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‘Mr. Robot’ Recap and Reaction: “eps2.1k3rnel-pan1c.ksd”

For a full recap of the latest episode, visit the Mr. Robot Wiki here. This article is a review of the episode in which specific details and events are discussed. SPOILERS may occur, so read at your own risk.

I’m grateful for getting to recap a new (for me) show this season; but Mr. Robot, in particular, hits all the right buttons for me. Last week’s jam-packed (and super-sized) premiere set the tone for a post Five/Nine world, and the next chapter sprawls out like the aerial views of Coney Island and Queens in the opening.

We pick up at the Coney Island boardwalk, where the sanctum of fsociety’s arcade is invaded by amateur historian Romero who describes its cursed history of murder and insanity to Mobley. They conspire to co-found the hacker group. Romero is in for the score, but Mobley wants to recruit him for the cause. We see glimmers of the genius of Elliot from Mobley’s eyes. This is early Mobley, before he can get disillusioned by “her crazy brother.”

Then we journey forward in time to Elliot’s phone call from Tyrell. Tyrell is still cagey about where he is, and when Elliot presses, Robot pops back in to be the gatekeeper and cut him off. “You wanted to talk to him, and I delivered.” Elliot’s attention is drawn away by news about Gideon‘s shooting.

Later events seem to put a pin in the theory that Elliot is in prison (his perceptions shaped by Robot’s influence), but the stark presentation of clues here still make me think Wellick is (and always was) a manifestation of Elliot’s. Remember that when last we saw those two, there was a gun involved and Wellick “disappeared,” leaving behind a curiously knowing wife.

The wider cascade effect of Bank of E‘s fall is elaborated on as Romero’s mother has trouble with her own bank, which was tied together in assets with Evil Corp. Mobley comes looking for Romero, who turns out to be dead on the back porch. His phone lays shattered next to his bleeding head, but no suspects are forthcoming. If someone is targeting players as diverse as Gideon and Romero, they’ve got a huge advantage knowing more than the audience does.

mr-robot-elliot-feature

Elliot scores some Adderall from Leon and pops enough to overdose in an attempt to get rid of Robot. He walks away and gets renditioned. Elliot’s seeming interrogation drifts into a mouthful of concrete in a parking garage, and the bizarre scene is revealed to be an elaborate construction by Robot to get Elliot to vomit up the Adderall.

Mobley’s meets Darlene on a subway, where she callously calls Romero a liability. The ever practical Darlene is still asking about vulnerabilities (namely who saw him). Elsewhere, Darlene and Mobley visit a concerned Trenton. The murders of Romero and Gideon have her on edge, as are the publicity stunts Darlene is staging. Mobley is concerned that Elliot will leak about connections to the Dark Army. The key to patching a good kernel panic is plugging any potential exploits, and Darlene is figuring out that Elliot’s own “memory leak” is a potentially un-patchable vulnerability.

Price nullifies Angela‘s big Bloomberg triumph last week, wanting the interview with Fox News instead. She objects and he sits her down. He gives her what seems to be a quid pro quo of dinner at a top restaurant if she’ll drop the objection, but then relents and says that Bloomberg would be more appropriate after all. Before she leaves, he notes that she always looks at an illustrated news article hanging from his wall of the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand. This event launched World War I. They muse on how one man’s assassination can change the world.

We’re drawing clear parallels to Gideon and Plouffe‘s head shots here. Just in case you didn’t catch it.

mr-robot-christian-slater

Angela gives herself a pep talk as she heads to dinner with Price, protesters outside barely slowing her down. Price’s other guests introduce Angela to the inner circle. Later in the evening, he reveals that they were present and complicit in her hometown cover-up; they also have been insider trading together. He hands her a disc full of evidence to scapegoat them. He notes her reluctance to destroy their lives, but that it’s an exercise in excising her feelings.

Angela’s own reboot is going about as well as Elliot’s, and she finds that no matter how much personal control she thinks she has, the deeper the waters she’s swimming in.

DiPierro offers to roll Romero’s mother’s joints in exchange for conversation. (That’s the least deeply personal revelation about DiPierro this episode.) Mama Romero mentions her son’s “chubby” friend, but the real find inside the brownstone is a flyer for the “End of the World” party, leading the agent to the arcade.

Ray (Elliot’s new computer friend) turns out to be a terrifying Bitcoin-fueled cyber-boss. His current contractor was paid to run a dark web, and was beaten when the site’s security exceeded his capabilities. The contractor urges a site migration to a more secure provider, and to the surprise of no one, Ray commission his thug to beat him up. Elliot is clearly the next contractor Ray has in mind. Ray reminds Elliot that control is always an illusion, and instead is about incremental exploits instead of the bigger picture. Ray intuits Elliot’s mental condition, and Mr. Robot reappears in the background.

This adds a huge dimension to a man we thought presented a temptation to Elliot, but is going to be as big a personal big-bad as Evil Corp. No matter how sympathetic his conversations with his dead wife are, it will be difficult to see him without menace now. In a show based on questioning your own reality, the shift in perspective leaves me wanting more.

Best Moments of the Episode

Elliot’s Adderall is giving him a manic focus of sleepless days, but the diminishing returns cause his well-regulated system to crash. On his sixth day awake he runs out of the meds and reality starts to wash back in. He rants to his anger management meeting about the mind control of organized religions, comparing his ownership by his “imaginary friend” with their ownership by their “invisible gods”.

The kitchen scene where Ray confronts his contractor.

Pondering Franz Ferdinand.

Next Week on Mr. Robot

“eps2.2init1.asec”


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