Last Time On Mr. Robot; They did it! The Aldersons pulled off the most extraordinary heist of the shows entire run, working both apart and together to rob and dox Deus Group, outing the 0.001% is the corrupt, evil, selfish, cruel, soulless ghouls they truly are. Falling at his last hurdle, Phillip ‘I Will Rain Chaos’ Price was gunned down by Whiterose in her desperation and rage, but he went out like the Executive Boss he’s always been. Drinking, spiting Whiterose, witnessing the only time an assistant ever quit on her, before expertly stalling for time at the last possible second, ensuring Whiterose’s downfall. You could almost forgive his role in things. Almost.
Elsewhere… I mean, the Previously On is basically the entire run of the show up to this point, reminding us that; Elliot has an unidentified third alter and Robot knows something he’s not saying, again. Price sent Elliot after The Project, Leon went Freelance, Dom is still kicking around, hopefully, without the extra hole Janice gave her and oh yeah, Darlene needs a GODDAMNED VACATION.
Y’all ever stop and think about the fact Esmail wanted to make this as a movie?
We open on Dom in a hospital being told she might face charges for some of her actions, though the agent telling her doesn’t seem too mad about it. He’s mostly cautious about letting her see her family as the FBI isn’t wholly confident she’s safe to trust. Dom has spent most of the conversation watching the news about the Dox and the robberies, realising that when Zhang showed her the dresses that night in China, she was trying to tell Dom who she really was. Dom is devastated she can’t see her family, and that being stabbed in the fucking lungs isn’t enough to win back the FBI trust she has unfairly lost; she argues her way into a discharge, wanting to go home. Outside, an orderly reveals he can’t release her alone because she was under anaesthesia but she morosely admits there’s no one, not even other FBI agents. Aaaw, Dom.
Jump to her arriving home, Grace Gummer nailing that weird energy you always return with after a traumatic event like she was expecting it all to be different. Without pause, she shoves a dresser in front of the door and settles in to eat grilled cheese and Darlene turns up to collect her, to take her on their getaway. Dom, very hollow and spent, doesn’t want to go, she’s waiting to be cleared so she can see her family. Darlene thinks this is wildly dangerous but Dom just wants to see and apologise to her family. Dom plays Faith Hill (This Kiss) eats her grilled cheese, generally — I mean, not exactly — lives her best life but come on, Faith Hill and hard carbohydrates? Even Dom points out that used to be all she wanted to do. Darlene thinks Dom is speaking crazy talk and suggests getting some sleep, which Dom claims she hasn’t gotten a full night of in five years, reminding Darlene of the night they slept together and Darlene robbed her shit.
Darlene starts to pack a bag for her but Dom stops her, demands to know where they’ll even go and for how long? Darlene points out Dark Army isn’t gone, and the FBI is still investigating her; it’s not like she has options if she stays. As Faith sings ‘(Subliminal!) This Kiss, this kiss!’, Darlene tries to sell her on the plan, refusing to leave her alone. Dom points out she has her Amazon Alexa (… still? After all… everything?) so Darlene shrieks and smashes the thing on the floor, pointing out it’s not real, just a robot who buys toilet paper for her. She says Dom’s life is empty here but there’s a chance if they run. We cut before we hear Dom agree.
Elliot is over in an anonymous motel, reviewing the memory stick, learning about the Project. I smashed that pause button and there were a few close ups but it’s hard to discern what it says. Something about protons though, and a mention of CERN (the Large Hadron Collider). Cut to Elliot sitting outside, smoking, as Dom and Darlene arrive. Darlene quickly realises Elliot isn’t coming and immediately cuts down any fears he has she’ll follow because she is 1000% done. Before they part ways she hands him a phone. All the stolen money has been cleaned beyond clean and is ready to be sent out to whereever. Darlene asks one last time for him to come, but he can’t, and they embrace, and I can’t remember if we’ve seen them hug before. My heart.
They hug like they know it’s the last time they’ll see each other. Elliot suggests Sour Patch Kids for the road. The world cries.
Upstairs, Dom goes into her room and finds Leon sitting on the bed, watching Land Before Time, rolling a joint. She freaks out, thinking he’s Dark Army. He hilariously, point-blank can’t remember the barn and the four people he shot for a minute there. I love him so much. She realises he’s a gun for hire and he references the movie ‘Three Days of The Condor’ when discussing being open to opportunities. He is honestly adorable and amazing as he talks about how he’s tripled his net profits according to the lady who does his books, though she wants him to incorporate sooner or later.
Dom is like ‘……’
Dom, babe, meet Leon. I’d say get used to it, but mostly, just enjoy the ride while you can.
They hit the road, taking the scenic route to get to Boston since, as Leon reveals, Connecticut is HQ for Rich White Assholes. Leon references Vonnegut because Leon is like a low key Morpheus. Dom worries over her fake ID, wondering who ‘Jackie’ will be. She thinks Leon can’t understand and he asks, quietly and softly, if she thinks Leon is his real name?
Which. Sam. If you hurt him. My precious murder son.
They stop for gas and pee breaks and Dom takes some time to decide Jackie is a pastry chef who likes Nutella. Jackie sounds like my kinda pastry chef. Outside, she and Darlene wait for Leon and remark on all the people using the rest stop, families returning from the holidays because it’s still only the day after Christmas. They walk into a nearby park, ignoring Leon’s direct warning to take care as they in the middle of enemy territory. Darlene wants Dom to enjoy ‘this moment’ and takes out her phone. She runs a command until her screen reads ‘wallets empty’ and tells Dom to watch the crowds. Dom starts to fret so Darlene just kisses her and tells her to wait. Around them, phones start to ding and buzz with alerts and everyone’s faces light up with shock and joy at whatever they see. Darlene tells Dom that she returned all of the money Whiterose stole, to everyone. Everyone’s E-coin wallets just got filled with an untold huge amount of cash and the transactions can’t be reversed. Dom, ever the Fed, calls it stealing, mentions laws and Darlene points out the people she stole from wrote the fucking laws, Dom. They wrote them to protect… themselves, no one else.
She makes Dom look around as people begin to cry with joy and elation. Darlene calls it ‘the greatest distribution of wealth in history’ and starts cheering, prompting the crowd to join her.
It’s a pretty wonderful, powerful, beautiful moment and god damn you Esmail. WHAT IS GOING TO HAPPEN? I’M AFRAID.
They arrive at the airport in a shot that has to be referencing Airplane! Leon bids them farewell, continues to be adorable, offers Darlene adventures if she ever comes back. He is smitten with her and Darlene genuinely takes pause and promises to think about it. Leon leaves with ‘To the next episode then’ and I would die for Leon. Die.
It’s about here that I wonder if Dom’s stitches and injury can handle a flight. Dom goes into a bookstore, spots a book called ‘Beach Towel’ and it’s about here that I started shrieking. A deliciously, terrifyingly familiar voice calls her name and she turns to see none other than the one, the only, the living breathing Irving?!? (one) 1!?!>!
Dom is as dumbstruck as we ALL ARE, DOM, seeing Irving stands beside a cardboard cutout of himself and talks to her like they’re old friends, trying to sell her one of his books. What is HAPPENING?!
Irving signs her a copy and Dom mutely accepts it. Irving spots Darlene, suggests he always knew they were a thing. Dom, terrified, finally whispers ‘Please don’t hurt us!’ and Irving reassures her that Dark Army doesn’t care about her and Darlene anymore; they picked up and ran off, though he won’t say to where. Irving, who, I can’t stress enough, is just… there… keeps telling Dom no one is after her, or her family. She brings up Santiago’s axe murder. Irving calls it ‘fun’. And then as he leaves, he insists she pay for the book because he is shameless.
Later on, we get a glimpse of the blurb and it’s a trashy, airport crime novel version of Mr. Robot and Irving’s author photo is amazing. Dom has told Darlene and they’re both baffled no one cares about them, wondering where Dark Army went. All Dom is stuck on is that they don’t have to go, but Darlene has been trying to get to Budapest forever and wants to go anyway. She brings up her plan to go with Cisco and admits she can’t go by herself, will freak out, panic. Dom finally asks after Elliot and Darlene lies poorly, saying he’s following them afterwards. Dom pulls up and says she can’t go if the Dark Army is no longer a threat. She asks if Budapest was even Darlene’s dream, or really Cisco’s? Darlene is fine, they can land in Budapest and drive somewhere else, Darlene just doesn’t want to be alone. Dom is backing out and my heart is breaking along with Darlene’s. Dom is… incredibly gentle, all things considered, encouraging Darlene to be brave and go alone. Darlene worries she’ll have panic attacks, knows she’s no good on her own, that she’s tried and failed but Dom can’t leave her family, her job.
Darlene points out both are safe, on hold. There’s nothing for Dom to do here. Darlene points out that Dom can’t sleep because she holds onto stuff and never lets go. Running away will be about taking a break, finally letting go. Grace and Carly are astonishing here. Dom hugs her and they really hold each other closely. Darlene sobs as Dom asks for a postcard and Dom, follow her! Chase her. Follow her.
Dom gives Darlene a number for a friend who could get her a job as a white-hat hacker, a legal one. She encourages her to hurry, says they need her. Darlene slips on her heart-shaped glasses and shrugs ‘They can’t handle me’
Darlene strides off towards the gate with a single backwards glance to an unexpectedly upbeat pop song that is making me grin like an idiot, Darlene sits alone at the gate. We see more news, the fallout from the money dispersal, Deus group collapsing. Dom walks through the airport towards the exit as Darlene stares at her ticket. And then… Dom turns and runs for the stairs to the gate.
Darlene is having a full-blown panic attack at the gate, terrified to stand up and get on the plane. She forces herself to her feet as the direction goes all Love Actually and switches to Dom sprinting through the airport.
Darlene is about to board but she’s panicking and backs up, running away from the gate just as Dom arrives! Oh! Oh no! Oh no! Oh no!
Darlene goes to the bathroom and sets about having an almighty panic attack, a woman entering behind her asking if she’s okay.
SAM, I’M ABOUT TO HAVE ONE.
On the plane, Dom has boarded and taken her seat and is noticing Darlene isn’t with her. Darlene is still clinging onto the bathroom sink as the kind woman asks again if she’s okay. Darlene hears the last call for her flight and manages to ground herself, thanking the woman, who is a saint and doesn’t move a goddamned inch without knowing if this girl is okay OH GOD WHAT IF SHE’S DARK ARMY. The woman asks if she needs to get to her flight but Darlene stares at herself, smiles confidently and decides she’s not going. She can take care of herself.
On the plane, Dom sleeps through takeoff.
As I said at the top there, I think a lot about how Esmail originally intended to present this story as a film. Allowing, of course, for the fact he retooled it into a TV show and added much more detail, it’s still difficult to work out how he would have managed to fit this into even a three-hour-long motion picture and still managed to hit the same emotional notes he is now.
That was beautiful and devastating, and absolutely the right way to end things between them both. Don’t get me wrong, Dom’s mad dash and Darlene’s last-minute hesitations had me sort of rooting for them to spot each other across the concourse, embrace dramatically and then run off together into the sunset… but then they didn’t, and it was perfect.
They couldn’t have run off together, even once they knew they were safe from the Dark Army. Their relationship is built on so much fraught tension and trauma, started because Darlene was part of the hack, Dom arrested her and it only got worse from there. I’d love to say I think they have real affection and feelings for each other, and I think… I think they genuinely care about each other’s well being? But it’s impossible to determine if any love or affection they have is genuine, or bound up in all their other trauma and fear. That Esmail recognised that and made the choice they don’t run off together is just another mark of his skill.
Grace and Carly killed it, together, apart, with Joey Bada$$, with Rami. If this is the last we see of Dom, then Grace Gummer can go knowing that Dom is one for the ages. Dom might be my favourite On-TV Fed of the decade. Strong, fearless and just in her working life, an adorable tragic mess in her regular one, she was real, whole, complete, flawed, and I adored her. I hope she comes back for the end. I want a leap forwards a few years when she comes back from Europe having been travelling and living her Best Life, and she finds Darlene working, and we leave them talking. Maybe something is there, maybe not, but they get to find out in a better way. I would like that.
I can’t decide if I’m mad or not we got nothing on Whiterose. (And I can’t decide when I think that scene from last week actually took place. Did any of the news we glimpsed mention a gigantic firefight at her house?) Actually no. I’m glad we focussed on Dom and Darlene. There are loose ends to tie up (more on that in a second) and Esmail is detail-oriented. That they got a whole episode, not unlike Elliot, to dig deeper into their characters and come to more rounded conclusions was exactly what we needed and while anguishing, it was just the right sort of breather before whatever happens next. Now we won’t be worrying about other things, we can focus on what matters. That said, we’ve earned a little bit of watching Whiterose be miserable. I expect next week when she gets her final, full comeuppance, we’ll get to see her squirm.
I was delighted to see Irving. So happy. I knew in my heart of hearts we’d see that spectacular weirdo again and Esmail didn’t disappoint I like that in keeping with this universe’s juuust slightly off-kilter feeling, it really is an incredible coincidence he’s there and that he’s there crammed full of useful information about Dark Army. It felt almost too neat, but it works for me. In this universe, it just makes sense. And for Irving, it really makes sense. Of course, he got his book published (he said he would!), and of course, it’s airport trash, and of course, he hovers near his own cardboard cutout waiting for someone to show interest, or just… enter the store. I bet he’s told anyone who passes within six feet of the bookstand he’s on his way to his book tour. Esmail is leaving no stone unturned (fingers crossed for Bill’s return!) and I have to say, he’s managing to land these threads with surprising skill. I’d never forgive such a coincidence in another show but here I can. And if it’s too coincidental? Then tell yourself Dark Army sent Irving to stalk airports outside of New York and he just got the call they’re off the radar as Dom arrived.
It’s always exciting and thrilling to see Leon. Always. Leon is everything. Esmail has been making a lot of noises lately that Leon is a bigger deal than people think and certainly he’s the most meta aware character on the show. He views the world through books, TV shows or films and he discusses reality and the nature of dreams like he knows something. That said, this week was the most grounded and human he’s ever seemed and between his adorable sincerity and the fact Dom did technically see he and Elliot in two places at once, (and also knows he, not Elliot, killed four guys in the barn) puts the theory he’s the third alter theory to bed. That still leaves the question of who or indeed what Leon is but we saw a much friendlier, warmer side than we have before, and he’s always been pretty friendly. The mention/reveal Leon isn’t his real name caught me, though. I mean, it makes a clear sense given his line of work but it raises questions and is Esmail. Playing with us.
Next week, we’re really into the endgame and Elliot and Whiterose will face off at last. I’m not ready for this to end. I may never be.
p.s.: Congratulations to Rami Malek on his Golden Globe nomination for Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series — Drama.