Mr. Robot recap: Darlene's search for peace
“Gone” is an unexpectedly beautiful, quiet episode of Mr. Robot, but it begins with a moment of devastation. Dom, alive and recovering in a hospital bed, watches the news. She learns about the Deus Group hack, about the veracity of some of the documents that have been leaked so far, and about Whiterose. Dom realizes that she was right there at one point, talking to Whiterose. But she’d never figured it out. Then, she’s hit with a blow: the FBI has her under investigation, meaning she can’t go visit her family in their safe house. She has nowhere to go, nobody to run to. Still, she doesn’t want to be in the hospital, so she forces them to discharge her.
She heads back to her apartment and makes a grilled cheese sandwich — with mayo on the bread, it should be noted — the one thing she’s wanted to do for years and years after coming home from work but never had the energy. Darlene shows up. Dom moves the heavy dresser from in front of the door and lets her in. Darlene tells her it’s time to pack up and go on the run, to take off with her and Elliot until the Dark Army quiets down. It takes some serious shaking up, but Dom eventually agrees, and so begins a truly tender episode, and one that continues its streak of providing character-driven moments to balance out the hacking plot.
The two head to a motel where Darlene says a very sweet goodbye to Elliot. He says he’s not coming with her, that he’s “not done yet.” He’s heading to Washington Township, presumably to start figuring out how to destroy Whiterose’s machine. He says Darlene can’t come with him this time, but she doesn’t even want to. This was her goal, and now she’s done. They hug as Dom finds her way into the motel room and sees Leon sitting on the bed rolling a joint (and maybe watching The Land Before Time, but I wasn’t sure). She’s shocked, but Leon is confused. “Have we met before?” he says. Once she talks about him killing four men in a barn, he places her. It all starts to blend together when you’re a gun for hire.
After Leon chastises her for having never seen Three Days of the Condor, he, Darlene, and Dom get on the road to Boston, making their way through Connecticut. “We’re taking the scenic route,” says Leon, in hopes of avoiding all the Dark Army RWAs — “rich white assholes.” They stop at the Hamden Dam so Leon can “steal a mirror” — a Kurt Vonnegut reference that falls on deaf ears, forcing Leon to decry the illiteracy of Americans these days — and that’s when Darlene has her big moment. She sits on a bench with Dom and tells her to watch. She pulls out her phone, and in the touch of a button redistributes the entirety of the money they took from the Deus Group into everyone’s E-coin account. Dom checks her phone. “Did everyone get this much?” she asks, and Darlene smiles and says yes. It’s “the biggest redistribution of wealth in the history of mankind,” she says, and she couldn’t feel freer. There’s no telling how this will not only change people’s lives but also upend society. It’s a really beautiful moment, and it even allows Dom to drop her cynicism for a minute and just be in the moment with Darlene.
“Gone” is essentially a weird romance movie in miniature, but one where the couple doesn’t end up together but maybe still get what they need to keep operating in this cruel world. At the airport, Dom runs into Irving from the Dark Army. He’s there shilling a book he’s written. It’s a strange scene, one that feels a little out of place in this episode. He tells Dom that the Dark Army has no interest in her and Darlene anymore, and Dom takes him at his word. Why? Why would she assume he’s telling the truth? He might be, and they may be on to other things, but it still seems weird that she just shrugs off her paranoia.
Anyways, Dom, comforted that the Dark Army is going quiet on them, decides she can’t go on this trip to Budapest with Darlene. She has to stay home and try to get through the investigation and see her family again. Darlene is heartbroken, and the show gives us some insight into where these two are coming from, what their deeper motivations are. Darlene wants Dom to come not just because she has feelings for her, but also because she needs to be with someone at all times. She doesn’t do well on her own. For Dom, she’s too scared to try something new, to remove herself from the life that keeps her scared and restless and awake at night.
Dom gives her a number for a contact within the government, telling her that when she’s ready, the cybersecurity branch could really use someone like her. “They need you,” she says. “They can’t handle me,” says Darlene. The duo part ways. Darlene tears up, and a panic attack sets in as the horns that signal the start of Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Run Away With Me” blast over the airport sound system. The scene cuts back and forth between Dom and Darlene. Darlene is scared and shaking and panicking, and Dom is stopping at the gate and hesitating, wondering about the decision she’s making. It’s all pure rom-com stuff, just in a different context. Dom, the lover who has to make the impulse decision in this scenario for the couple to finally get together, runs back to the gate. But at that exact moment, Darlene runs into the washroom to deal with her panic attack.
Dom boards the plane, and Darlene calms herself down in the washroom. They’ve missed their connection, but maybe they’ve found something else, some sense of strength that they need. Dom falls asleep on the plane, finally getting that rest that everyone’s told her about, and Darlene looks at herself in the mirror when a woman asks her if she needs help and says, “No, I can take care of myself.” I don’t know if this is the last we’ll see of Darlene and Dom —there are still three episodes to go — but if it is, it’s a beautiful, bittersweet sendoff.