Mr. Robot: Season 2 Episode 8 Review – eps2.6_succ3ss0r.p12
After last week’s big reveal that Elliot has been falsifying his freedom to the audience, Mr. Robot fans were eagerly anticipating a follow up that filled in some of the blanks regarding his incarceration. What we got instead was an episode completely free of Elliot, which ultimately turned out to be one of the best episodes to date, proving that what the series has been lacking is a moment’s peace from Elliot’s headspace and a welcome focus on the other characters. Below is our detailed and spoiler-heavy review.
Not to dismiss Elliot as a brilliant character, or Rami Malek’s superb acting skills, but constantly questioning him as a narrator can become tiresome, regardless of how compelling. This week’s shift to Darlene was both welcome and captivating, not to mention took some unexpected and frightful turns. So far this season we’ve only had brief glimpses of the fallout after the 5/9 hack and how the characters are coping with it. With the FBI hot on fSociety’s heels, our hacker group are reaching their breaking point. Despite managing to release some very damaging top secret government information, each core member of the faction are forced to ask themselves if they’re really in it for the long haul. The answer, essentially, is no.
We’re granted some much needed screen time of Trenton and Mobley, who so far have been rather understated characters. It’s made evident that each of them are more than uncomfortable with the current state of things, an understandable outcome considering one of their fellow hackers was recently murdered, and the pair constantly have to be coaxed back into the game by their leader. That is until she fully realizes what she’s capable of and instructs them to flee. Which Mobley is more than happy to do, until he gets taken in by the FBI and questioned by Dom. However, it’s like the agent is unknowingly playing a game of hot and cold, always warmer than she realizes. Eventually she’s told she has no reason to hold him and is forced to let him go, upon which he contacts Trenton and tells her to meet him but never shows. This obviously spooks Trenton, who is struggling with the idea of leaving her family, and it will be interesting to see what choices she makes going forward.
The catalyst for Darlene telling everyone to flee came when the owner of the home they were using, who happens to be Ecorp’s attorney, returns unexpectedly. Caught off guard and completely at a loss for what to do with her, the group takes her hostage in her own home. After a failed escape attempt that leaves her injured, the hackers attempt to find some dirt they can use against her in order to keep her quiet. Lacking anything substantial, Darlene unbinds her wrists while keeping her at bay with a stun-gun. She then confronts Susan about having presided over the case that involved her and Elliot’s father, revealing that she’s been carrying around ill feelings toward the lawyer since the young age of four. Becoming “Madam Executioner” herself, she then stuns the woman in the heart, who falls backward into her own swimming pool and is left for dead. In a state of shock, Darlene reveals to the others what happened, though she claims it was an accident. She later reveals the truth to Cisco, telling him she didn’t know she was capable of it but that she doesn’t feel bad.
Telling her she needs rest, Cisco invites her back to his place and she awakens while he’s in the shower. Unable to resist hacking his laptop that he haphazardly left open, Darlene discovers that he’s been tracking her for the Dark Army. Taking things to yet another level, viewers given another shocker when she catches him off guard by means of delivering a baseball to his skull.
Seems our siblings both have homicidal tendencies, that is if we’re to believe that Elliot actually murdered Tyrell Wellick. Kind of makes you wonder about that campy flashback sequence we were granted recently, and what underlying truths lie behind their mother’s outright abuse toward Darlene. We have conflicting notions of what their father is capable of at this point, at least from Elliot’s perspective, and it would be ideal if these themes were explored further in the remaining episodes of the season.
Also receiving a larger focus in this episode is Angela, whose current state is as fragile as the others, if not more so. We see her out at a bar, having a less than stellar time, as she ditches her date to hit on older men and sing a harrowing karaoke version of “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” by Tears for Fears. Paralleling Darlene’s scenario with the sneaky Cisco, we learn later that her date was actually an undercover FBI agent. She also has a confrontation with a friend of her father, during which he berates her for selling out to Ecorp. Angela puts him in his place, but you can’t help wonder whether she’s really trying to justify her actions to him or to herself. Her present state is as worrisome as the other characters, if not more, as she’s undoubtedly internalizing her current role and seems to be way in over her head.
Despite lacking the main character, this was a strong episode for the series that took the narrative in some wholly unexpected places. While some critics seem to feel that the show has jumped the shark this season, and admittedly there are times when aspects feel redundant and even predictable, the series undeniably operates on it’s own terms. Despite leaning a bit heavily on some of it’s influences and being less than perfect, this is certainly something to be applauded and surely the remaining episodes of the season will reveal how assured the series has become.
Image credits: USA Network