We’ve all been implicated in the greatest cyber-crime in American history (well, television history, at least). With the single swoop of the season two premiere of Mr. Robot, Sam Esmail & Co. draw us in as co-conspirators to the action unlike any series before it. Mr. Robot no longer just demands our viewership, it demands our accountability.
Even as f.society’s assault on E Corp takes root (with mixed results), Elliot attempts to recover his sanity by secluding himself from the revolution and finding comfort within the mundane routine of consumer life. Yet he is haunted at every turn by his unstable psyche. Mr. Robot pokes and prods at Elliot’s fragile mind, sometimes blowing his brain most literally in two. Despite his best intentions, this destructive relationship has largely not changed from last year. The key difference is us.
Throughout the first season, the audience served as a respite for Elliot. A sounding board as he clings to reality. The voice-over is not so much narrative tool but therapy. He confesses to us, tries to illicit responses from us, “is this right?” or “am I remembering this correctly?” We, of course, have no response, unable to break the barrier and show him the way. As he comes to these conclusions and realizes the extent of his madness, it is already too late. The revolution has begun and he can’t even remember how or why. We know and said nothing. We are accomplices, accessories to the crime. We did not help Elliot in his time of greatest need, and this he has not forgotten.
Elliot tries to come to grips with our complicity. We are no longer a respite, but a betrayal. Instead of the honesty we earned initially, Elliot speaks to us with hurtful contempt. Thoughts like “I am not sure I can trust you anymore” or “Its going to take a while to heal our relationship” plague us as Elliot draws the curtain on our previously fruitful relationship. This will undoubtedly continue throughout season two. We had our chance at transparency. Now we must muddle through the confusion like everyone else, Elliot included. The relationship between show-runner and audience has always been strained. Audiences typically demand a voice in the direction of the show, but simultaneously want a clear, paved vision. You cannot do both. With Mr. Robot, we had our chance. We will be the very last to know what happens next.