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It’s not up for discussion that season two of Mr. Robot took a dip in quality compared to its groundbreaking first. Maybe it was too weird or that the show just wasn’t sure what direction to go after the 5/9 attacks were successful, but nevertheless, it spun its wheels for most of the season. This caused some skepticism heading into the third season that created this feeling of a put up or shut up season. This third would be the telltale sign whether or not Mr. Robot could correct itself or if it would continue down its path of uncertainty and place itself in television obscurity.
Not only did it return to glory in its third season, but it also managed to make a very frantic and seemingly thrown together second season actually make sense and have importance in the overall narrative. Most of this judgment was born out of impatience to discover just what was next for Elliot, F-Society, and The Dark Army, but not only did the show deliver it also managed to take the story to an even crazier and darker space that at times was unclear whether or not Elliot would get out alive.
Throughout my weekly episode reviews, I’ve stated several times that after such an incredibly strong season Mr. Robot now needs to be in the conversation for being one of the best television shows currently on air. This season featured an amazing amount of character development and introductions, an increasingly dramatic plotline with The Dark Army, some incredible camera work as well as musical selections, and some bold risks that paid off beautifully and helped create some truly mind blowing moments. What sticks out the most in terms of character development is the ever-dramatic relationship between Elliot and Mr. Robot. The season began with the two forces opposing one another as viewers have grown well accustomed to seeing. Elliot has run out of ways to overthrow Mr. Robot and instead resigns to thwart his plans at every turn.
This back and forth occupies most of the season, however, it also gave us some of the most intense scenes. One of my favorite scenes of the entire season takes place in Krista’s, Elliot’s therapist, office as she interacts with both Elliot and Mr. Robot in the same session. It’s an intense scene that helps give the viewer a small peek behind the curtain of what really makes Mr. Robot tick. Looking back, it’s truly amazing being able to track both Elliot/Mr. Robot’s story arc because leading up to the Stage 2 attacks. Mr. Robot still thought he was in the driver’s seat with all that was happening and it’s not until after when he realizes that he was just a pawn like everyone else to The Dark Army and that his relationship with Elliot truly grows into something that resembles a partnership. The amount of patience and calculation on the writers part to slowly unfold the changing mentality of Mr. Robot over the course of several episodes is astounding and felt believable for his character as he begins to side with Elliot in the end.
Aside from Elliot/Mr. Robot’s character development, most of this season also revolved around some of the secondary characters taking on bigger roles in the narrative. This was long overdue but well worth the wait as Darlene, Angela, and DiPierro were all featured heavily this season in their own problematic storylines. At first, it was difficult to care for Darlene being used by DiPierro and the FBI as an informant against her brother and F-Society, but much like the Elliot/Mr. Robot relationship, the writers were able to bring her subplot to a wonderful conclusion that not only provided some dramatic moments; Darlene’s confession to Elliot about the FBI, the attempt to steal DiPierro’s FBI credentials, but also left viewers wondering if there is such a thing as redemption for these characters.
The only character that was difficult to follow this season was Angela. It’s easy to understand the place her character was in and her motivations for why she was in league with The Dark Army, but it felt like the only area the writers stumbled was in the revelation that Price was Angela’s biological father. It came at such a weird time towards the end of the season and was almost forced on the viewer right at the end that it provided little to no time for reaction or reflection with Angela. This will surely pay off in the long run somehow, but as far as when and how it occurred this season it felt forced and strangely out of place.
Where this season excelled at not only drawing the viewer in but keeping them was in the clever uses of the camera. Each episode always had an interesting way of revealing the opening credits that because it was a unique experience each time. What was nice to see, in what has proven to be a signature shooting style for the show, was the vacant off-center space that existed each time there was a close up of a particular person. It’s strange to describe but the unorthodox use of camerawork helped add to the uncertain and manic nature of the characters.
I’ve written at length about this season’s incredible episode that resembles one continuous shot but it wasn’t until looking back when the season was over that I thought about the difficulty and precision that it took to execute such a maneuver. Not to mention that it was done on a TV filming schedule where there was little time for error. Because of this, _runtime_err0r.00 was one of, if not, the best episodes of Mr. Robot and is easily one of the best episodes of TV this year.
In closing, Mr. Robot’s third season has proven to be a return to form. It has managed to take an almost floundering story about a hacker who seeks to overthrow a corporation and thrust it into an oncoming war between the hand that has pulled all of the strings for both the attacks and the corporations themselves against the people that have been used to do their bidding but are through being pawns in a game they can’t win. This season left us with the sides being slowly defined and it has been something that I’ve wanted to happen for quite some time. The thought of Elliot and Mr. Robot teaming up in order to destroy The Dark Army is amazing and one that will take time to unfold but allows for a great narrative going into season four.
This was a great season from start to finish and there wasn’t an episode that did not feel important to the overall story in some way. That is the mark of a great television show where even the lesser episodes still feel as if they will have an impact later in the story somehow. All credit has to go to creator and writer Sam Esmail as his vision is wonderfully executed in each episode. I’m anxious for the fourth season, it’s definitely reassuring to know that Mr. Robot has returned as one of the great shows on TV and that more people should know about it.