Published on August 1st, 2014 | by JCDoyle0
Utopia Series 2 – Episode 4
A telephone call and a late night ‘plumbing’ job has the mysterious American say good night to his family and head out into the night. As this is Utopia and not The Adventures of Plumbers, it’s not surprising that the man doesn’t go to fix a leaky valve, instead he collects a hidden canister from the depths of a wood and secrets it away in his nondescript pickup truck. He drives to a small air field where he abandons the truck in a car park and then heads home on foot.
When he gets home he kills his family and puts a bullet through his own brain. Welcome to Utopia, the Network way.
Warning: There are spoilers littered throughout as well as illustrated demi-gods and redecorated bathrooms.
Arby and, the much underused in this episode, Lee watch a laptop screen while Donaldson sits in the background complaining that no-one is telling him what is going on. Tess and Amanda are seen to get out of a car and Arby calls them on a mobile to explain that they can never go home, never have a bank account and never be who they were before. After explaining what they need to do he tells them that they will never see him again and hangs up. Lee confirms he completed his side of the bargain and instructs Arby to take care of the others just after he shoots Donaldson, which to be fair is no real loss.
Jessica seems to be a little crazier this week, switching between calm delirium and manic lunacy at the drop of a hat. Her crazy antics this week include:
Quietly threatening Dugdale over slightly salted eggs
Jumping Ian’s bones the minute she sees him
And preparing Dugdale’s bathroom for some wholesale slaughter. But who is she going to kill? Just wait a minute and I’ll tell you.
Fiona O’Shaughnessy does an amazing job portraying the slightly broken Jessica; her ability to display the many facets of the character without making it too theatrical is wonderful to watch. There is a moment where she is scrambling eggs in the kitchen and watches Ian ‘escape’ from the house, at this point she performs a clever change from being a thoughtful, devious planner to manic abandonment which is both funny and disturbing.
After Donaldson’s stirring last week there is a very chilly wind between Ian and Becky. The distance that this creates allows each character shoot off in a different direction but with the same goal in mind: to bring Anton (sorry Philip Carvel) out of his shell. Ian’s plan involves breaking into the TV company’s head office that showed the news report that brought Anton out of his daze briefly enough to warn Grant about Janus. His plan works well and he is in and out with barely a hitch. Then he goes to see Dugdale, believing him to still be one of the good guys, and encounters Jessica. He puts up no fight when she throws herself at him but afterwards he is wracked with guilt. He questions what is wrong with Jessica, something he should have done before climbing into bed with her, and then decides to take his leave while she isn’t looking. But she knew this would happen and has hidden a mobile phone in the lining of his coat.
Meanwhile, Grant discovers a number tattooed on Anton’s arm so Becky is convinced he is a holocaust survivor. She begins testing various languages to see if he reacts to any and very quickly he responds to Romanian. Becky finds a translator, a very funny character but don’t bother to learn his name, he’s not going to be around long enough to be a major player. During the translated conversation, Anton reveals something of his past, about meeting Mr Rabbit (dropping the fact that it’s a ‘Miss’ to everyone’s surprise) and formulating the plan to stop all future acts of genocide. The penny drops for Ian (oh, year, Ian came back) who realises that the alteration he made to Janus was Race related but before anything further can be confirmed Arby arrives on the scene, guns a blazing.
Elsewhere (and earlier in the episode) Milner tries her hardest to convince Wilson Wilson that the cause is good and the ends justify the means. A lot is made of over population, starvation and the depletion of irreplaceable resources. This is very serious and thought proving stuff. At one point they have a meeting in a shopping centre food court where Milner introduces Wilson Wilson to a sleeper agent who describes the process he will follow if called on to spread the Russian Flu into the populace (this links back to the opening of the episode and the abandoned truck). Milner then takes Wilson Wilson to a secret location where two secret service operatives are holding Ian’s brother. After a quick interrogation (which involves Milner revealing she is Mr Rabbit) she orders Wilson Wilson to kill all three of them. This is his test to see if he can be trusted in The Network. Does he pass? Watch and find out.
Dugdale’s secret is also revealed this week. He goes to see his estranged wife and Alice (the girl from series 1). They are locked in an apartment/prison cell where they are being held by The Network to make sure that Dugdale does what he is supposed to – I knew there was a reason he had his assistant killed last week. Still harsh though. After arriving back home he confesses this to Jessica who in turn tells him that Milner is Mr Rabbit and then, as if summoned like a demon at the mention of her name, Milner turns up to speak to Dugdale. A copy of the bible left laying in the lounge is enough for Milner to work out Dugdale has a visitor but before she can act Jessica has a gun pointed at her. Jessica leads Milner up into the bathroom which is all plastic coated and tells her she needs to kill her but Milner has the ultimate weapon: news that Jessica’s father is still alive.
At the centre of this series are some serious subject matters regarding the environment, population and terrorism. Dennis Kelly has raised questions about each of these topics through his narrative without preaching: he lays the issues down and has the characters discuss them, openly, honestly and, through them, the writer is able to question the viewers preconceived ideas. In this episode Wilson Wilson is the voice of moral dilemma, a theme throughout the series, as he tries to come to terms with the side he has chosen. He believes in what they fight for but is he willing to do whatever is necessary? Dugdale is the balance to this as he has no faith in any of it yet he will do horrendous things to keep his family safe.
While disturbingly entertaining, Utopia is also thought provoking and every time you think you have a character pegged down something happens to open them up further.
Although the biggest question I have at the moment is, when will the Utopia Experiments Graphic Novel be released as a real book?