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‘Mr. Robot’ Season 2: Five Reasons Why You Can’t Look Away

As the hit USA Network series returns, here's what to look out for.

Rami Malek and Christian Slater in "Mr. Robot."

Rami Malek and Christian Slater in “Mr. Robot.”

Peter Kramer/USA Network

Mr. Robot” began last year as the tale of isolated hacker Eliot (Rami Malek), out on a one-man quest to “save the world.” But the series’ unique storyline quickly escalated into epic-level chaos as society itself came under attack by the mysterious “fsociety.” And while some of the story beats might have felt familiar, creator Sam Esmail changed the game for USA, bringing to the screen a production sensibility reminiscent of the best of independent film.

READ MORE: Review: What is ‘Mr. Robot,’ and Why Did It Win the SXSW Audience Award?

The Golden Globe winner for Best Drama, “Mr. Robot” returns July 13 for a two-part premiere event. The first two episodes of Season 2, made available this week to critics, confirms that all of the series’ most captivating elements remain intact.

You literally can’t take your eyes off the screen for a moment, and here are five reasons why.

You Never Know What’s Coming Next

The degree of attention demanded by “Mr. Robot” can’t be understated, especially when it comes to the way the show never feels beholden to a linear timeline. Shifts in the narrative flow may catch you by surprise if you’re not following closely — there are always enough clues to indicate when specific scenes take place, but it simply isn’t the sort of thing to be watched casually.

The Performances

While “Mr. Robot” is undeniably led by Rami Malek, the supporting cast, especially Christian Slater, Portia Doubleday, Carly Chaikin and more, truly coalesced within their characters by the end of the season, their choices becoming more bold and intriguing than ever. Esmail often lets the camera linger on each performer, especially when they’re alone and/or at their lowest, and those character interludes often prove to have real impact. You might think that the quiet moments would be a good time to sneak a peek at your phone. You’d be very wrong.

Carly Chaikin in "Mr. Robot."

Carly Chaikin in “Mr. Robot.”

Peter Kramer/USA Network

The Coding

How much this matters to you may depend on how much of a nerd you are, but watching the code flow across the screens (and maybe even freeze-framing it, to see exactly what commands are being typed in) proves incredibly rewarding. Esmail famously insisted that the code not only be technically accurate, but that all the actors actually type it themselves, so you know what you’re seeing is grounded in reality. Even if you’re not fluent in Python, it’s not hard to make sense of some of the syntax.

What’s Being Said (Versus What’s Being Seen)

Even though the show is often driven by voice-over, the way Esmail implements said voice-over — often in striking contrast to other characters in other scenarios — leads to scenes where the complexity might be lost, if you’re not paying attention.

And Frankly, Why Wouldn’t You Want to Look At It?

For a show about the ugliness of society, there’s a cold beauty to so much of “Mr. Robot.” especially when it comes to showcasing its New York locations, interior and exterior alike. Even the swirling colors of a smashed smartphone screen get a lingering moment on camera. And these images are captured with an aesthetic that constantly keeps us surprised by its use of color and framing — all of it just off-center, enough to keep you just on the edge of your seat. And eager to see more.

“Mr. Robot” Season 2 premieres July 13 at 10pm on USA Network.

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