Christian Slater and Rami Malek in Mr. Robot, “Not Acceptable”
Image: Elizabeth Fisher/USA Network

For the next seven weeks, The Burn-In will host recaps of “Mr. Robot’s” final season. Moreover, the site is going to feature weekly forecasts that will attempt to predict the show’s many mind-bending twists. The “Mr. Robot” speculation articles will also look at the hacks depicted on the show and how they’ve been deployed in real life.

**This article contains spoilers for “Mr. Robot” season 4**

Elliot Needs a Reckoning

The emotionally devastating events of “Mr. Robot” season 3 and Angela’s murder in the fourth season premiere have had a significant impact on Elliot Alderson. When the show began, he was a vigilante hacker determined to expose the crimes of a conglomerate called E Corp. Though obsessed, the character agonized over the human costs of his campaign against corporate malfeasance. But as has been shown across the last six episodes, Elliot is a different person now.

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Thus far this season, the hacker has prompted two people to attempt suicide, with one succeeding. He has also alienated his allies and family and taken on a ruthlessness that frightens even his notoriously pitiless alternate personality. As such, Elliot no longer feels like a sympathetic protagonist. While still a compelling character, it’s hard to care about someone who doesn’t care about hurting others.

With his big anti-corporate master plan about to reach fruition, Elliot is in desperate need of a reckoning. As it happens, such an event seems imminent as drug kingpin Fernando Vera has kidnapped the hacker.

Now having access to his mental health records, the gangster will likely attempt to break Elliot down psychologically. Though harrowing, such a process holds the potential to do good things for the character. Namely, a recounting of the hacker’s sins could prompt him to reevaluate his recent actions and force him to reprioritize.

As Elliot isn’t Walter White, the character needs to rediscover his redeeming qualities. Ideally, his interrogation by Vera will serve as the mechanism for that moral realignment.

Rami Malek and Christian Slater in Mr. Robot, “Not Acceptable”
Image: Scott McDermott/USA Network

Meet the Other One

Conversely, there is a possibility Vera’s interrogation of Elliot will prompt a completely different outcome. In “402 Payment Required,” the show revealed its protagonist has another dominant personality in addition to Mr. Robot. Presently, viewers know nothing about the persona called the Other One, including their intentions, history, or name. But the program did reveal one key facet of the mysterious altar; he told Darlene it would take care of Vera.

However, as far as the audience knows, the alter’s statement isn’t true. The crime lord has not only rebuilt his drug distribution empire, but he’s also kidnapped and interrogated Elliot’s therapist. Those developments suggest two possible scenarios. One, the Other One either hasn’t had enough time to neutralize Vera. Alternatively, the character let events play out to get in the same room with the elusive gangster to end his threat in person.

If the second scenario proves true, the Other One is a cunning and cruel strategist. Accordingly, the personality might’ve covertly taken control of Elliot’s body at recent moments to further his plans. In the show’s first season, Mr. Robot similarly possessed the hacker’s body without his or the audience’s knowledge.

Provided that’s the case, it’s worth remembering how the character was first discussed within Elliot’s E Corp boardroom mindscape. His other personalities anxiously vacated the meeting table before his arrival. The scene’s setting and the pair’s actions suggest the third personality might accept Vera’s partnership offer. Even worse, he might want to use the funds from the Deus Group heist to establish himself as the new guy who plays God without permission.

As the 1998 cult classic film “SLC Punk!” concluded, even the most committed societal rebels tend to become assimilated by the systems they hate.

Dom, Darlene, and Leon

The episode preview for “Proxy Authentication Required” is entirely focused on Vera’s interrogation of Elliot/Mr. Robot. Given the show’s history, the entire commercial-free presentation might focus solely on that encounter. However, if the installment checks in with the rest of the cast, the program might stage one of its more unconventional payments.

In “406 Not Acceptable,” Janice ordered Dom DiPierro to kill Darlene Alderson after obtaining her brother’s location. But Dom couldn’t bring herself to kill her ex, and Darlene wiped her phone, which had Elliot’s location data. The episode ended with Janice holding the former couple at gunpoint while deciding what to do next.

As Darlene is Janice’s only lead on Elliot, the taxidermist will likely (brutally) question the hacker about Elliot’s possible whereabouts. If the show’s last remaining couple can turn the tables on their captors, they might end up rescuing Elliot from Vera. In doing so, they might enlist the services of Dark Army operative turned freelancer Leon.

In the past, “Mr. Robot” has used Leon as a “Seinfeld”-obsessed deus ex machina. As the character recently reentered Elliot’s life and still cares about them, he might be keeping tabs on him and his family. If so, he might bust up Janice’s torture session before things get too bloody. He then might help the two women facilitate a siege on Vera’s place to retrieve his former charge/friend.

Admittedly, Leon saving Dom, Darlene, and Elliot in one episode would be pretty contrived. But as “Mr. Robot’s” coolest recurring character and most capable combatant, he could pull it off. Plus, the show hasn’t featured a technically astounding and ultraviolent set-piece yet this season.

Dominik Garcia in Mr. Robot, "406 Not Acceptable”
Image: Elizabeth Fisher/USA Network

Vishing for Trouble

The horrific centerpiece of “406 Not Acceptable” involved Elliot forcing his one-time lover Olivia Cortez to vish her supervisor’s credentials. A combination of social engineering and computer hacking, voice phishing or vishing consists of a fraudster attempting to steal confidential information by posing as a trusted organization or individual.

On the show, Elliot initiated his vishing scheme to obtain a high-level administrative privilege for Cyprus National Bank’s network. The hacker had Olivia tell her boss that a client needed his authorization to perform a high dollar fund transfer. Once the unnamed official accessed his company’s system, Elliot captured his log-in and password information.

Real-world malicious operators tend to perform less baroque vishing attacks.

In September, a thief used an artificial intelligence-enhanced audio program to convince a UK energy company executive to wire him $220,000. The rogue operator’s program created an aural deep fake that mimicked the victim’s boss’s voice, tone, and German accent. As the fraudster successfully routed the stolen funds through Hungary and in Mexico, they successfully pulled off their cyber theft.

Unfortunately, Google and a host of Chinese firms have developed sophisticated human voice imitating software. As such, bad hat hackers the world over have access to powerful deep fake scamming tools. Accordingly, Consumers should make a point of validating suspect transaction requests using two-factor authentication or independent third-party verification.

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