If you expected Wednesday’s (Jan. 25) double-episode Season 1 finale of Syfy’s “Incorporated” to wrap everything up in a happy little bow, prepare yourselves for a load of disappointment. This is not the type of show to go out like that!
Instead, what we found was a troubled Ben Larson (Sean Teale) — buried beneath the murderous weight of all his lies — trying to right a number of wrongs that have accumulated over his journey. And in typical Ben/Aaron fashion, he mostly failed at living up to those self-imposed expectations. But with that 40th floor promotion finally granted, the series has set things up for plenty of sci-fi intrigue for a second season — if one ever comes to pass.
Among everything that transpired, the biggest revelation was the lack of sheer relief Elena (Denyse Tontz) experienced when she finally reunited with Aaron. As a reminder of all the awful things Aaron did over the past six years just to get to rescue one true love from the slave trade, and his reasons for them, their secret meeting was a punch to the gut. If Elena didn’t want to be rescued — expressing overt jealousy over the wedding ring on Aaron’s finger — then this whole ordeal was pretty much for nothing.
But of course, there’s more to this story than just Ben Larson being selfish, awful and, well, Ben Larson. Let’s talk about Laura (Allison Miller) for a second: If anyone deserves recognition for the growth they’ve achieved throughout this season, it’d be her.
Graduating from the nuanced, self-punishing victim we were introduced to at the beginning of this 10-episode run, Laura has become a force to be reckoned with. Finding her own way as a medical practitioner in the Red Zone, she finally stood her ground against the demons of her past — as well as her mother — doing her best to sever some troubling ties to both.
While we’re applauding Laura for coming into her own, we’d be remiss to leave out the ways in which this newfound power has changed her. Yes, the episode began with Ben undergoing a surreal character test for Spiga — resulting in a very solid visual of his wife taking a bullet to the head — but, as we eventually realized, that also foreshadowed Laura’s own violent tendencies coming to fruition.
Chopping off a man’s hand for stealing some highly coveted medication seems harsh, but this is life in the Red Zone — and out here, blood flows a lot more freely than water. Let’s remember all that Aaron has done under his false identity. Just as Laura has kept this clinic a secret from her husband, Ben’s murderous truth is one that is still out of Laura’s reach. It seems like a fair enough trade-off, when you think about it.
But we’re also impressed with the meaning behind the story: Laura was born to privilege, in a system that rewards the blindness that gives people even more than our own, real-world Green Zone. Her irritation with her mother, her traumatic experiences, her social-climbing husband: All of these could have led her to double down, put her blinders on, and keep scratching at herself like a rat in a trap. Instead, she summoned bravery and grace from inside herself, becoming the only hero on the show. If that involves brutality, well — it already did. Everything in this world is built on a foundation tainted with brutality. Better to serve compassion with your violence, rather than violence for its own, self-perpetuating sake.
As the season comes to an end, it’s revealed Laura is finally pregnant — a goal the couple was striving towards for some time. Mazeltov…? But also: How much larger is her mandate, now that she has even greater reason to support the cycle of iniquity she’s trying to ameliorate with her mission?
Further, with Theo (Eddie Ramos) ratting out his own brother to crime boss Terrence (Ian Tracey) — in a last-ditch effort to save the life of his (not so) secret boyfriend — we’re left wondering what new threats and complications await our heroes in the future. Aaron’s mission to find Elena — which revealed Elena’s own mission, to take down Spiga and “make them bleed” — will come back to bite him in ways he never expected.
If you enjoyed “Incorporated” — or imagined ways it could be better — we would strongly suggest seeking out Syfy import “Continuum’ (2012-2015). Along with half the cast, it shares a deeper and even more radical view of this show’s class and economic concerns, along with a truly emotional and mind-blowing time-travel component that continually reinvents itself. All four brilliant seasons of this Screener favorite are currently available on Netflix — and just may change the way you see the world.
But here’s hoping Syfy will bring us another season of “Incorporated,” regardless. Watching Ben/Aaron squirm under the weight of his own ridiculous actions — all in the name of true love — has been a vindictively pleasant thing to behold. But also, and mostly, because the show’s proven it can take the responsibility of the story it’s trying to tell: The very timely world of “Incorporated” — again, like our own — is a lot more complicated than simply the “haves” and “have nots” on which the premise is based, and we look forward to seeing more of our own values in conflict as these characters and situations become more complex.