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Everything means nothing to Darlene Alderson.
Carly Chakin’s formerly fierce fsociety lieutenant was at the heart of Mr. Robot this week, her pain and suffering on powerful full display. What does her world look like now that Cisco (Michael Drayer) is dead? How is she supposed to move forward with Elliot (Rami Malek), knowing that her brother is still secretly harboring the Mr. Robot (Christian Slater) side of his personality and colluding with Angela (Portia Doubleday) on top of it? Darlene’s so desperate for connection — any port in the storm — that she even tries to bond with Dom DiPierrio (Grace Gummer), the federal agent who holds Darlene’s fate in the palm of her hand.
As we’re doing all season long, The Hollywood Reporter once again checks in with writer-producer Kor Adana about everything that happened this week on the Sam Esmail drama, including Darlene’s devastation, Elliot’s disintegration, Tyrell Wellick (Martin Wallström) making a break from his feelings for Elliot, the various musical cues throughout the episode and much more. Oh, and if you happen to encounter any run-on sentences? Might be worth filing away for a future occasion…
First of all, happy belated Halloween. Did you see any fun Robot Halloween shenanigans over the holiday? I assume you snuck in a viewing of The Careful Massacre of the Bourgeoise?
Happy belated Halloween! It’s not Halloween without a viewing of Careful Massacre. I don’t get out much, so I can’t really comment on what’s going on in the real world, which is kind of sad. But…I did see many fsociety masks, hoodies and Darlene outfits on social media. That made me happy, even though it’s still kinda sad.
Turning toward this week’s episode, let’s start with some questions about the music in the opening and closing scenes. Is this the first Elliott Smith appearance on Mr. Robot? If so, how on Earth did it take so long? And why this song?
I don’t believe we’ve ever had an Elliot Smith song show up in one of our episodes until now. We rarely use the same artist twice. John Petaja, the awesome editor who cut this episode, had been listening to this particular track since the early 2000s, and he was itching to use it in something since then.
He chose it for this episode because of how well it fit Darlene’s emotional state. Like all Elliott Smith tracks, “Everything Means Nothing to Me” is melodic and sweet, but the chorus really echoes what Darlene is going through. This episode is about Darlene letting things go, dealing with the past and putting things away. She confesses a murder to a stranger on the subway and admits that everything in her life is fucked. She tries to make peace with her brother. She learns of that bombshell with Angela. All of her relationships are in flux. Her world is spinning out of control. She longs for some semblance of normalcy, which explains her looking up trips to Budapest — the same trip that she and Cisco were talking about before. There are feelings of reminiscing and missing the past. This is an opportunity for Darlene to take stock of all the terrible things that she’s been through, much of which she brought upon herself.
Why does Darlene choose to offload so much of her guilt onto this stranger on the subway?
There’s obviously a great deal of guilt that Darlene needs to reconcile. She feels responsible for the events that led to this girl having to steal a wallet in the first place. Darlene also sees some of herself in this girl — that jaded, tough, street-smart side of her personality. When the girl resists, Darlene needs to apply some force to scare her straight. This girl had no idea about the world she was stepping into when she stole Darlene’s wallet. Darlene not only used that against her, but she also attempted make amends in some small way.
[Returning to the Elliot Smith music], as an editor, John Petaja has never been able to use the same song in the beginning and ending of an episode before. The music here is so dreamlike. Being able to play it as a full piece of music [at the beginning and at the end of the episode] was a rare opportunity. Doing it here really helped reinforce the symmetry that was written into the script by Kyle Bradstreet. We open with that beat on the subway, with Darlene wanting the Polaroid, and we close with her putting the Polaroid back on Elliot’s shelf. It gives the episode this really cool palindromic effect.
Can we expect any ramifications from Darlene’s subway car confession?
You should always expect ramifications from the actions you see on the show. With regard to Darlene in this specific scene, I think this passage adequately conveys her frame of mind:
Poor naked wretches, wheresoe’er you are,
That bide the pelting of this pitiless storm,
How shall your houseless heads and unfed sides,
Your looped and windowed raggedness, defend you
From seasons such as these? 4