Spoilers for 2×08 “eps2.6_succ3ss0r.p12” ahead
Since the moment Mr. Robot introduced us to the hackers behind fsociety, everything about the group screamed “in over their head.” Much of season 2 has reinforced that belief. The 5/9 hack’s harm, the immature stunts they pull, and Mobley’s paranoia all suggested a group of people with no idea what they were doing or what to do when it was over. Rare glimpses into Whiterose’s schemes only made them look all the less important. This week’s Elliot-free “eps2.6_succ3ss0r.p12” (first episode of Mr. Robot without him) made it clear; the societal outcasts Elliot gathered are in over their heads, and I can’t imagine they will find their way back above the water.
With the starring Alderson sibling absent this week, Mr. Robot instead focused on his sister. And you know what? Darlene carries this episode fairly well. I don’t rank this episode quite so high as I’m seeing elsewhere (perhaps the premise is too familiar for me at this point), but I have no complaints about her. Carly Chaikin has always gotten more spotlight than the other members of fsociety, but “eps2.6_succ3ss0r.p12” is probably the biggest spotlight for Darlene yet. She has struggled all season to keep fsociety afloat without Elliot, and with Susan Jacobs finally returning to the home they took over, she faced her biggest challenge yet. Chaikin does a good job as Darlene hits her lowest point to date in dealing with the Susan Jacobs problem.
We knew the E Corp lawyer would come home eventually, and the dichotomy between what Darlene’s solutions and those of her friends made up the majority of “eps2.6_succ3ss0r.p12.” The setup may be old as storytelling itself – how many times have we all watched a group of people deal with a hostage – but it worked here. Well, outside the bit of suspension of disbelief required for the hackers to not know she would come home early. Fsociety has stood close to the edge all season. Mobley wanted to run away earlier in season 2. Their circumstances only grew worse since. A ruined city, FBI surveillance, each of them possibly with a name on a Dark Army bullet, problems piled atop problems. Life only gets worse for fsociety with every passing day.
A fracturing was inevitable, and the hostage situation served well enough to cause it, while also making clear how deep Darlene’s commitment to taking down E Corp is. We still don’t know Mobley’s motivation. Trenton says she did this for her family. Romero seemed to be in it for money or revenge. None of fsociety’s members brought down E Corp for the selfless, society-saving reasons given at various points. This includes Darlene, whose personal reasons became clear during her monologue before killing Jacobs with a stun gun.
(Nice foreshadowing with the hacked e-mails mentioning Jacobs’s pacemaker. Pretty clear Mobley doesn’t believe Darlene about not noticing them. Why should he believe her?)
I don’t think Elliot’s personal motivation to take down E Corp was ever a secret, but this is the first episode where I wondered about Darlene’s role in the endeavor. I assumed her basically stuck in the leadership role because of Elliot’s imprisonment. During season 1, I thought she’d be just another person swept into her brother’s scheme. The flashback opening (a lot of those this season) showed us Darlene’s active role in assembling fsociety at the start, and her bitter memories of the Washington Township scandal make it clear this war is as much hers as Elliot’s. In fact, she might be more committed than him. To hold a grudge for so long, to dream of murdering someone for so long, and then do so without regret…cold, brutal stuff. I can’t imagine Elliot doing the same. At least not right now.
Compare that to Mobley and Trenton, who set up a meet in preparation to run. I’ve mentioned before how this season is fleshing the other hackers out, and “eps2.6_succ3ss0r.p12” gave them almost as much a spotlight as Darlene. When I say fsociety is in over their heads, these two represent that starkly. Trenton’s care for her family always gave her too much to lose, and Mobley’s own stake in the hack became too much when he found Romero dead. Whatever fantasy Elliot and Darlene sold to them, neither are willing to pay the price involved.
Judging by the cliffhanger which ended the episode, however, I expect at least one of them will be dead next week. Unless the Dark Army communication Darlene sees on Cisco’s computer involved protecting fsociety, Mobley’s two-hour delay can only mean bad things.
I really hope Whiterose is on fsociety’s side. Otherwise Elliot/Mr. Robot might be too late to leave prison.
- All of this comes in the aftermath of fsociety’s most successful move since the E Corp hack, where they hack an FBI conference call to expose Operation Berenstain and cause its dissolution. This operation is scary because you know such large-scale surveillance exists today. Dom is quick to react, bringing in Mobley and sweating him out for 12 hours in hopes he gives up a name. She seems to be the only one who really gives a damn about busting fsociety.
- This week in “Angela depresses everyone”: She dates an apparent FBI informant, gets insulted by a friend of her father, and sings a very depressing version of Tears for Fears’s “Everybody Wants to Rule the World.” Also, she apparently goes for old men. Hey, as long as two consenting adults are involved, you do what you want. But please don’t sleep with Philip Price, Angela. Please.
- Mobley, Trenton, and Darlene meet in their flashback at Ron’s Coffee Shop. Yep, the same coffee shop whose owner Elliot exposed for running a child pornography site. As I’ve seen asked elsewhere, though, how is the place still open as of “eps2.6_succ3ss0r.p12” considering the fate of its owner?
- Darlene and Cisco take Jacobs’s body to the same veterinarian used to burn up the motherboards after the 5/9 hack. Sad that all the dogs they freed back then came back.
Images courtesy of USA Network