After last week’s (non) revelation that Elliot had been in jail for the whole of Season 2, S02E08 delivers an F-Society-centric hour and since Elliot promised he wasn’t going to lie to us anymore, maybe staying away was the best way of keeping his word…
In a delightful Ron’s Coffee Shop meet-cute, around the time when Elliot was busting Ron, Trenton gets to know Mobley by hacking his Nexus with the Stagefright Exploit. Turns out they were both waiting for Elliot, but (just like the rest of us) had to make do with the star of this episode… Darlene.
Glimpses into Darlene, Trenton and Mobley’s lives have a been a long time coming, and S02E08 was an ideal time to give Rami Malek a deserved week off for sure, but should the storyline have handled all three at once, and at the expense of the two protagonists?
In all honesty, not too much really happened in this episode, it almost if they wanted to show us what happens when Elliot isn’t center-stage… but let’s take a look at what did happen:
From their hideout, the team successfully listened in on, then leaked the FBI conference call in another Anonymous-style video which they uploaded here to Vimeo.
This couldn’t really happen, could it? It already has!
In the first of several real-world events in this episode, by citing E-Corp alongside Google, AT&T, Uber, Apple, Verizon, Facebook and 16 others, the show is directly referencing the NSA’s Prism Program. I love this real-world attention to detail.
Susan Jacobs arrives home to F_Society’s lair to catch them red-handed, masks n’ all leaving Darlene with a dilemma. To kidnap or not to kidnap?
Although maybe the question should be “shouldn’t someone have realised Jacobs was bound to return?” Like they themselves said, maybe they should’ve kept one eye on Jacob’s GPS location. It’s almost as if Darlene wanted Susan to come home.
I’d prefer to believe this was Darlene’s plan all along rather than a case of the team’s incompetence. Why? Because character’s incompetence usually means lazy writing (see every action by every character ever in Season 1 of Fargo for the best example of this!)
Sending fragile, timid Trenton to check on your taller, physically more robust, long-distance running and swim-star hostage is definite lazy writing, but the tables were turned when she arrived back upstairs with a brilliantly comedic “Erm… Darlene” moment, even if Susan’s crack to the head was another easy way out for the writers.
Across town, Angela’s rendition of Tears for Fears’ Everybody Wants to Rule The World provides the best karaoke scene since Kevin Garvey’s “Homeward Bound” in The Leftovers and a great excuse for the team’s frantic search montage for any dirty information on Jacobs via e-mail and internet history.
If we all saw the pacemaker e-mail, Darlene did too. No excuses.
Actress Carly Chaikin was given the chance to finally sink her teeth into the role and she didn’t disappoint, running the whole gamut of emotions over the course of S02E08. Here, she delivered her speech chillingly and, despite looking like a female Joker, never hamming it up.
And then BOOM! We find out Darlene remembers Susan Jacobs laughing at the reading of the E-Corp verdict from when she was four years old. It made perfect sense. This was no accident. This was the reason she chose this particular address. Pure, premeditated Revenge. Served cold.
The coldness with which Darlene delivered her speech, the tazer blow she knew would be the heart-attack inducing coup-de-grace and her subsequent lack of feeling means that in this one instant, Darlene took over Susan Jacob’s moniker of “Madam Executioner.”
Well executed (pun intended) as the exchange between Darlene and kidnapped Susan were, these exchanges deserved to be bigger, more tent-pole scenes. I mean… Darlene revealed her childhood motive and, moments later, became a murderess.
All of this felt rushed, Susan arrived home, was kidnapped, talked her way into an escape plan, was released, botched her escape attempt, was knocked unconscious, woke up, listened to Darlene’s speech and was dead inside 14 screen minutes. Obviously, the longer she’s kidnapped and missing, the higher the tension mounts. The show missed a trick there tonight.
When Darlene told the crew that she had accidentally killed Susan, they were like “Oh, alrighty then, I’m outta here…” without pause for thought. In just as rushed manner as the kidnap, the gang was disbanded – paranoid, leaderless, rudderless and on the run.
In this sense, watching S02E08 was like watching an episode of Scooby Doo, only an episode where Scooby and Shaggy didn’t feature because they were appearing at The World Sandwich-Stacking and Mustard Eating Championships.
Velma, Daphne and Fred (Darlene, Trenton and Mobley) perform the operational, day-to-day hacking work but when puppet-masters Elliot and Robot aren’t around, the wheels come off The Mystery Machine.
While Angela was ditching her 4th of July date and showing off her daddy-issues by picking up a grandfather, the scenes in which Darlene and Cisco disposed of Susan Jacob’s body were tense, while Trenton and especially Mobley’s paranoia were excellently portrayed, in thanks mostly due to Mac Quayle’s excellent spy-theme score, with a dash of horror!
Mobley was pulled in by the Feds and interrogated by Agent Dom DiPierro. Luckily she has nothing on him, believing him to be too pathetic to be anything but Tyrell Wellick’s End of the World Party DJ. I think we’re in for a Tyrell & Joanna-centric episode before the season is out.
Still at the FBI, it’s revealed Angela’s original date is an FBI Agent (who’s managed to get nothing on her) and in two more great moments of reality/fiction smashing we see Edward Snowden talking about F_Society hacking the Feds on TV and FBI characters referencing their real-life boss, Director James Comey. What other show has the balls to do that?
S02E08 ends with Darlene waking up in Cisco’s apartment, her hacking his laptop password and finding he’s deep undercover with The Dark Army. Yet just as intriguing is the reveal (to Darlene, we already knew) that The Dark Army are piggy-backing the femtocell and also listening into the FBI. Oh, and this:
In the final seconds, Darlene takes a baseball bat to Cisco’s face. I guess once you’re a murderess, there’s no going back… and that’s the most interesting thing about S02E08.
Darlene’s all-too-easy transition from second-in-command to cold-blooded killer.
Might there be more than meets the eye to Darlene? I’m just gonna throw a crazy idea out there: What if she isn’t Elliot’s sister? Could Darlene also be Mr Robot? A female incarnation perhaps?
Darlene was noticeably absent from some S01 Alderson family photographs (but admittedly did appear in later photos) That said, so many other people interact with Darlene that she must be real…
Much more likely – could Darlene also be haunted by Mr Robot? She did say in a recent episode that she could “take” him off Elliot for a while… which is a very strange thing to say about your insane brother’s hallucination.
I’m not even totally sold on this idea myself yet, even though this episode was much more grounded in reality than normal and quite pedestrian, I’d still wouldn’t put anything past Mr Robot… and that’s why we love it!