USA Network‘s Mr. Robot eps2.1_k3rnel-pan1c.ksd TV Show Review. Mr. Robot: Season 2, Episode 3: eps2.1_k3rnel-pan1c.ksd is at it’s best when it focuses on the struggle of its protagonist to take control of his life.
While there are other subplots involving Angela (Portia Doubleday), E Corp CEO Philip Price (Michael Cristofer), and fsociety hacker Romero (Ron Cephas Jones), none quite reach the emotional and philosophical heights as the main plot involving Elliot (Rami Malek). Spread out over the course of several days, the story plunges the young hacker (as well as his “friend”, the audience) from the highs of euphoria to the lows of hopelessness.
Things seemed to have turned around for Elliot since last week’s two-part opener. His anxiety appears to have dissipated, he is now excited for the neighborhood basketball games, church group and even Leon’s (Joey Bada$$) Seinfeld musings, and best of all, Mr. Robot (Christian Slater) is nowhere to be seen. Of course, you’re probably thinking that this is all too good to be true, and as it turns out, it is too good to be true: Elliot’s anxiety, paranoia, and hallucinations are being kept at bay by regular Adderall dosages, meaning that he is more energetic than normal (prompting Leon, weirded out when Elliot expresses genuine interest in his latest observation about Seinfeld , to say “I don’t like this”) and as a result going days without sleep.
Before long, Elliot’s ecstasy turns to despair, as the toll on his body increases and realizes the true, precarious nature of his situation. He faces repeated attempts by Mr. Robot to come back into his life, with the most prominent (to say nothing of impressive) example being when Elliot hallucinates that he is kidnapped and tortured by men in black, causing him to vomit the pills he took earlier as Philip Glass’s score to Mishima swells in the background and Mr. Robot reminds him that there is no escaping him. Dejected, Elliot ends up lashing out at the church group he only recently attended with enthusiasm, comparing his fellow attendees to drug addicts and asking “If I won’t listen to my imaginary friend, why should I listen to yours?”
Trapped in a purgatory of his own making, Elliot finds an escape when he encounters Ray (Craig Robinson) again. As lonely as he is thoughtful, Ray tells Elliot that they have much more in common than he thinks, but Elliot remains unmoved by his overture. He is, however, taken by Ray’s belief that maybe the purpose of life isn’t to avoid catastrophe, but to make sure that you can survive it when it strikes. As Elliot listens to his neighbor, he sees Mr. Robot standing, waiting for Elliot to acknowledge him. Does he have a plan to defeat Mr. Robot once and for all, or has he finally come to terms with his presence? We’ll have to wait until next week’s episode of Mr. Robot to find out.
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