Mr. Robot: Dom and Darlene share a complicated reunion

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Carly Chaikin in Mr. Robot,
Image: Elizabeth Fisher/USA Network

Last week’s episode of “Mr. Robot” saw the show’s produce wrap up one of its oldest plotlines. In it, Elliot, Darlene, and Price executed a hack that bankrupted Deus Group, a shadow collective responsible for orchestrating major world events. This week’s installment touched on the aftermath of that act while also wrapping up another long-running, even more compelling subplot. However, it did so in a way that for all its appropriateness, felt like a letdown.

While You Slept, the World Changed

“410 Gone” began with Dom waking up in the hospital after being stabbed by her former Dark Army handler Janice. Another FBI agent explained the Bureau had her under investigation due to crimes she committed under coercion. She also learned from a news broadcast that Deus Group had gone to ground post-hack and Whiterose’s dual identities had been exposed. Dismayed that the FBI wouldn’t let her contact her family, Dom checked herself out against medical advice.

Even though the program only has three episodes left, “Mr. Robot” is still being somewhat coy about how things will work out for its main cast. However, it’s been much more direct about the condition of the world post-Deus Group. Throughout the episode, writer-director Sam Esmail showed that the everyday person is better off without a top one percent of the one percent.

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When fsociety initiated the 5/9 hack, civilization fell into chaos because ordinary people were cut off from their money. With the Christmas Day hack, millions of people have been allowed to pursue their destinies outside the grip of institutional criminality. If Elliot and company don’t meet happy endings, the fact that they made the world a more equitable place will count for a lot.

Rami Malek in Mr. Robot,
Image: Elizabeth Fisher/USA Network

Goodbye and Farewell

Catching up with Dom, Darlene convinced the FBI agent to leave the country with her to avoid Dark Army. Before leaving, Darlene met with Elliot, and he told her he had one last thing to do at Washington Township. The two then shared a hug, which felt like a final goodbye. Leon drove Darlene and Dom to an out of state airport to avoid detection. During a pit stop, Darlene dispersed Deus Group’s assets evenly among everyone who had an eCoin account.

On the one hand, it would be kind of a bummer if “Gone” featured the last meeting between Elliot and Darlene. The siblings worked so hard and sacrificed so much to achieve their aims, it seems tragic that they’d never get to just be brother and sister again. At the very least, the Aldersons need to have a conversation about their father.

On the other hand, Elliot and Darlene’s parting of the ways in this installment was very satisfying. Elliot rightfully acknowledged that his sister was responsible for delivering the stroke that destroyed Deus Group. Conversely, Darlene admitted that she wanted to find a life not dominated by vengeance and paranoia. Given what they’ve done, the Aldersons shouldn’t have survived, but against the odds they did. And one of the most painful parts of moving forward is the people you leave behind.

Cut to the Feeling

At the airport, Dom ran into Irving, the car salesmen/Dark Army operative from season 3. Instead of killing her as expected, Irving told Dom his organization had no further interest in her or Darlene. With the threat of imminent death gone, Dom said she couldn’t abandon her responsibilities or family. Darlene argued that Dom had no reason to stay, but the FBI agent wouldn’t be swayed. However, at the last second, the FBI agent turned back, got on the plane, and sat down alone for a long rest.

Unfortunately, Darlene had a panic attack and left the plane seconds before Dom returned. Eventually, the hacker calmed down, resolved to overcome her anxiety, and make it on her own.

Admittedly, “Mr. Robot” has indicated Dom and Darlene didn’t need a relationship to heal and grow. Though profoundly lonely, Dom has profound intimacy issues. She craves love and friendship, but she is so task-focused and commitment-phobic, she pushed others away. Indeed, she doesn’t even notice when strangers reach out, as Whiterose did in season 2. Ultimately, the FBI agent needs to work through her problems rather than run away from them.

Besides, Darlene has a severe problem pursuing her own desires. She eschewed the work of growing up to follow Elliot’s mission, Cisco’s fantasies, and Dark Army’s orders. In “Gone,” she again tried to find purpose by following someone else, but Dom cared about her too much to let that happen again.

Still, “Mr. Robot” has teased a real romance between Dom and Darlene for three seasons now. The audience is deeply invested in seeing them get together. Hopefully, the show’s creators aren’t cruel enough to have their entire relationship culminate in a missed connection.

The Last Temptation of Elliot Alderson

Notably, “Gone” only featured the show’s central protagonist in two scenes. In one, he explored the USB drive Price gave them and found the Washington Township plant and Congo machines are connected. In the other, he said goodbye to his sister. Moreover, the week’s next episode preview showed Elliot and Whiterose having their first conversation since season 1.

As such, it’s possible to make a few educated guesses regarding the events of “eXit.” As suspected, Whiterose evaded arrest in “409 Conflict” and planned to activate her mysterious machine with the help of her remaining operatives. She also still wants Elliot’s assistance, or at the very least, to stop him from wrecking her plan.

Judging by the setting glimpsed in the teaser, Whiterose is going to try and repeat the brainwashing he performed on Angela in season 2. However, the former Chinese official is unlikely to pull off a second subversion. He secured Angela’s loyalty by convincing her he could bring back her mother and the people who died in the Ecorp bombings. But as the audience saw in “408 Timeout Request,” Elliot is done running from the horrors of the past.

Nevertheless, it will be fascinating to hear Whiterose explain her plan finally. Moreover, it’ll be even more interesting to see how Elliot reacts if his adversary introduces an inexplicably living Angela.

IMSI Catcher in the Rye

In last week’s episode, fsociety pulled off their final hack by matching the Deus Group’s phone numbers with the bank account information. Darlene captured most of that information by having Elliot simulate a security breach. She then used a device to catch all their SMS replies, which contained their two-factor authentication codes. With that info, the two hackers depleted the billionaire collective of their own funds.

As it turns out, fsociety’s plot is feasible in real life. Law enforcement agencies (and black hat hackers) use international mobile subscriber identity (IMSI) to perform in the middle attacks on device owners. The machines broadcast a signal that spoofs a smartphone into believing it’s a legitimate cell tower. After establishing a connection, the IMSI catchers can incept use location data, browsers information, and SMS and call content.

As it’s unnervingly easy to buy the components needed to fabricate an IMSI catcher, users should protect themselves. The Electronic Frontier Foundation notes it’s possible to download certain apps that can validate the legitimacy of a cell tower. However, the organization also states the accuracy of such programs isn’t assured.

Instead, device owners with privacy concerns should utilize encrypted messaging services like Signal or Telegram. Both apps utilize end-to-end encryption, which prevents third-parties from accessing privileged communications.

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