Review: ‘Mr. Robot’ shifts the focus to Darlene and fsociety.

For most of its run, Mr. Robot has been presented from Elliot’s perspective. We see the world as he sees it, like how E-Corp became “Evil Corp” because of Elliot’s mental reprogramming. In season one, Elliot and Rami Malek were the show. So what happens when you take Elliot out of Mr. Robot? Well, “Successor” endeavours to show us that and it largely succeeds at it. I’ve got a review coming right up.

SPOILERS BELOW. Obviously.

A quick note about last week’s episode:

I had planned on writing a review of last week’s episode but once again I found myself without much to say. The reveal that Elliot had been in prison for the entire season thus far felt completely unnecessary to me. We were told by him that everything that we saw happened as it did, but what does that reveal do to change anything? It doesn’t, at least not in my mind. Even the contextualization of Elliot’s surroundings doesn’t add to my enjoyment or understanding of this season. I feel that Mr. Robot works better when its characters are in metaphorical prisons rather than literal ones. It doesn’t feel like a cheat, it just doesn’t feel like it adds anything to the story.

Now onto this week.

“You were in the back behind a sea of suits and you laughed. It was so quick no one even noticed, no one but me, 4-year-old little me.” – Darlene.

In its first season, Mr. Robot’s supporting cast wasn’t the strongest. I was way more invested in Elliot and the mystery of Mr. Robot than much of the other supporting cast. Which I suspect was by design. I knew Darlene and Angela but that was because the show practically told you to care about them because of their connection to Elliot. Thankfully, those two characters developed nicely by the end of season one and into this current season. The same cannot be said for the other members of fsociety.

I made it through season one knowing the name of one of the other hackers in fsociety. Trenton, who is the rare TV character who is Muslim but who’s plotline has nothing to do with her religion. That was and is very refreshing. However, I couldn’t have told you Romero, Mobley (who I’ve been wrongly calling Mowgli), or Sisco’s names. Granted, this season has done a better job of giving those characters a chance to develop and I admire that Mobley seemed to be the only one willing to admit that what they did hasn’t made anything better. While the weakness of the supporting cast is a failure on the show’s part it really just reflects the show’s true focus, Elliot and those connected to him.

While I haven’t always enjoyed that Elliot has been separated from the rest of the cast this season, it has allowed Darlene to shine as a character. She IS fsociety. She’s making the decisions and trying to keep the fight alive. Carly Chaikin does a tremendous job portraying both Darlene’s resolve and the crushing responsibility of leadership. It is a credit to both Chaikin and Sam Esmail that we can spend an entire episode without Elliot and hardly notice it.

Susan Jacobs’ home was always going to be a temporary base for fsociety but her return this episode caught all of our characters off guard. They were so absorbed in the bug they placed in the FBI office that they failed to notice she was returning to the city. Rather than simply blackmailing Jacobs’ for her silence, Darlene decides to act on a vendetta she’d held against Jacobs’ and murder her.

I didn’t think she had it in her to do that. She’s a hacker, they do things at a distance, behind a screen. This was cold-blooded. It was certainly chilling to watch and later hear her explain to Sisco that she expected “something” to stop her but it didn’t. It is clear now that Elliot isn’t the only broken soul in the Alderson family. Darlene carries her own demons with her. They just aren’t as visible as Elliot’s.

We always knew Sisco was Darlene’s contact with The Dark Army but the end of tonight’s episode shows us that he’s way deeper than we knew. He manipulated fsociety into planting the bug in the FBI’s office. So now it isn’t just fsociety that “owns” the FBI, it’s the most dangerous hacking group in the world. I’m sure this will end well.

Despite my ambivalence toward last week’s “twist,” Mr. Robot continues to be a ride worth taking. As we head into the final episodes of this season, I’m eager to see how the endgame begins to take shape.

Some other thoughts:

  • I have to again recognize the awesome work Portia Doubleday is doing as Angela this season. Her eyes just have this constant hollow look in them, like she is desperately looking for something to give her life meaning. Plus she got to sing “Everybody Wants To Rule The World” while fsociety was blackmailing Jacobs’ which was supremely entertaining.

What did everyone else think? Let me know in the comments below!

 

 

1 thought on “Review: ‘Mr. Robot’ shifts the focus to Darlene and fsociety.”

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