Who's Mr. Robot's Landlord? eps 2.1_k3nel-pan1c.ksd

Who Is Mr. Robot's Landlord

Look, I don't know Sam Esmail, but tonight it sure seems like he knows me. Am I wrong or was the whole episode one of the many possible answers posed by the name of my recap?

A few of you know this is my second season of Mr. Robot recaps as I was one of the early adopters of the show. In fact, Mr. Robot was the first show I actually committed to doing weekly recaps for (my other shows are Halt and Catch FireGoT, the recently canceled Vinyl, and an occasional Better Call Saul).

Anyway, let's get to the episode. If you have not seen Eps 2.1 "kernel panic" stop reading now *SPOILER ALERT*

Gallagher Watermelons

Deals are deals. When Tyrell Wellick (Martin Wallstrom) speaks to Elliot (Rami Malek) on the phone it should fulfil the deal between Elliot and the phantasmic version of Edward. But, Elliot feels panic setting in.

Kernel Panic.

And no, we still don't know if this bizarre house is really Elliot's Mother's house or a facility. Given the paranoia that Elliot shows while looking around the corner while he is on the phone and the paranoia that Wellick seems to have about being on the phone there is still a pretty good chance that the house is some kind of facility.

Back to kernel panic.

Look, I am no expert (at all) but a Kernel Panic is when an Operating System takes an action to protect itself once it detects an internal error from which it cannot recover. The OS shuts down and outputs a file of information that a system administrator can use to try to figure what went wrong.

Anyway, Elliot Alderson has decided that he has detected an internal error (Edward Alderson) from which he cannot recover so he decides the solution is to initiate a kernel panic protocol on himself. He first attempts to accomplish this by overdosing on Adderal (apparently, Joey Bada$$ is not just Elliot's new Seinfeld guru but he is also his drug dealer), which results in a pretty interesting interlude with some fake men in black. Once he throws up the Adderal, he sees Mr. Robot sitting in his chair writing code in the now infamous Red Wheelbarrow notebook.

So, the overdose method failed, so he tries a second method, involving taking enough Adderal to keep his brain wired in at all times (papering up the cracks that he thinks allows Mr. Robot in). 

This seems to work fairly well except that he can't sleep and as he gets more and more tired, the ability of Elliot to continue to tell himself the lies that sustain his fantasies wears down as well. The most amazing example of this happens in his Church Group meeting which starts with someone telling the story of finding God in sunlight appearing after he beat the hell out of Indian store owner simply for being an Indian man.

Elliot response, in his sleep-deprivation and Adderal-addled state, is to try to disabuse this man of his faith.

He says things like:

"Why didn't God help my innocent friend (Gideon Goddard)."

"What about the endless wars"

"Why does God allow us to live in this racist, sexist, phobia soup we are drowning in because of him" 

And he follows it up with:

"We are all just fanboys of God's poorly written SciFi, if I don't listen to my imaginary friend why would I listen to him, so fuck God, he's not a good enough scapegoat for me."

In other words, God won't let Elliot off the hook or the guy who beat up the poor Indian fellow. God isn't a good enough scapegoat, and Elliot knows he is at the core of all of this. There is no kernel panic - Elliot is the error. There is no output file to read that will fix Elliot.

After the discussion with Wellick (If it was actually Wellick), Edward asks Elliot "what the fuck" he wants. Elliot responds, what I have always wanted, for the panic to end."

In the premier, he thought knowing what happened would result in acceptance and resignation. Now, he might finally have to accept that the panic is what comes from knowing, knowing deep down, that the panic comes from the certainty that he has done something wrong. 

The panic comes from the fear of being exposed. Oh, and later Ray tells him that when he is talking to his own imaginary friend that he is really talking to himself. Yup.

Stop Spazzing and Be Cool

So, we are starting to learn some backstory to the rest of the fsociety team and about fsociety.

The episode starts with what has to be, given the subject of the discussion between Mobley and Rome, an homage to the incredible introduction to the movie Magnolia delivered by the incomparable Bon Vivant and expert playing card manipulator Ricky Jay.

This discussion is a flashback to when Mobley approached ex-con "phreaker" "Rome" Romero  (Ron Cephas Jones) to recruit him to fsociety under the pretense of wanting to rent the arcade that Rome inherited from his cell mate in prison.

Rome is giving Mobley (Azhar Kahn) the dime-store tour of the area while explaining the history of both Coney Island and the arcade which turns out was mostly bloody and awful. So bloody and awful that Rome's cellmate gave him the keys just to get rid of the curse of the place.

Usually, Mr. Robot is not guilty of providing too much exposition but during this discussion, we find out that the name of the arcade was Fun Society Amusements LLC.  And now we know what fsociety stands for.

F stands for FUN! (more on this later)

After we jump back to the future, Mobley is showing up to visit Rome. He says hello to Rome's Mom and goes to the back yard where he finds Rome face-down dead on the ground. Poor Rome, we hardly knew you.

Mobley is appropriately freaked out and decides to meet with Darlene (Carly Chaikin) and Trenton (Sunita Mani).  Moby believes that the Dark Army is pissed and coming after them while Darlene thinks it is just bad luck for Rome. Darlene promises to talk to Elliot and get back to them when she knows more.

Paranoia will destroy ya. Stop spazzing and be cool indeed.

Alexa, When Is The End Of The World?

Dominique DiPierro (Grace Gummer) is called in to help investigate the death of Rome. 

She arrives on the scene in time to figure out that the other investigators on the case are a total disaster (the computer forensics person manages to blow up the evidence and the other FBI officer has some form of plague).  

She goes home and we find out that she likes to watch Million Dollar Listing New York, masturbate while sexting (one of the few female masturbation scenes I have ever seen on television and definitely the only time I have seen someone say "Fuck God" on television), and that she keeps all her personal tech locked in a physical safe whenever she is not using it.

The reason she asks about the end of the world is, I suspect, in frustration over living such a depressing life in which she finds herself on a job with few peers, socially isolated, and forced to connect to other humans sexually only through text messaging. 

Let me also mention a bit of the influence of Chomsky's "Manufacturing Consent" on season 2 so far. First, we can see it in the references to the Bravo shows (and in that one reference to Nancy Grace). You can see its influence in the Church Group scene when Elliot is basically calling out religion for being the opiate of the people. And you can see its influence in virtually any scene with Phillip Price (Michael Cristofer). 

So anyway, our intrepid FBI agent heads back to Rome's house and talks her way in by offering to roll joints for Rome's Mom, and in like 25 seconds finds a flyer to DJ-Mobley's "End of the World Party." (You remember, the party fsociety put on at the arcade after the 5/9 hack). Also, DJ-Mobley is the same Mobley we just saw Darlene tellling to "stop spazzing".

The episode ends with Dominique arriving at the arcade alone. Over her head, you can see the sign missing the appropriate letters. The sign spells out f....society. As Dominique puts it:

"You gotta be fucking kidding me."

Ordinary Men Capable of Extraordinary Things

Angela Moss (Portia Doubleday) gets asked on a date by Phillip Price, or so she thinks. After taking a chance and telling Price that she thinks he is making a mistake by wanting to do an interview on Fox News instead of an interview on Bloomberg News, he responds by asking her is she has eaten at this place known for its semifreddo (a partially frozen dessert). 

He also remarks on her always paying attention to his picture of Archduke Ferdinand getting shot. As he puts it, "the whole world can be changed in an instant by a bullet in the right place." What a sweetie that Phillip Price is.

Angela gets really excited, so excited that she repeats her special mantras, including telling herself that she is "really attractive."

So, imagine Angela's surprise when it turns out it is not a date in the sense that she expected and Phillip is waiting for her at the restaurant with two other members of the senior leadership of E-Corp.

But here is the bizarre part, in an odd way, I do believe that Phillip does see this as a date but his idea of foreplay is much more disturbing to me. 

At the end of the meal, Phillip asks the other two gentlemen to leave him to talk with Angela. Once they leave, Phillip tells Angela about the two men's families, about how long they have been with the company, and about how they helped cover up the accident that killed her parents. He also offers her the evidence to prove it on a disc. 

He finally tells her that if she is panicking it makes sense because the information she now holds can truly destroy the men's lives but that if she just removes all emotion she will do just fine.

Phillip Price is testing Angela, but it is foreplay, he clearly gets off on using power to destroy people. Yup, that's Phillip Price "Master of the Universe."

"This Heatwave Is A Motherfucker"

Lots of profanity this week, apologies, I blame the new Tony Robbins documentary that just came out on Netflix (I Am Not Your Guru). Dude uses lots of profanity (something to do with the power of using taboo words).

Okay, remember Ray (Craig Robinson) who was trying to recruit Elliot for some shenanigans? Well, we first see Ray this week pressuring his current computer guy to get a site up and running again (it has been down for weeks). The bruised and battered computer guy begs Ray to not beat him up more and then says something about the hackers doing something with Bitcoins that he could not fix. 

Ray now really knows that he needs Elliot.

The interesting thing about this scene is that it is from Ray's POV and Elliot is not in the scene at all. Hard to be part of an Elliot fantasy if the story isn't being told from Elliot's POV?

Later we see Ray sitting down with Elliot at the table where Elliot usually has dinner with Joey Bada$$'s character. He breaks through to Elliot by letting him know about his own invisible friend (his dead wife). 

Later we see Ray and Elliot talking in what looks like Ray's office. 

Now the most bizarre thing about this is that it looks like a psychologist's office. And Ray usually talks with Elliot exactly like a psychologist might talk to a patient. As I mentioned last week, I think this whole story line might mean that Elliot has committed himself to a low-security mental institution. But, given that we saw Ray with his crew multiple times throughout the episode, this is seeming less likely.

It is also possible Ray is another patient, or that he has similar problems created by dialysis. Very mysterious.

Is it possible that Sam Esmail is playing the season straight?

Guess we will find out.

One other thing, the press has started to turn on Mr. Robot like they do every successful series entering its second season. I mean it gets so dishonest now, as you probably noticed, I called out someone for trolling the show last week about the music curation.

Get ready to ignore this predictable pattern of articles.

Remember, F stands for FUN!

Well, that is it for eps 2.1 - hope you enjoyed it.

Let me know what you think, leave a comment!