Elliot cracked. In the first episode of Mr. Robot he appeared set living his triple life: conglomerate security agent, vigilante hacker by the night and new recruit at hacker collective bent on tearing down the world’s economy system. But the second episode, “eps1.1_ones-and-zer0es.mpeg, quickly saw that stability crumble, putting him in a free fall of depression and paranoia over the new world he’s entered.

The show’s thriller pacing did not let up in the second episode. The tense end of the last episode where Elliot is in a room of men in black suits surrounded by Tyrell Wellick, who is about to become the head of E(vil) Corporation, is where the episode picks up. Wellick offers Elliot a job at the company, to which he backs away, overwhelmed, without outright declining. A similar routine is seen when he is told to do a job by Mr. Robot for the fsociety collective, which Elliot refuses to do. The job would involve hacking a gas plant and increasing the pressure to attack the data centers giant corporations, but would also endanger many innocent people. Elliot walks away, but realizes he’s in too deep with this group to simply turn his back on it forever, so he is wondering what he can do when his current options appear so bleak.

That tension is exasperated by Mr. Robot’s ramblings about the choice people are given between “Yes and No” through their lives. Elliot refuses to accept such a binary. At the end of the show, he goes to confront Mr. Robot and presents him with another way to tackle the job without blowing up a gas plant and putting innocent lives in danger. Mr. Robot listens, but the usually-three-steps ahead Elliot cannot keep up with the plan of this elusive hacker.

The first episode ended in a way that appeared to set up Mr. Robot and his collective as the ultimate dream for Elliot. He might’ve found people who finally understood him and his view of the world. Yet the show quickly undercut that to put Elliot back in his natural position of paranoia and loneliness. He also broke his scheduled consumption of morphine, so again the pressures right now are certainly getting to him. Though it is racking Elliot’s mental state, the show benefits with undercutting every moment of progress by a new twist, further kicking him out of the loop he so desperately wants in to. He wants to step out of the world’s binaries, but fully opting out of the system, which a hacker of his standing should understand, isn’t that easy.

Photos via USA Network