Mr Robot was always going to find a way back into Elliot’s head. The spin-off show, “Elliot”, where Rami Malek walks his dog and eats soup with Joey Badass could probably power itself on charisma alone- but that’s not what we’re here for. No, this is where Malek gets to demonstrate some range.
Elliot’s problem (well, one among many) is that he lies to himself- and one of his most dangerous lies is that he can treat his own brain like a computer. Wikipedia tells us that a Kernel Panic is ‘an action taken by an operating system upon detecting an internal fatal error from which it cannot safely recover’, Which is more or less what he decides to do. He dumps the journal, starts taking Adderall like they’re smarties, and enjoys a day or two of happiness until he overloads and crashes. Then the fatal error occurs.
The grey-suited man from the diner Elliot spotted in the diner returns to throw him in a van, and the brief shock at him getting caught so early dives right into the hallucinatory, as Mr Robot demonstrates the full extent of his power. Not only can he see Mr Robot as an actual person, but is far gone enough to imagine half a dozen suits and a wheelbarrow full of cement. Then he, in what might be the most viscerally unpleasant thing the show has ever done, performs what’s colloquially known as a ‘Night Three at Glastonbury.’
Then there’s the God speech. Elliot is broken. “My system’s hung”, he says. And into that void comes a voice that’s angry, that really wants to see through all the lies and bullshit man, put a fire up people’s asses and get them to really see the truth for once in their lives. If you wanted to see what Elliot looks like when Mr Robot is speaking, that’s the best example we’ve gotten so far. Meanwhile, the show spends some time building up our antagonistic forces. Let’s look at them in order of menace.
Turns out he had something in his back pocket ready for the ‘we’re not so different you and I’ speech- a dead wife. Or more specifically, the mental image of a dead wife he talks to on a regular basis. Ray seems like he’s aware of what he’s doing (emphasis on seems), and it offers a potential resolution for Elliot. If Mr Robot doesn’t entirely disappear, having him around as some abstract, easy to manage concept might not be so bad. It’s enough to get Elliot talking, and maybe Ray will get what he wants out of him. What that is exactly isn’t yet clear, but we know there’s a website that needs fixing and he’s not above using violence to get things done. Ray seems like more of a somewhat reluctant enforcer than the man in charge, and there’s somebody further up the chain he’s taking orders from. Maybe the Dark Army?
Somebody is killing off hackers (R.I.P Romero), and the FSociety hackers are worried it’s the Dark Army getting rid of any remaining leads connecting them to the 5/9 attacks. If that’s true, they’re doing a terrible job. The show spends some time humanising Dominique (most endearing -her taste in music ), and as we saw last week she spoke to Gideon just before he was shot. She’s knowledgeable about hackers, and by episode end she’s tracked down the arcade hideout. The rules of narrative economy tell us that there’s more to her than just doing the job, and an authority with a personal vendetta doesn’t usually end well.
Credit due to Michael Cristofer, he’s one of those actors who oozes Wealthy Bastard, and this show gives him the opportunity to play a guy who looks like he was the eye model for the dollar bill. Angela’s decision to stay with EvilCorp quickly pays off, as Phillip Price invites her to dinner with two executives renowned for their charity work. Once they’re gone, Price tells Angela the executives covered up the death of her mother, and gives her the information necessary to destroy their lives. The important question here is motivation. It doesn’t seem in him to do something purely out of the goodness of his heart, and perhaps this is simply an object lesson- that exercising power comes with its own set of consequences. Or maybe he senses a morality that he does not possess, and that if she uses that disc she might feel obliged to remain in his debt. Either way, almost everyone is in some kind of trouble.