Synopsis 1×04: By delving into the pasts of Elena and Ben, we learn more about the treacherous world of 2074, including a look at how Elena came to work in the Executive Clubs, and just how far Ben and Theo will go to accomplish what they want. 

As seems to be a recurring theme, this show preys on the creeping nature of imagery through television programing and commercials. Where last episode we saw the indoctrination of young children, this episode begins with an advertisement for “Feed America,” an organization that seeks to care for the poor and hungry children left out in the unstable portions of the country. This is once more a reminder of the world this show is set in. A reminder that this world, perhaps so close to our own, is in near ashes. 

Beyond this, the episode follows the past story of Elena (Denise Tontz) and Ben (Sean Teale). Upon arriving home one day, Elena discovers a SPIGA employee who informs her that she did not win the scholarship to school but was in fact, runner up. As a consolation, she is offered a position, one reserved for “young, smart, beautiful” girls, as an escort at the Executive Club. Her father vehemently refuses the offer with a gun pointed at the SPIGA employee’s head, with only Ben deescalating the situation before someone were to get hurt. 

Returning to the current time, Ben and his wife discuss the possibility of having a child, including just what traits they want their child to have. Ben struggles with the entire situation as he honestly doesn’t want to hurt Laura (Allison Miller), but also cannot have a child with her as his entire existence within the corporation is an attempt to save Elena (or at least that’s what his goal seems to be at this point). He plans to simply procure birth control, convincing his wife to have a baby naturally in order to ensure that they never conceive. 

Ben’s fellow officemate, Roger Caplan (Douglas Nyback), the rat eating guy, continues attempts to dislodge any information from Ben about the secret hard drive and Elena’s image which is contained upon it. This eventually leads him to acquiring a private meeting with her of which Ben soon becomes aware. 

Returning briefly to the past, Ben works a job with Hendrick (Damon Herriman), earning $20,000 which he can use to buy a lot of land for him and Elena. Unfortunately, the two are attacked and the money is consumed in flame. The con of a scholarship suddenly shows up again for Elena, but given what we know of her current situation, it was likely just that, a con. 

The Inizagi defector from the previous episode reveals to Elizabeth Strauss (Julia Ormond) that Inizagi was on the verge of creating a seed that would allow growth in any previously uninhabitable region, including the desert. 

For Theo (Eddie Ramos), the cage is apparently not the only place Terrence (Ian Tracey) wants his fighting abilities. He must now work as a hit-man of sorts, doing what is required. One truly brave character is seen in this episode, the young man Theo is sent to injure or kill. He is a rising star in basketball, having won a scholarship for the sport.

Unfortunately for him, the runner up spent significant money paying Terrence to take care of him. While Theo tries to convince the kid, an avid fan of Theo in the ring, to run, he stands bravely, spitting in Theo’s face that he and his family could be hurt or killed if he ran, and Theo needs to do what he came to do. He is left injured, but alive, his basketball career over. And Theo is left with the weight of this on his conscience. 

The episode concludes with Ben tracking Roger to a hotel, only to find Elena there. Just what will become of the situation is left for another episode. 

The dangerous paths each character is willing to take, regardless of who it will hurt, mirror the dangerous paths of governments and corporations in the future. If they will hurt anyone to bring themselves out of this poverty, are they any different than the corporations who put them there?

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