An episode of Mr. Robot without Elliot? Considering that the show is built around him and his other personality, which is also the title character, the idea was almost unimaginable. Except for showrunner Sam Esmail, apparently.
After last week’s big reveal (which many had already predicted) that Elliot has been in prison during the first seven episodes of season two, and created the illusion of escaping the grid to his mother’s home in Queens — largely restricting himself to writing in a journal, meeting a friend at a diner three times a day, and watching pick-up basketball games on a playground — to avoid the reality of his situation and try to purge Mr. Robot from his psyche.
But Elliot being in prison means that he hasn’t simply decided to avoid fsociety and the chaos they created with the 5/9 Attack. He has literally been separated from them, other than the occasional visit from Darlene in which they discuss plans to follow up on hacking Evil Corp. The previous seven episodes have devoted secondary storylines to showing Darlene now leading fsociety in Elliot’s absence, trying to attack Evil Corp yet again to wipe out the conglomerate forever in addition to hacking the FBI. However, we’ve only gotten bits and pieces of that narrative. That is, until episode eight, “succ3ss0r.p12.”
Last week, there was a brief scene in which Darlene, Mobley, Trenton and Cisco were looking at a laptop and smiling about something they discovered. But we didn’t know what that was. This week, we found out: While browsing the FBI database, Mobley and the others found out there was a conference call regarding “Operation Berenstain,” the illegal surveillance that Cisco warned Darlene about in episode four, the one that fellow fsociety hacker Romero discovered before he was murdered.
The hacker quartet decides to record the conference call, then post it with a video on the internet for all to hear, thus blowing the cover on a covert operation that was secretly monitoring three million people, with access to their cell phones, thanks to the cooperation of several technology companies such as Google, Facebook, AT&T and Verizon. It’s an explosive revelation, one that handcuffs the FBI’s 5/9 investigation by provoking all sorts of outrage and scrutiny from citizens and politicians alike.
But the directors and agents mention one more thing that has Mobley extremely concerned. More important than the three million under surveillance were the 17 people the FBI was building a case against. Actually, it’s 16 people because one is now dead, which Mobley presumes is a reference to Romero. Are the four leading members of fsociety, along with Cisco, among those 16 people? Mobley and Trenton certainly think so, and their already building paranoia reaches a fever pitch. The feds are closing in and they should get the hell outta Dodge.
Adding to the perception that fsociety’s plans are falling apart — or that they can be unraveled more simply than imagined — is the return of Susan Jacobs, the Evil Corp lawyer whose house and all of its smart technology was hacked by the group. Forced to flee a ultra-modern with every technological convenience that had turned against her, fsociety took over Jacobs’ home and made it their new base of operations. Darlene and crew became so comfortable there, and so preoccupied by continuing the execution of their next attack on Evil Corp, that they basically forgot to monitor Jacobs and find out when she might return home.
Much like parents coming home on a Sunday morning to find out that their kids had thrown a party and trashed the place, Jacobs finds out that four intruders have been living in her home ever since its technology went haywire and forced her to flee. Before she can run out and alert the police (if she were even able to do so, considering how out of whack the simplest routines are after the 5/9 Hack), likely because she was shocked, the fsociety gang nab her and keep her hostage by the swimming pool. This is a development the group clearly wasn’t expecting, and now they have to figure out what to do about Jacobs while she’s zip-tied downstairs.
Jacobs’ appearance just confirms Mobley’s paranoia. This thing is falling apart fast. The options for fsociety quickly dwindle to two: 1) Hack her phone, computer and email to find anything that can be used to blackmail her, or 2) A much more final decision that would make sure Jacobs can’t talk to anyone about who or what she’s seen ever again. The solution seems obvious; fsociety aren’t killers. Or are they?
Elliot is certainly under the impression that he killed Tyrell Wellick after he discovered fsociety’s location and role in the 5/9 Attack. And since Darlene is the one who hid the gun that may have been used to shoot Wellick, she knew that such measures were at least a possibility in taking care of anyone trying to prevent the Evil Corp hack from happening or attempting to alert the authorities to their existence. Oh, and maybe protection from The Dark Army also, though that doesn’t necessarily apply here.
Though Mobley and Trenton already see the walls closing in and know that Jacobs could be the development that crushes them, they’re not willing to kill. They’re hackers. They only want to disrupt shit and cause a revolution. But it’s also become increasingly apparent that the Evil Corp hack made things worse. Basic services aren’t available. The economy has crumbled. The 5/9 Attack didn’t bring freedom; it caused a new kind of oppression. Anarchy rules. But how noble can their cause be if they kill people, becoming as ruthless and evil as the corporations they pledged to take down?
What Mobley and Trenton don’t know, however, is that Darlene has been viewing this situation very differently. There may have been a reason she targeted Jacobs and her smart home for takeover, besides her role as general counsel for Evil Corp. Darlene has had a vengeful eye on Jacobs since she was four years old, remembering the attorney as part of the legal team that successfully fought a class-action lawsuit against the conglomerate for its role in the Washington Township toxic waste dump that ended up killing her father (and Angela’s mother). Even more than 20 years later, she remembers Jacobs laughing in the courtroom. This is extremely personal for her.
Darlene already decided how she was going to handle Jacobs long before she returned to her home. She probably decided years earlier what she would do if she had the opportunity to face Jacobs personally. Though fsociety did find some emails that could incriminate Jacobs, that’s not enough for Darlene. She presumably goes down to the pool to confront Jacobs with their blackmail material, but doesn’t care if it’s enough to make Jacobs go away. Darlene wants to make sure she never comes back and pays for what she did to her family. Armed with a stun gun that will supposedly subdue Jacobs if she gets out of control, Darlene zaps her in the chest and she falls into the pool.
Jacobs likely would have drowned anyway, since she was rendered unconscious. But when Darlene tells her mates what happened, Mobley points out that Jacobs had a heart condition. And Darlene had to have known that because she read the same emails that the rest of them did. Darlene killed Jacobs the moment she touched that stun gun to the lawyer’s chest. The pool just provided a soft landing. Does fsociety kill? Maybe not, but Darlene sure as hell does. And after she disposes of the body with Cisco, she admits that she felt nothing about killing someone and burning the corpse. Always wondering if she could actually kill someone to achieve her objectives, Darlene discovers that it was easy for her.
A line has been crossed. There’s no turning back, as said in the lyrics of Angela’s karaoke song of choice, Tears For Fears’ “Everybody Wants to Rule the World.” We still don’t know if Elliot really killed Tyrell Wellick. But we certainly know that Darlene murdered Susan Jacobs. No matter what happens with fsociety’s eventual plans to tear down Evil Corp and provide power to the people, there has definitely been a casualty. And this has gone far beyond what the other members of fsociety originally envisioned as a hacker group.
As it stands, fsociety is about to sink in the waters they’ve been treading in since hacking Evil Corp. The FBI, led by Agent Dom DiPierro, is on to them. She’s traced the bullet found at fsociety’s old arcade headquarters to the gun owned by Darlene’s Wall Street booty call. She’s linked Mobley to Romero by his DJ handle (which makes for a nice hacker handle), though doesn’t know how deeply he’s involved in fsociety. It even turns out that Angela’s one-night stand from early in the season was really a FBI agent. DiPierro actually brings Mobley in for questioning and that’s where he figures out that the FBI really doesn’t have much on the group. They think Wellick is the man behind the 5/9 Attack. Mobley, Trenton and the rest of fsociety can get away clean. But they have to get the hell away and make sure they’re not around if and when the FBI discovers more.
But if the FBI may not be the threat that Mobley envisioned them to be, The Dark Army is still lurking. Darlene finds that out after spending the night at Cisco’s and looking at his computer while he’s in the shower. (Really, would Cisco have left that information right there on his desktop when Darlene could have woken up at any moment? That seemed like a bit of convenient plot development.) Not all of fsociety’s problems have been handled yet.
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