From karaoke to money burning, here are the highlights of the last season of Mr. Robot.
If you read my piece earlier this week about Mr. Robot Season 2, you probably know I wasn’t the world’s biggest fan of the USA series’ second season. However, if you REALLY read my piece from earlier this week (i.e. didn’t just skim over the headline and bottom paragraph before calling it a day), you would also know that I still found a lot to like in the season, and would still rank it as a pretty good set of 12 episodes (just a set that isn’t as good as the 10 episodes that proceeded it.) I wanted to highlight a few of the reasons why in that post, but quickly decided it would probably be easier just to rank them in convenient listicle form. Because that’s always fun, right?
So all that said, here’s what I consider to be the five best moments of Mr. Robot Season 2. And if you haven’t caught on yet there will be FULL SPOILERS for Mr. Robot Season 2, so read at your risk.
5. The Prison Reveal
Was the whole prison subplot for Elliot ultimately worth it? I’m still incredibly mixed on the storyline in general, but I can’t deny that the reveal of what was actually going on separated from the construction in Elliot’s head was incredibly cool. Sure we all kind of figured it out from the onset but, like the whole “Mr. Robot not being real” thing from Season 1, that did little to prevent the actual reveal from being incredibly slick and well produced.
Set to music from One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (an appropriate song choice if I’ve ever heard one), Elliot slowly informing the audience just what was going on in his big ol’ subplot was intensely satisfying, and a captivating way to wrap up his main plotline for the season. Juries still out on whether or not said storyline was worth it overall, but at least its conclusion was a fun and satisfying one. And the twist involving Leon’s involvement with the Dark Army? Even the most eagle eyed Mr. Robot watcher didn’t see that one coming.
4. “Everybody Wants to Rule the World”
This next scene is really simple in context, but boy did it land the execution. Juxtaposing a character singing with the rest of the ensemble doing an action is basic filmmaking (True Detective Season 2 may not have existed if they couldn’t have pulled out that card A JILLION TIMES), but done well it can create some pretty amazing moments. That’s exactly what it did with this scene, taken from “eps2.6_succ3ss0r.p12,” or in more easy to understand terms, episode 8.
Taking the shift entirely away from Elliot for a whole episode was a risky concept, but thankfully it mostly paid off, as Darlene and the rest of Fsociety went through some pretty harrowing shit in the home of one Susan Jacobs. This moment in particular finds the group in search of a way to blackmail the woman, who is slowly bleeding out by her pool. It’s probably the most morally dubious thing Fsociety has ever done, and Sam Esmail finds a way to build to it perfectly.
The true star of the scene however is Angela, who gets to sing her heart out to karaoke in the form of Tears for Fear’s “Everybody Wants to Rule the World.” Her subplot might have been a pretty boring part of this episode, but Portia Doubleday did fantastic work here, and the extreme close up on her singing gave her fantastic room to emote. I also can’t help but feel it was inspired by a similar moment in the second season finale of The Leftovers, but that’s neither here nor there. Regardless, all these things combined made for a pretty harrowing and intense, yet also serene and beautiful, moment. Note to filmmakers: musical juxtapositions are cool. Feel free to use them.
3. The Restaurant Shoot-Out
It was rather surprising when it was announced that Sam Esmail, the creator and writer of Mr. Robot, would also be serving as director for every single episode. While he’s not exactly green (he wrote and directed his feature debut, 2014’s Comet), it’s still a massive undertaking for anyone, and very few networks have the faith that USA had in Esmail to give him the responsibilities. But boy am I glad they were, as the final moments of “eps2.8_h1dden-pr0cess.axx” (ugh, episode 10, okay?) very much cemented Esmail’s talent behind the camera
Almost Fincher-esque in its design, the conclusion to this episode is a master class in evocative design. There’s a lot to love about the framing of this scene: the fact that it’s a single, unmoving, uncut take. The fact that the main action of the sequence (Dom confronting Darlene and Cisco) is almost entirely in the background, clearly teasing that something bad is about to happen in the foreground. The (almost literal) ticking timebomb of the crosswalk sign, perfectly counting down to the moment when everything went to shit. And then the final couple seconds of the shot, as Dom comes running to the camera covered in blood. End of the sequence, and end of the episode. And what a freaking image to go out on.
2. Knowles Burns the Money
You’ll notice that almost all of the moments on this list are largely driven by music, which isn’t just some coincidence. Mr. Robot as a series has always been excellent at its musical choices, and this season is no different. But when it comes to amazing blends of visual and sound, you can’t get much better than the above scene, taken from the second half of the season premiere. I would give the title, but you’ve gotten enough of that gibberish already — second half of the season premiere is far more to the point.
In any case, yeah, this scene just works. How it builds up tension on what Scott Knowles will have to, how it presents his button downed version of panic, and how it slowly ramps up Phil Collin’s “Take Me Home” in the background — masterful work. Like many other scenes on this list, it’s simplicity is more a feature than a bug, and I do love how Esmail and his team gave big sequences like this room to breath this season. Even if it threw off the pacing a bit, and didn’t work for every scene (stuff like Angela’s weird subplot in the penultimate episode certainly could have used some cutting), when it worked, it REALLY worked. The best thing I could say about sequences like this is the best thing I can say about pretty much any TV show: it reminded me of Breaking Bad. And even months later, I can’t get this scene out of my head, which is purely a testament to its impeccable craft.
1. Mr. Robot is Born
But, ultimately, one scene ruled supreme on this season of Mr. Robot: the opening scene of episode 4, approximately a third of the way through the season. The way that Mr. Robot works is purposely vague (for better or worse) refusing to fill in seemingly important details about the history of its characters, organizations, or even major plotlines. But when Mr. Robot does take the time to delve into the grander details of its mythology, it can be absolutely incredible — as it was here, for instance.
Seeing the inklings of Fsociety grow from a single night between Elliot and Darlene was absolutely marvelous, and came at the perfect time in the season too. By that point we were still deep in the “Elliot vs. Mr. Robot” storyline, unclear about just how deep Elliot’s connection to his alter ego really was. But the opening of Episode 4 put pretty much everything into perspective, as Elliot and Darlene’s late night viewing of a childhood favorite horror movie pretty much set the stage for the entire series.
Set to some absolutely fantastic music (“The Planets, Op. 32: Neptune” if you’re wondering), the scene manages to be both chilling and exciting, as all of the big Mr. Robot motifs (the mask, the jacket, etc.) are put into focus. Showing this scene when Mr. Robot did was an act of genius, as it lands far better AFTER we already know just where this late night, seemingly spur-of-the-moment idea ultimately lead to. The fact that it was just a night of bonding, a couple siblings watching a lame horror movie and getting high, that caused so much misfortune for everyone is perfectly tragic. It’s basically the superhero origin story of the entire season, and an outstanding one at that. If any moment from Season 2 of Mr. Robot will go down as iconic, it’s this one.
And there you have it, the five best moments from Mr. Robot Season 2. Did I miss any? Be sure to share yours in the comments.