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Episode Recap: Vertical Mobility

In 2074, where corporations govern all, one man must risk exposing his true identity to find his lost love.


The year is 2074. Climate change has ravaged the planet, causing widespread famine and bankrupting governments. In their place, multinational Corporations have risen in power and now control 90% of the globe. These Corporations fight a covert war for market share and dwindling natural resources.

Those who work for them live protected behind the walls of the Green Zones.

Those who don't are left to fend for themselves in the slums of the Red Zones.

One of the key Green Zone players is Ben Larson, an up-and-coming executive at the mighty SPIGA Corporation. Ben lives in a world where Hurricane Zoe is about to wipe out Rhode Island, Canada has put up a high-security fence to discourage illegal immigration and some unidentified terrorist group has bombed a SPIGA R&D lab, but so what? He lives in a great house in the private community of Stanford Mills with his gorgeous wife Laura, where they get to eat real bacon (!) and take self-driving cars to work.

At SPIGA, Ben and his colleague Chad Peterson are working on something called Everclear, software that can record and reveal what a person is thinking and dreaming. It would make for excellent interrogation tech for Julian Morse, SPIGA's intimidating head of security, were it not for the fact that it's currently only at 65% accuracy … and 55% when the subject is asleep. Not good enough, but hey, they'll just have to work 110% harder!

Meanwhile, Laura works for Renascienta Cosmetic Design, where rich old ladies take their boytoys and have their faces reconstructed to look like the young versions of their late husbands. Hey, it's a living …

And tonight, Ben and Laura have an extra reason to celebrate their three-year anniversary: they're gonna get preggers! Yes, they've received the proper permit to procreate, a privilege given only to the top officers of the Corporations. Maybe one of the reasons Ben is climbing the ladder so quickly is because his mother-in-law is Elizabeth Strauss, the head of SPIGA's U.S. Operations … though Laura would like to think that their future doesn't rely on any meddling from her mama. They're a bit estranged, those two.

It's all pretty nice, right? Here's the thing, though: Ben's life is a lie. It's a means to an end, an infiltration to help him track down his long-lost love, Elena. Elena disappeared several years ago, and Ben — whose real name is Aaron — has been looking for her ever since … and now, thanks to the sweet tech in his high-rise office, he may have found her!

Except she's in Milwaukee, seemingly transferred to Arcadia, a private resort that's pretty much an executive sex club. To get to her, he's going to need a promotion … which means he needs to create a job opening …

Ben sees an opportunity when he joins his co-workers for a night of debauchery out in the Red Zone, where dangerous crime and delicious vice rule the land. Chad has a little too much to drink and spews into a filthy toilet, during which Ben covertly takes a sample of his blood. Hmm, what's he up to …?

Later, Ben takes a motorcycle (really) to the 18th floor of a run-down apartment building to visit one of the few people who knows his real identity: Elena's brother, Theo. Theo's been training to be a cage fighter ever since he got caught selling cigarettes in the territory of a sleazy Red Zone bigwig named Terrence (who can make eating a tomato look like the most menacing thing ever). Ben is worried for Theo's well-being, but Theo is more worried about Ben getting in too deep … is he starting to like his corporate life on the nice side of the tracks a little too much?  

Time will tell. For now, Ben jumps into action the next morning, scoring an anti-riot tech device known as The Whistler. This little beauty creates sound waves that instigate nausea, and after Chad excuses himself to the bathroom, Ben uses the blood sample he stole to gain access to some red-hot files on Chad's computer, which he then downloads onto a portable drive. Hmm, what's he up to …?

It all comes to a head at the end of the work day as the SPIGA suits line up to be scanned by security before leaving the building. Ben has set up Chad, who's found to be in possession of the high-security files and therefore caught red-handed trying to take them off-site. Chad is brought before Julian Morse, and it looks like the consequences of his attempted thievery are going to be severe …

So, there's now a job opening, and yet another rung on the ladder for Ben to climb. The only thing really standing in his way is his ultra-ambitious colleague, Roger … but, as we've seen, Ben knows how to fight dirty!