Mr. Robot really is at its best when it decides to become a thriller. Part of me enjoys when the show digs into the existential crises associated with living in the world today, but Mr. Robot has never really nailed that. Sometimes, it absolutely excels at it, such as when we see Darlene struggle to understand who is she in the wake of the 5/9 hack. Other times, such as when we hear Price talk about his ambitions, not so much. But the sheer adrenaline associated with the Dark Army trying to gun down Darlene and Cisco, watching the forces that be zero in on fsociety, is absolutely riveting.
I’m even surprised that Joanna, for the most part, was integrated into the episode in a mostly successful fashion. She’s one of the weakest characters on the show, to be sure, as she doesn’t really have a personality beyond her ambition and her sexual deviance, but she pushes Elliot further towards Tyrell, which is really the crux of the tangible mystery for Elliot this season. Clearly, something surrounding Tyrell’s disappearance means everything for the season’s endgame, and Mr. Robot is funneling Elliot’s story towards that discovery by blocking out almost everything else. This funneled approach makes the episode remarkably intense, emphasizing Elliot’s desperation to find out some sort of answer. It also helps that the episode pairs him up for a scene with Angela, as the two of them pair together remarkably well. Highlighting Angela’s desperation works brilliantly, as it’s the natural profession of her desire to be two completely different things.
I’m also excited to see the direction that Darlene’s story is taking. Watching Cisco call Darlene out on being completely out of control was remarkable in that it took the subtext of the season and made it text, escalating it to its endgame. The episode also makes it easy to root for Dom, who has to deal with her incompetent boss as she hunts down both Darlene and Cisco. The chase at the end of the episode, where Dom is looking for the two of them, trying to get to them before the Dark Army, is ridiculously tense, culminating in a fantastic shootout. Darlene potentially losing her life is the climactic moment of her storyline this season, and the aftermath (if she’s alive) is sure to push her to some sort of revelation about her role in fsociety and what she wants out of it.
But really, the best part of this show is watching what really happens when people revolt. The new era is messed up, just as much as the last. Somebody is always in charge, and somebody is always suffering. Elliot wonders if anything is better, and it’s a question that doesn’t really have a good answer. He continually puts the people he loves in danger, with Darlene in the line of fire and Angela confronted presumably by the Dark Army. And he still doesn’t know what is supposed to come next.