Mr. Robot: eps2.6_succ3ss0r.p12
August 24, 2016 11:05 PM - Season 2, Episode 8 - Subscribe

A video is released by fsociety; Darlene decides to act on an old desire.

Elliot is Sir Not Appearing In This Episode, and it feels like everything is falling apart as a result. Even Dom's investigation has hit a rough patch when it seems like the chaos in fsociety should be to her advantage...

Sepinwall's got review up. AV Club's review is up as well.
posted by sparkletone (22 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I just noticed how similar the summary in the main part of the post is to last week's. Don't think I'm going to ask for a mod to correct it even though I think it's weird. I usually get a synopsis from imdb because they tend to be a little less terse than what ends up in tv guide listings while staying vague/spoiler-free. However, there wasn't one up for this week so I just used what was in the top of the google results for this week's episode title.

In any case, I liked this episode a lot. One in which the main character doesn't appear at all is a definite risk (albeit probably a relief for an over-worked Rami). But in all the "what has been going on outside Rami's situation" that's been lingering we've never entirely gotten a clear picture of just how lost everyone is without him. Darlene's not as good at making the videos, the rest of her crew is cracking up under the pressure, and then things get even messier... If Elliot's really getting out next week, I wonder what his reaction to walking back into this mess will be.

I really liked that scene at the start with Trenton and Mobley having a little bit of a meet cute. But then the show stuck with Darlene reading Elliot's words in her voice rather than fading in a voice over from Rami and... well didn't that tell you right up front how this episode was going to go. Also, Sepinwall notes a detail I missed: What Darlene reads is a piece of Elliot's narration from the first episode.

I thought it was interesting that Dom was after Wellick rather than Elliot. I can't recall if we've gotten a clear indication of that before or not. I know some have speculated (even back during the first season) that Wellick is another personality of Elliot's but... I still find that really, really hard to square away with everything else we've been given.
posted by sparkletone at 11:25 PM on August 24, 2016

Elliot is Sir Not Appearing In This Episode.....

That was weird and at the same time refreshing. It was nice to get some back-story on the others.
posted by lampshade at 2:56 AM on August 25, 2016

Eh, without Elliot, Season 2 is struggling even harder to get from point A to point B.

Season 2 has so far been:
1) the will-they-won't-they romance of Elliot and his imaginary friend, complete with a depressingly obvious twist
2) remember those cool things that happened last season? here's a bunch of offcuts that didn't make it first time around
3) lazy foreshadowing leading to someone's death, complete with a B-grade action scene (splork! kapowie!)
4) the spooky ghost story of Tyrell and his wife who's getting nailed by the pool boy or something
5) some interesting new characters with their own agenda, that are evolving the story we told in Season 1 but in directions you might not have expected and will --
6) lol enough of that shit, time for 20 minutes on a faux 90s sitcom or the tale of some guy and his struggles in being a small business owner and dog owner.
7) Angela's strong opinions on literally every old saggy man she encounters.

We're not talking True Detectives Season 2 bad here, but it's a definite step down from the last season.
posted by kithrater at 5:54 AM on August 25, 2016

Eh, without Elliot, Season 2 is struggling even harder to get from point A to point B.

I think that's the point, to a degree. Even with Elliot, what was their "Phase 2" plan? Bringing down E Corp felt like an anarchists' revolution - if it works, it doesn't work, because it is really hard to sustain on anarchy. And in this case, when everything was built around centralized banking and mega companies like E Corp. NYC isn't going to become like a small community where you can work with trust and bartering because you know your neighbors.

And one thing that I haven't seen discussed: what is the role of E Coins? It looks like E Corp is getting an even bigger hold on society, because instead of some Federal level of control over money supplies, E Coins are distributed and lack that central, government interaction. But also lacking government involvement, that hands more power to major companies. Perhaps that was the Dark Army's plan, acting as a major player (via Whiterose) in E Corp's succession planning.

lazy foreshadowing leading to someone's death, complete with a B-grade action scene (splork! kapowie!)

I don't see this as an action-packed show. They're hackers, not trained CIA operatives. To me, that awkward scuffling felt more real than if we had some badasses who know computers like on Chuck.

the spooky ghost story of Tyrell and his wife who's getting nailed by the pool boy or something

The ghost of Tyrell is interesting, because we have nothing solid on this so far, and it's clear he's important for both Elliot and the FBI (at least Dom, who doesn't believe anybody but a high-level E Corp person could have pulled off the 5/9 hack). But Joanna looks like she has a plan to clear Tyrell's name: get some low-level nobody from E Corp into rough sex, complete with choking, to implicate him in Sharon Knowles' death. She's toying with him, giving him a taste of luxury then telling him he can never have anything like that ("Madrid. Do you really think you'll ever afford... you'll ever afford that?") She claims she loves him for what he is, a bartender with dreams of being a DJ.

I'm a fan, so I'm definitely biased and more willing to let the chaos go as an intentional part of the show, whereas I hate-watched True Detectives Season 2 (good gods, that was a mess of a show). But I'll be annoyed if this season plays like The Empire Strikes Back, and Esmail lets this season stretch out and this arc wraps up in the next season.
posted by filthy light thief at 7:17 AM on August 25, 2016

And I'm worried for Darlene after this episode: former banker boy-toy's bullet casing, from the gun she stole from him; glitching tape where she shows her face from under her the mask; cigarettes in the house, not to mention the fact they lived in the house for a month or two, so it'll be really hard to completely scrub their presence from the place, short of throwing another party.

If she's the successor, who takes over after her? Trenton? She has something to lose, so she can't bug out, and she's more skilled (at least in hacking) than Mobley, who is likely in a bad place.
posted by filthy light thief at 8:54 AM on August 25, 2016 [2 favorites]

I loved not having Mr. Robot/Eliot in this week's episode. It was a nice break from all of that mania and it also reminds us that there is a larger world out there, the fall out from 5/9 is significant and we finally saw some of that fallout on other players in this universe. Darlene is one of the most fascinating characters on this show and I'm glad we were able to spend some time inside of her brain. It's a dark and twisted place and she clearly has a lot of shit going on, I want more. I could even go another week without Mr. Robot/Eliot and I'd be perfectly happy.
posted by Fizz at 9:15 AM on August 25, 2016 [1 favorite]

Yeah, Darlene made a LOT of mistakes in this episode. It's possible that their recording/publishing (vimeo? hope you were behind like fourteen VPNs and Tor) of the conference call will keep the FBI off of their back for a bit, but she's left clues as to her identity all over the place. It's no wonder that The Dark Army is seemingly looking to get rid of them now.
posted by destructive cactus at 11:47 AM on August 25, 2016

The Ringer: What Is Angela’s Deal?
Mr. Robot lives to confuse. Last night’s episode was blessedly Elliot-free: With his latest dorky Big Twist, we’ve established that every six to 10 episodes, a super-wacky reveal will nullify between 70 and 90 percent of the things he has said, done, witnessed, or experienced. He’s evolved from Unreliable Narrator to Reliably Unreliable Narrator, and the distinction matters: It’s the difference between you can’t trust anything he says and nothing he says really means anything. The chessboard resets itself; the overarching message is “LOL, Never Mind.” This is unorthodox, and bold, and admirable, and worth cautiously celebrating, but turning your main character into a memory-wiping black hole awash in long-con card tricks and ’90s-sitcom fever dreams forces all the other characters to push things forward and give the show a valid center and make extra sense.


Loving Mr. Robot means accepting these bugs as features, which has grown easier as Season 2 has progressed. And last night’s Angela karaoke dirge was weird, great TV. “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” is certainly poignant, given her fraught circumstances. (It’s also a top-five all-genre ’80s classic, but that’s an argument for another time.) But it would hit a lot harder if we had any clarity as to whether or not Angela actually wants to rule the world. “Who the hell do you think you are?” the soon-to-be-owned plumber demanded of her last night. The fact that we have no idea is not troubling. The fact that we have no idea if she has any idea is another matter entirely.
posted by tonycpsu at 11:50 AM on August 25, 2016 [1 favorite]

I could even go another week without Mr. Robot/Eliot and I'd be perfectly happy.

That seems like a reach to me, but it definitely felt right here. With all the cards on the table as to how isolated Elliot's been all this time, it's good to really see what it means for his followers (in both the fsociety and "FBI pursuit" senses). Turns out: Everything's a mess! I can't wait to see what comes out of the mess once he's properly back out in it.

What Is Angela’s Deal?

I... disagree strongly with some of the first chunk of that quote. Nothing on Elliot's side of things was nullified by the prison reveal. He just wasn't sitting in a damn diner or at his mom's dining room table during some scenes. That doesn't erase much of anything. And even if you back it up to last season: The reveal of Mr. Robot's true nature didn't nullify anything at all either. But enh. If that's how that person feels, okay. I'm probably nitpicking.

BUT. We at least agree that Angela is great this season.

The ambiguity is why, for me. She could be safe... But it means either putting herself on the sidelines of this whole conflict, or selling herself out to a group that has done considerable harm to her and her family (not to mention many others). That sell out could be a lie, but ... it turns out it's not as easy as that, is it? I think she went into this meaning to do exactly what it initially seemed, and still often seems like: Get into a position where she can do some real damage to those assholes. Either via the lawsuit or leaking info to the public or whatever else comes up. She has to play the part and play it convincingly enough that she gets what she's after....

She's having to do something somewhat like Will Graham did in the second season of Hannibal. Without getting into details since that's a very different show: How far can Angela go in playing out this deception to get the monsters to expose the kind of vulnerability to her that she needs without losing herself in the process? Even more so than last week she seems caught in the middle and it's still not clear which side will win out.

That's what gives the karaoke song its power. She could have those things people supposedly want, the stuff she just threw in plumber dude's face. All she has to do is stop thinking about her family's pain, or the other people E Corp's hurt. She'll get to keep the nice clothes and all that. Does she really want to go deep enough into this to get the kind of access she needs to really fuck up E Corp?

Having it all be laid out for us easy and neat with this much of the season left wouldn't be nearly as interesting.
posted by sparkletone at 12:30 PM on August 25, 2016 [3 favorites]

The best bit of the episode ? Angela singing "Everybody Wants to Rule the World". So bleak, so perfect.

Portia Doubleday is really knocking it out of the park this season.
posted by Pendragon at 1:12 PM on August 25, 2016 [8 favorites]

The cinematography is better—way better—with Esmail directing this season, and this episode is the best so far.
posted by 1970s Antihero at 6:43 PM on August 25, 2016 [5 favorites]

I really appreciate the show fleshing out Darlene this season and showing that her darkness rivals Elliot's, and especially after the sitcom episode, we know that her childhood was just as damaged and she's shaped by that violence too. I wonder what Elliot would think of the murder and disposal of Susan Jacobs.
posted by gladly at 6:45 PM on August 25, 2016

Also, I want to see Darlene and Dom together In a really fucked up codependent relationship where they team up to get revenge on the Dark Army.
posted by 1970s Antihero at 6:58 PM on August 25, 2016

What I want: Angela owning Darlene at the end of Season 2, then Joanna Wellick owning E Corp at the end by totally crushing that asshole Scott anyway, as originally planned.

Elliot deserves a happy ending, I think, but I'm not sure how. Maybe he and Whiterose can negotiate a peaceful detente/partnership after E Corp shits society's bed and the government won't bail it out, but WILL forgive all outstanding debts and suspend bitcoin and credit transactions while essentially taking over all banking in-house. This is fiction, and anything could happen. Or Elliot successfully implicating Wellick for all his crimes and getting away with it forever, though not without getting rid of Krista, I suspect.

Ray, you weren't in this episode but I am 100% convinced that this is Craig's best acting role ever. I'm seeing his range and nonverbal skills like I never expected to before on a TV show, and between Ray, Whiterose and Trenton, I have that same excited feeling about diversity on network TV like I haven't had since Sleepy Hollow premiered. He's always been funny and quick-witted (basically a great improv actor) with masterfully understated delivery, but this menacing Craig is amazing.

Angela, wow. Props to Portia for delivering the 50-second penetrating stare after every tense moment of dialogue this entire season. That takes stamina, to portray that level of calculation so subtly, and just for comparison here's a gif after that dude shot himself in S1. S2 Angela's face has gone Full Cloaking Device, like masculine Whiterose (BD Wong is hot in every gender identity, though, just... damn).
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 8:12 PM on August 25, 2016

I, for one, missed Elliot greatly this episode. He's the main sympathetic character for me. Angela just seems cold and cryptic, Darlene always seemed dangerous (I guess now we know) and I didn't care much about Joanna and Tyrell. Elliot might be just as terrible as any of them, but I like him. And I love unreliable narrators.

I did like the parts with Mobley and Trenton though.

The best bit of the episode ? Angela singing "Everybody Wants to Rule the World". So bleak, so perfect.

The actress did a good job with this, she can obviously sing but she made it sound shy and hesitant (but perfectly on key).
posted by mmoncur at 9:25 PM on August 25, 2016 [1 favorite]

Angela scares me in that it feels like every time she opens her mouth she's debating to herself whether to tell someone the truth about the FBI hack. I genuinely though she was about to tell the "Who do you think you are?" plumber how she was getting revenge her own way.

If she can maintain her mask in her weaker, inebriated state, I have more faith that she will come out on top, the strong one, as Darlene fails through exhaustion and mistakes.
posted by tracicle at 11:37 PM on August 25, 2016 [2 favorites]

"Karaoke dirge" is a great description for Portia's performance.
posted by filthy light thief at 7:49 AM on August 26, 2016 [7 favorites]

"Karaoke dirge"

And would also make for a great sophomore album name for any band/artist out there.
posted by Fizz at 1:56 PM on August 26, 2016

I can see how Britian could/might have recruited their destitute noble class for espionage work.

Well done.
posted by porpoise at 8:33 PM on August 26, 2016 [1 favorite]

I enjoyed this episode, but to me it gives a disappointing answer to the question "what if Mr. Robot were just a normal TV show about hackers?" I mean it was fine, and necessary advancement of plot. I liked the fleshing out of Trenton and Mobley's characters. It was good development to see Darlene trying to lead the group out of unplanned chaos. But it all felt sort of ordinary TV, and clumsy, and I found myself missing the spice of Elliot's alienation.

Loved the scenes with Angela though. She's as alienated as Elliot in her way, playing out the polite bridge-and-tunnel girl version of it. That karaoke performance was devastating, it reminded me a bit of the same uncomfortable vulnerability in the singing of Llorando in Mulholland Drive.
posted by Nelson at 7:08 AM on August 27, 2016

(vimeo? hope you were behind like fourteen VPNs and Tor)

They've been making extensive use of Kali, which is great; swiss army knife for hacking. But for a situation like uploading an incriminating video I'd think TAILS is the tool of choice to maximize your anonymity. Right tool for the right job.
posted by scalefree at 11:49 AM on August 27, 2016

From GeekWire's 'Mr. Robot' rewind, "Fsociety also uses a Tor browser package to upload the video to Vimeo, further covering their tracks," after purging the metadata with an ffmpeg command. Plenty more on the hacks in this episode there.
posted by filthy light thief at 9:03 AM on August 29, 2016

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