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MR. ROBOT Recap: Kernal Panic

Editor’s note: This post contains spoilers for USA’s show Mr. Robot. Read at your own risk.

If there’s one thing that’s been made abundantly clear about Elliot’s journey in Mr. Robot thus far, it’s that the character has reached his breaking point. Now that he’s aware of the dissociated monkey on his back (a.k.a. Mr. Robot), he’ll do anything to shut him out. Unfortunately for Elliot, things aren’t that simple. When we caught up with the troubled protagonist last week, he was struggling to keep his inner demon in, which he thought he had mastered by sticking to a strict schedule. Of course, it wasn’t enough and led him down a much darker, drug-filled path this week.

Mr. Robot - Season 2

Yes, Elliot is back on drugs, but as he pointed out to the very judgy Mr. Robot, it has nothing to do with his morphine addiction. This time, he’s snagged some Adderall from his buddy Leon (damn it, Leon, we thought we liked you) and started popping them like Tic-Tacs. It’s frightening to see Elliot resort to overdosing on a prescription drug just to get rid of the unwanted voice inside his head, but it happened and didn’t exactly provide the relief he was seeking.

In fact, it made it worse. As a way to cement his place in Elliot’s mind, Mr. Robot unleashed a wicked hallucination that still makes my skin crawl. In short, men in black suits showed up immediately after Elliot took the drugs, stuffed him in a van, and delivered him to a warehouse. Once there, he was bound to a chair while cement was funneled into his mouth. In an instant, the delusion broke and Elliot found himself vomiting, with Mr. Robot at his side, telling him to get it all out. Thus, the control Elliot was seeking was forcefully ripped away by his alter-ego. Elliot, however, was not willing to back down and defiantly consumed the vomit-covered pills and declared that he wouldn’t be owned.

Three days later, Elliot is feeling no pain, and hasn’t slept since he took the pills. According to him, he’s up to 200 mg, and is finally aware of his surroundings, focused… and completely manic. He actually engaged in conversation with Leon (which scared the crap out of Leon), and way too enthused about basketball. But that didn’t last long. Elliot broke the fourth wall to ask viewers whether they were buying any of this. By the fifth day without sleep, he was hallucinating girls in Monopoly Man masks, and was in full-on panic mode. He finally hit Kernal Panic, which he defined at the beginning of the episode as an internal fatal error from which a system can’t safely recover.

MR. ROBOT -- "eps2.1_k3rnel%u2010pan1c.ksd" Episode 203 -- Pictured: Rami Malek as Elliot Alderson -- (Photo by: Peter Kramer/USA Network)

After another mysterious code (quick, somebody find out if 3448075.307991 means anything) popped up on screen, Elliot headed to his church group and spewed his thoughts over the un-suspecting attendees. To sum it up, he ranted about how organized religion was created to control its followers, and put power into the leaders’ hands. This goes hand in hand with Elliot’s constant comparison of Mr. Robot to a god who is trying to control him. After realizing he said that all out loud, Elliot trashed his journal and left the building.

The journal wasn’t gone for long, however, as Ray found Elliot in the diner and returned it. We saw another layer to Ray (who was introduced last week) tonight and are still trying to process it. In his scenes with Elliot, he opened up about losing his wife, and provided him a shoulder to lean on (very much like a social worker). But there’s more to him than we originally thought. In another scene, he was trying to get a guy to take advantage of the hack to empty the money from the accounts while the bank’s site is down. Based on his apparent distaste for the man’s treatment, we’re assuming his involvement has something to do with the conversation Elliot couldn’t remember having with him. Did Elliot recruit him? My guess is: probably. He seems like a nice enough guy that wouldn’t be involved in something like this.

Speaking of things Elliot can’t remember, we still don’t know what happened to Tyrell. Towards the beginning of the episode, before the overdose incident, Elliot answered what we assumed was Tyrell’s phone call. The jury’s still out on whether he was actually talking to Tyrell, but something tells me he was. Having Mr. Robot mess with Elliot’s mind to make him think he wasn’t really talking to him is too simple. That said, we won’t really know more until he shows up.

Mr. Robot - Season 2

As Elliot’s life continues to crumble, so does the outside world. Angela (who is working at ECorp) was handed evidence against two colleagues who had a hand in the cover-up involving her mother’s (and Elliot’s father’s) death. Price gives it to her after treating her to a fancy dinner with the two seemingly good men. But with the information, Price planted a kernal of doubt in her mind, telling her that if she removes emotion from the situation she’ll be fine. As he pointed out, good men are capable of extraordinary things (both good and bad). It’s up to Angela to decide whether she wants to leave her emotion at the door and destroy their lives.

Our other leading lady, Darlene, is dealing with another problem. Early on in the episode, Romero was murdered, which raised FSociety members’ fears that the Dark Army might be responsible, and is picking them off one by one. After assuring Mobley and Trenton that the other group isn’t involved, the other two start to worry that Elliot secretly made a deal with White Rose (which we know he did), and Darlene is in cahoots with him.

Unfortunately, Romero’s death also led to newcomer FBI Agent Dominique DiPierro (portrayed by Grace Gummer) locating the FSociety arcade headquarters. Up until she found the address—which was included on a poster for the “End of the World” party—the hideout was completely off the map. Now that she’s found it, and is on the right trail, things aren’t looking good for the hackers.

With Tyrell’s whereabouts still unknown, we’re terrified to see what Dominique finds in the arcade. Will it be Tyrell’s dead body? Will it be evidence leading back to Elliot? Who knows, but we’ll be on the edge of our seats until we find out.

Images: USA

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