BY DAVE NEMETZ
Fresh off their big wins at the Golden Globes, the cast and creator of USA’s Mr. Robot were on hand at the Television Critics Association press tour to offer a tiny peek at Season 2… and some friendly advice about changing your passwords.
In fact, the Mr. Robot panel was preceded by an ominous video from the show’s hacker collective, fsociety, welcoming critics… and warning them to update their passwords if they’re using the local Wi-Fi. But it’s safe to say critics are still fans: The surprise hit series, starring Rami Malek as a young hacker who looks to topple an evil corporate behemoth with his dazzling computer skills, landed on dozens of critics’ top-ten lists and took home two Golden Globes on Sunday, for best drama series and supporting actor for co-star Christian Slater.
So after a freshman season packed with shocking twists and turns (Darlene is Elliot’s sister?!? Mr. Robot isn’t real?!?), what is creator Sam Esmail planning for an encore? He wouldn’t divulge too many details about Season 2, which debuts on USA this summer, but Esmail did say the season will focus on the fractured relationship between Malek’s Elliot and Slater’s Mr. Robot: “How do these two guys reconcile?”
The fact that Slater’s character only exists in Elliot’s mind was one of Season 1’s most shocking twists — and it’s one that Esmail and Malek struggled to keep under wraps. In scenes with Slater, Malek remembers he had to tell his fellow actors and extras: “Just try not to look at him.” But Esmail insists he’s not looking to overload Season 2 with more gotcha moments like that: “It’s not my agenda to keep shocking you.”
Instead, Season 2 will offer a lot more backstory on Elliot’s family, Esmail says — we’ll find out why Darlene wasn’t in the Times Square sequence with Elliot’s family, for example — and we’ll get a bit more clarity on the show’s overall timeline. Malek adds that a lot of Season 2 hinges on Elliot, who struggled with confusing hallucinations last season, wrapping his brain around what’s real, what’s not, and what exactly is going on in his head: “It’s already giving me anxiety.”
Actually, with Elliot being such an unreliable narrator, Esmail hints that there are other parts of Season 1 that aren’t actually real — a revelation that surprised even Malek. (A good excuse for another binge-watch, we’d say.) Also in Season 2, we’ll get a better idea of where Elliot’s friend Angela (Portia Doubleday) stands in the battle between Evil Corp and fsociety, and we’ll see more of B.D. Wong as the mysterious Chinese hacker Whiterose. After Wong’s performance in Season 1, Esmail says, “I would be stupid not to use him more this season.”
For Slater, Mr. Robot and his Golden Globe win are an especially sweet triumph after enduring a notorious string of short-lived TV shows (My Own Worst Enemy, Breaking In, Mind Games). Slater is philosophical about his career ups and downs: “Strife and struggle precede success, even in the dictionary.”
And working on a show about computer hackers has taught him a lot of personal online security, Slater says: “Updating your passwords is vitally important. Pet names is a killer. Don’t do that.” In fact, recent events in his life have inspired him to update his: “My new password is ‘goldenglobe.’”
Season 2 of Mr. Robot premieres this summer on USA.