USA Network’s dystopian hacker drama Mr. Robot was one of the most pleasant surprises on television in 2015, and while the second season didn’t quite match the the first, it remains one of the most compelling shows out there. It’s also one of the most complicated, with a large cast of characters all jockeying to advance their own murky techno-agendas and some unreliable narrators thrown into the mix to boot.
But before you strain too hard trying to remember where everyone is and where everyone is going, consult our guide to all the most important happenings from the first two seasons and what they may mean for season three.
The Big Picture
Mr. Robot depicts a fictional version of 2015 where a secret battle for the future of the economy, and perhaps humanity, is being waged by multinational conglomerate E Corp led by CEO Phillip Price (Michael Cristofer) and a shadowy Chinese hacker collective called the Dark Army led by Chinese Minister of State Security Zhang, who goes by the hacker name Whiterose (B.D. Wong). Pawns in the battle include Elliot Alderson (Rami Malek) and his sister Darlene (Carly Chaikin), whose hacker group, fsociety, is unwittingly doing the Dark Army’s bidding in its battle with E Corp.
The goals of both E Corp and the Dark Army are hazy, but E Corp seems concerned with trying to maintain the status quo while the Dark Army is trying to burn civilization down and start over again by destroying the American economy. Even this may just be a smokescreen for the personal power struggle between Price and Zheng, who have a business relationship that spans back over 20 years and is full of dark secrets both try to use as leverage while negotiating a Chinese bailout of America.
Who Is Mr. Robot?
Elliot has a Tyler Durden situation going on in his head involving a manifestation of his dead father called Mr. Robot (Christian Slater). Mr. Robot seems to be the only one knowingly conspiring with the Dark Army. All the other fsociety members believe they’re in the driver’s seat as they work towards hacking E Corp and wiping out all US debt records, with the Dark Army providing occasional and sporadic support from the sidelines.
Mr. Robot can manifest himself in different ways. Sometimes he appears only to Elliot, and other times he takes control of Elliot’s body to interact with the world. When their relationship was less strained, Elliot was allowed to tag along with Mr. Robot as they worked on hacks with other members of fsociety. Later on, when Elliot starts to resist, Mr. Robot forces him into a blackout state that lasts for days. The true nature and goals of Mr. Robot are a mystery, and at this point, Elliot is struggling desperately to try and regain control of his body and mind.