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TV Review: Mr. Robot 2.3 “eps2.1_k3rnel-pan1c.ksd”
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Mr. Robot
Season 2 Episode 3 “eps2.1_k3rnel-pan1c.ksd”
Directed by Sam Esmail
Written by Sam Esmail
Created by Sam Esmail
Starring Rami Malek, Portia Doubleday, Carly Chaikin, Christian Slater, Michael Cristofer, Stephanie Corneliussen, Grace Gummer
USA Network
Air date: Wednesday, July 20, 2016, 10pm

In the 2-part second season premiere of Mr. Robot, we found Elliot (Rami Malek) totally off the grid. To keep Mr. Robot (Christian Slater) at bay, he developed a mind-numbingly boring daily routine, with not a second of it involving computers or the internet. He goes to church meetings, therapy, and keeps a journal of all the times Mr. Robot tried to get into his head… actually, I guess it’s out of his head. Meanwhile fsociety, having achieved their goal of resetting the economy and turning the entire nation upside down, plotted its next move despite its leader being out of commission. Darlene (Carly Chaikin) put the gears in motion – a plan to extort $5.9 million from E-Corp and have executives literally burn the money in public.

The FBI was desperately trying to figure out who was behind this. Their chief suspect was Tyrell Wellick (Martin Wallstrom), but he too went off the grid, and poor Gideon (Michel Gill) took the fall. One of the few people in the world Elliot respects, Gideon begged him to help. Unfortunately being linked on television to a massive cyber attack on the nation’s economy isn’t good for your social status, and Gideon was assassinated in a club. Will this be the motivating force to draw Elliot back to the internet and fulfill his role as leader of fsociety?

Spoilers below.

Elliot awakes on the phone with Wellick. He overhears on TV about Gideon’s murder. Speaking of murder, when Mobley (Azhar Khan) goes to meet fellow fsociety member Romero (Ron Cephas Jones), he finds him lying in a pool of blood from a headshot. Elliot decides the only way to finally put a stop to Mr. Robot is go back on pills and heavily over-medicate, as he calls it, causing a “kernel panic” or a fatal system error. He can’t determine reality anymore so when he is blindfolded and kidnapped into a van, he doesn’t know if Gideon ratted him out to the FBI, or he’s hallucinating. He’s forced fed cement in a gruesome torture scene, until we see he’s actually regurgitating the pills back up much to Mr. Robot’s delight.

“I have burrowed underneath your brain. I am nested there. I am the scream in your mind. You will cooperate my son, I will make you, because I OWN YOU!” Slater says these lines with particular glee. Elliot’s reaction is to dig through his vomit and find the adderall and re-swallow them. “I will not be owned,” he tells him, lounging against the wall in a disgusting mass… victorious. Rami Malek may have won an Emmy in that scene, one of the greatest portrayals of pure crazy I have ever scene.

The FBI is investigating Romero’s murder and Mobley meets with Darlene and Trenton (Sunita Mahi) to try to reassure them that they’re safe. Mobley is freaked out and thinks it’s The Dark Army, or that maybe Elliot is behind this… another Mr. Robot-caused death perhaps.

“Think about Trenton. We just pulled off the crime of the century and they’re trying to cover their tracks… and right now WE are the tracks.”

Elliot is 5-days of pure adderall and no sleep. He’s talking, cheering on the local ballers, and even finds God at church. But he’s also coming apart at the seams. He goes on an epic rant in his church group raging against religion and God. “Please tell me I didn’t say that out loud, shit, I did.” But if you thought Elliot was the only damaged character on this show, don’t worry, we got you covered. Angela (Portia Doubleday) is reaching into higher positions at E-Corp, even going for dinners with E-Corp leader Phillip Price (Michael Cristofer) and other higher-ups. She regularly needs to give herself pep talks out of a self-help book. Then there’s FBI agent Dominique DiPierro (Grace Gummer), who speaks to her siri-like companion about the world ending right she finishes cyber sex. This show is filled with bizarrely fascinating characters.

While Elliot meets a new friend, Ray (Craig Robinson), he wonders if letting Mr. Robot back in his life is the right decision. Meanwhile, investigating Romero’s murder, DiPierro finds flyers in his mother’s home for an “End of the World Party” in Coney Island. As we reach the end of the episode, she stands in front of the shuttered arcade where the U-N in FUN SOCIETY have fallen off. “You gotta be f*cking kidding me,” she chuckles to herself as the episode fades to black.

Mr. Robot features some of the best acting on television right now. The scene between Christian Slater and Rami Malek with the vomit and the adderall is one of the best scenes I’ve seen in years. Malek’s performance is total body art. He looks frail and crazy, and thus you believe him when he acts that way. His rant in the church reminded me of Ed Norton’s mirror rant in Spike Lee’s 25th Hour, while his physical portrayal is reminiscent of Christian Bale’s role in The Machinist. The pacing and the performances convey the sense of paranoia and lunacy to the viewers. Mr. Robot becomes more than a show, it becomes an experience.

Mr. Robot returns next Wednesday night at 10:00pm ET on USA.

Video

Mr. Robot: ‘I Will Not Be Owned’ from_2.02


Watch a must-see moment from season 2 episode 3 of Mr. Robot.

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