Mr. Robot: 410 Gone

"We just Robin-Hooded those motherfuckers!"

So who’s up for a road trip?

We are given another breather after the last epic, game-changing episode. And though I was initially dismayed that we wouldn't be following Elliot as he heads back to Washington Township where this all began, I found that I was just as interested to see where our two remaining female protagonists, Darlene and Dom, are going to end up.

It was sad that -- despite Whiterose, the Dark Army and the Deus Group being exposed for the global villains that they are, as she strived to do since her introduction -- Dom couldn't bring herself to savor this victory. Realistically so. She just survived a near fatal stab wound after her entire family narrowly avoided a mass execution, the cherry on top of a nightmarish few months of fear, trauma and regret. So I, of course, immediately loved the idea of Darlene refusing to let Dom go back to her lonely existence and including her in the escape plan. Thus begins their road trip into the Land of RWAs (Rich White Assholes).

The episode gets better and better from there.

For one thing, '410 Gone' features some of the most beautiful, moving and just plain enjoyable scenes in this entire dark story. A few that stand out. Dom watching the Deus Group doxxing blow up on the news, Elliot and Darlene's goodbye hug, and especially the scene where Darlene fulfills fsociety's promise by carrying out the greatest wealth redistribution in history. Ironically, this is done using E-Coin, which the late Phillip Price fought to make independent from the federal government. In an irreversible act of good will, people all across the world are gifted a surprise fortune. Darlene watching #ECoinPayDay go viral out in public and on her phone was so cathartic; as Elliot told her, this was definitely her win.

And the episode gets major points for featuring Leon so prominently. He's Darlene and Dom's driver and protector as they make their way to Logan Airport. Pairing him with Dom was funny to me, since I always felt like I related to those two characters the most; another image that's gonna stick with me is when Dom walks into the motel room and finds Leon sitting there rolling a joint as he watches The Land Before Time.

Speaking of fun characters, I was so glad they brought Irving back, even if it was just for one scene. Because that scene was pretty perfect; best cameo of the season award goes to Bobby Cannavale. It was also an interesting bit of exposition. Irving politely informs Dom that the Dark Army is no longer concerned with her and Darlene, having moved on to more important matters. Of course, given that this is coming from Irving, there's no telling if this is true. I mean, we've seen in the past how remarkably petty and vindictive Whiterose can be when someone interferes with her plans. Mostly, though, I just love that Irving actually got that book he was working on published as a literal airport novel.

In general, I was glad the focus was on some of the other players I really like, but whose stories obviously end up playing second fiddle to Elliot/Mr. Robot for the most part. This was a brilliant episode for Darlene and Dom, both as individual characters and as an item; Carly Chaikin and Grace Gummer have both been consistently amazing throughout this show. Their relationship has had quite the evolution, from hunter and prey to FBI handler and Confidential Human Source, then from tense confidants to surprise lovers, and finally from circumstantial enemies to (mostly) reconciled allies.

That is until the ending, when Dom gets cold feet before their flight to Budapest. In another instance of reality ensuing, we are reminded that these two women have deep issues that are holding them back. Issues of anxiety that clash and tear them apart before they can escape together. Dom has a major fear of commitment despite her longing to connect with someone, whereas Darlene is overwhelmed with depression and panic attacks when forced to face the world all on her own. But as much as Darlene wants someone by her side, it's also been clear for some time that she wants to leave everything behind for awhile. And it at first appears that these wounds have separated them in the end, in spite of all they've been through together.

Then the mood changes, and for a moment it feels like we're going to get the awesome girl-power, chick flick ending that Esmail was building up to, that we deserve! Only to be blindsided by yet another darkly comedic subversion as Darlene flees to a restroom have a panic attack right as Dom comes back just in time for the flight. At first, I thought this was just cruel irony for its own sake, but in hindsight it looks more like a happy accident.

I was reminded of the ending of Alfred Hitchcock's Vertigo , where, despite not getting the conclusion they wanted, the characters ultimately become stronger in the end. Maybe they didn't get to run away together in the end, but Dom's decision to come back shows that she overcame her relationship anxiety for Darlene; there's just something about those Alderson kids, huh? At the same time, Darlene's decision to take control of her life instead of fleeing the country under an assumed identity might be how she begins moving forward from her dark past.

This episode was so optimistic that I was fully expecting a sadistic twist at the end. Dom finally allowing herself a good long sleep as the plane took off had me worried that the Dark Army was gonna sabotage it. I'm hoping it's a for real happy-ish ending, and that Darlene and Dom maybe find each other again.

Ah, Mr. Robot. Always playing with my goddamn emotions.


Ones and Zeroes:

* Some very different sounding tunes on the soundtrack this time around. Which makes sense, as Elliot is absent. For Dom, we have "This Kiss" by Faith Hill, Leon jams to "Wait For Me" by Hall and Oates, and "Run Away with Me" by Carly Rae Jepsen plays during Darlene's ending sequence. And the wonderfully ambient piano score during Darlene and Dom's final scene together was so damn powerful.

* While the resemblance is always there, when Dom is talking to Darlene while eating her burnt grilled cheese, I thought Grace Gummer really looked like Meryl Streep.

* Speaking of which, I know I've said it before, but the casting for the Alderson siblings is still pretty damn uncanny. Not only do Rami Malek and Carly Chaikin look like they really could be brother and sister, Chaikin's performance as Darlene even seems to mirror Malek's peformance as Elliot in subtle ways during this episode, particularly in the close-up shot where Darlene is trying to process it when Dom tells her she's not going.

* Leon’s Kurt Vonnegut quote even escaped me. I haven’t read Breakfast of Champions since I was in middle school.

* Irving’s face on the back cover of that book is just priceless.

* Speaking of which, Dom only gets one page into Beach Towel before she dozes off. The first chapter is titled "Those Were Sunny Days."

* I like that Darlene is presented with two different potential conclusions to her character. Leon offers to let her in on some mercenary work when she returns, while Dom gives her the number of someone she knows at U.S. Cyber Command. Honestly, I'd be down with either route for Darlene. I could totally see her going on to topple more evil empires, embracing her status as a now legendary hacktivist and continuing to play by her own rules. But part of me would be more interested to see what Darlene would be like as a snarky cybersecurity genius, teaming up with her badass FBI Special Agent girlfriend to fight crime.

Quotes:

Darlene: Any advice for a road trip? I’ve never been on one before?
Elliot: Neither have I. I’d recommend getting a bunch of Sour Patch Kids.

Leon: Dude, you’ve never seen Three Days of the Condor and you’re a fucking FBI Agent? You gotta check that out. And normally I don’t go for that ‘70s paranoia shit, but I don’t know, this one really spoke to me. You know, maybe it was when my boy Joubert says, “I don’t interest myself in the why. I think more often in terms of the when, sometimes where, but always how much.” I fucking felt that!

Leon: What, do you not know your Vonnegut?

Leon: 'Til the next episode then.

Irving: Are you coming over here to pick up a copy? They’re good for long flights, it’s a real page turner! Especially when you get to the part where he strangles his mother to death in chapter twelve. Spoiler alert! Haha!

Dom: But… I saw you butcher Santiago with an axe when he stepped out of line.
Irving: Yeah. That was fun.

Darlene: Jesus, Dom. No wonder you can’t sleep. You hold on to a lot and you hold on fucking tight. Maybe running away might actually help you.

Darlene: Your bright idea is for me to be some pig?
Dom: When you’re ready to grow up. But don’t take too long. They need you.
Darlene: They can’t handle me.
I didn't realize how much I'd grown to love Darlene until this moment. She's always been a unique character, but I so felt for her in this episode. Again, Carly Chaikin has done a damn fine job.

Four and a half out of five heart-shaped sunglasses.

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