Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Utopia, Season 1, Episode 4

Open to utter chaos with Grant and Alice joining the gang in their getaway van, Wilson driving and Alice screaming and losing her mind after watching Arby kill her mother.

Everything calmed down, Wilson wants rid of Alice – to return her to some relative to look after; except there’s nowhere they can take her without exposing her, and themselves, to the Network. Wilson continues to talk about not bringing her while presenting no other options until Becky lays down the law – she comes. Wilson still thinks Alice needs help but Ian points out that they’re all she has. Becky has an angst moment realising Alice is frightened of them – because being on the run has made them scary. They’ve become like the Network

Be fair, Becky. The Network is efficient and effective, you’re nothing like them.

The team hides out in an abandoned manor house. They call Milner at the allotted time – and get no answer.

Cut to Arby in a cafĂ©, visibly troubled reading the manuscript – and seeing himself as a child inside; a boy who eats raisin sweets as his only comfort. At Corvadt headquarters, the Assistant-who-is-namless-but-played-by-James-Foxx-so-is-probably-awesome-and-sinister let’s Conran know that Arby has the manuscript – but it’s not complete, Jessica Hyde removed some of the pages. And he thinks Arby let Jessica go.

Back at the abandoned manor, Grant hides the pages Jessica gave him and Alice wakes up to see his goth disguise. Grant tries to talk to her to see if she’s ok – and Alice panics about a paper she has due. I think that’s some powerful denial and avoidance there.

The adults aren’t doing much better – Wilson angry that Ian and Becky have decided to stay in one place rather than flee cross country with children in tow – and Becky is worried about her dwindling supplies of medication (does she have the same disease as her father – a Network created disease?). And Ian has a “date” with Becky, or he’s set out a really cute attempt at a “restaurant” meal with their limited junk food supplies for her. Awwww. They’re watched from outside by Jessica who touches the glass all poignantly.

Jessica finds Grant and asks if she has the pages – and he hugs her. She tells him not to tell anyone about them , that she’s leaving – and to keep his make up on or he’ll die. She’s not exactly warm and fuzzy but she tried. Wilson nearly catches him hiding the pages but grant gives him the drawings he did copying the Manuscript instead. Later that night Alice processes some more of her grief through homework freak out (or maybe she always does homework like this. She could be a very very excitable child) and Ian and Becky continue their date, Ian reminisces about his brother and Ian has some excellently sweet seductive lines for Becky and they can have sex without, and I quote “drunk sex or angry sex” or would if they weren’t interrupted by Wilson and with Grant’s pictures

The pictures depict Corvadt causing BSE but also show a depiction of Janos – the 2 headed Roman god that represents something. Wilson theorises because Mr. Rabbit is a Nazi, it’s a selective disease meant to kill off specific races, but Becky thinks of the news and suggests a selective vaccine – like the Russian flu vaccine Corvadt has just sold. Corvadt makes their weapons-grade flu virus and then creates a vaccine that only works on certain races. She points out that the flu outbreak was dramatic – if they have another like that with sufficient deaths people will scream for the vaccine even before it has been properly tested.

But that would require the flu getting into enough people – but they see a symbol constantly being used in the pictures and Wilson recognises it – Pergus Holdings’s logo. A massive company the size of Kraft or Nestle that makes a vast amount of food – even the crisps that Ian and Becky have just eaten.

The next day Ian wanders outside and runs into Jessica Hyde – who asks him about him and Becky. He’d rather know where she’s been to which she pulls a gun on him and demands he call Milner and leave a message saying “I’m with Jessica Hyde”, he does but points out that if there was a tap on her phone, she’s now dead. Jessica mocks his knowledge of the technology and, still holding a gun on him, kisses him.

Wilson goes to Becky with the Iphone he found in the car and suggests using it to examine Pergus – he talks about how he can make it safe (ready for her to say no) but Becky agrees but that they should walk away from the house to be safe. Once away, she distracts Wilson and calls someone – telling them they’ve lost the manuscript and demanding answers, asking if “they” are infecting people. She adds that she needs to see them and will send their location for a meeting – and that she’s in trouble.

Wilson returns and they look at Pergus – and how it grew in 1993 with a new CEO – Lane Monroe. Wilson remembers that Grant thinks the Rabbit’s name begins with an “L”. Becky seems to recognise him – and even throws the Iphone into the pond they’re stood by to stop Wilson looking for his address – or information about his dad.

Ian has gone into the city to try and speak to his brother. He goes, disguising himself as his brother walks past various people sat on benches, through the city until he sits down with his lunch. Ian starts to approach but then sees the man sat next to his brother –it’s the same man who was sat outside of his brother’s work place, now coincidentally sitting next to him. And then a woman with a pram arrives – the same woman he passes and then a third coincidental passer by. Someone drops a phone in the bin he’s pretending to scrounge in as a homeless person – it rings. On the end is Milner telling him she’s sending a distraction to allow him to leave safely

He meets up with Milner in a deserted car park and she slaps him for being a bloody fool. She caught him 3 times on facial recognition software and had to intercede to save both their lives, making her position even more precarious.  She also confirms they’ve lost the manuscript “how do you know?” “I’m a spy, it’s what I do”. Awesome line of the week.

She thinks they still have a chance to get the manuscript since Arby still has it – she wants to know what Janus is.

Speaking of, the Assistant has the manuscript and is reading it when Conran enters – and Arby points a gun at him. he says Conran lied to him about his past but Conran counters that that boy is dead, everything was stripped from him – Arby isn’t even a name, it’s initials “RB”, Raisin Boy; what they called him when they forgot who he was. Conran protests that he’s all Arby has.

Arby lowers the gun and asks “where is Jessica Hyde?” and takes hold of the man’s head. He gestures desperately at the Assistant who is watching with awesome, dispassionate calm who writes something on a piece of paper. He warns them that if he sees anyone else there, he will kill them and destroy the manuscript – which he takes with him. He asks Conran what his name was – Pietre.

Ian finishes his meeting with Milner who gives him a confidence boost and singles him out as the most skilled and special of the gang. He returns to them while Alice reads her essay on Crime and Punishment aloud about killing for a higher cause and hard choices to Grant. And Wilson wants to hunt down Monroe and check to see if he has the Chinese character for “Rabbit” engraved on him somewhere – Becky asks exactly what they will do when they find him – kill him? But Ian agrees – he’s tired of waiting to be rescued. And Becky has a jealous moment about Jessica and Ian.

They drive off – and Arby watches them leave. Jessica appears behind him and points a gun at his head – he smiles. She demands he take her to the manuscript and he agrees – that’s why he’s there.

At Corvadt, the Assistant hands Conran a box of vaccine to take to the lab to test – the power dynamic seems to heavily favour the “assistant” between those 2.

The gang arrives at Lane Monroe’s building and Wilson and Ian argue over who is going in to kidnap and intimidate Monroe – Wilson points out the man is a white guy so more likely to be scared of Ian while Iam points out Wilson looks like a “psycho pirate” with his eye patch. Wilson agrees and grabs the gun. Despite his bizarre tactics, Wilson manages to sneak in and up behind Monroe (watching a TV programme about farmland becoming desert) with his gun. Monroe instantly begins protesting that he’s done everything they asked, that he’s being loyal (suggests he’s not the head of the Network – but an employee of it). He babbles that he’s made sure the “GSH1 protein” is everywhere.

He lets in the rest of the gang and they find he has no Rabbit scar. He’s not the Rabbit. They ask about the protein, Wilson hitting him with his shotgun (while Ian and Becky object). The protein has been bred into corn making it a far better animal feed – it’s in everything, everyone wants it. But that’s all it does: except it also has an amino acid that does nothing to soften the corn – but does get absorbed by the body (harmlessly. Apparently). He just does as he’s told and, no, he doesn’t know who Mr. Rabbit is. And Wilson picks up a paper and sees his father has been murdered. Wilson raises the gun, furious that Becky had lied to him, that he’d told her his dad was safe. Wilson points his gun at Monroe ready to fire when his door bell buzzes; Ian and Becky talk him down

Alice asks Grant about her essay and Grant tells her it’s not going to be handed in; she looks at it then asks if Monroe is “him”, the one who killed her mother.

They get Monroe to answer the intercom but he tells the concierge to send his visitors up – everyone hides and Becky leaves Monroe with Grant holding the gun on him. At the door is Conran, banging to be let in. Grant passes the gun to Alice – and she shoots Monroe (that Crime and Punishment essay has sunk in it seems). And not to wound. Ian grabs Conran and holds him at knife point. Becky gently takes the gun from Alice who says “he killed my mum.” They leave, taking Conran with them

Time for Donaldson and Michael to dazzle us. We get Donaldson’s back story – he discovered SARs didn’t exist. He investigated and found a lot of unconnected respiratory illnesses but no link –and was promptly discredited and shunned thanks to the Network followed up by him being fired and then framed in a sex scandal (well, more that his cocaine and prostitute usage was exposed).

Donaldson tests Michael’s bit of finger – but Michael won’t leave it with him over night. And when Michael returns he finds the doctor claiming everything’s ok (very unconvincingly) and trying to leave hurriedly. They wrestle and Michael wins – the results are chemical poisoning, there is no Russian flu. Donaldson wanted to use the results to make money – presumably by extorting the Network. This strikes me as a bad bad bad idea.

What does Michael do with this information? Go to the press? Spread the info? No he goes to his boss Geoff and shows him it, demanding they release Anya or it’ll be spread far and wide. (Geoff realises it’s the child – Anya is pregnant with his child and Michael and his wife are struggling using IVF).

Geoff most certainly isn’t going to release Anya – especially since Michael is being so predictable they need more levers over him. And to point that out he calls up a picture of Michael’s wife Jen and has his man wave to the camera – ready to give Jen a folder full of lots of pictures of Michael and Anya having sex, a lurid DVD and a scan of Anya’s baby.

That night Michael returns home – and finds that Jen has received the package and is watching the lurid DVD while holding the baby ultrasounds.

One thing I kind of like about the show is how inept people are. I know that sounds odd – but Becky was a student, Ian an IT consultant and Wilson seemed to be professionally paranoid. Michael is a civil servant, Donaldson tests food in a pet food factory. They’re not spies. They’re not secret agents. They’re not professional. They’re bumbling and emotional and desperate and irrational. Because they’re ordinary people in an incredible situation

Then there’s Jessica and Arby who are hurting, clearly shown sometimes with nothing more than facial expressions but excellently conveyed.

It’s so incredibly atmospheric and amazingly character driven. It has massive amounts of creepy and the conspiracy is unfolding in an extremely well done fashion really carrying the fear and horror of it. I’m really impressed

Also, I am laying odds that the Assistant is really Mr. Rabbit. Or is he too obvious?