This might be the first episode of MR. ROBOT where Elliot is nowhere to be found in the entire hour. Instead, the focus is on Darlene and fsociety as things around them begin to fall apart. Is she up to the task to lead the group, or are things so far out of her control that it’s too late?
Like what’s happened a lot this season, we start by going back in time to the very beginnings of fsociety. This is Mobley and Trenton’s first interaction before they start working together for the hacker group. They’re both there to meet Elliot, but while they wait they flirt and talk, unaware they’re there to meet the same person. There’s even a nice shout out to Ron’s Coffee where they meet, and the location that has crazy fast internet speeds. If you remember all the way back to the beginning, Elliot shut down the owner of that Ron’s Coffee for using that location as a source to spread child pornography. Is this why he couldn’t meet them? Was he too busy getting that guy arrested? Either way it’s Darlene who shows up. She’s running things in his absence.
It’s the same now. Elliot is nowhere to be seen throughout the entire episode, but his presence and his fingerprints are on everything. He lurks like Harry Lime in the Third Man. He’s why everyone jumps through the hoops they do, it’s his plan, but when things go to shit, it seems like he’s abandoned the cause. Mobley has gone too far down the rabbit hole for his own comfort, and after fsociety gains access to an FBI conference call on Operation Berenstain, his paranoia only deepens. The FBI has 16 people under surveillance, but one is dead. Mobley is sure the dead person is their fellow friend and fsociety member Romero. In the call, the FBI agents admit to terrible breaches of the public trust, and extending their reach beyond the legally determined limits. In retaliation, fsociety releases the audio of the conference call outing the FBI and hampering their investigation due to the large public outcry.
All of this takes place at their base of operations, Susan Jacobs house. She hasn’t come back since Darlene and fsociety messed with her homes internal computer, but she does now. The E-Corp lawyer walks in right as Darlene and company release the fsociety video to the world. This is a big problem. She’s seen Darlene, Mobley, Trenton, and Cisco. Susan knows who they are and what they’re up to, so how can fsociety let her go when she has the ability to get them all in serious trouble? They tie her up by the pool and do what they do best, they hack every aspect of her life looking for a chip to blackmail her with to keep her silent. They find nothing but emails from her doctor about her pacemaker. Susan tricks Trenton into letting her use the bathroom, but when Susan tries to attack Trenton she slips and bangs her head really hard. Darlene goes down to talk to her alone, and this is where things take a turn for the interesting.
All of the past pain, loss, anger, and embarrassment of Darlene’s childhood bubbles up to the surface right at this moment. It all culminates in this one interaction with a person who left a lasting impression on her as a four year old. Susan was there, at the court proceedings with a bevy of other lawyers when the judged ruled in favor of E-Corp in the case against them for their negligence in Darlene’s father’s death. When the verdict was read exonerating them of any guilt, Susan laughed. It was only a moment, but that callous emotional outburst left a lasting impression on Darlene. It’s led both ladies to where they are right now. Darlene has helped destroy the company Susan works for, has taken over her home as fsociety’s base, and the only thing left is to get revenge for the painful courtroom laugh. When Susan begs for them to come to some agreement, she tells Darlene “I’m sure we can figure something out.” Darlene already has. She tazes Susan right in the heart, short circuiting her pacemaker and killing her instantly. Darlene has taken things to another level, and it scares the shit out of Mobley and Trenton, who leave Darlene and Cisco at the apartment to clean up this mess.
Angela is adrift, feeling lost and out of place. The FBI has a guy she’s on a date with as their agent, trying to find out as much as they can on her and fsociety, but Angela is too cold to give away anything personal. Her loneliness seems to be that of a spy or agent undercover and unable to reveal their true identity to anyone. An old family friend confronts her at the bar, berating her for her choices, and basically calling her a whore for working for the company responsible for killing her mom. Angela has a way of taking him down a notch that’s fantastic. She points out he’s 60 years old and a plumber, while she’s 27 and making six figures. She’s just starting her career, and he’s ending it where he started, literally dealing with other people’s shit all day long. After that tense interaction she gives a sad, moving rendition of Tears For Fears “Everybody Wants to Rule the World.” Angela leaves the bar with an older gentleman and abandons her FBI informant date.
Mobley’s paranoia is not baseless, and he’s taken in for questioning by Dom and the FBI. She proves he was the DJ at the “End of the World Party” and tries to manipulate him. He’s not having it though, and demands a lawyer. The pressure on the FBI is so great after fsociety released the conference call audio, that her boss pushes her to cut Mobley loose. He contacts Trenton to make a run for it with him, while at the same time Darlene and Cisco are incinerating Susan’s remains at the animal shelter they’ve used to destroy evidence before. Darlene stays at Cisco’s house, but while he’s in the shower she looks at his computer and realizes The Dark Army has been manipulating fsociety all along, and Cisco is helping them. The episode ends right as Darlene swings a bat at Cisco’s face.
Everyone is in a lot of trouble right now, and things look desperate. Everything is on the verge of completely falling apart, which is why they need Elliot to come and lead them out of trouble. Will he rise to the occasion, or will he become a pawn in The White Rose’s game?
Season 2, Episode 8 (S02E08)
Mr. Robot airs Wednesdays at 9PM on USA
For six months out of the year Jeff is holed up in his home with nothing to do but shovel snow, watch television, write, and dream of warmer climates.
Jeff Iblings | Contributor