Mr Robot S02E03 “K3rnel-pan1c.ksd” REVIEW
Airing on Amazon Prime Video, new episodes every Thursday
Writer: Sam Esmail
Director: Sam Esmail
Essential Plot Points
- We go back in time to see Mobley and Romero at Coney island. Romero is showing Mobley an abandoned arcade called Fun Society. Romero is just out of prison, Mobley is trying to recruit him for what will become fsociety.
- Back to the present, and Elliot is on the phone to Tyrell Wellick. He won’t tell him where he is, or what happened during the hack, saying only, “We were like gods Elliot.”
- Mobley goes to visit Romero, and finds him dead.
- Ray is at home having breakfast whilst on a dialysis machine, talking to someone we can’t see.
- Leon gets Adderall for Elliot. Elliot is using it to keep Mr Robot at bay.
- Elliot is kidnapped by some spooks in a van, they take him to an empty parking lot and proceed to pour concrete down his throat..
- …cut to Elliot puking up the Adderall on his bedroom floor, with Mr Robot gloating, “I own you!” Elliot re-ingests the pukey Adderall, much to Mr Robot’s displeasure (and anyone else’s frankly).
- Angela is at work at E Corp, CEO Phillip Price invites her to dinner at Fidelio’s (apparently they do the best semifreddo).
- Agent DiPierro is getting ready for work, putting on her makeup in-between cups of coffee. She’s investigating Romero’s death – he had her name on a list.
- Trenton, Mobley and Darlene meet up. Mobley is paranoid that The Dark Army is picking them off one by one.
- Ray’s current network engineer isn’t working out for him; he can’t protect against hackers stealing Bitcoins.
- Elliot hasn’t slept in some time; he’s crashing, and things are starting to get a bit odd (okay, odder).
- Angela goes to dinner with Phillip Price. He’s invited two other E Corp execs, apparently they were both at the meeting with Terry Colby when they decided to cover up the radioactive leak which caused her mother’s death. They’re also involved in some insider trading. Price gives Angela a disc with incriminating evidence on it.
- Elliot has a religious rant at his church group.
- Ray tells Elliot he still talks to his dead wife, and convinces him to embrace Mr Robot again.
- DiPierro finds the Fun Society arcade on Coney island.
“This is the nexus of all evil in the universe,” quips Romero while showing Mobley around what is to become fsociety’s fairground hideaway. Perhaps he’s right. It certainly doesn’t end well for him this episode. The fairground flashback begins episode three, which picks up more or less where episode two left off, and while the opening episodes may have been a little slow, this one is anything but.
Visually Mr Robot has always had a strong aesthetic, but this episode ups the ante with some genuinely clever cinematography, all perfectly in tune with the soundtrack. Mac Quayle’s score is as ever superb, but there are some great uses of pre-existing music here as well.
Visuals reach a peak with Elliot’s Adderall-induced sleep deprivation sequence bringing to mind a nightmare vision somewhere in between Twin Peaks and Requiem For A Dream.
Special mention must be given to one scene in particular, however: Elliot sees a trio of little girls in red and blue dresses wearing fsociety masks. Cut to the dresses in a washing machine; the spinning colours reflected in Elliot’s eyes look just like the Mac OS spinning beach ball of doom. It’s a clever but relatively subtle trick, and shows us Elliot is crashing; both literally and figuratively.
Elsewhere, we get to spend a bit more time with Agent Dipierro, both at home and at work. There’s a definite sense of an odd purposefulness to her character. The time on her alarm clock is not set, constantly flashing 12:00, and the phone she’s currently looking at shows her it’s 4:03, but she still asks Alexa what time it is. Alexa in fact seems to be her only companion: “Alexa, when is the end of the world?” she asks. Not anytime soon apparently.
The odd dance between Angela and Phillip Price continues, becoming increasingly creepy and awkward. Michael Cristofer is back on form as the inscrutable CEO, after almost showing emotion in the series opener. His motives for giving Angela the disc with the evidence on it aren’t really clear, part of some elaborate game he’s playing no doubt.
Has Ray managed to convince Elliot that his symbiotic relationship with Mr Robot isn’t necessarily a bad thing? Hopefully this means Mr Robot is back to stay, and fsociety can get on with the task of saving/changing/destroying the world.
- Elliot’s trippy Adderall sequence
- Elliot’s spinning beach ball of doom eyes
- Mr Robot might be back!
- The comedy CSI agents seem a little misplaced.
- Still no Tryell…
- …and still no hacking.
And The Random:
- “A man can change the world with a bullet in the right,” says Phillip Price whilst talking about Franz Ferdinand. This is a quote from Lindsay Anderson’s If…. (1968), originally voiced by a very young Malcolm McDowall. It’s used to great effect in Hoodlum Priest’s song “Semtex Revolution”, who (co)incidentally also have a song called Tyrell.
- DiPierro’s friend Alexa is the virtual assistant inside Amazon Echo (well you weren’t expecting Siri were you, this is airing on Amazon Prime after all).
- The singing homeless man on the subway is played by Anthony Laciura, a notable tenor, and recurring actor in Boardwalk Empire.
- Adderall is traditionally used to treat ADHD and narcolepsy.
- DiPierro is watching Million Dollar Listing New York in bed on her laptop; specifically the episode, “I Love You Puffer Munkin”.
- DiPierro has the Joyable app on her phone; it’s part of a program for overcoming social anxiety.