For anyone who thought that Elliot inherited all of the unhinged genes in the Alderson family, well... Mr. Robot Season 2 Episode 8 certainly cleared that misconception right up for you.
Darlene has been spiraling all season, in Elliot's absence, and "Successor" displayed the apex of that spiraling: cold-blooded murder.
The show has done a great, subtle job of hinting at Darlene slowly losing it since the very beginning of Mr. Robot Season 2.
In my review of Mr. Robot Season 2 Episode 3, I specifically wondered whether Darlene might be capable of murdering Mrs. Romero, given her reaction to Mobley saying that Mrs. Romero saw him at the house shortly before her son was found dead. In retrospect, that's some great foreshadowing and a wonderfully subtle performance on Carly Chaikin's part.
I was a little bit disappointed that Darlene's victim was such a random character. Susan Jacobs' importance always felt like a bit of a retcon, to me – she wasn't a part of the first season, but suddenly she was supposed to have had this major role in the Evil Corp/Alderson family drama?
For that reason, Darlene's big monologue to Susan shortly before she straight up murdered her was a little bit of a letdown. It was still a pretty great moment, all told, so I'll include the exchange here.
Darlene: The first time I saw you, I was four. I still remember. On the news, in the courtroom, when they cleared E Corp of all the bullshit they put my family through. And you were in the back, behind a sea of suits. And you laughed. It was so quick, no one even noticed. No one but me. Four year old little me. So... I'm happy I get to look you in the eye. I've taken down your company, I've taken over your home, and now, I have you.
Susan: OK. So you got me. Where do we go from here? I'm sure we can figure something out.
Darlene: I already have.
I also found it unusual (but interesting) that this installment effectively had two climaxes.
The first, of course, was when Darlene tased Susan, inducing some kind of heart failure and/or allowing Susan to drown in her gorgeous home pool. The lead up to this moment was wonderfully constructed to really ratchet up the tension leading up to Susan's death.
First, we backtracked to a moment that we'd actually already seen, on Mr. Robot Season 2 Episode 7: Darlene leaning over the computer as Mobley pointed out something great in the info they'd hacked from the FBI. This scene clarified that the discovery which made all of the hackers grin was the Operation Berenstain conference call, which they were able to drop in on with incredible ease.
Seriously, does the FBI really have sensitive conference calls on unsecured lines like that? I would think something akin to Operation Berenstain would warrant an in-person meeting, but that's just me.
Anyway! As it turned out, Berenstain was the code name for the FBI's massive invasion of privacy of three million Americans, surveilling them (with the help of big corporations like Facebook, Uber, and the fictional E Corp) in order to figure out who orchestrated the 5/9 Hack.
This, presumably, is how they caught on to who the hackers were, narrowing down to 16 suspects. This is also why Romero had the names of certain FBI agents printed out in his home (which Dom found).
Of course, as soon as the group overheard and recorded the FBI's confirmation that they were prying into the data of millions of unsuspecting people, they had to share it with the world. Darlene made an fsociety video and had Trenton upload it to the web, effectively turning the attention from themselves to the FBI's invasion of privacy.
It was a smart game move, and it may have done well to keep eyes off of them – until Susan Jacobs unexpectedly arrived home, anyway.
That moment Susan arrived in her apartment to find fsociety there was perfection. That overwhelming "Oh, crap" vibe that everyone was giving off at once was just stellar.
It was definitely an interesting choice to have the hackers find incriminating information on Susan (her affair with a presiding judge) but have Darlene choose to murder her in cold blood anyway.
This way, there was no doubt that Darlene acted purely of her own desire – she did not kill Susan because she had to, either in active self-defense or to keep fsociety from being discovered. She killed Susan purely because she wanted to do it.
Again, I would have preferred if Susan was more important – it would have heightened the emotional impact, I think – but it was a pretty epic moment nonetheless.
Also epic: Cisco and Darlene shoving Susan's body into a tiny suitcase, taking the suitcase on the subway, and then incinerating it in a vet's office crematory. Sorry, did I say epic? I meant ballsy and horrifying. Very The Americans-esque. Though Cisco and Darlene are certainly no Philip and Elizabeth Jennings.
Carly Chaikin was on a role throughout this installment, between her final confrontation with Susan and her later confession to Cisco, post-body disposal, that she didn't feel bad after killing Susan.
Darlene: I didn't know I could do that.
Cisco: You did what you had to do.
Darlene: No, that's the thing. I don't feel bad. I always knew there was a part of me that wanted to do this to her for what she did but I figured when the time came, something would stop me. But it didn't.
Darlene, here, marveled at her lack of conscience. Something in her broke and didn't stop her from murdering the woman she'd hated for so long. It was a dark moment for her.
This confession also set the stage for climactic moment #2: Darlene's confrontation with Cisco in his apartment. By which I mean, the confrontation of Darlene's bat with Cisco's head.
As we've seen, Cisco clearly does care for Darlene, but was threatened into continuing to report back to the Dark Army (recall that needle-to-the-finger moment and shudder with me). Apparently, he kept his word to the Dark Army "officer" who threatened him, because Darlene did indeed find clear evidence that he was still working with the Dark Army (and reporting on her) on his laptop, the day after Susan's murder.
Already spiraling from the traumatic murder and body disposal they'd just gone through, Darlene had clearly had it. She destroyed Cisco's laptop and took a bat to his head. We don't see whether it was a kill shot, but I can't imagine that Cisco will be a-OK after a thwack like that.
Elsewhere, we also caught glimpses of both Dom and Angela.
Dom has been getting progressively closer to the truth all season, but she's still way off base in that she's focused on Tyrell Wellick – given that he disappeared (courtesy of Mr. Robot, maybe?), everyone pinpointed him as the mastermind behind fsociety and the 5/9 Hack. On "Successor," she successfully spoke to two people involved with fsociety but incorrectly identified one of them as having only tangential involvement.
The first interviewee was "Mr. Jones," recognizable as the random dude Darlene slept with back in Mr. Robot Season 1 – the guy she acquired the illegal gun from. He was relevant because, as Mr. Robot confessed to Elliot recently, he used that gun (hidden in the popcorn machine) to kill Tyrell.
I still don't 100% believe that Tyrell is dead, but nonetheless the gun did for sure go off – Dom's team found the shell casing, which was traced back to the gun Darlene stole.
The second person picked up by the FBI was Mobley, but Dom totally misread that situation. She didn't at all realize that Mobley had an integral part in the hack – she assumed he was only the DJ at the End of the World Party thrown post-5/9 Hack and that he would maybe give up some info on supposed-mastermind Tyrell. Obviously, we know better.
Regardless, Mobley has been growing more and more paranoid (with good reason), culminating in his decision to flee after his FBI interrogation ended. He arranged to meet with Trenton at Ron's Coffee (where they first met), but seemed to never show up. Or at least he hadn't by the time "Successor" ended.
My guess? Perhaps Mobley pointed the finger at Trenton, intending to deflect attention from himself while he got far away. I don't know, I feel like something dark and treacherous like that is perfectly fitting for this show. We'll see. It's either that or the Dark Army killed Mobley en route to the meeting with Trenton because they caught wind that he'd been picked up by the FBI. Covering their own tracks and whatnot.
Finally, there was Angela. She wasn't featured very prominently save two big moments.
The first was her distressing confrontation with her father's friend, when he accused her of using sex to get to where she was and berated her for "bowing" to the men who'd killed her mother. That was a disgusting, upsetting moment, but Angela's classist response was also pretty uncomfortable.
You're a plumber, right, Steve? You've had, what, 60 years at life? And that's the best you can come up with. Literally cleaning shit for a living. I'm 27, and I've got a six figure salary at the biggest conglomerate in history. And I'm just getting started.Angela
I mean, the above really encapsulated exactly what Angela's character has been all about recently. It also reminded me quite a bit of her exchange with the shoe store clerk back on the Mr. Robot Season 1 Finale.
Then, Angela ditched her boyfriend to flirt with an older dude at a karaoke bar, after the world's saddest rendition of "Everybody Wants to Rule the World." Her boyfriend, apparently, is an FBI agent – something I'm guessing Angela didn't know – since we saw him talking to Dom about Angela being cold to him and then ditching him entirely. Was he undercover?
Of course, there was the elephant in the room – or rather, the elephant not in the room. This installment was completely devoid of Elliot – for the first time ever. It was very strange and rendered the whole installment off-balance in what I think was a purposeful way.
- This show always has spectacular attention to detail and wonderful little callbacks. Ron's Coffee was easily one of the best callbacks they've done so far – recall that this was the establishment that had "suspiciously fast wi-fi" (which Mobley also mentioned in the flashback), causing Elliot to investigate and report "Ron" (aka, Rohit) to the FBI for running a child pornography website. Just a small, awesome moment.
- Ron's Coffee sidebar: How is any location of that place still in business months after Elliot had the proprietor arrested on child pornography charges??
- The title of this installment "Successor" seems a pretty clear reference to Darlene as Elliot's successor in leadership of fsociety. Can you think of any other meanings I may have missed?
- I was totally thrown to see Angela flirting with Duck Philips from Mad Men at that bar. SO WEIRD. Also, I doubt they'd bring in such a recognizable actor for a small bit part, so Angela's older gentleman friend will likely have a role of some importance.
What did you think of "Successor"? Leave me a comment and watch Mr. Robot online anytime here at TV Fanatic!
Caralynn Lippo is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.