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Episode Recap: Cost Containment
New threats and genetically engineered babies could cripple Ben's plan just as completion is in sight.
Back in the past, Elena's dreams of a brighter future are shattered when Rebecca Hanson, a SPIGA Educational Outreach Recruiter, delivers some devastating news: Elena has lost her scholarship. But, have no fear! SPIGA could use a bright, beautiful young woman like her … as an escort at their exclusive Executive Clubs.
Elena's dad knows that's just a nice-ish way of saying "Come be a whore" and pulls a gun, though luckily Aaron intervenes before Tabitha's thug Blaine starts shooting him full of holes. Elena tells Tabitha to get lost but despairs at her prospects going down the drain.
Aaron's determined to make a good living for him and Elena, scholarship or no scholarship, and recruits young Theo to help him with his latest hacking job that results in a big score. Aaron brings the wad of cash to Elena: $20,000, the buy-in for jobs working the land in the co-ops. It's hard work, but they'll be together, out in the open air …
However, Elena surprises Aaron with news that she actually got the scholarship after the winner was caught cheating. Not wanting to leave Aaron, she tells him that she's not going to accept it, though Aaron's protests are soon interrupted by a sudden mystery drive-by that leaves the diner all shot-up and on fire … and the $20,000 engulfed in flames.
Back in the present day, Aaron (now Ben) is struggling with the prospect of having a baby with Laura. Laura opts for a natural birth over recruiting a gestator, but SPIGA refuses to insure the pregnancy after a DNA test reveals that Ben was once exposed to lead poisoning and malaria (during his time in the Red Zone, which Laura knows nothing about). Ben gets Hendrick to score him some birth control (which in the future looks like Listerine breath strips that dissolve into your skin), though Hendrick tells him he's got bigger problems than just impending fatherhood …
Y'see, Roger really wants that promotion, and he figures the only way he's going to get it is to smear Ben's reputation. He's bound and determined to find out who this mystery woman is that Ben's been tracking on his keyhole gizmo (which is now in Roger's possession). Roger manages to get a personnel file on Elena, which luckily is so redacted that it reveals nothing … and reviewing it has inadvertently downloaded a tracking device on Roger's phone.
Ben starts keeping tabs on Roger, who makes a deal with his bigwig father, George Caplan: get him access to Elena and he'll convince his brother Mitchell to leave Caplan Estate and get treatment at Windrush Center. Once upon a time, Mitchell received a neural implant that severely damaged the emotional center of his brain; he now spends his time in his completely immaculate room, stoically reciting mathematical equations and creating dozens of origami cranes. Roger gets through to him by appealing to their mutual hatred of their father, and Mitchell agrees to get treatment if it means Roger will get the promotion and exile George — along with his trophy wife and perfectly bio-engineered baby — to the Red Zone.
Back at SPIGA, Elizabeth confers with Diana Walters, the Inazagi defector who now has a completely new identity (and new face) thanks to her full relocation package. Diana's got some sweet intel involving a whiz kid named Sanjay Maraj, who's found a way to make crops salt-tolerant and therefore able to grow via seawater (which is, of course, in plentiful supply around the globe). With such technology, SPIGA could conquer the desert … and muscle out Inazagi completely.
Elizabeth is intrigued, and also curious: How did Diana know to quote Robert Frost during their first meeting? Diana confesses that she was ‘accompanying' Elizabeth's husband before he died. Elizabeth nods, recognizing that it was business … and so is keeping it a secret, if Diana knows what's good for her. Hmm...what's that about?
Meanwhile, Theo is continuing to rise in the ranks of cage fighting, though Terrence has a new job for him: breaking the legs of Spyder, a kid who just scored a basketball scholarship in the Green Zone, a task requested by the parents of the runner-up. Theo reluctantly takes the gig, though he hesitates when his target ends up being a fan of the up-and-coming cage fighter. Theo treats Spyder to some drinks at the Cut Room, after which he gives him the cash he received for the job, telling him to take it and run. Spyder furiously asks where he's supposed to go, acknowledging that it's better if Theo goes through with his task rather than become a man on the run. Spyder taunts Theo for his thuggish ways, after which Theo breaks his leg with a swift kick.
The episode ends with Ben tracking Roger to the Excelsior Hotel … where he's shocked to see Elena, dressed to the nines and escorted by SPIGA thugs to the elevator. She's off to see Roger ... perhaps to inadvertently blow the lid off Ben's entire operation!