Mr. Robot is an American drama thriller television series created by Sam Esmail for USA Network. The main character is Elliot Alderson, a cybersecurity engineer at AllSafe Security and a vigilante hacker who deals with both social anxiety disorder and clinical depression. The show is mainly filmed from his point of view, with his voice overs used to provide inside into his mental state, the opinions of the people he encounters, and general interpretation of the world. One day, Elliot is recruited by "Mr. Robot", a mysterious, middle-aged man to join a hacker organization named "fsociety". Their goal? To take down corporate America, including E Corp, the largest conglomerate in the world who they believe are running and ruining the world. Elliot is quickly presented with a moral dilemma: continue working for AllSafe and protect these large corporations or risk his life to change the world.
In each season, there are other plot lines that are important to the storyline of Mr. Robot, but this focuses on the technical aspects of the show.
When we first meet Elliot, we see that he has a hard time connecting with other people. In his free time, he hacks people to bring justice but also hacks his co-workers, friends, and therapist too in an attempt to find a way out of loneliness. For most of his adulthood, Elliot has had an unreconciled vengeance against the company E Corp, or what he calls them, Evil Corp. He believes they are responsible for a leak from a power plant in his hometown, resulting in his father getting cancer and eventually leading to his death. He also believes that the higher-ups are corrupt and control too much, owning over 70% of the global consumer credit history. One night on the subway, Elliot meets this mysterious man who goes by Mr. Robot who takes him to an arcade called fsociety. There, he meets a few hackers who are planning to take down E Corp. "The single biggest incident of wealth redistribution in history", as they describe it. The end goal of the hack is to encrypt all of E Corp's financial records as well as destroy their backups. Once the encryption is complete, the encryption key will self-delete, making it impossible for anyone to recover the data, essentially removing all the debt owed to them. In collaboration with another hacker organization based in China called Dark Army, Elliot and his team eventually carry out the hack, throwing the world into chaos and gathering cheering crowds throughout the city. The hack is officially given the name "Five/Nine".
As a result of Five/Nine, the world economy goes into disarray. Many E Corp customers are rushing to the banks in order to withdraw money, but due to the hack, E Corp is low on cash and isn't able to pay everyone in full. The FBI is now involved in order to find those who are responsible for the hack, leaving fsociety members no choice but to hide and cover their tracks. Suspicions are already increasing around Elliot's employer, AllSafe, resulting in the CEO's murder by someone who believed he was a crisis actor. The FBI team assigned to uncover Five/Nine take a trip to China to investigate the Dark Army's involvement in the hack. During a morning conversion with Whiterose, the leader of the Dark Army, gunman attack the office and wipe out most of the FBI team. The Dark Army also begins to take matters into their own hands, killing fsociety members one by one to cover their tracks, leaving only two remaining. In an attempt to fight back, Elliot along with his sister Darlene try to hack the FBI and remove their connections to Five/Nine. Near the end of the season, we find that their battle with E Corp is far from over: Five/Nine has a stage two, said to be created by Elliot and the Dark Army.
Stage Two is revealed as a deadly terrorist attack designed to destroy a New York City facility housing the paper records that would allow E Corp to effectively undo the damage done during season one's Five/Nine hack. At this time, Elliot feels regret about the damage he has caused to the world with Five/Nine and intends to stop everything now. Early in the season, Elliot manages to get a job at E Corp and is able to convince lower executives and managers to digitize their paper records and secretly move the rest into their warehouse instead of the New York facility. He also manages to install a patch into the facilities' power supply system so that even if all the paper records end up there, the Dark Army won't be able to run malware to blow up the building. A couple of weeks later, Elliot finds out that he has been fired and that Stage Two is going to happen today. He desperately tries to re-enter his office to call it off but its promptly caught and escorted out of the building. In a last resort effort, Elliot calls in a bomb threat to the target building to evacuate everyone. Realizing that no paper records are in the New York facility, Elliot believes that he has stopped Stage Two. Shortly after, news breaks out that New York was not the target of Stage Two, but 71 other E Corp facilities across the country to which Elliot redirected the paper records, leaving thousands dead.
Elliot, now filled with sadness and rage, seeks revenge against the Dark Army. Through E Corp, Elliot finds out about the Deus Group, an investment group formed by Whiterose after the fall of the Soviet Union, manipulating the world to gain wealth and power. Elliot now formulates a plan with Darlene to extract money from them so that they can no longer operate. To start, Elliot first hacks and blackmails Freddy, a lawyer that has worked with the Dark Army and finds out about Cyprus National Bank, where the Deus Group have their offshore accounts. To gain access to the bank, Elliot must hack an employee. After finding the employee at a bar and taking her home, he manages to retrieve the passcode needed. The next day, Elliot and Darlene head to Virtual Reality, the company that keeps the servers for Cyprus. Both work together to install a firmware hack disabling security cameras, giving them time to get what they need. Due to a planned emergency by Elliot, the Deus Group was required to meet on Christmas Day. This is where Darlene releases a fsociety video exposing the group and their location and at the same time, stealing their data as they attempt to call their drivers to pick them up. Finally, Elliot hacks a nearby cell tower for Whiterose's data and the Deus Group is robbed.
Awards and Recognition
The show, along with cast Christian Slater (Mr. Robot) and Rami Malek (Elliot Alderson) have acquired a total of 77 nominations and 20 awards including the Golden Globes and the Emmy Awards. All four seasons have received critical reviews and responses on Rotten Tomatoes with each season having a rating of 89% or higher. Specific episodes have also been critically acclaimed. In season four, the episode titled "407 Proxy Authentication Required" has been said by Decider as "among the best individual TV episodes of 2019, and possibly one of the best of all time". Variety has also listed the episode as the 22nd best show of the 2010s. Viewership peaked during season one with an average of 1.39 million views. By the last season, average viewership fell to 0.32 million views.
Invasion of Privacy
In season one, Elliot hacks all of his co-workers and friends to try to get to know them better. He knows all about their relationships, where they have been, and even how much debt they owe. Elliot has also hacked to intervene with the lives of others. He hacked his therapist's boyfriend and found out that he is still married. Soon after, Elliot tracked down the boyfriend and threaten to reveal the truth to his family unless he broke off his current relationship. Later on, it showed that his therapist was completely devastated to learn what happened. In the state of New York, it is illegal to access anyone's computer or information online without their permission or authority. Such actions are categorized as a misdemeanor and can be punishable by up to one year in jail and a $100,000 fine. Furthermore, if Elliot were to be charged with fraudulent intent, which he has done in both season two and three, the hacking charges can be bumped up to a felony and is punishable for five years in jail and a $250,000 fine.
Abusing Modern Day Technology
The first three seasons of the show all revolve around one central thing: the Five/Nine hack. In the process, Elliot and fsociety do the following:
- Commit a DDoS attack on E Corp servers, causing an outage lasting days and costing them millions of dollars
- During an AllSafe meeting with the FBI, Elliot submits a file containing the IP address of E Corp's CTO, framing him for the attack
- Breaks into Steel Mountain and plants a Raspberry Pi into their climate control system to raise the internal temperature, destroying all records
The final season of Mr. Robot concludes with Elliot and Darlene hacking the Deus Group. Along the way, the major crimes committed were:
- Breaking and entering of a Cyprus National Bank employee's home to gain browser credentials
- Elliot drugs the employee with oxycodone and blackmails her to get a one time passcode needed to execute transfers between accounts
- After finding out the employee doesn't have transfer privileges, Elliot and Darlene break into Virtual Reality and create an admin account to gain access to all traffic from Cyprus logins
- Initiate a transfer between a Deus Group members and confirm the transfer by intercepting all two-factor authentication codes, robbing them of billions of dollars
An innocent man was sent to jail and an act of terrorism was committed to achieve fsociety's goal that they believe will change the world for the better. As a result, the U.S. economy crashed for E Corp's financial customers, many who were unable to access their money due to loss of banking records. Also, many private businesses had to close down which lead to large, violent protests across the nation. In the end, E Corp was denied bail by the U.S. government and at the brink of collapse, had to appeal to China for bailout money. These instances show how technology has its loopholes and can be abused in the worst of ways to cause the most damage.
Throughout the show, we see Elliot pull the strings and essentially play God by deciding what corporations or groups of people fall based on his judgement and experiences. There was no consideration given on how Five/Nine would affect everyone around him, especially everyday working people who lost their businesses in the process. Elliot once again decides to take matters into his own hands by challenging the Deus Group head on, instead of contacting higher ups for assistance. His actions alone just to take down Whiterose led many lives perished. As a result, the show is filled with bias. By only showing Elliot's perspective of the world and the actions he takes, it provides the audience with a dangerous and meaningless cliche that has no basis other than what he thinks is right or wrong.
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