‘Incorporated’ premiere thrives on realism
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The year is 2074, but rather than robots or artificial intelligence ruling over society, “Incorporated” entertains the possibility of big business takeovers in the aftermath of a climate crisis that divided the world into two parts — the haves and the have-nots. While the haves contribute to the new order society in return for luxurious living inside the “Green Zone,” the have-nots live in the squalor of a decimated outer city, colloquially known as the “Red Zone.”
However, the chaos that ensues in a world overtaken by Big Brother is the least concerning aspect in Syfy’s newest original series, which paints a picture of a future too probable for comfort.
A common characteristic of the science fiction genre is the mirroring of fragments of reality onto a grander scale. After all, for what other purpose does the genre serve but to highlight our deepest fears regarding the unknown? Where series such as “The 100” and “Firefly” focus entirely on the distant future with little ties to reality, “Incorporated” shares similarities with “Revolution,” which imagined a possible scenario in the not-too-distant future.
What makes these series realistic is often the science behind the fiction. The settings are close enough to put viewers on edge, but far enough away to allow for the necessary advances to make said future possible. Self-driving cars and “Iron Man”-esque technology are only a few of the amenities that this future has to offer.
So while 2074 might be a little early for these natural disasters to actually occur, the technology seems to fit; it’s neither overwhelmingly advanced nor primitive compared to the devices available on today’s market. The believable plot coupled with the convincing setting is ultimately what makes “Incorporated” not only watchable, but relevant and relatable.
“Incorporated” opens on Ben (Sean Teale, “Survivor”), an executive for the company Spiga, which controls the order between the white collar “Green Zone” and the squalor of the “Red Zone,” which is on the brink of an uprising. Although life in the “Green Zone” appears comfortable and carefree, the big brother capabilities of the business world put a psychological strain on a society where even dreams are no longer safe from the public eye.
It’s from this prison that Ben has emerged as a true protagonist — an undercover agent for an undisclosed cause. He’s hacked his way into the company elite to gain access to top secret files and exclusive company information. The purpose is yet to be discovered, but Ben’s ambition to single handedly take down the new government standard is ambitious in itself.
This is a role that Teale portrays well, with quiet ties between the revolutionaries of the “Red Zone” and notable treason against the corporate hires he fights off in his mission to the top. To further his cause, his wife Laura (Allison Miller, “There’s Always Woodstock”) is conveniently the daughter of Spiga CEO Elizabeth (Julia Ormond, “Witches of East End”), the former of whom suffers from PTSD regarding an abduction incident into the “Red Zone,” which we will later learn more about as the season progresses.
However, Ben’s relationship with Laura, though ruled almost entirely by work and less so by feelings, only serves to highlight Teale’s flaw in his seamless switch between home life and spy work inside Spiga. The strain of his twisted lies only really shines through in the most thrilling moments of the episode, and his switch between the two should even out in later episodes if “Incorporated” intends to keep the audience hooked on Ben’s deception.
The stunning similarities between today’s advancements in science and technology and the technology in the show are the basis on which “Incorporated” thrives. The show melds present and future with stunning quality and on point accuracy. However, if it wishes to keep up its satire — a wall being built around the city, for example, has clear ties to the impending Donald Trump presidency — it needs to work on smoothing out its characters before humanity can begin worrying about the not-too-distant future.