Mr Robot 2×08 ‘eps2.6succ3ss0r.p12’: Circling the drain

Source: USA
There are a couple storylines that work well for Mr. Robot at this point.  The best one of these is the slow deterioration of fsociety after the FBI and the Dark Army continue to target them.  It’s the most realistic story the show can tell, as the 5/9 hack wasn’t going to save the world, instead devolving it into chaos.  It’s the slow death of fsociety that adds a sense of urgency to the show.  Everybody is trying to outrun some invisible force that is tearing them apart, reminding them that they’ve done a stupid thing.  And everybody is dying or disappearing, one by one.

Source: USA

Source: USA

Elliot doesn’t even make an appearance in this episode, and the show still being strong speaks volumes about what is making Mr. Robot good these days.  At this point, it’s safe to say that Mr. Robot is taking way, way too long to get to wherever it’s going.  Last season, there were enough standalone episodes to make the show feel relatively fast paced.  Compared to that, however, this season is absolutely crawling.  This is a season of 12 episodes that could probably have been done in 6 or 7, lengthy flashbacks and self-indulgent scenes simply padding the runtime.  Mr. Robot is still a good show, to be sure, but it isn’t nearly as lean as it was, and it’s noticeable.

Source: USA

Source: USA

This episode revolves around Darlene’s desperate attempt to hold fsociety together in the face of a major screw-up.  They go to make a video for the 4th of July, but end up being walked in on by one of the top Evil Corp officials, their most prominent lawyer, Susan.  We certainly don’t know enough about Susan to feel bad for her as she is taken hostage and injured, but that’s fine, as the episode’s emotional core revolves around Darlene, who is adjusting to being a leader.  Darlene isn’t really cut out to be a leader, though to be fair, nobody really is.  Everybody involved is a kid, probably in their twenties, unable to really comprehend the weight of what is happening to the world and what is happening to them.  When Susan walks in on everybody, it feels kind of ridiculous, as who would have let that happen, but it also makes sense, as how can anybody hold it together when the stakes keep getting higher?

Source: USA

Source: USA

The urgency involved in all of this keeps it endlessly riveting.  Mobley and Trenton are being chased throughout the episode, Mobley by the FBI and Trenton by some unknown entity.  Darlene has to kill Susan in order to secure her silence, a turning point in her character, showing how unflinchingly hard she has to become to take Elliot’s place as leader.  She even has to beat down Cisco for spying on her for the Dark Army.  What makes this great is that none of them are very adept at what they’re doing; they’re great coders, but all of them are in over their head, and they’re clearly unable to handle the depth of the conspiracy against them.

Mr. Robot needs more episodes like this is order to succeed in its next season.  I’m sure the payoff for this season will be great, but it’s taking quite a long time to get there, and it sometimes feels like the detours aren’t entirely worth it.  Characters like Darlene, Cisco, Mobley, and Trenton can carry an episode, but we don’t know enough about them to really care beyond that (it’s not like The Leftovers, where any character can carry a scene and make it work).  Mr. Robot hasn’t entirely gone off the rails, as proven by episodes like this, but it has gotten close, and it would do well to notice what works and what doesn’t as it moves towards its conclusion this season.
What did you think of the episode?  Do you think that Mobley and Trenton are still alive? Let me know in the comments!
Michael St. Charles

is just a Michigan State University grad who loves a good story. If he’s not off teaching the young ones how to solve quadratic functions or to write an expository essay, he’s watching old-school HBO shows, indie horror movies, or he’s playing Resident Evil 4.

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