Cash Rules Everything Around Me
"C.R.E.A.M." Plot Summary:
Via Streaming Freedom, Logan Cale makes contact with Elena Herrero, the daughter of his former mentor. She asks him to help her find out who was responsible for her father's death. Max thinks he's silly to get involved, but she changes her mind while looking at photos of the young Elena holding a red balloon at a party - an image of the sort of childhood Max was denied by Lydecker. She doesn't even know when her own birthday is. As an early birthday present to Logan, she agrees to see what she can find out about Nathan Herrero.
After stealing a computer disk from an armed facility, Max learns that police had been investigating a planned hit on the journalist, but he vanished three days before the attempt. Herrero's daughter had run away from home; his housekeeper reported the abduction. Yet the housekeeper later bought an apartment in a good neighborhood, which makes Logan think someone paid her to make her employer disappear. He sends Max to bug the housekeeper's apartment. While placing the surveillance devices, Max is shocked to see the housekeeper with her lover...Nathan Herrero.
At work, Sketchy seems to have money to burn, which makes his friends suspicious. He has a package he's supposed to deliver for a casino owner, but he loses it while showing off bike tricks. Sketchy promises the bouncers to make it up to them, but they string him up naked and shove a gag in his mouth. When Cindy finds him in that state, she says he now looks like her idea of the perfect man, though she and Max agree to help so he doesn't get executed.
Logan meets with Herrero, who explains that he fell in love and retired. Logan feels betrayed that his mentor walked away from fighting corruption. When Max tells Elena that her father is alive, she is unsure whether or not to meet with him, but Max encourages her to do so. Then she and Cindy go to the casino, where Max uses her genetically enhanced vision and coordination to win thousands of dollars at poker. Afterwards, the bouncers try to abuse Max and Cindy, but the women beat up the thugs and toss away their weapons. Saved, Sketchy wants Max to cheat some more casinos to get them out of the poorhouse. Max scoffs at his ingratitude.
Elena Herrero lights a cigarette beneath her father's window. The apartment explodes. "We got played," Logan rages, though he later learns his mentor died doing what he believed in: hours before his death, Herrero sent Logan video footage of a corrupt candidate for police commissioner, footage he had originally hidden to protect his daughter. Max follows Elena onto a train to Portland, asking whether the woman helped kill her father out of hatred or greed. Both, admits Elena. Max smashes Elena's briefcase, sending thousands of bills flying out the window, leaving her with nothing but the hate.
At work, while Cindy asserts that everyone's philosophy of life is C.R.E.A.M. -- Cash Rules Everything Around Me -- Max sees a Streaming Freedom video proving the candidate for police commissioner is a cold-blooded murderer. Thus, Nathan Herrero did not die in vain. Max notes that Logan has finally restored his mentor to sainthood. She wishes she had a birthday, but her life's too much of a joke for April 1, so she thinks she should say she was born yesterday.
Money talks, but it don't sing and dance and it don't walk -- at least, that seems to be the theme of this episode. It's hard to extract a clearer message. Logan, who lives in the lap of luxury, gives one of his contacts a Gameboy for his kids, claiming it's not any sort of payoff -- which the guy is willing to accept because Logan fights for the underdogs. Yet Logan has everything money can buy, including the presumably illegal gun he offers Max. With bucks like that, you can afford a little Streaming Freedom.
Now we know Max, too, could have money any time she wanted. But the cost would be her privacy, which protects her from Lydecker and anyone else who might get close enough to realize what she is. The casino owners barely notice her when they think she wants to beat them at strip poker, but when she draws a straight flush against three of a kind, she has to get them off her case, and they won't soon forget the face of the woman who broke their kneecaps. It's clear Max can't use her talents for profit every day, but why didn't she pull a few straight flushes when she was desperate for money to buy tryptophan a few weeks ago?
Logan thinks Herrero has sold out because the man chose a comfortable life and beloved wife over fighting the system. Yet Herrero's choice makes sense to Max, who tells Mr. Streaming Freedom that some guys are willing to rearrange their priorities when they find a girl who moves their furniture. She's a little vague about whether she wants Logan to be one of those guys, though. Clearly he's an improvement over the cops, casino owners, and greedy bastards of her world, but in some ways he's a pampered prince. Original Cindy's still "the man," as Max tells her friend.
Logan and Herrero agree that the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing, but this episode seems obsessed with one other catchy slogan uttered by the rich idealist: "It's a kick- or be-kicked-in-the-ass world out there." Considering that five minutes later, we see Sketchy quite literally getting his ass kicked over cash, it's hard to take Logan's ivory tower freedom fight entirely seriously.
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