BEN KETAI — STARTUP — SEASON 1 & 2–2016
It is a simple story. A girl, a Cuban refugee in Miami, is a genius with code and she invents Gencoin, a cryptocurrency of a new type that is totally anonymous and thus can in no way be traced to the users or is it the users who cannot be traced in any way? Same thing anyway. The whole series forgets the blockchain level of these cryptocurrencies, or in fact, forget to tell us. Then to make the currency even more effective they need to invent an Internet network that is absolutely anonymous, secret, where no one can be traced, etc. This is a myth and we can go along for the sake of the story because it is not really important. It is just a convention.
First, this girl looks for partners. She is rejected until she finds a young Jew, the honest son of his own father who is a money launderer for all kinds of traffics and criminals. That brings in a Black man who is from one of these gangs who deal in drugs in their neighborhood. The Jew, Nick Talman wants to be honest but he is interested in getting rid of 2 million dollars his father has dumped on him before disappearing, more or less, episodically. That money includes an important sum, 300,000 dollars, that has been hijacked from the finances of his gang by the Black man, Ronald Dacey. The Cuban girl, Izzy Morales, just wants to succeed and to be the best, so she finally accepts a deal with an Asian (Chinese or Vietnamese), Alex Bell, and his associate, a Russian woman, Vera, and we discover very fast she is only the façade of a very important Russian mafia family from Moscow.
Izzy and her two associates, Nick and Ron, are just bamboozled out of their own business and the business is taken over by Alex and Vera. They provided the money, so they kicked out the inventors. Gencoin is thus Alex and Vera’s.
From there ensues a long and complicated fight because the cryptocurrency without a fully anonymous and dark Internet behind cannot guarantee the absolute anonymity necessary for all kinds of gangs and criminal groups to launder their money into Gencoin. Add to that a rotten FBI (or something similar) officer who was tracking Nick’s father who tried to get the money the father entrusted his son with, and succeeds for about half a day because the hacker he used to do the job hacks the officer in his own turn and the money disappears into thin hack-air. That’s when Alex and Vera intervene.
Gencoin has to get some dark network. It is Guizer, a Swedish or Scandinavian invention. Izzy invents her own darknet, Araknet, and the three original partners look for an investor and they find him in a friend of Nick’s father’s, Wes Chandler, and his daughter, Mara Chandler. But Vera’s brother, or is it cousin, and two or more associates decide to get rid of a few people in the neighborhood and in the field of Cryptocurrency. They will lead them all six feet under, thanks to Ron.
But Izzy is at the end what she was at the beginning: An Asperger autistic genius that is TOTALLY UNABLE to have normal or even abnormal relationships with anyone. She is a born blooper and party pooper. She is a genius in code but she is a sorry and puss-oozing egocentric egoist: She only knows herself and she makes all kinds of rash decisions that turn out to be catastrophic and she cannot accept what she calls her babies, Araknet and Gencoin, to live and be successful if not under her absolute motherly control. She is a control freak and a dictatorial tyrant.
A final move with Alex will provide her with her absolute victory in the total destructive dream of hers. By killing them all she is sure to be the best because she will be the last.
The series is slightly bothering and problematic because of the blockchain behind Gencoin that is not considered. Note the main winner with Bitcoin is China because it has invested in the super-fast and powerful computers necessary for them to control the blockchain system. This film is silent at this level. But it is problematic because the central cop, Phil Rask, is rotten, kills his partner and does many other illegal actions and yet he becomes the closing hero. This film is also very problematic because the bad ones are necessarily of Cuban origin, more generally Latinos, or of Haitian origin, more visibly Black, or of Russian origin, which we can hear because they speak Russian, or finally of Jewish origin which is indicated by their skullcaps. In other words, all the criminals and startup entrepreneurs and rotten businessmen are typically in conformity with the populist vision of America by people on the Trump side: Latino, Black, Russian, Jewish and above all women are the enemies of a white male Christian supremacist USA. The only one who is not a member of these groups is a rotten male FBI or so officer.
Apart from that, it is rather trendy, active, sexy and of course the worst example you can give to anyone of any age. It is totally immoral. Too bad, but fascinating. The devil is really in our minds. Isn’t it called capitalism?
Dr. Jacques COULARDEAU