Mr. Robot “eps2.1_k3rnel-pan1c.ksd” Review (2×03)

20 Jul

Screen Shot 2016-07-20 at 10.15.00 PM

“It doesn’t matter where you go or where you come from, as long as you keep stumbling. Maybe that’s all it takes. Maybe that’s as good as it gets.” 

Instability. Panic. A lack of control. This week’s episode of Mr. Robot embraces itself in all its incoherent glory, eschewing an advancement of plot in favor of a deeply unsettling–yet fascinating–collection of scenes. It’s not perfect, but the style of the hour certainly fits with the themes the show is pushing at the moment. “eps2.1_k3rnel-pan1c.ksd” effectively builds up the tension and uncertainty, the “overwhelming fear” Elliot describes as “building, burrowing, and nesting”. It features an amazing montage of Elliot on Adderall, Rami Malek grinning his way into our nightmares as we, the audience, become as disoriented as the characters in the show. It showcases Malek’s talents yet again, both in that montage and in a later monologue about organized religion. It takes more risks in one hour than most of television does in an entire season.

Here’s the thing about this show: we’re not supposed to know what’s going on at all times. The audience is very much a part of this world, and Sam Esmail does not want us to feel like we’re in control. After all, “control is about as real as a one-legged unicorn taking a leak at the end of a double rainbow”. It’s a realization that these characters come to regardless of what they do to try and take control, regardless of how long or how closely they follow–or don’t follow–the rules set by society. They’re all in a “perpetual state of grasping in the dark…stumbling…fighting for footing”. Everything in this meticulously crafted show–all the way down to the off-center camera angles–occurs with that idea in mind.

Thus, it comes as no surprise that the new characters fit right into that theme. “You and me are more alike than you think, Elliot,” Ray tells Elliot near the end of the episode, and there’s truth to that statement. Bring in Grace Gummer’s Dominique DiPierro, and we have a trio of characters who talk to people who aren’t physically there, who dwell in isolated states of their own and are dealing with deep-seated issues. All three are endlessly watchable and tremendously compelling characters, and though they’re all dealing with dark shit, the show poses this question: aren’t we all? Aren’t we all just stumbling from moment to moment?



-Once again, great choice of music. We have Dusty Springfield’s “You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me” over the wonderful opening credits, and we have The Highwaymen’s “Highwayman” a little later on. Also, Philip Glass’s “Opening” and “Lovely Allen” by Holy Fuck.

The Shining references this week! Also, blatant Amazon product placement.

– “Fuck God. He’s not a good enough scapegoat for me.” Brilliantly delivered monologue that deals with control, guilt, and religion in a magnetic manner.

– “All we are is paying fanboys of their poorly written sci-fi franchise.”

-Goodbye, Romero. :/

-Michael Cristofer continues to be fantastic.

-I love that DiPierro is led to the arcade not through the use of technology, but rather with a simple little flier.

-I have a bone to pick with USA: last week, they thankfully uncensored everything, but this week, even the word “fuck” on a computer screen is blurred out. If you’re going to let this show get away with the dark and unsettling stuff it consistently produces, USA, then the least you could do is lift those censors. The word won’t hurt anyone.

Photo credit: USA Network, Mr. Robot

3 Responses to “Mr. Robot “eps2.1_k3rnel-pan1c.ksd” Review (2×03)”

  1. J.HY July 21, 2016 at 5:40 pm #

    Great review, and also looked for the songs, and I think you made a mistake in the last song, it’s “Lovely Allen” by Holy Fuck

    • polarbears16 July 21, 2016 at 7:03 pm #

      Ah! Yes, mistyped there. Thank you so much for catching that.

  2. Hepburn3 July 21, 2016 at 11:13 pm #

    I find that I am watching this show for and because of Rami Malek, I find him compelling and adorable.
    But other than that I am getting a tad annoyed by how the showrunner , director, writer actually thinks that he is so clever and we are dim. I mean come on.
    The God is Dick and all religions are stupid and the cause of all the problems of the world spiel is a lame, over used hackneyed trope. Elliott’s out loud confession was well done by Rami but it was a tad hyperbolic and self congratulating when one considers that the real God of this show is Elliot/Mr.Robot and that is who Elliott worships,serves and is. It was like a lame Nietzche for dummies session spouted off by a jag who has gone to two philosophy lectures. I found it neither shocking, or groundbreaking.
    Everyone on that show is so damaged and broken, it makes me wonder just what holds them together and why the dillio do they bother? The only thing that seems to be cohesive is that not one of the main characters or the secondary ones take responsibility , it is someone or something else’s fault.
    I will continue to watch though because of Rami Malek, even though at times it feels like an exercise is self-indulgence aping at being clever/enlightened/woke.
    What I did really like:the music, (Phillip Glass), Elliott’s Adderall trip, and of course Rami Malek. 😉
    As always it is fun to read what you think PB! It is like watching tv with a friend. 😀

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