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The creator and cast of USA breakout Mr. Robot enjoyed a victory lap of sorts Thursday at the Television Critics Association winter press tour just days after winning the Golden Globe for best drama series.
However, despite the “massive award,” creator Sam Esmail insists the writers are staying focused on the upcoming second season.
“We try to keep that out of the room because at the end of the day it’s about telling this story and that’s where our hearts are,” he told reporters.
Coming off its breakout summer on USA Network and its two Golden Globe wins — the other being for best supporting actor Christian Slater — the team appeared at TCA to talk season two without spilling too many details about upcoming episodes, natch.
“I will say that in season two, there will be a lot more backstory that will be shown,” Esmail said. “Yes, the timeline is going to get a little bit clearer. Not 100 percent because what’s the fun in that, but a little bit clearer.”
A huge part of the season will, obviously, revolve around Elliot’s (Rami Malek) realization at the end of season one that the Mr. Robot he had been talking with all season was his dead father — i.e. a figment of his very active imagination.
“For me, the headline for season two is how do these two guys reconcile? How does Elliot reconcile the fact that he’s seeing this fantasy? That’s the struggle that’s going to kind of takeover in season two.”
Added Esmail: “That’s a tough pill to swallow and we’re really going to go into the mind of a person who has just become aware of that and what is the next step of that? How does he reconcile that?”
During its first season, the series quickly became known for jaw-dropping twists like that, as well as the reveal that Darlene (Carly Chaiken), Mr. Robot and Elliot’s fsociety colleague, was actually Elliot’s sister. Esmail promised more of the same going forward.
“The series is filling in the blanks of the past and the present and even the future of this character,” Esmail said. “You’re this close to the painting, you take a step back and then you see more of it. … I think that’s how I’m approaching every season.”
However, he also insisted they would come about organically in order to “stay true” to Elliot. “I’m not interested in gotcha moments or trying to shock the audience or surprise the audience,” he said. “It’s not my agenda to keep shocking you.”
Helping keep the story and timeline track will be Esmail’s decision to direct all ten episodes of the second season, which he admitted “terrified” the network initially. “I just have a very distinctive visual style of the show and for me its actually harder to collaborate when it comes to that aspect of the show,” Esmail said.
Added Chaiken: “No one knows the story better than that crazy man with in it in his head.”
Other hints he offered about the upcoming season? B.D. Wong will return. “But I do have to use him sparingly,” Esmail said, “because his character has such a great mystery around him.”
Another “big question” in season two will surround Elliot’s childhood best friend and Evil Corp employee, Angela (Portia Doubleday), and his sister Darlene, and the stark contrast between them.
“We’re really talking about a person of the Occupy Wall Street versus the Wall Street mentality and seeing it through the eyes of two young women,” Esmail said. “In terms of just specially Angela, that struggle is going to be what overrides her character.”
Added Doubleday: “I don’t think that she’s crossed over. … I think she might be a little bit over her head but it will be interesting to see if she can keep her head above water.”
With so much mystery still surrounding the second season, the stars know to expect the unexpected. Malek said, “With this character, I have to prepare for anything at any given moment.”
Mr. Robot returns this summer on USA.
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