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Mr. Robot - eps2.1k3rnel-pan1c.ksd - Review: "The Arcade"

The highly entertaining Mr. Robot screened its third episode of the second season last night, on the back of last week's two part premiere. "eps2.1k3rnel-pan1c.ksd" was a generous 62 minutes long, and the extra airtime was utilized wonderfully to add some important detail to the storyline, and with the murder of Gideon Goddard last week, another character bit the dust in last night's hour.

The opening minutes were spent in a rather unexpected, but fascinating way. fsociety members Mobley and Romero were in deep conversation about, in a nutshell, how the faction came to reside in the abandoned arcade building. Romero recounted the building's colorful and deadly past, with many people who had something to do with the building succumbing to all sorts of accidents and unfortunate endings throughout the decades. The way I read the conversation was that Romero was now in possession of the building and keen for Mobley, a current fsociety member, to use the building as their base of operations. Mobley was also attempting to convince Romero to join the faction, but Romero wanted to be certain fsociety would make use of the building.

How the group got its name was the next topic the pair discussed. On the building's exterior, some dilapidated light-up letters originally spelled "Fun Society" but after years of exposure to the salty coastal air and no maintenance, the U and N had all but vanished, leaving "F Society" behind. While it sounded like a great name for a hacking collective to adopt and shorten to fsociety, the episode's concluding minutes would lead you to believe that's the biggest oversight - and mistake - the faction have made to date. More on that later.

What happened to the U and the N?
That's a story for another time.

Next thing we know, out of the blue, Romero was dead. How exactly remains a mystery, but given the history of the former "Fun Society" building, maybe that was his fate all along. Darlene, Mobley and Trenton were startled and concerned, as was I. FBI investigator Dominique DiPierro, which has far-reaching implications for Romero's associates.

Completely oblivious to all this is Angela, whose character transformation had me the most intrigued in last week's premiere. She spent considerable time with Evil Corp CEO Phillip Price - in fact we didn't see Angela do anything non-work-related.

Philip Price, master of the universe.

Price invited Angela to dinner with two other Evil Corp executives. This took Angela by surprise, but she ran with it and dressed to the nines for the occasion. Michael Cristofer was outstanding as Price during the episode. He managed to play a powerful old man who I suspected might be looking to take advantage of a vulnerable young woman, without actually conveying that at all. Further, Price gave Angela some additional evidence she could use to pursue her case on Terry Colby stemming from Season 1. This was totally unexpected - after all this is the CEO of Evil Corp actively implicating one of his former executives in serious crime. For the company as a whole you'd think that would be unheard of, but Price seems to be operating differently. His agenda is more self-serving than I - and Angela - realized, and this is on the back of his stoic defense of his company's dealings with members of the Federal Reserve last week. It'll be interesting to see what he does next.

Despite the slight resemblance to a drone worker, Angela still has some intellect intact, with her remarks to Price before accepting his evidence on Colby something to take heart on:

Whatever you're doing I don't trust it.

Lead character Elliot had a bizarre and largely unproductive episode that played out in spectacular fashion. Keen to banish the ever-present Mr. Robot from his mind, Elliot obtained adderall, over his normally preferred morphine, but it didn't work. What we saw were some spectacularly directed and acted hallucinations, one in particular which included Elliot hallucinating a kidnapping, and the kidnappers pouring freshly mixed concrete down his throat. What was in fact happening was Elliot was inducing vomiting to clear the partially dissolved pills to stem his hallucinations, but as soon as Mr. Robot reappeared, he sifted through his regurgitated mess and swallowed the pills again.

Elliot also spent a brief moment on the classic red phone talking to someone who remains unknown. He also spent time with Ray and Leon. Some great analogies were made with a kernal panic, keeping the episode in proximity to computers and their systems.

Later in the episode, Elliot engaged in a long and detailed rant on the perils of religion in his church group. This was one of the episode's most entertaining moments, and it drew parallels to Mr. Robot's rant about the state of society in the middle of Times Square in the season 1 finale. Rami Malek gave excellent performances throughout the hour.

Tyrell Wellick and his wife Joanna were absent from this week's episode entirely, but this was more than made up for by Grace Gummer's outstanding portrayal of the seemingly insomniac FBI investigator Dominique DiPierro. Earlier in the hour she was seen awake in the small hours of the morning, and later pleasuring herself while asking Amazon's A.I. Alexa when the world would end. as far as characters with flaws and issues go, Dominique fits right in.

The next morning, Dominique went to interview Romero's mother, a loud, unruly character who only let Dominique through the door on the condition she showed off her craft in rolling joints. While unwrapping a glass for a requested drink of water, Dominique noticed the paper it was wrapped in had computer code typed on it, along with the paper wrapping other objects in some boxes. The game-changer was an End of the World party poster marketing the recent party held at the arcade by fsociety to flood the building with foreign fingerprints.

Naturally, Dominique investigated further.

You gotta be fucking kidding me.

In front of her stood the arcade, but it was the dilapidated light-up signs that drew her attention. She saw "F Society" and she made the connection.

This was an awesome way to wrap up the episode. While fsociety may be a cool name for a hacking collective, because its inspiration was left for all to see and to connect the dots with, the human condition which fsociety - and Elliot - exploits to hack people and Evil Corp has seen its role reversed to target themselves. Had a computer chosen the name for the collective, it would most likely have been a random sequence of letters with no physical connection to anything else. Dominique's discovery is a great way to bring the concept of the human condition and its flaws full-circle.

In all, this was another highly entertaining episode of Mr. Robot. Elliot's hallucinations were wonderfully executed, but the genuine story progression came via the history of the fsociety arcade and Dominique DiPierro's discovery of it. I'm really excited to see what comes next.

Thanks as always for reading! Don't forget to share your thoughts and theories on the episode in the comments below - I love hearing what everyone thinks. Check out the SpoilerTV Database for all the press releases, promos and photos for the upcoming episodes of Mr. Robot.

About the Author - Jimmy Ryan
Jimmy Ryan lives in New Zealand, and works in the IT industry. He is an avid follower of drama television and has a keen interest for television ratings and statistics. Some of his favorite shows right now are Person of Interest, Scandal, House of Cards, Orphan Black, Mr. Robot, Suits, The 100, How To Get Away With Murder and Elementary.
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