It is what is. INCORPORATED, SyFy’s much hyped about new show has left me, well, cold and unmoved. Executive produced by Ben Affleck and Matt Damon, the show has some prestige attached to it along with Julia Ormand as Elizabeth and Dennis Haysbert as Juilian. Both notable actors taking supporting roles here. This show’s premise is timely in light of the past year and a half, so why did it leave me unmoved you asked? Well, this first episode “Vertical Mobility”, seems to tell its story with no soul and without a character to really latch onto.
In the year 2074, countries have gone bankrupt due to various crisis but most of all climate change. As governments collapse, corporations seize the power left in their wake with Green Zones designated for people who comply and work for said corporations thrive, and Red Zones for the poor and destitute. Ben Larson (Sean Teale) works for the biggest one of all, Spiga Biotech, the biggest corporation in the world, ran by his mother-in-law Elizabeth. Though he loves his “wife” Laura (Allison Miller), he’s really there to extract Iliana (the real woman he loves?) back to the Red Zone to her brother Theo (Eddie Ramos). Iliana works in Spiga owned Arcadia, which is a club exclusive to high ranking Spiga executives that acts as a brothel for sex slaves.
I love Westworld. With Incorporated, I now see why people had problems with the show. For me there were characters to latch onto in Westworld and the fact the story was intriguing. Westworld is a show I eagerly anticipate week to week to dive in head first and watch the characters and the world develop and unravel. So, with Incorporated, I find it hard for me to dive into this dystopian post-apocalypse as I’ve seen done before and much better. This is all very plausible sure, as Spiga could stand in for Goldman-Sachs or Deutsche Bank (please Google what’s going on with them) or Bank of America. I truly believe that we as a nation do ignore the environment as well, as we see parts of Florida are flooded and year after year more ice keeps sliding into the ocean. But in this regard we’ve already seen this with George Orwell’s 1984. And the slum-y Red Zones seem straight lifted out of the Mad Max series and most of all 2012’s highly underrated and underseen Dredd. Another thing lifted straight from Dredd, is the narcotic drug Slo-Mo which here is now knows as Blur. When we got this brief part of the show, I was honestly infuriated. When Slo-Mo was used in Dredd it looked beautiful and disgusting at the same time. As well as ethereal and the score by Paul Leonard-Morgan helped that in many ways. Here when Blur is briefly used, it’s not to further enhance the story, it’s to make the club the characters are in as well as the cage fight look “cool”.
Speaking of the characters I wanna know what the creators David & Alex Pastor are going for. Our main character Ben (also known as Aaron in the Red Zones) is not one I could connect with. Neither is his mission to be honest. I don’t know what motivates him and I don’t know if he’s supposed to be a hero or anti-hero. One of the things that made Breaking Bad great is that we get to know Walt and see his descent from understandable anti-hero to full blown villain. The first episode lets us get to know Walter White in and out as a good, desperate man who’s about to make a horrible life choice albeit one that’s totally understandable. Ben just seems to be moving from one story point to another. To be honest it seems as if all characters are. There’s a scene where Ben tells Laura he’s headed for a night out on the town in South Gate in the Red Zone and she has horrific flashbacks to where it’s implied she was raped and mutilated. She cuts herself to calm down. That to me was the most interesting moment in the show, as we get some form of human connection from someone. Sean Teale is stiff and lacking charisma rendering Ben an almost truly uninteresting character that this show relies on.
Starting in media res is always a great jumping off point to get anyone into your story by dropping you right into the action. Here even that feels uninspired. Incorporated has potential to become a very entertaining show with social commentary that speaks to the current times. I really hope this can live up to its premise, as it stands now it is a story I don’t know if it’s even worth following.
Season 1, Episode 1 (S01E01)
Incorporated airs Wednesdays at 9PM on SyFy
A lifelong film enthusiast since he can remember, Brandon is a indie filmmaker/screenwriter and freelance critic who resides in Trenton, NJ. Feel free to hit him up on Twitter to talk movies, shows, and music (especially hip-hop) .
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Brandon Norwood | Contributor