This Incorporated review contains spoilers.
Incorporated Season 1, Episode 3
With the benefit of a suspenseful caper, Incorporated amps it up this week even as it fleshes out the back story and motivation of Ben. Although his relationship with Elena back when he was Aaron is still not brimming with chemistry, at least the supposed love of his life now has a personality. The cultural details also take the audience beyond the glitzy tech, and even when things get weird or gross, they add to the overall tapestry of the show.
The opening scene with the Inazagi indoctrination cartoon is a good example of such a detail, and it had the added benefit of providing the defector with a reason to ask for extraction in the episode’s central plot. Together with details like the Spiga scout selling candy, the dirty water dispensed in Elena’s diner, or the executives maintaining eye contact will bowing, 2074 is starting to take on a greater scale that provides context for the characters’ actions.
For instance, who among us wouldn’t steal $600 worth of bacon, even if there wasn’t a neighbor with a sick child involved? Once again, Laura Larson remains one of the most sympathetic characters as she tries her damnedest to better this godforsaken world. Sparing her maid’s job is one thing; offering to examine the neighbor girl is quite another, especially given what happens with the crowd outside the gate. It gets to the point where you want Ben to give her a baby just to make her happy, damn the consequences for Aaron’s cover identity.
And even though Ben still comes across as a conniving opportunist, he at least puts his skills to good use this week. His idea of staging the defecting senior VP’s death not only wins him points towards his coveted promotion; it also allows him to check the body of the “terminated contract” from Arcadia that Hendrick told him about. The corpse’s altered appearance was a nice foil, and the ring found in the personal effects likely fooled more than a few viewers.
But when the big reveal came as Theo mournfully slipped the ring onto his little finger, his sister’s message explaining the possibilities of being the victim of an NDA (a brilliant euphemism for a memory wipe) is both touching and informative. The only difficult part of the realization that Elena is still alive — because of course she is — is that Ben was about to give in to Laura’s desire to get to work on having children. Poor Laura… she deserves better.
It was nice to see a few familiar Syfy faces among the executives this week. Rob Stewart, who plays Khlyen on Killjoys, made an appearance as a Spiga board member admonishing Elizabeth about the “permanently closed” Peterson file, and he will hopefully recur in this role. His counterpart from Inazagi, EVP Mason, was familiar to 12 Monkeys fans as Damore Barnes, who plays Whitley on that show. Always good to mix up the sci-fi actors now and then!
Kudos go to the ambitious Roger Caplan, who braved the Red Zone hacker (please someone identify the wonderful actress in the comments section) and her twisted requirements for getting a skeleton key to Ben’s illegal device. Catching and eating a rat was not only appropriate punishment for a silver spoon yuppie like Roger; it also reminded him and the audience what those in the Red Zone go through to survive.
The little touches are what really made this episode of Incorporated shine, even though the Aaron flashback was lacking, especially with the contrived primal scream scenario on the roof. Whether you were grossed out by the fat guy celebration (what the heck was that anyway?) or intrigued by Julian’s tenderness in delivering the dead girl’s personal effects to her parents, it’s the small moments around the show’s protagonist that redeem the story. Now hopefully Ben can catch up.