Director: Sam Esmail
Writer: Sam Esmail
Starring: Rami Malek, Portia Doubleday, Carly Chaikin, Michael Cristofer, Stephanie Corneliussen, Martin Wallström, Christian Slater, Michel Gill, Sandrine Holt, Gloria Reuben, Grace Gummer, Azhar Khan, Sunita Mani and more.
Episode length: 42 minutes
A big surprise for Fsocety lands right after a big success, and with the sense the FBI is breathing down their necks, the show becomes a study in paranoia and suspense.
I have mentioned before how it seemed like Sam Esmail must be a big fan of Twin Peaks, because sometimes it seems like Mr Robot is the 21st century cousin of that classic David Lynch series. Let me add to that by saying he must also be a big fan of Alfred Hitchcock’s because, like the master, he has the ability to make paranoia almost palpable and suspense to build to almost unbearable limits seemingly without effort.
The episode this time around had ample supplies of both, as it focused on Fsociety and what they are up to since the 5/9 attack. The focus of the show following the hack, has been, more or less, how it affected things in broader, more general ways, and the FBI’s attempts to track down whoever was responsible, but in this installment it focuses on Fsociety and the effects its having on them, and its not good.
Its also worthy of note what an excellent job this show does regarding the soundtrack. The music always seems to be a perfect fit for what ever is occurring on the screen, its really well done.
Here’s a recap, laced with some commentary (*warning, spoilers follow*)
There’s no sign of Elliot in this episode, or the ghost of his dead father either, he has been the main focus of the show since season 2 began, but now its giving us a break from the modern day Hamlet in this week’s edition.
The episode begins with what seems to be a flashback of when Mobley first meets Trenton in a coffee shop, unknowingly they are both there to meet the same person, Elliot, but he does’t show up, and they meet Darlene instead. This episode was interesting to me because this is the first time we get a better look at Trenton (Sunita Mani), who, it seems is somewhat shy and quiet by nature, and so it always made sense that she was more in the background.
This time around we get some closer and more thorough looks at her facial features, and even a glimpse of her life outside the context of being part of the hacker group, at her family’s working class home, away from the conclave of the others. Its interesting because all of a sudden she became a little more of an individual , and maybe even a little more human. Quietly transformed in front of our eyes.
Segue to the present, where we find F-society is still using Susan Jacob’s condo for their headquarters, the party’s over, and just the core members remain. Darlene (Carly Chaikin), Mobley (Azhar Khan), Cisco (Michael Drayer), and Trenton. They hack a FBI conference call where some unguarded remarks are made by the people in the conversation about trampling all over our civil rights, and privacy. F-society records it all, and then makes a video featuring their avatar, and mascot (Darlene dressed up as the masked man this time around), using the most damning excerpts from it in the form of a transcript of the call and then post it on the web.
Right after they finish posting it online, who should suddenly arrive but Susan Jacobs (Sandrine Holt), back after her long absence, and catching them red handed at doing what they do. The next scene shows them tying her up in the pool room of her home. She’s seem their faces, likely heard them talking about what they had just finished doing, and the camera and equipment are right here too. It doesn’t take a rocket surgeon to figure out what she walked in on, and they begin freaking out about what to do about her
She’s making a bunch of noise and Darlene sends Trenton to shut her up, but when Susan says she has to use the toilet, Trenton cuts her loose, and then she does something stupid, she tests her captor, and Trenton accidentally knocks her out, so they tie her up again.
Darlene visits her next, and Susan says they can make a deal, Darlene is calm, and tells her about the first time she saw her on tv. She offers her a cigarette and they both light up, then Darene hits her with a taser she’s carrying, and Susan goes into the pool face down, and stays there. Darlene kills her in cold blood and when she tells the others, she fabricates a tale of Susan freaking out on her, and she did what she had to do. Susan had a heart condition, and Darlene knew it, but feigns ignorance when Mobley asks her if she knew.
The scene was disturbing not so much because Darlene killed her, that much was implicit as soon as she arrived, but in the way she did it. It was almost like a ritual execution with the ceremonial last smoke, and Darlene’s matter-of-fact manner in the way she did it.
If they were paranoid before, they become suddenly a thousand times more so, especially Mobley who is not too quietly freaking out. he’s convinced the feds are breathing down their necks and after he leaves the others, he’s almost paralyzed with fear, and is using a bike messenger to scout things out for him, because he’s too scared to go look for himself. He finally musters the courage to go home, and begins to pack, and just as does, there’s knock at the door, and its the feds.
There’s a brief intermezzo with Angela, who is at some bar and its karaoke night there. Angela is with the her latest boytoy, the black guy she’s been screwing who the FBI has gotten to, and is using to spy on her for them. She abandons her date for some random older guy she meets. She sings a song “Everybody Wants To Rule The World” by Tears For Fears.
Over roughly the past decade, television has produced an abundance of illuminating scenes in which a character swallows her fear, opens her mouth, and unleashes her inner songbird in front of a captive, albeit not always enthusiastic, audience. This time around was a classic example of this sort of scene being portrayed
She encounters an old friend of her father’s who starts giving her shit because she works for Ecorp now, because they were the reason her mother died, and after she takes a moment to consider his words, she delivers a nice rejoinder to his remarks about “is that all you got after sixty years?” and sums up her life at 27 being so far beyond everything he has ever done in a mean spirited sort of way designed to bolster her own self esteem and damage his.
Angela is damaged goods, the path she chosen for herself has taken a heavy toll, and it shows in her dead, sad eyes. She’s a ticking time bomb, and when the shit hits the fan, I predict she’s going to be right there in the middle of it, playing a major role in what goes down.
Back with Mobley, remarkably, he keeps it together enough to deal will Dom DiPierro (Grace Gummer), who’s toying with him by saying things in a way that teases she knows more then she does. She mentions his dead friend Romero, and shows him the poster she found for the End of The World Party F-society had after the hack, and he demands a lawyer. Dom’s boss tells her she has to let him go, so Mobley’s back on the street without losing it in front of the feds, and as soon as he gets out he texts Trenton, then wipes his phone of all its data, and ditches it in the bike of a random nearby messenger. Trenton gets his message to meet, but he never shows.
Meanwhile, Darlene wakes up at Cisco’s, he’s in the shower, and she notes his laptop on a nearby table, and she does’t like what she sees. She suspects he sold her out to his Dark Army friends, so when he comes out of the bathroom he finds his laptop in pieces on the floor, and as he goes to ask her wtf?, the episode ends with her swinging a baseball bat at his head. Just like that, Fsociety is no more. The dissolution of the group was irresistibly fascinating, mesmerizing like watching a car wreck in slow motion.
This episode was an excellent study of the effect that paranoia can have on people , how friendships crumble and allegiances fade away under circumstances that test the loyalties of people who suddenly find themselves under the duress of fear.
The murder, and subsequent fear and paranoia, was as swell done as any Hitchcock movie I can think of with suspense that made me as squeamish as if I was part of the plot that got these characters into the fix they’re in. It left me wondering, and eager to find out what’s in store for next week, and how this season will ever wrap up a story that seems so tangled and complex, in a manner that seems even slightly less than completely insane. This is an amazing and mind boggling show.