The Badass Women of Science Fiction: Incorporated

I’ll admit, when I first started watching Incorporated on SyFy, I didn’t expect to really like the female characters. Allison Miller’s Laura Larson, wife of the main character and daughter of the other main character, seemed timid and to too easily capitulate to her husband’s desires. She’s a doctor, but seemed to have little to offer of her own.

I realized after a few episodes that was just a setup. We were supposed to underestimate her. Her willingness to help her housemaid’s child, at the risk of starting a riot. Her dissatisfaction with the idea that there were those outside the Green Zone who can’t get proper medical care.

And then we saw Episode 6, “Sweating the Assets”. It was a flashback to Laura’s younger, club-hopping days when she and her giggling friends ventured outside the walls and lived dangerously for a night.  She’s kidnapped and held for ransom. She manages to keep her wits about her and lies about her name so they don’t know that she’s the daughter of the head of SPIGA, the corporation that runs everything in the Milwaukee area.

Once they do figure out who she is, however, all bets are off. She realizes she needs to find her own way out, and manages to kill one of her captors.

Her evolution from happy-go-lucky rich girl to badass self-rescuing princess is fast and shocking. In the meantime, they’ve cut off her ear. She ends up becoming a doctor because of the plastic surgeon who puts a new ear on her when she gets home (yes, her rescue is aided by her mom’s security chief, but it went a lot smoother because of her own actions).

Later in the season, she finally goes outside the wall to help those in the Red Zone and ends up partnering with a crime boss to open a clinic out there and help those who really need her medical help. And on her terms, too.

This is another show that passes the Bechdel test, though some of the dialogue between female characters still revolves around men. That’s fine. A lot of the men’s dialogue revolves around women, so turnabout’s fair play.

Laura isn’t the only badass on the show. Her mom, Elizabeth Krauss (played by the inimitable Julia Ormond), is a force to be reckoned with. She’s in charge of the corporation that runs the show (in this dystopian future, corporations now rule in place of governments) and doesn’t take nothin’ from nobody. She holds her own in every meeting, oversees the defection of a woman from a rival corporation, and measures everything she does extremely carefully.

She always seems to be quite the stern mother to Laura, but we saw in that same episode that Laura showed her stuff that Elizabeth is hiding some things about Laura’s dad in order to spare her feelings. She’d rather her daughter be mad at her than hate the father she has mourned for so long.

And finally, we have Elena, who we’ve mostly seen through flashbacks at this point. She was the true love of Laura’s husband, Ben Larson, when his name was Aaron and he lived in the Red Zone. (He has a fake identity and lives in fear of being found out; he only came into the Green Zone to find Elena.)

Elena came thisclose to getting a scholarship (to what, we never really found out), but when she didn’t get it, she accepted an offer to become an escort for SPIGA because her father owed too much money and she needed to save him. She spends her days being escorted to rich man after rich man, exposing no emotion.

One of Ben’s rivals, Roger, knows Ben is interested in Elena, but not why. So he gets her delivered for the day and threatens her to find out is she knows him.

Elena’s unflinching refusal to tell Roger anything is powerful. We also learn that the life of a high-priced escort in SPIGA’s Green Zone is no picnic. When Roger threatens her with a corkscrew, she tells him worse has happened to her, and it always gets fixed.

Elena made the decision to sell her life to save her family. But she’ll be damned if she’s going to let some SPIGA suit make her sell out those she loved.

These women are all powerful in their own ways. They are fully fleshed characters and have their own motivations to do what they do. While Laura is my runaway favorite at the moment, I expect we’re going to see a lot more of Elizabeth and Elena that confirm they belong on this list of the Badass Women of Science Fiction.

This post is one of an occasional series of posts about the biggest badass women in science fiction on television today.

All photos via SyFy.