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Episode Recap: Burning Platform
While Ben investigates a murder he committed, 2074 business tactics lead Elizabeth to do the unthinkable.
Ben stares in awe at the 3D rendering of HIMSELF carrying Roger's corpse. He runs facial recognition on his accomplice, revealing that it's an up-and-coming cage fighter named Theo (whom Ben, with his Aaron persona erased, doesn't recognize). Ben heads to the Red Zone and tracks down Theo, who tries to convince him of his real identity. A video of Elena doesn't spark any memories … but the ring Theo uses to project her message certainly does: it's the same kind of ring he just bought for Laura!
However, Ben does recognize the fella in the background of an old photo of Ben and Theo in the Red Zone: Hendrick, the guy from HR at work (back then known as Reed). En route to Hendrick's hideout in Franklin Heights (the address of which Ben finds in his car's GPS), Ben and Theo run into none other than Chad Peterson, the former SPIGA employee Ben framed for attempting to steal tech from the office. Chad's in bad shape, but he does recognize Ben as they guy who ruined his life. He attacks Ben, but luckily Ben's traveling with a cage fighter.
Ben and Theo track down Hendrick, who gets Ben to cancel the blackmail intel that would've revealed Hendrick's real identity to SPIGA. Hendrick gives the portable drive containing Aaron's neural print to Ben, though he warns against reinstating that side of his personality, arguing that Ben is a happily married man with a great job whilst Aaron is a lying murdering piece of shit. Theo counters by saying 'Ben' is a lie, and Elena needs Aaron's help in getting out of Arcadia. A shocked and confused Ben retreats with the portable drive, telling Theo if he comes anywhere near him, he'll smash the neural print and all this will be over.
After a night of drinking tequila with Laura, Ben makes the decision to re-instate his Aaron persona. He dresses for work the next morning, ready to recommence with his plan to rescue Elena … and knowing full well he doesn't deserve a loving wife like Laura.
Back at SPIGA, Ben shares the results of the wind contour model with Julian, which, thanks to Ben's tampering, reveals that it was Chad Peterson who killed Roger Caplan. Unfortunately, Chad's accomplice had his back to the wind, so his identity is unknown (allowing Ben to protect Theo). Julian isn't quite convinced, seeing as that Chad received a full NDA treatment that wiped his memories, but Ben assures him that memory is a funny thing … sometimes something won't stay buried, no matter what.
Ben then confronts Hendrick in the break room, revealing that he's reinstated his Aaron persona. Hendrick is disappointed and cuts Ben off when he tries to make yet another demand of him. "I don't care what you need," says Hendrick as he exits the room. "You and I are done."
Or are they? Hendrick may not have covered his own tracks as well as he should have, as his daughter Hazel inadvertently finds some tech hidden in the floorboards underneath the kitchen table during a game of hide-and-seek. What's that all about …?
So there's some drama going on at SPIGA … but that's nothing compared to what Elizabeth is dealing with. Her attempt to extract Sanjay Maraj has resulted in a deadly counter-attack by Inazagi, which leads to her calling in a drone strike to make everything and everyone — including the SPIGA extraction team and Maraj himself — go ka-boom. If SPIGA can't have Maraj, then no one can … and, after all, she's got to keep the shareholders happy.
The Chairman commends Elizabeth for this difficult decision, but Elizabeth's rival, David Gates, is appalled … as is Julian, which prompts the two to meet in private to discuss removing Elizabeth from the throne. In exchange for his help, Julian's demands are simple: He wants a transfer to Sioux Falls. Gates agrees … and breaks Julian's heart even more when he tells him that he never received Julian's original transfer request eight years ago. Elizabeth never pushed it through!
Meanwhile, in the Red Zone, Laura is becoming disillusioned with her work at the new clinic. Someone (perhaps a smuggler) is stealing nano-sutures and other supplies from the cabinet, and the lack of proper surgical materials causes at least one patient to flatline. Grim life in the Red Zone comes crashing through when a patient tells Laura to replace the hormone inhibitor she removed from his stomach; after all, if his growth is no longer stunted, he'll start looking his actual age, and then what will he do for money when he can't score johns who like to sleep with little boys?
The worst, though, is when Laura gets a surprise visit from her mother, Elizabeth. Elizabeth is concerned that Laura is just setting herself up for another kidnapping by hanging out in the Red Zone like this, an argument during which Elizabeth reveals that Laura's father wasn't kidnapped after all: he attempted to defect, and Elizabeth had him killed for it. Elizabeth leaves a stunned Laura to contemplate this grim revelation, demanding that Laura shut down the clinic … or she will.
Elsewhere in the Red Zone, Theo comes upon the memoriam for Bowie, the cage fighter he recently killed in a match while he was hopped up on Rage powder. Theo meets Bowie's sister, a nun at a local monastery, who forgives Theo for his actions. Theo breaks down and cries in her arms, after which he returns to his apartment, determined to pack up his things and make a run for it. Unfortunately, Terrence is waiting for him, wondering why he's been skipping his workouts at the Cut Room lately. Terrence reveals that Theo has scored a Green Zone fight … and makes it clear that nobody - nobody - quits him.
The episode ends with Ben being summoned by Elizabeth, who tells him that he's received the promotion. Ben is a now a member of 'the 40th Floor' … and has access to executive clubs like Arcadia. Finally, he can get to Elena!
Ben has little time to celebrate, though. When he returns home, his calls for Laura go unanswered … and he's soon knocked unconscious by mystery assailants.
Oh, man … has Ben just been kidnapped ... or something even worse?