mr. Robot not be defeated (illustrated over a game of chess) he could actually help Elliot.

Mr. Robot went to great lengths to shelter Elliot, and the pair finally seem to reconcile after the trippy '90s sitcom episode. But the dramatic twist in the finale unveiled the sinister truth of Stage Two of the plan — in addition to Mr. Robot instructing Tyrell to shoot anyone getting in the way — shattering the illusion that Elliot's disassociated identity is anything other than dangerous.

The Second Big Reveal: The Prison

Early on in the season, I'd speculated on whether a theory suggesting Elliot was in prison had any merit. Due to the diligence of the online community who meticulously unpick the most subtle of hints, this was picked up a while before the big reveal.

Not only does the reveal render those opening episodes a treasure trove of references for a second viewing, it also gives us an insight into how unreliable a narrator Elliot can be. And yes, he did say he won't pull the wool over our eyes again, but can we really trust him? The dynamic adds another element to the show to throw us off course and throw us into the world of Elliot.

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USA Network

White Rose Is More Powerful Than Previously Imagined

The extent to which the Dark Army operates was chillingly revealed through Season 2. White Rose in particular appears to be, arguably, the most powerful person in the world, both as an influential politician as the Chinese Minister of State Security and the leader of the hacker-come-terrorist group, who have henchmen so devoted they die for the cause.

However, it almost feels like the more screentime White Rose had this season, the more the air of mystery turned into a suffocating smog. The tentacles of the Dark Army's power are vast, but there are plenty of question marks about their own motivation, the relationship with Elliot, White Rose's bizarre fascination with time and link with the Washington Township Plant.

White Roses's surreal dream-like conversation with Angela, followed by her phone call with Tyrell after he shoots Elliot, suggests White Rose is using Angela as a pawn in his game. Just what the two have agreed on remains to be seen.

The FBI Know About Elliot And Tyrell

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USA Network

Esmail has created a show that excels in both the elaborate and the discreet, and the showdown between Darlene and Dom DiPiero (Grace Gummer has been an exceptional addition this season) was the perfect illustration of subtlety done well. Darlene's slow walk through the FBI office — and the realization that the entire team, including Elliot and Tyrell, have been identified — was breathtaking in its execution.

Crucially though, it also reveals a little extra when looked at closely. While Elliot is at the center, he appears to be below Tyrell, suggesting that Dom and her team have identified Elliot through investigating Tyrell. The fact they believe him to be the leader, and not Elliot, is significant.

The revelation appeared to shake up Darlene's previously stubborn disposition, despite the collapse of fsociety playing out over the season. Romero is dead (mortally wounded by an alleged stray bullet), Cisqo was killed by the Dark Army, Trenton and Mobley are missing (more on that later). Plus, they have all been identified by the FBI, leaving fsociety's plan in the hands of Elliot, Mr. Robot and Tyrell.

What Exactly Is Joanna's Plan?

The intriguing subplot with Joanna and Derek has been a slow-burner, providing the most shocking moment of the season — when she taunts Scott Knowles about his wife's death, leading to him viciously beating her. It was brutal and hard to watch, but plays into Joanna's overall plan. What exactly is Joanna up to?

Derek appears to be a pawn in Joanna's attempt to rid Tyrell of blame for Sharon Knowles's murder. The revelation that Scott was the one behind the messages opened to door for her to pin the blame on the E-Corp CTO, later asking Derek to lie to the police and change his evidence in line with her plan. But will it work? Even if Tyrell gets off the hook, he is still wanted for the 5/9 attack, so it's unlikely he'll become a free man.

What Will Happen In Season 3?

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USA Network

Mr. Robot Season 2 ended with more questions than answers, the biggest being the fate of Elliot, and Stage Two of the plan. Mr. Robot's intent to go to great lengths to preserve the explosive next part of the plan — destroying the E-Corp offices and with it, all of their paper records — was dutifully followed by Tyrell. It has become clear Tyrell is infatuated with Elliot, or more aptly Mr. Robot.

It's unlikely Tyrell is a manifestation of Elliot's mind, but there are some grey areas. Despite the climax of Season 1 centering around Elliot's three-day blackout, Season 2 didn't give away any more information on what happened in those 72 hours. Agent DiPierreo showed Darelen the shell casing from the Fun Society arcade, and if Tyrell wasn't shot, who or what was?

Elliot's psyche will also have a lot of bearing on how Season 3 pans out. The power struggle between Elliot and Mr. Robot reached critical levels when Elliot is shot by Tyrell, and Mr. Robot tells him he'd do anything to stick to the plan. If Elliot can't regain control, Mr. Robot may take over completely. If Stage 2 involves what is essentially a terrorist act, where could our protagonist go next? The thought of Mr. Robot taking over full-time is unnerving.

A Dangerous Game

Due to the open-mouthed shock from the end of the episode, the post-credit scene could've been overlooked. Although brief, that scene gives a lot away. Trenton and Mobley aren't only alive and well, they also mention that there is a way to reverse the entire hack, shortly before Leon arrives (asking for the time in a nod to White Rose).

If they were to be executed, it's unlikely Leon would've been sent. It's more plausible that he is about to take them in under the wing of the Dark Army, putting their skills to use. This also raises the question of the value that they offer to White Rose. Could Elliot have given an outlet to reverse the hack due to his mistrust of Mr. Robot?

Finally, this could of course all be irrelevant if the tenacious and work-obsessed FBI agent DiPierro keeps uncovering more about fsociety and the Dark Army. The question is, should she uncover the wider conspiracy, how would they tackle the might of White Rose?