Mr. Robot: eps2.6_succ3ss0r.p12

"This is some next level shit."

After delivering a huge revelation last time, the show, naturally, decides to take a step back from our endlessly enigmatic protagonist and instead focus on the unravelling of our secondary characters.

This episode was really just back-to-back scenes of intensity. I was severely on edge by the end, dreading the uncertainty and paranoia.

With no Elliot this episode, we focus on fsociety, Darlene, Trenton, Mobley and Cisco of the Dark Army. Their war with Evil Corp has taken a backseat now that the FBI is dogging them. To throw the feds off, they use the femtocell that Angela implanted to gain access to some extremely sensitive information. Specifically, they hack into a conference call between several high-ranking members of the FBI, all of whom are discussing Operation Berenstain. Turns out, Berenstain is a highly illegal surveillance operation that has yielded the Bureau 17 (16, and one dead = Romero) suspects by monitoring over three million people.

They make the damning conference call part of their next fsociety video and release it to the world. Unfortunately, the team was so preoccupied with owning the FBI (and Mobley's desire to leave before the feds or anyone else can grab him) that none of them were paying attention to the GPS tracker on Susan Jacobs. Susan returns home, walks right in on the hackers, discovering that her smarthouse has been made into a base of operations for the revolutionaries plaguing her and her company.

Darlene and the gang are suddenly dealing with a captive prisoner. They prove how inept they are outside of the realm of computers, making rash decisions and even accidentally injuring Susan. They decide that the best course is to own her, hacking her computers and phones for information they can blackmail her with.

They succeed, but Darlene has other plans. Turns out, she's despised Susan for as long as she's hated Evil Corp, since Susan was the lawyer who made sure Evil Corp never got punished for the Washington Township Toxic Waste scandal that killed Darlene's father and so many others. Susan tries to bargain, only for Darlene to use a taser on her, stopping her weak heart and letting her fall into her own in-door swimming pool to drown.

The team splits after this unexpected murder, and the mood turns more foreboding for everyone. Darlene and Cisco resolve to get rid of Susan's body after wiping down her house. They put her in a large suitcase, haul her across town, and incinerate the corpse in that dead puppy oven we saw last season. Darlene confesses to Cisco that she always thought about killing Susan, but never thought that she actually would. She claims that she didn't feel anything when she finally did it. Meanwhile, Trenton goes home to her family, but someone is clearly watching her, and Mobley tries to go on the run, but he is brought in by the FBI before he can leave.

While all this is going on, we also follow Angela as she attends a Fourth of July karaoke party. She's drowning her sorrows after last episode, when she discovered that her (apparent) plan to assimilate into Evil Corp and then work her way up to make positive changes from the inside may have all been for nothing. As a mean old neighbor points out to her at the party, her actions have deeply wounded her father. Angela, however, is still clinging onto her self-respect with a death grip.

Of course, this doesn't stop her from ditching the strapping guy she hooked up with previously to seduce some grandfather she meets at the bar. The strapping guy turns out to be an FBI plant that Dom DiPierro (quite literally) put on Angela to milk her for information on fsociety. To Dom's chagrin, Angela was a stone wall the entire time they were together, revealing nothing. The guy seems to think she's really just "into old dudes," but I'm thinking Angela might actually be warming herself up for a specific old dude: Phillip Price. I don't know, maybe I'm just struggling to find a reason to rationalize Angela's actions.

Anyway, Mobley is kept in an interrogation room all night before he's questioned by Dom, who reveals that she's figured out a lot, but not enough to make him willing to cooperate. When she erroneously reveals that the feds believe Tyrell Wellick to be the man behind fsociety, Mobley knows they have nothing and simply asks for a lawyer. Dom's superior, Santiago, is not happy. The FBI is already in disarray after the Beijing shootout, the mockery fsociety made of the bailout hearing awhile back, and now this leaked conference call. He feels she's wasted their time going from "the bottom-up" instead of "top-down." Though he's right that Dom's treatment of Mobley looks bad at this time, Santiago's order to release him may have spelled Mobley's doom. As soon as he's out, Mobley texts Trenton before ditching his phone, asking her to meet him so they can leave town together. She goes to wait at Ron's Coffee, but Mobley is two hours late. Then someone walks in...

At around this time, Darlene wakes up in Cisco's apartment. While he's in the shower, she checks his laptop and discovers that he's informed the Dark Army that she's with him and that "Stage 2" is about to begin. The episode ends with Darlene getting the drop on Cisco with a baseball bat.

So, yeah, everyone's finding themselves in the most precarious of situations. Is anyone going to be able to win in this game?

Ones & Zeroes:

* The opening scene was rather lighthearted compared to the rest of the episode: Mobley and Trenton meet Darlene (and each other, for the first time) at Ron's Coffee and cute iPhone vs. Android debate before she arrives. Also, Elliot's "top secret" narration from the pilot episode turns out to have been an actual address made to fsociety.

* I'm kind of surprised Ron's Coffee is still around after Elliot exposed its founder, Ron, as a distributor of child pornography. Reminds me of the whole fiasco involving Jared from Subway. There were several real-world parallels this episode. Susan Jacobs's affair with a presiding judge is nearly exposed, something which Darlene likens to the David Petraeus email scandal. Operation Berenstain clearly represents the clandestine surveillance programs overseen by the NSA; Edward Snowden even appears on TV talking about the issue.

* Dom links the bullet found at the fsociety arcade back to the businessman who Darlene slept with and stole the gun from. It's only a matter of time before this leads Dom to Darlene. And Darlene will lead her to Elliot. Ooooh, so exciting!

* Susan Jacobs's attorney nickname was Madame Executioner. I think her murder at Darlene's hands was supposed to double as irony.

* Angela is like a lightning rod for men who are creepy, or sexist, or creepy and sexist while middle-aged or older. No other female character endures this as much as she does. This episode features the third or fourth old guy who has suggested to Angela's face that she sucks dick, and this time it was a guy who'd known her since she was a kid. Maybe she just has one of those faces. That sad, deer-in-the-headlights look that makes these assholes think she's weak and worthless, an easy target to direct their aggressive egos at. No wonder she has self-esteem issues.

* As I predicted, releasing those dogs from the pound last season was meaningless. It's also a tad symbolic. When they released those dogs, it was around the time they thought they were setting the world free. Now they come back, and the dogs are all right back in the same prison. Fsociety is not the party of liberators, they are the new prison wardens.

* "Everybody Wants to Rule the World" covered by Portia Doubleday. A very apt song for this show.

Quotes:

Mobley: (to Trenton) Whole milk? You must be some kind of revolutionary.

Angela: I'm 27. I have a six figure salary at the biggest conglomerate in history. And I'm just getting started. That's who I am.

Darlene: (to Susan) The first time I saw you I was four. Still remember it. On the news, in the courtroom where they cleared E Corp of all the bullshit they put my family through... And you were in the back, behind a sea of suits, and you laughed. It was so quick, no one noticed. No one but me. Four-year old little me. So I am happy that I get to look you in the eye. I have taken down your company, taken over your home, and now I have you.

Cisco: Well, if this is the part of the conversation where you start throwing out ideas like acid and wood-chippers, I ain't obliging.

Dom: Getting into the mind of a woman is the toughest route for even the best sources.

Though I would have enjoyed answers, a lot of major things still happened in this episode. And it did what this show does best: it got under my skin. Three out of four lawyer cadavers.

2 comments:

Heather said...

That Tears for Fears moment was reminiscent of any number of David Lynch movies. LOVED IT. As an aside, Portia Doubleday has a really pretty voice. Looking back, I think this was the episode I just relaxed fully in the passenger seat... Thanks for your review.

Logan Cox said...

I agree about Portia Doubleday's singing voice. Plus, I love that song anyway.

Interestingly, the only thing I remembered Doubleday from before watching Mr. Robot was her role in the movie, Youth in Revolt. In hindsight, I'll bet that played a factor in her being cast for this show. In that movie, she's in a hot-cold relationship with the main character, a nerdy outcast who creates a Tyler Durden-esque alter ego to deal with his problems. Sounds familiar.