After what initially appears to be a major success, everything starts to go wrong for fsociety in season 2, episode 8, of USA Network’s Mr. Robot. Darlene (Carly Chaikin), Mobley (Sunita Mani), and Trenton (Azhar Khan), the core of fsociety, learn about an upcoming FBI conference call as a result of their earlier hack of FBI computers. They listen in as the FBI agents discuss the fact that they have backdoor access to every smart phone in the US which means that private citizens’ phones are under surveillance with no warrant. The agents also mention that as result of their efforts to arrest the perpetrators of the 5/9 hack, dubbed Operation Berenstain, they have 16 suspects in the 5/9 hack under surveillance and one is dead. Darlene makes a video using the fsociety mask during which she plays the captured audio and states that “access to our lives is officially denied,” and that “we will destroy you.”
As an aside, there is a theory circulating that the word “Berenstain” in the FBI operation is significant in itself. In “The Mandela Effect,” people have a collective memory of things that never actually happened. In this case, people recall the children’s book series as Berenstein Bears, when in reality it was “Berenstain.” As it relates to this series, there are some who believe it was at one time “Berenstein,” but that we are in a parallel universe where it is now Berenstain. This would move the series into the realm of science fiction. It seems more probable that since Elliot (Rami Malek) is the embodiment of an unreliable narrator, viewers are always wondering what is reality. This questioning of the reliability of what we see extends to scenes where Elliot doesn’t appear. It is definitely an issue in this episode as Darlene does some unbelievable things.
After the fsociety video is released, Mobley becomes very agitated. He believes that they are all under FBI surveillance and that Romero is the dead one the FBI made reference to. While arguing about Mobley staying, the owner of the house they have commandeered, (the lawyer for E Corp, Susan Jacobs), returns home to find all of them there. At first the group ties her up while they try to find something incriminating in her emails with which to blackmail her into silence. After an altercation with Trenton leads to a head wound for Susan, Darlene goes down to see her. Darlene tells Susan that she first saw her when Darlene was four and Susan laughed when E Corp was cleared of all that it had put her family through following her dad’s death. Darlene zaps her with a stun gun causing Susan to fall into the pool and drown.
Darlene tells Mobley and Trenton that Susan’s death was an accident and asks them to leave so that she and Cisco (Michael Drayer) can wipe down the house. Cisco and Darlene take the body to the pound where they use the crematorium there to dispose of Susan’s body. Mobley and Trenton are clearly frightened; Mobley tells Trenton that they can’t stay there in the city as the FBI, Dark Army, or police could be after them.
Meanwhile, Angela (Portia Doubleday) is at a party and performs a sad Karaoke rendition of Tears for Fears’ “Everybody Wants to Rule the World.” This is intercut with the three fsociety members trying to hack Susan Jacobs’ computer. The lyrics have meaning for Angela as well as Darlene, Mobley, and Trenton: “Welcome to your life, there’s no turning back,” and “all for freedom and for pleasure, nothing ever lasts forever.” Clearly the fsociety members are on a dangerous path, one that Mobley now calls colossally stupid.
Angela’s goals are not clear. In the last episode it seemed as though she had positioned herself in the Risk Management department of E Corp in order to get incriminating evidence of the corporations’ nefarious dealings. However, she takes down a man who castigates her for working at a company that “killed her mother,” saying that she is 27 years old and makes a six figure salary at the biggest conglomerate in the world while he is a 60-year-old plumber. We know from the positive affirmation tapes that Angela listens to that she lacks self-esteem and that she takes pride in her success at E Corp. So, the lyrics, “I can’t stand this indecision, married with a lack of vision,” describes Angela’s predicament: to bring down E Corp as revenge for her mother’s death or to continue to achieve success there.
After Darlene and Cisco dispose of Susan’s body, Darlene is troubled by the fact that she murdered someone. When she wakes later at Cisco’s house, she gets on his computer while he is in the shower. She finds correspondence in Chinese from the Dark Army congratulating him for his work with the femtocell and telling him that the backdoor is in play. Angered at Cisco’s treachery, Darlene smashes his computer and when he comes out of the bathroom she slugs him with a baseball bat.
Even though it is a holiday, FBI agent Dom (Grace Gummer) has been following the trail that ultimately leads to Mobley. His hacker handle is DJ Mobley and it was listed in the handout she found at Romero’s home. She tells him that she isn’t interested in him but wants Tyrell Wellick. Mobley requests a lawyer and is released. He erases all the data on his phone and puts it in the basket of a bike messenger.
Finally, Trenton receives a message from Mobley telling her that they are burned and to meet him at the coffee shop where they first met. Mobley does not show, however.
Even without Elliot or Mr. Robot, this was a very tense and eventful episode. With the dogged Dom DiPierro on the case, things are looking very perilous for fsociety. It is now clear that the Dark Army has been using fsociety to further their aims.