Mr. Robot: eps2.1_k3rnel-pan1c.ksd
July 21, 2016 2:06 AM - Season 2, Episode 3 - Subscribe

Elliot vows to beat Mr. Robot; Angela gets a glimpse behind the curtain at E Corp; and fsociety stirs up trouble.
posted by Pendragon (29 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
Sepinwall's review. He seemed to think it showed Mr. Robot at both its best and worst but liked it more than not.

I'm still picking it apart in my head and can't get farther than: What a wild episode. And what a showcase for Rami once again. I want to go screencap his adderal wake up face so I can use it as a reaction jpg.

And poor Romero. I'm glad we got one last speech out of him. That history of the arcade was great.

I'm still not sure what to make of Dominque, though I found it interesting that they showed her using an Alexa after the way they portrayed smart home stuff in the premiere. I hope she at least finds better sexting partners in the future even if shes destined to keep everything outside of work at a remove.

I'm also still not sure whether I hope Angela becomes a truly villainous Ice Queen or if I want her to betray what she's seemingly being groomed for here.

Was the group therapy scene the first time we've seen Rami slip into full Mr. Robot mode? I want to say no but that we haven't quite seen it like this? That he went into an obnoxious Dawkins-esque screed about religion made me feel bad for the fsociety members that have had to put up with his rants for a while.

All in all, I liked this one.
posted by sparkletone at 2:27 AM on July 21, 2016


I really should have rewatched season 1 before diving into season 2 because I seem to have forgotten a lot, but does finding Romero dead on the back patio change our interpretation of that scene between Romero and Mr. Robot from episode 7?
posted by joan cusack the second at 8:19 AM on July 21, 2016 [1 favorite]


Man the name of the resteraunt is a deep Eyes Wide Shut reference "Fidello" and also a good reference fi the movie's themes of the corruptive power of money.

Nice use of buffering artifacts to convey a breakdown.
posted by The Whelk at 11:02 AM on July 21, 2016 [1 favorite]


Really curious what Price's plan is with Angela. I don't think he has any carnal interest in her.

From Sepinwall's review:

When I spoke with Sam Esmail at the end of season 1, he said he didn't want the audience to constantly be questioning the reality of other characters and locations, and that's smart. The show got to turn over that card once with Mr. Robot's true nature, and there it had been so heavily foreshadowed that it could barely be called a surprise. Do it again — and on this scale — and you risk turning the entire show into a parlor game, where viewers are never paying attention to what's happening between the characters because they're constantly looking for clues as to what's real and what isn't.

So I think all of this is really happening, no more imaginary stuff, except for Mr. Robot himself of course.
posted by Pendragon at 12:22 PM on July 21, 2016 [1 favorite]


Loved this bit from the A.V. Club review:

Right now, Dominique appears to be just what she seems, a federal agent who stumbled into a break in the biggest case of her lifetime. Discovering the party invitation that leads her to the Fsociety compound on Coney Island was dumb luck, the result of being good at rolling joints, a skill Romero’s mother could use. But it also served as the chaos-theory conclusion to the arc with which ”k3rnel-pan1c” began, a flashback to the first time Mobley and Romero met and walked through the arcade, giving the checkered story of its past. And all those random deaths, Romero’s down-on-his-luck need, and his skill as a “phreaker,” to quote Mobley? They all led inexorably to Dominique’s discovery. Romero might be too broke to be superstitious, but now he’s too dead to be anything.
posted by Pendragon at 12:33 PM on July 21, 2016 [1 favorite]


So, Ray is real, and he is running some sort "unsavory" online service or activity, given that he has an enforcer in his employment (an enforcer who doesn't have a smart phone, possibly on purpose, as Ray asks him to "turn on the goddamn weather station").

For anyone wondering about the jargon and screenshots, Wired, Sophos' Naked Security sub-site and The Verge have "hack reports" on this episode, in addition to the Reddit stuff that I'll cite later.
posted by filthy light thief at 3:08 PM on July 21, 2016 [2 favorites]


Really curious what Price's plan is with Angela

Yeah, I'm not sure which way he was encouraging her to go with the "remove emotion" advice. Remove the guilt of destroying these men's lives, or remove the pain of your past and get along. The information is a great gift he is giving her, and a sign of trust, but it's also likely a test.
posted by yellowbinder at 3:54 PM on July 21, 2016


Somewhat off-topic, are we now allowed one use of the word "fuck" in each program episode on basic cable now? I noticed it both this and last week. A fully audible "fuck" within the first ten minutes or so and then several other instances where it was elided from both the audio and the closed captioning.

I love this show for many reason not he least of which are Michael Cristpher an Craig Robinson, either of which I would be happy to watch in anything, except that awful "Mr. Robinson" sitcoms to a few years ago.
posted by hwestiii at 7:37 PM on July 21, 2016


The first time Elliot looks at his hand holding the pill and there's that subtle buffering glitch I was struck with an immediate and startling sense of, "oh so I'm not the only one" because that's almost exactly what it feels like on a school night when I'm drunk and very tired and being stubborn and trying not to go to bed but I'm too out of it to realize that I'm fighting it.

... and then it went on into full glitchmode and I was like, "okay so my shit's not that bad, not by a long shot."

Very entertaining and singularly weird episode. The FBI agent scenes feel like they're from a different show altogether. Malek's acting in the 'lying in bed on Adderall scene' was fantastic.
posted by komara at 7:52 PM on July 21, 2016


So was the masturbation scene justified? I get that it was intended to highlight her alienation, social anxiety & the technological mediation she uses to manage all that. And a big part of the show is about keeping you off balance & making you feel uncomfortable. The emotional tone is all over the place, constantly shifting in a jarring manner. But I still felt it was a little gratuitous.
posted by scalefree at 9:36 PM on July 21, 2016 [1 favorite]


The first time Elliot looks at his hand holding the pill and there's that subtle buffering glitch

The whole adderall sequence was pitch perfect, both the acting & especially the effects. The glitching was priceless.
posted by scalefree at 9:40 PM on July 21, 2016


sparkletone: I'm still not sure what to make of Dominque, though I found it interesting that they showed her using an Alexa after the way they portrayed smart home stuff in the premiere.

Yeah, I'm not sure about her, either. Interesting use of Highwayman as her "get ready for the day" song - is she someone from the first season coming back anew? Or is she the higwayman, stealing "baubles" and killing soldiers, only to die (and come back)? The song ended after the highwayman iteration, stopping a few lines into the life of the sailor, born upon the tide, and with the sea....

Regarding her use of Alexa, it's a really creative play against a few points: 1) instead of a smart house, she has a smart phone (which is rather ubiquitous, with Siri and other similar AI-type services rolled into most phone platforms now), but 2) it's not in control of everything, but rather a limited servant, who 3) takes the place of human interaction, like Elliot's Mr. Robot, and Ray's wife.

As for her masturbation scene, perhaps my thresholds have been negatively shifted due to Game of Thrones, but it seemed like a relatively respectful way to show a woman trying to find sexual pleasure/ release, where she was fully clothed, and she was in control of the situation, and wasn't being used to further someone else's story.
posted by filthy light thief at 9:53 PM on July 21, 2016 [4 favorites]


Ka all like how they're showing how society has become unstablized by 5/9 in big and little ways , a sudden open air swap market for now priceless forms, Bitcoin mobile truck banks, resteraunts requiring you to pay upfront*. It's not in your face, but it is in nearly every scene, driving a lot of the plot and things haven't gotten ...apocalyptic , but they do see, to be getting steadily worse.

*i think I remember this one of Argentina's banking crashes
posted by The Whelk at 11:05 PM on July 21, 2016 [1 favorite]


I have an Amazon Echo in my living room, and weird things happened during this episode. The character saying "Alexa" (when will the world end?) did not actually set off my echo. But twice during other points of the episode, when it didn't sound to my ears like anyone saying Alexa, my echo woke up and gave weird responses. Which has never really happened before during other shows. I didn't think too much of it at the time but it seemed weird in retrospect, like I wondered if somehow it was intentional? (Probably not, just the paranoia of the show seeping in, but the fact someone actually saying "Alexa" didn't set it off seems the weirdest, looking back). I may watch the episode again tonight to see if I can pinpoint exactly what set it off.
posted by Roommate at 5:42 AM on July 22, 2016 [8 favorites]


1) instead of a smart house, she has a smart phone (which is rather ubiquitous, with Siri and other similar AI-type services rolled into most phone platforms now), but 2) it's not in control of everything, but rather a limited servant...

More than that, she keeps her smartphone in her safe, with her guns (presumably the safe is essentially a faraday cage). Reminded me of a police forensics friend of mine who, when attending a hacker conference, kept their cell phone wrapped in a metal mesh fabric.

The more obvious display of her techno-savvy is asking the police technicians if they damned the computer before trying to pull forensic data off of it.
posted by el io at 6:33 AM on July 22, 2016 [1 favorite]


Once Mr. Robot is over, I want someone to write a show starring Rami Malek and Tatiana Maslany, and I want them to win all the awards for the foreseeable future.

This episode's pacing seeming a little off to me, and I had to do that thing where I un-focus my eyes during the vomit-eating scene, but damn, do I love the actors in this show. Elliot's atheist rant was textbook "angry young man discovers Dawkins," but Malek's switch from his usual pensive confused cadence to full-on Christian Slater Mr. Robot ranting was just damn impressive. Combine that with his "these dishes are immaculate" montage, and Malek is quickly becoming one of my favorite actors.

RIP Romero. I loved the opening scene with Mobley, although I had one of those suspension of disbelief moments when I think about how little patience I would have if any of my friends started monologuing at me.

On a cynical note, is the Alexa product placement connected to the show moving from Hulu to Amazon Prime? That doesn't seem very fsociety of them.
posted by bibliowench at 8:26 AM on July 22, 2016 [2 favorites]


I loved the opening scene with Mobley, although I had one of those suspension of disbelief moments when I think about how little patience I would have if any of my friends started monologuing at me.

I could see Romero being the kind of guy that a guy like Mobley would just sit and listen to for hours. Romero has really lived life, while Mobley (appears to) have had it pretty easy, and he's the one friend of Romero, so they got along.


On a cynical note, is the Alexa product placement connected to the show moving from Hulu to Amazon Prime? That doesn't seem very fsociety of them.

We'll see how well Alexa holds up, seeing how utterly pwned the Smart House was earlier. I guess that's the point of keeping the cell phone in the safe, which doesn't seem like a selling point for a tech device ("It's totally secure! Well, as long as you keep it locked away in a lead box as much as possible.")


sparkletone: I'm also still not sure whether I hope Angela becomes a truly villainous Ice Queen or if I want her to betray what she's seemingly being groomed for here.

In "Hacking Robot," the "chat with the actors and writer/director" bit that followed the first two episodes, Carly Chaikin (Darlene) and Portia Doubleday (Angela) talked about where their characters go this season in vague, non-spoiling ways. They both said they're trying to find themselves, struggling with the various pressures and directions they could go.

I think Angela has some plan, but after this episode, I'm not sure if her plan changed after the post-dinner discussion. Maybe she'll try to use the damning evidence to leverage more from Saul Weinberg (managing director of operations) and Jim Chutney (SVP of B.A.), get the names of everyone in the room and take them all down together? Or maybe she'll learn that Evil Corp is full of such good people who are rotten in their core, complicit with deaths and injuries as long as it keeps the company going, and their paychecks (and bonuses) coming in.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:22 AM on July 22, 2016


It struck me that it could be Chekhov's Alexa. Always listening, connected on-line. Could be used in a later act.
posted by umbú at 11:23 AM on July 22, 2016 [3 favorites]


Reminded me of a police forensics friend of mine who, when attending a hacker conference, kept their cell phone wrapped in a metal mesh fabric.

I have one of those, I'll be bringing it with me to Defcon in a couple weeks. You can never be too careful around hackers.
posted by scalefree at 3:44 PM on July 22, 2016 [1 favorite]


Good god this season is even more alienating than the last. Deeply disturbed in lots of ways. Eliot's kernel panic was fantastically portrayed, I loved the metaphor. (Can testify it's legit language about programming, too.) But oh god, so upset. Upset by almost everything in the show really.

So Ray knows Eliot's group therapy chaplain, and retrieved his notebook for him? That's impossible coincidence. I still like the "Eliot is actually in a mental hospital" theory, but it really could be any of a number of things.

I'm a bit wierded out about the Dark Army being set up as the actual enemy this season. Maybe it's misdirection though. As long as we get more BD Wong I'm on bored.

Also a bit weirded out about the F SOCIETY sign at the arcade. Was it visible in the first season? Such an on-the-nose clue, it cracked me up with New FBI Lady called it out as ridiculous.

My favorite moment was the look on Angela's face as she walked into dinner to see two other guests, her realization she was not simply being propositioned by her boss.
posted by Nelson at 10:53 AM on July 23, 2016


Nelson, yes the F(un) Society sign was visible in S1. I can't point to a specific episode, but my recollection is that it was shown more than once.
posted by hwestiii at 5:28 PM on July 23, 2016 [1 favorite]


So was the masturbation scene justified?

I think if they were playing it for titillation, it might've been off-putting to me but it felt pretty clear that they weren't. It was showing disconnection/boredom and could probably not have been filled much less sexily. Even the sexting/cybersex/whatever we got a glimpse of was... purposefully (on the part of the show) not hot. They didn't linger on any of it at all either. Other shows would've had her more undressed and would've had it take up more than ten seconds of the scene before moving to the actual business of her having a break through in the case.
posted by sparkletone at 5:50 PM on July 23, 2016


Also a bit weirded out about the F SOCIETY sign at the arcade. Was it visible in the first season?
It was in the very first episode.
posted by fullerine at 6:29 PM on July 23, 2016 [1 favorite]


An Easter egg from the masturbation scene: she was sexting on IRC (from the channel #sex) with "happyhardonhenry806," a tribute of sorts to Happy Harry Hard-on from Pump Up the Volume, Christian Slater's anonymous teenage rebel on the radio, who had a fixation with on-air "masturbation." Sam Esmail has he's envisioned Mr. Robot as a grown up Harry.

As for the "806" suffix, that's the area code for the Texas panhandle, not a suburb of Phoenix, Arizona, like in Pump Up the Volume, but Dom's "partner" was "henry," not Harry, so he's an impostor either way. And Slater's character was named Mark Hunter, so it's masks and handles all the way down.
posted by filthy light thief at 12:50 PM on July 24, 2016 [2 favorites]


Back to PUtV, I assumed that Hunter's HHH handle was a joke on his high school, Hubert H. Humphrey High School.

I'm not sure what Dominque's IRC handle ("deeeepsteep") means. The only thing I found for "deep steep" was Deep Steep, "a natural bath, body and hair care line with emphasis on organic, all-natural ingredients."
posted by filthy light thief at 1:00 PM on July 24, 2016


I have a vague memory of once copying out an oops trace in longhand for some reason. It's now feeling disturbingly vague after this episode.

Resisted the urge to decode the oops in the notebook, although I did notice that it involved Xen. Mr Robot is a domU to Elliot's dom0.
posted by joeyh at 7:46 PM on July 24, 2016 [3 favorites]


some associations for deeeepsteep

deep steep is not deep sleep, it is an alternative to sleep, it is anti-sleep

expensive, dangerous, out of your reach, out of your league

deeply fucked, well and truly fucked

Does anyone feel the pacing of this season is really different than the first season? The first season seemed to move in a really satisfying way, misdirection and epiphany, tension and release, pain and catharsis, cliffhangers and game-changers, deepening the mystery exactly the right amount to keep you interested but not so confusing or random as to leave you feeling manipulated. The pacing of the last two episodes, especially the double episode, has been alienating, with jarring transitions. Is it purposely alienating or getting sloppy?

Until the end of the episode, I was convinced that the FBI agent was part of one of the hacker factions posing as law enforcement to make sure nothing incriminating was recovered from the crime scene. There were probably scenes from the first (double) episode that would quickly demolish that idea, but I had a hard time keeping everything that happened in that episode in my head while watching this one.
posted by nequalsone at 12:45 PM on July 25, 2016


It's interesting, the pacing, the feel, so far. it's certainly not designed to bring in an audience that didn't watch season 1, or were on the fence.
posted by OHenryPacey at 4:33 PM on July 25, 2016 [2 favorites]


Definitely slower pacing, but I think it will speed up.
posted by mmoncur at 7:16 AM on August 1, 2016


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