Essays · TV

Mr. Robot: Paranoid Androids

By  · Published on August 25th, 2016

Darlene Gets Dangerous as the FBI Closes in on fSociety.

Even in an episode without Elliot, his paranoia and instability were still able to seep into the people closest to him, like the viruses he routinely installs to hack into someone’s computer. In ‘eps2.6succ3ss0r.p12,” we got a closer look at Darlene, not just as a the de facto leader of fSociety while her brother is in prison, but also as a grieving daughter motivated to follow Elliot’s plan as a means for revenge.

The fSociety skeleton crew, consisting of Darlene, Cisco, Trenton and Mobley, are still holed up in the luxury penthouse of one of Evil Corp’s top lawyers, Susan Jacobs. Their successful FBI hack gives them access to a number of internal communications, including a conference call regarding Operation Berenstain, the illegal surveillance program that was rolled out after the 9/5 hack. FSociety are able to record the call and broadcast it out to the world with a new video. The only problem? As they’re monitoring the video’s progress, Susan decides to come home. Awkward.

It was interesting to see fSociety, who have successful crippled a major corporation and a large subset of the U.S. economy, acting incredibly inept. After panicking and zip-tying Susan in her swimming pool, the group deliberate about what they should do. But when Trenton unties Susan, to allow her to use the bathroom, Susan runs headfirst into a brick wall. Instead of having a total meltdown, Darlene sees it as an opportunity to hack into Susan’s devices and find something to blackmail her with. Eventually, she finds her opportunity: Susan was having an affair with one of her ruling judges. But Darlene isn’t interested in blackmail. Instead, we’re given deep insight into Darlene’s motivations for the first time. She tells Susan about being four years old and watching the Evil Corp trial when the company was deemed not liable for the toxic waste spill that killed both Darlene and Angela’s respective parents and how she saw Susan laugh after the verdict was read. We suddenly realize that choosing Susan wasn’t just convenient for Darlene, it was a very personal and deliberate choice. It was a revenge she had been planning for a long time. While Susan pleads with her, saying that the two could come to an agreement, Darlene reaches out and tases her. Susan, whose heart condition had been detailed in the hacked emails fSociety had just been pouring over, drops into the pool, dead.

Our brief detour from the fSociety gang leaves us with a very drunk Angela, who is out celebrating the Fourth of July at a karaoke bar with one of her hook ups from an earlier episode. She runs into a friend of her father’s who tries to berate her, implying she slept her way into a good job, until Angela plucks up some liquid courage and recalls some of her motivational tapes to completely eviscerate the man. But behind her sharp tongue, Angela is self-destructing. After singing a haunting rendition of Tears for Fears “Everybody Wants to Rule the World,” she drunkenly hits on a grandfather with Anderson Cooper hair and a nice suit, abandoning her date. Oh, and that random bedfellow whose name wasn’t even mentioned? Yeah, he’s an FBI plant. We later see him debriefing with Dom (and lamenting his broken heart) and confirming he got nothing out of Angela, giving Dom yet another dead end.

Or maybe not. After Romero’s death, Dom found a poster for fSociety’s End of the World party, featuring spins by DJ Mobley. As the members of fSociety scatter after the death of Susan, Mobley’s paranoia is in full swing. He’s convinced the FBI is closing in and pays a delivery guy to sweep his apartment for any intruders. After its deemed the coast is clear, he enters the apartment, only to have the FBI bang down his door in the end. After making him wait for twelve hours, Dom swoops in telling Mobley that was able to track him down by an old Angelfire fan page he created for his DJ alter-ego. Mobley immediately asks for a lawyer and it seems like Dom finally has made a significant break in the case but once again her bosses pull her off track, demanding she release Mobley because he’s too small of a player and the Operation Berenstain leaks are about to explode. Now a free but very paranoid man, Mobley contacts Trenton, letting her know they have been burned and making plans to meet up, before wiping his phone. Except Mobley never shows up at the coffee shop – could the Dark Army have gotten to him first?

After burning Susan’s body at the dog pound, Darlene and Cisco take the train back to his apartment to crash. Darlene mentions to Cisco that she doesn’t feel any guilt over what she’s done and that the only thing that surprises her is that she was actually able to do it. In the morning, while Cisco is in the shower, Darlene hacks into his open laptop and uncovers messages from the Dark Army, alongside a webcam picture of her asleep. Cisco reassures the Dark Army that he has Darlene and that Phase 2 will be beginning. Cisco comes out of the shower to find his laptop smashed and a frightened Darlene cowering in the corner. He confronts her about his computer but in the blink of an eye he takes a baseball bat to the face. Never put Darlene in a corner.

And so as Elliot is released from prison and reunited with his sister, the noose around both of their necks will tighten. As the FBI and the Dark Army get closer, will Elliot become capable of the things that Darlene has done? And does the Dark Army have in store for Phase 2? As paranoia sweeps through every member of fSociety, it seems the only person who is safe is the one person we can’t locate. Unless of course, Elliot is also Tyrell…

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Jamie Righetti is an author and freelance film critic from New York City. She loves horror movies, Keanu Reeves, BioShock and her Siberian Husky, Nugget.