This Incorporated review contains spoilers.
Incorporated Season 1, Episode 4
Now that Incorporated is on its fourth episode, the culture in which the characters live is beginning to gel, providing context for why the protagonists are sometimes less likable than the supposed villains. Who thought that Roger Caplan, for example, would ever garner more sympathy than Ben? The reversal of expectations is becoming less of a problem as the series progresses, though, because the corporate intrigue and political and social realities are infinitely more interesting than Ben’s quest to save Elena anyway.
At least now it’s clear that Ben was pretty much always a conniving survivor, even if it required manipulating his loved ones. Involving young Theo in the exchange rate scam paints Aaron both as a skilled hacker and as an unscrupulous opportunist. Even when he offers Elena the money for a co-op buy-in, it doesn’t ring true. When the money ended up caught in the flames, it almost seemed less tragic given where Ben ended up.
The firebombing of Elena’s cafe, likely carried out by a scholarship runner-up contract, was a nice parallel with what Theo is going through in the present. He shouldn’t be surprised by Terrence’s insistence that he carry out secondary jobs as a fighter on his payroll, and although his moral dilemma is real, so is the no-win situation in which the world has placed him and the basketball scholarship winner in. When Spider shouted at Theo to do his job and break his legs, he became the real hero.
That’s why it’s so bothersome that Ben is such a schemer, even with nice people like his wife. Despite the implications of the Design Gro process and the hiring of a gestator, Laura would clearly do anything to have a child with Ben, including getting pregnant the old fashioned way! Whether he wants to avoid entanglements or spare Laura or their child from inevitable betrayal, it’s still incredibly unkind to lie to her constantly, including the deception of taking birth control. How does one root for a guy like that?
Not that we’re cheering on Roger Caplan as he continues his attempt to get dirt on his coworker, but seeing his family situation certainly makes his motivation clearer. Just as Elena used cognitive enhancers to get ahead, Mitchell used a neural implant, and both just wanted to please their parents. Many viewers may now be looking forward to see what the two brothers come up with to bring down their father. Competing with Ben almost becomes a sidelight.
But that branch of the story bears fruit this week as Ben discovers that Roger has his keyhole, and he’s able to track Roger to a hotel where he is meeting with Elena to find out why she’s on Ben’s secret footage. It makes for quite a spectacular ending, and there’s definitely a desire to find out more about what happened to get Elena into the executive club, especially after seeing the flashbacks where she vehemently turned down a similar offer.
Meanwhile, viewers can appreciate that the corporate plot continues with the disguised Inazagi defector telling Elizabeth about the development of a sea water irrigation system. That idea could lead to some interesting territory for Elizabeth, especially since she’s also making her wishes known with regard to her future grandchild. Contentious times ahead!
So it’s becoming more and more possible to move past Ben’s failings since the world around him is so compelling to watch, and the other characters have such interesting stories to tell. It would be nice to see him struggle the way Theo and Roger did in this episode, and it’s perhaps likely that Ben’s smugness will be his undoing in short order. Whether Incorporated fans are supposed to wish for such an occurrence is another matter.