USA’s Mr. Robot
Season 2, Episode 3: “eps2.1_k3rnel-pan1c.ksd”
Directed & Written by Sam Esmail
* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “eps2.0_unm4sk-pt2.tc” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “eps2.1_k3rnel-pan1c.ksd” – click here
Mobley (Azhar Khan) and Romero (Ron Cephas Jones) keep up the good fight for fsociety. We hear the oral history of their little arcade, from Romero, and the origin of fsociety’s name comes from the corporation title, “Fun Society Amusement, LLC.” A long, weird, ugly history. Out of which is now growing something good, or at least aimed at the intention of good. All boils down to this being the perfect place to do some hacking. Romero wants to sell the place off, under the radar. He doesn’t want to go back to jail, though. He doesn’t want to be involved. Although Mobley talks a good game.
Oh, by the way, this is before Romero met Elliot (Rami Malek). The origin of their at times tenuous relationship amongst the fsociety. A great opening scene.
“Panic. Here it comes again.”
Elliot’s character is so compelling because he’s very real. Not only is he talented, he’s disturbed, he has mental health issues. But they’re not atypical, all the same things we’ve seen before. He’s brilliant, he’s also flawed. Now Elliot’s talking to Tyrell (Martin Wallström) over that red phone. “I think about that night, when we became gods,” Tyrell tells him. More than that he’s got dad (Christian Slater) continually barking in his ear. On top of it all he’s found out about the murder of Gideon Goddard.
That morning, Mobley finds Romero at his place, shot in the back of the head. Taken out so quietly under everyone’s nose. Because whoever it is has unbelievable reach.
We’re also getting a glimpse into the life of Ray (Craig Robinson). Seems he’s got his own mental issues, too. Sitting at the table, eating, looking as if he’s hooked up to dialysis, he talks to somebody who isn’t there. This is very interesting if what we’re seeing is what’s going on, if there’s no trickery. Because in this case, he and Elliot have so much in common. Which could be bad.
What’s really no good is Elliot self-medicating. He’s determined to push Mr. Robot, dear ole dad into the recesses of his mind. He swallows down a bunch of pills to drown out the sound of his rambling. Right before a guy looks like an FBI agent crosses his path.
Darlene (Carly Chaikin) isn’t overly surprised about their friend being dead when Mobley meets to talk with her. She’s cynical, but more so a realist. Yet it’s still not hard for them to wonder what the fallout of their actions will be ultimately, after all is said and done. Such as how Elliot’s been taken by the FBI man, or whoever he is, and they’ve got him tied to a chair. They’re mixing concrete in a barrel, as well. Big plans for him. They’re going to pour it down his throat. No, it’s just another vision, along with dad making it all happen. He forces Elliot to throw up the pills, only to be thwarted when his son, vomit and all, slurps them back down. He’ll do anything to “not be owned.”
“I have burrowed underneath your brain, I am nested there, I am the scream in your mind.”
Love that we get a good look at Dominique DiPierro (Grace Grummer) in this episode, seeing more of her, as well as in her personal space. She’s not your archetype of an FBI agent with a drug problem or anything like that. Although there’s some mystery about her. Now she’s involved slightly with the murder case of Romero; her name’s turned up on a list the hacker had in his things. This gets her digging around later, by herself, cosying up to Romero’s mom to get a second look at things.
We also get more of Trenton (Sunita Mani), after Darlene and Mobley go see her. They’re all divided. That sense of power, of righteousness keeps throbbing in Darlene, she’s not even scared after their close friend was killed. She also won’t listen to anything else, about Elliot, or getting away to someplace safe. Mobley and Trenton realise the danger of the Dark Army, she doesn’t appear bothered. This leads Mobley to wonder if the brother-sister team aren’t in on the whole thing. Paranoia abound.
The full story on Ray comes out further. He’s got a website. He deals with very bad, dangerous, violent people. He is also likely just as violent, maybe as dangerous. He’s doing some kind of shady shit online, that’s obvious. More mystery surrounding him, even after a bit of information.
Ray: “We‘re not animals”
Meanwhile, Elliot believes he’s rid himself of dad’s influence. He’s taking the right amount of pills, getting enough sleep. Well, sometimes. Adderall has changed his life, he’s even into Leon’s (Joey Bada$$) theories on George Costanza and Seinfeld. He’s actually gotten into basketball. But he’s medicated into another kind of madness. However, he’s starting to see it all differently. No matter what he does there’s always that darkness lurking in him, the damage will never go away. It is inescapable. He’s starting to break down, all over again. In a whole new way.
“The scream in my mind is coming back”
I worry a bit about Angela (Carly Chaikin), who’s meeting Phillip Price (Michael Cristofer) for dinner on a Saturday night. Seems sort of, questionable? Until arriving to find him there with a couple of her colleagues, Sol and Jim. She looks disappointed somehow, though she ought to be happy. Maybe she’s finally being taken seriously.
Or maybe not, who knows. Afterwards, Price is alone with her. Tells her those two men were involved with Colby, back when they devastated her hometown. Oh, my. Didn’t see that coming. He’s actually brought her evidence to boot.
What’s the ultimate cost? That’s my only thought.
Elliot’s starting to see that he’s, despite all the trouble, better unmedicated. He sees the truth when he’s unmedicated. And while, to some others, it might sound insane, it’s all so true. He goes on a rant at his NA meeting about gods, organised religion, and how God “owns you” through belief and the “distortion of reality.” In this sense, God is like a father, his father, many fathers.
That evening, Elliot gets a visit from Ray, who still wants help with whatever kind of website he’s been running. Ray tells him about losing his wife several years before, and that’s why he talks out loud at the breakfast table. This dude scares me, some aspect of his personality doesn’t sit right. Elliot winds up back at Ray’s office with him, then things get deeper between them. The guy almost echoes his father’s “control is an illusion.” This is already more dangerous than I imagined.
Also, guess where Dominique’s ended up? You know which arcade.
Lord, I’m in love with this TV series! Great writing, fantastic themes being illustrated in ways we’ve not seen before. As much a show about mental illness as it is about hacking. Can’t wait to watch more. Haven’t even finished Season 2, already dying for Season 3.
“eps2.1_k3rnel-pan1c.ksd” comes next.