Warning: Spoiler Alert
We begin tonight with a flashback sequence. Romero walks down the Coney Island pier trying to explain to Mobley why he’s there. Divided by a generation, Romero takes it to its simplest terms. A story from 1925 about how one couple found success running a ‘freak show’ in the very property they are about to visit. The story doesn’t end well as the crazed husband/father kills everyone, but you get the point. Romero is setting the stage and context for what will become FSociety’s Headquarters. FSociety (or at least its location) has a history of death in a weird grotesque fashion.
The last person to own this building and subsequent business was Romero’s cell mate previous to this point in the timeline. That cellmate gave Romero the keys and made him promise to burn it down. That man believed this building to be cursed. This quickly becomes a pitch. Romero is fresh out of the clink. This building while it may be cursed, is still a sweet, low-key set up. Records are in limbo and Romero is siphoning the electricity. A sweet setup for someone looking to get some work done while not being noticed doing it. Even references to Mobley “his guy”. Then Mobley flips the direction of the conversation.
Mobley: I’m not here to rent from you, I want you to work with us.
Romero: I just got out, I ain’t trying to go back no time soon.
Mobley: Just meet with my guy, we need a freaker and I know you’re the best in the game.
Back in the present there is a slow visual build to Elliot standing in the hallway in complete disbelief after hearing that familiar greeting, “Bon Swah”. Fear washing over him. Confusion in his eyes. But also, a noticeable lack of the wheels in his head turning. Elliot focuses on the immediate question and not the larger ones he should be focused on. He just wants to know where Tyrell is. Wellick is cryptic in his answers revealing no actual location. Then Wellick suggests that Elliot knowing his whereabouts might not be the best idea. Wellick even questions if Elliot is having cold feet. Cold feet about something we the viewers are still in the dark on.
Before the conversation can go too far in any direction Mr. Alderson’s hand drops down to disconnect the call. Alderson conveys that he and Elliot had a deal regarding Wellick and speaking to him. This was Alderson’s way of keeping his end of the deal. However, unhelpful as it was.
In another flashback (this might be a thing tonight), Mobley makes his way to Romero’s mother’s place. She directs him downstairs, its clear at this point in the timeline, Mobley has achieved ‘friend of the family’ status. Good thing too, because Mobley just walked out back to discover what looks like a dead Romero. Cell phone busted and a pool of blood under his head.
We find Ray having breakfast with someone, it resembles in home hospice care. Large medical devices (dialysis perhaps) creating the soundtrack to Ray’s commentary. Even as the camera pulls back we don’t see who he’s talking to. Whoever it is, lacks the ability or desire to respond. I’m not planting any flags with this but, I wouldn’t be surprised if A) that’s Ray’s wife and B) this has something to do with the meeting Elliot was unaware he was a part of. Or Mr. Alderson, depending on how you’re seeing it at this point.
At the afternoon game, part of Elliot’s rigorous adherence to routine as an effort to get rid of Dad, Elliot is back on the pills. Elliot stands toe to toe with Dad. It’s not morphine, it’s a new attempt to get rid of the problem. Then Elliot begins popping one Aderall after the other. One after the other. After he gets about eight pills in, without breaking that piercing Rami Malek stare, Elliot walks away.
This is where Elliot refers to the episode title without doing so. Kernel attack. Only so much can be done following an “Internal Fatal Error”. Right about the time Elliot begins to feel a sense of calm about what he’s just done, a strange man asks for some time…and using Elliot’s last name. Elliot attempts to run but once again the men in the black suits grab him. Generally speaking, I don’t think the feds put the black hood over their suspects.
Mobley sits in a subway car, nervous as a group of cops size him up before departing the train. After they depart, Darlene inconspicuously sits down next to Mobley. Without reverence for the moment, Darlene reiterates how they all knew Romero selling drug was a risk.
The mysterious black Suburban delivers Elliot to some sort of dark garage or parking structure. The men in suits zip-tie Elliot to the only chair in sight. Two of the men start mixing concrete before Elliot then pour it down a funnel and into his mouth. The strange man asking for Elliot’s time was just a projection perpetrated by Dad. All in an effort to get Elliot to throw up the Aderall. Dad charges into how he’s burrowed under Elliot’s brain and Elliot will cooperate because Dad owns him. Just that thought, just the notion is enough to get Elliot to dive back into his own vomit to get the Aderall back in his system. Actually a moderately gross scene. Dad watches in disbelief.
Elliot: I will not be owned.
Angela waits patiently in a strange room while Mr. Price furiously signs papers without so much as looking up at her. Offers his condolences for the untimely death of Gideon then tells her the incredible interview parameters she negotiated are all wrong. She takes ownership of the new task but then questions it. This prompts Price to direct her to sit down. He eventually sits down beside her. Talks her down the path of an old dive bar that became one of the nicest restaurants in New York City. Its awkward but she plays along. Price will make reservations and arrange a car for her. He gets up to go back to his desk, before he’s seated he retracts his previous order to run with Fox over Bloomberg as well as undoing all the other details of her deal. Just like that he backs off completely.
Dominique DiPierro lies in bed running through her news feed on her phone. Ironically, she asks Alexa (a voice activated interactive device for the home) for the time. It’s ironic because there is a clock millimeters from the news stories she was reading on her phone. Then a montage of Dominique getting ready in the morning. A futile effort it seems.
Dominique is the first on the scene to investigate Romero’s death. One of the feds found three sheets of Feds and their identities. Dominique DiPierro’s name is among them. She tries to brush it off like its nothing. Then she directs her attention to the forensics agent who is recklessly connecting a device to a desktop that was out in the open. Dominique asks a very important question too late. “Did you check to see if they were modified ports?” No sooner than did she say that, the CPU caught on fire.
Darlene and Mobley stand in Trenton’s parent’s home. Eventually Trenton’s mother gives them a moment. There is one mention-able theory on their minds. Is the Dark Army offing people connected to the hack? Darlene rejects the idea immediately. Darlene is the sole Dark Army contact. Well her and Elliot. Darlene doesn’t even want to consider what Mobley is thinking. Darlene will reach out to Elliot, in the meantime, she think’s everyone should just ‘chill’.
Mobley (to Trenton minus Darlene): I don’t trust her. Or her crazy ass brother.
We get some more light shed on what exactly Ray does for a living. There is a very slow camera pivot that reveals while Ray is speaking with someone who does not respond, we find a nice home and a mother clutching her son. Ray speaks about wealth without health. It seems like Ray is an enforcer. Rocky Balboa in the beginning of Rocky I, just more articulate and polite. The person he’s speaking to had the left side of his face almost kicked in from the look of it. Bottom line, ‘the site’ has been down too long. If this man fixes it, he will get his wealth and in time, hopefully, his health.
There is a legitimate issue. Whatever it is this man is supposed to be able to do, he does not know how to do. He pleads with Ray and even explains what it is he does not know how to do. If you’re foreshadowing sense is tingly, it should be. This at least fills in a potential gap between Ray, Elliot, and the meeting Elliot does not remember
Ray’s Driver: I could try to convince him again…
Ray: Just because you beat a man’s face to a pulp don’t mean he’s gonna know what he don’t know.
Elliot has not slept for three days. It’s not what you think. He is just so absolutely thrilled with the world now that Mr. Alderson is no longer in it. Elliot is experiencing complete bliss, like we’ve never seen Elliot display before. Not even the “I did it” scene in time square early in season one. This sequence is a little creepy…in a good way. The excess of Aderall is effectively removing Mr. Alderson from Elliot’s consciousness. It also seems to be sharpening his senses. Things seem clearer. Almost in a “Limitless TV series” sort of way. Elliot is downright jovial.
This is a different Elliot. But here’s the rub, it’s a high Elliot. He’s becoming more focused? Leon’s Seinfeld theories all of a sudden seem interesting? Ending with the admission that Elliot may have even found God. Not criticizing it, just suggesting that’s about the most un-Elliot thing this character could’ve done. Catching the holy ghost was particularly un-Elliot like.
As Elliot’s unapologetic exuberance for his new life minus Dad, it all snaps back into focus. Real Elliot and Inner Elliot aren’t on the same page. Inner Elliot knows this is a rouse. The false reality slowly dissipates. Elliot looks down at the Aderall in his hand and his hand and arm begin to pixelate. The audio is jumbly. Then he pops the pill. We then find Elliot across from Leon except this time Leon is speaking backwards and Elliot seem completely uninterested.
Elliot returns home to find the two children from the Shining have grown up to become three creepy kids and they are all wearing the now famous FSociety mask. Yes, Elliot can at least identify it’s weirdness. Side note, along with the jumbly audio there are flashes of what look like lines of computer code almost as if it’s trying to break through and that is what’s causing the inconsistent audio.
Elliot watches the laundry tumble in the dryer. “That’s my internal fatal error”. Kernel Panic. Day number six without sleep. He’s crashing. The panic isn’t settling in anymore, it’s just lingering. As if it’s waiting for something.
Angela arrives at her Dive Bar turned Exquisite Dining experience dinner date. Her “Dinner date” is with Price and two other important and not age appropriate men. And Price even reintroduced himself. “Phillip Price, Master of the Universe”.
Elliot is coming down but still very much high on the Aderall. At his bi-weekly church group an adult bully tells his story of his violent act on an innocent Indian store owner. Elliot slowly turns his head from his half asleep posture and develops a sinister corner smile. The leader of this church group gently invites Elliot to share.
Inner Elliot: Naw…my system’s hung.
Real Elliot chimes in. She mentioned that God can help. Insert the non believer’s backlash. Why didn’t God help when my friend died for no reason? What’s about to happen is not much more than the theological interpretation of his first speech about how he hates society. He jumps around but keeps to his point. Countless wars in his name. Racist, sexist soup we’ve been drowning in. Exclusive groups in all religions. The analogy that religious leaders are nothing more than drug dealers of hope and the believers are the addicts. Referring to the collective ‘us’ as nothing more than fanboys falling over for the latest sci-fi franchise.
Elliot: If I’m not going to listen to my imaginary friend, why would I listen to yours? Worshiping his key to happiness. That’s just how he owns you. I’m not crazy enough to believe that. A distortion of reality. So, _____ God. He’s not a good enough scapegoat for me.
Time has passed and Price’s ‘friends’ are politely asked to give Price and Angela the room. It doesn’t take a genius to see Price had some ulterior motive. Both men that left were good upstanding company men, but they were also present during the deal to cover up the issues in Angela’s home town. The temperament of both Angela and Price go south. Price extends a disc with enough evidence to put both men away for a long time. Price gets up to leave when Angela suggests she doesn’t trust whatever Price is trying to do. Price advises her to remove the emotion and make the decision to take these men down easy. It feels like Price is grooming her.
Elliot sits at Leon’s diner, but with no Leon. Ray enters and sits in Leon’s seat that Leon is not occupying. Ray returned Elliot’s journal that Elliot discarded. In part because high Elliot put in a great deal coded chicken scratch. Then Ray levels with Elliot. Including the part where he lost his wife over 5 years ago. He goes on to explain that after his frozen in grief period, he began talking to her loudly while he ate his breakfast. Then he realized who he was talking to. He mentions this to attempt to relate to Elliot.
Dominique shows up at Romero’s mother’s place. Gains entry by offering to roll her joints that her cataracts won’t permit her to roll herself. Dominique is digging and Granny almost gave up Mobley. Grabbing a glass for Grammy (that are already packed for her move out of that home) Dominique discovers the dishware is wrapped in evidence. Including the flyer for the end of the world party.
Elliot is actually opening up to Ray. Ray tells the story about his wife’s strictness to following the rules and creating control. Then one day, none of it matters. Ray believes there is no getting up after you fall because life is just a series of perpetual falling. Ray pegs that the subject of the journal has meaning. Elliot tries to leave, but Ray talks him back in by suggesting that Elliot does want to talk about it. Dad returns but does so quietly. Inner Elliot monologues about the continuation of perpetual falling as we see Dominique make the trip to Coney Island. She stops and stares up at the front of the FSociety Headquarters. At the right angle with letters missing from the marquee, it literally reads F. . . . Society.
Dominique: You’ve got be ______ kidding me…