'Mr. Robot': Everything to Know Before Season 2

8:30 AM 7/7/2016

by Josh Wigler

Before the USA Network series returns, here's a refresher on all things Elliot Alderson.

Mr Robot Still 11 H 2016
David Giesbrecht/USA Network

"You're going to make me say it, aren't you?"

Elliot Alderson already knows the answer, standing in the middle of a New Jersey cemetery, pacing back and forth in front of his dead father's grave. But before he voices the heartbreaking truth out loud, he needs the go-ahead from his "friend" — which is to say you, me, and everyone else watching USA Network's Mr. Robot.

Needless to say, he got the go-ahead, and much more than he ever bargained for.

The computer hacker drama from creator Sam Esmail was a surprise breakout in summer 2015, and now it's on the precipice of its second season, premiering July 13. Ahead of that, it's worth taking stock of everything came before: Elliot as an individual, Elliot as multiple individuals, and the new world order those individuals created by the end of season one.

  • The Man of the Hour

    Meet Elliot Alderson, cyber-security expert by day, cyber-vigilante by night. Elliot, played with persistent paranoid energy by Rami Malek, is a computer genius with deep-rooted issues, psychological and otherwise. He abuses drugs, he skips out on medication, and he dreams about saving the world from the illusory idea of choices between McDonalds and Burger King, Hyundai and Honda. Little does Elliot know that he's already knee-deep in plots to take out corrupt systems before the series even begins.

  • f-society

    That's not just a lewd catchphrase, although it certainly serves a dual purpose. Instead, f-society is the name of a hacker organization intent on dismantling the conglomerate known as E Corp, or Evil Corp, as Elliot sees it. The group consists of foot soldiers like burger-chomping Mobley (Azhar Khan), lieutenants like the surly wild child Darlene (Carly Chaikin), and the man at the head of the army: the titular Mister Robot (Christian Slater), a man who oscillates between anarchic unpredictability and paternal care with alarming ease.

  • Here's Where You Come In

    It's worth pointing out that what Elliot lacks in social graces (he begins the series by going "AFK" to turn a child pornographer to the police, largely to work on his people skills), he makes up for in a great number of friends — as in you, me, and all of the other viewers. Elliot's narration throughout the series busts through the fourth wall and lands squarely on us, as he refers to the audience as his "friend," treating them as confidants, and simultaneously wondering if they're in on secrets that fly beneath his own radar. (He's looking at you, Reddit.) That's the level of paranoia we're dealing with.

  • Crossing Lines and Climbing Mountains

    After a few fits and starts, Elliot decides to fully join the f-society cause, not the least of which is because E Corp was directly responsible for the death of Elliot's father several years earlier. (Let's put a pin in that.) Midway through the season, Elliot battles through the other side of a drug withdrawal fueled vision, and into a tense Mission: Impossible-ish operation to infiltrate a high security data storage facility called Steel Mountain, with the goal of destroying E Corp's power in the consumer credit industry. Despite Elliot accomplishing his end of the mission, f-society's partners — the Dark Army, a China-based hacker group — pull out at the last minute, stalling the plot to fully destroy E Corp.

  • The Savage Traveler

    Things go from very bad to much worse, on an intimate level, when Elliot returns from Steel Mountain. His girlfriend Shayla (Frances Shaw) has been kidnapped by her ex-lover and employer, a drug dealer named Fernando Vera (Elliott Villar). Earlier in the season, Elliot managed to get Fernando sent to prison, and during his time behind bars, Fernando figured out Elliot's role in the arrest. Fernando convinces Elliot to break him out of prison, in exchange for Shayla's return — he just never specified her condition. Fernando escapes into the dead of night, seconds before Elliot realizes that Shayla has already been dead for hours.

  • Family Reunion

    After an understandably difficult month away from f-society, mourning Shayla's death and attempting to piece his life back together, Elliot eventually returns to the cause and manages to arrange a deal with the Dark Army. He celebrates the news with Darlene, and tries to kiss her after misreading her signals. In fact, Elliot learns just how crossed his signals are when Darlene pushes him further: "Who do you think I am?" It's only then that Elliot finally remembers that Darlene is his sister… and Mister Robot is his long thought dead father. 

  • "I Am Mr. Robot"

    How exactly does someone forget the faces of his closest family members? And how is Elliot's father still alive? The answer comes in the form of an even more startling revelation: Mister Robot isn't Elliot's father. He's the militant manifestation of another aspect of Elliot's personality, wearing the face of Elliot's deceased dad. (Before anyone starts shouting about "the Tyler Durden of it all," the show already beat its critics to the punch: a key scene following the reveal comes paired with Maxence Cyrin's piano cover of "Where is my Mind," the heavy Pixies song that blasts over the end of Fight Club.) The reveal sends Elliot into a tailspin, coming at the worst time possible, as the final hack against E Corp is less than three days away — a hack that another side of Elliot entirely was responsible for all this time.

  • The Tyrell Wellick of It All

    Rewinding for a bit, let's discuss one of Elliot's foils, Tyrell Wellick (Martin Wallström), an ambitious E Corp exec with his eye on becoming the youngest Chief Technology Officer in the company's history. He swiftly proves there's nothing he won't do to attain his goals, from beating up homeless men on the streets, to visiting a company rival's wife in the bathroom during a dinner party, to strangling the life out of said woman on a rooftop under the starry night. Wellick's weaknesses are many, ruining not only his chances at the CTO job, and not only his position at E Corp, but potentially his life as a free man as well. In his final act of the season, Tyrell hitches his wagon to Elliot, forcing the young hacker to let him in on the plan to take down E Corp.

  • Brave New World

    Back to Elliot. He wakes up three days after executing the plan, in a world where f-society are championed as heroes… at least by some. But it's a disastrous world for others, punctuated by a high-ranking E Corp employee committing suicide on national television. What's more, Tyrell Wellick is missing in action, and Elliot can't remember if he had something to do with Wellick's disappearance. Elliot eventually lures Mister Robot out of hiding for clarity on all these mysteries, but the ghost wearing his dead father's face simply basks in the glory of their success, advising Elliot to go home and do the same.

  • Into The Unknown

    So many questions remain up in the air following the finale. What happened to Tyrell? Did Elliot hurt him, or worse? Have Elliot and Mister Robot come to peace, or is Elliot's grasp on his sanity only loosening further? Will Elliot's childhood friend Angela (Portia Doubleday) remain at E Corp, despite also losing a parent to the company's greedy ways? Did f-society truly bring E Corp to ruin, or did it simply pull out an important piece of the veritable Jenga tower? And what's with White Rose (B.D. Wong), the leader of the Dark Army who also happens to have close ties to Phillip Price (Michael Cristofer), the CEO of E Corp? Season two lurks just around the corner with all these answers and more.