Last summer when Mr. Robot premiered on the USA Network, it became a phenomenon. The techno thriller series about a vigilante hacker named Elliot (Rami Malek) ended with the shocking revelation that — spoilers! — the titular Mr. Robot (Christian Slater) was not only Elliot’s father, but a vivid hallucination that spoke to Elliot’s unhinged psychological health.
With Season 2 in production, EW learned why the show is keeping the eponymous ghost character and what it means for Elliot going forward.
“Now that Elliot is aware [of the truth], that has opened the door. We’re literally externalizing Elliot’s mentality and his inner conflict, Mr. Robot being the other half of Elliot,” series creator Sam Esmail tells EW. “In the first season, because Elliot wasn’t aware, there was a mystery about who Mr. Robot was and what his real motivations were. Now we know, so what does that mean? What does Elliot really want?”
Esmail adds: “What you’ve got to understand is that when Mr. Robot and Elliot go at it, he’s really going at it with himself. What I can say is that they’re communicating, but it’s almost under duress. Obviously, Elliot can’t escape him, and Mr. Robot doesn’t want to leave. It’s a conflict, but it’s actually more of an impasse that they somehow have to negotiate.”
While Elliot fights himself, another storyline in Season 2 will evoke the complicated Apple/F.B.I. feud regarding privacy over security. At this year’s SXSW, Esmail said that “if our show brings up that conversation it’s going to get people to join the debate.”