Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Utopia Season 1, Episode 5

A lot happened last week, leaving the gang in the abandoned mansion with Conran tied to a chair. And Becky meets her contact at last – it’s Donaldson, the scientists that Michael has been working for – and he has medication for her. She does have the same disease as her father, the one her father died from, the one the Network created. Donaldson tells Becky that when Jessica gave up the manuscript to Arby, she took some pages – and he wants Becky to get him those pages. And if she doesn’t, he’s going to stop giving her medication – and he hasn’t given her much to last

In the house, Alice is getting on as if nothing happened – despite her mother being murdered and she having just killed a guy. Becky tries to get her to talk but Alice is wonderfully calm in a very very very creepy way

They check Conran for a Rabbit scar – and he doesn’t have one. He isn’t Mr. Rabbit. They ask him about the vaccine, claiming they know about the protein and Janus; though Conran finds the whole idea of trying to wipe out specific races to be ludicrous to the point of being laughable. Wilson doesn’t have any patience for laughter – what with having lost an eye and his father and Ian has to make him back off Conran. He rants at Ian about him not having lost someone – and Conran hears his name and realises who they others are.

He recognises them – and tells them they were given a phone with a tracking device in it. A phone given to them by Milner, the MI5 agent. The Network has always known where they are – which Conran realises means he’s been abandoned since no-one has come to rescue him.

There’s a brief debate on whether Milner is actually working for the Network (Ian thinks no since she saved him) and after Conran asks about Becky’s health (he worked so hard on Deals – the disease she has), she asks why he did it. It was an experiment to see if they could make a disease that was inherited – they didn’t care what it did. Becky’s outraged that he calls the death of her father a success and Ian brings up the eugenics again – prompting Conrad to go on a rant. It’s not about genocide – it’s about the population of the planet swelling from 2 billion to 7 billion in his lifetime. It’s about rising food prices (we’ve seen news reports throughout the series about food shortages and rising prices) and dwindling oil – and how humankind will obviously not share.

Janus is their answer. A protein and an amino acid that do nothing until brought together. When brought together they render the person infertile and that trait is inherited (I have to question why it is required to make infertility an inherited trait, but I assume that it’s not complete infertility). Janus is designed to sterilise the entire human race. It affects 95% of the population, leaving 1 in 20 fertile. They imagine within a century the population would be reduced to 500 million. After which normal breeding will resume on a more open planet.

Ian isn’t impressed but Conran turns back his accusation of being genocidal – that not doing anything is genocidal. He says a third of the world’s farmland is now ruined because of soil degradation but more people are being born – and adds how wonderful for the planet Ghengis Khan was because if he hadn’t slaughtered millions of people and given the world chance to recover, there’d be a billion more people in the world today.

Janus does that without violence – of course Wilson brings up his own torture and his murdered father and Conran admits he has that and a thousand other crimes on his conscience – but without that he sees a world reduced to a desert.

They’re testing it because they’re not as brilliant as Carville (Jessica’s dad) but they’ve nearly repeated his work. But they need the manuscript to be sure they have correctly repeated his work. Ian and Becky ignore him – but Wilson stuns them by asking isn’t Conran right? Ian and Becky shout him down – but Wilson holds to his guns – if Conran is right and they stop the Network, what does that make them.

Over to Michael and his wife Jen and wedded turmoil after she got her care package of Michael’s visits to now-pregnant prostitute, Anya (and they’re having IVF since Jen can’t conceive, just to twist that knife a little deeper). Jen asks if Anya wants the child – and hearing “probably not”, it looks like Jen is considering adopting the baby – since it is Michael’s child and needs a home. I’m glad that Jen confirmed that Anya didn’t want the child first – and rejects her being trafficked and pimped as “employment”.

At Corvadt headquarters, Michael’s boss, Geoff, is horrified to hear that Conran has been taken – and with the vaccine, but the Assistant (who is awesome, cool and evil) is not perturbed , they’re too far along for it to matter – and he sees no reason to bring Conran back, why would they? What he is far more concerned about is Michael, the information he has and his willingness to blackmail – and he criticises Geoff for how he handled him (though Geoff is shocked that Michael, a civil servant, actually had the guys to do anything).  The Assistant orders Geoff to end him – and Geoff gets all touchy about being ordered around, being a minister and all.

On to Jessica who is having horrific nightmares about her horrific childhood. Which was horrific. Watched by the restrained Arby. Duly recovered she takes Arby for a drive to where he’s hidden the Manuscript, being sure that he knows she will torture him horribly if she has to to make him talk. He gives her instructions – which include ordering a greasy all day breakfast in his local (in the middle of nowhere). Jessica is bemused and a little annoyed but he points out – rule 1, eat and keep your strength up. He talks to her and Jessica has that dawning realisation on her face as it becomes clear that Arby doesn’t think like most other people and that he’s trying to make friends with her. Being Jessica she responds with hostility, condemning the food and the idea that a roadside café can be anyone’s local. Arby calls her cranky.

Back at the mansion, Becky is alone with Conran who starts playing on her fears of Deals disease and her working with Donaldson for medicine. After a couple of carefully crafted remarks he tells her Donaldson wants to sell them the manuscript – but Becky should be the one who gives them it and then the Network can look after her. Becky starts to walk out and runs into Wilson who presents a new plan…

Ian wants to take the vaccine to Milner – once Becky and he decide whose side Milner is on. While Wilson plans to “persuade” Conran to talk to them and reveal Mr. Rabbit and he should be the one who does it since he’s been tortured himself. Becky’s more than a little shocked – but she and Ian go, taking Alice and Grant with them so they don’t have to hear what’s happening.

They go to see Milner and show her the phone, which she knew about. She claims to be working with the Network but not on their side – she handed their location over but knew that the Network wouldn’t go after them because they needed the Manuscript. Ian asks her to give them one reason to trust her.

So she shows them Jake, her son, unconscious in bed dying from Deals disease, the same disease Becky fears. Becky suggests giving Milner the vaccine they got from Conran to investigate but Ian points out the Network knows about her. Milner agrees – her saving Ian tipped them off – and the Network is coming for her. She plans to commit suicide along with her son. While Becky tries to process that with more horror, Milner gives Ian a name to go to –Michael Dugdale in the department of health. Yes, the Michael, married to Jen and sleeping with Anya Michael – who she thinks is also fighting the Network.

Becky tells her to run but Jake can’t run – she asks for time alone with him before the end and they leave. Ian tries to reassure Becky that her Deals may not have been triggered – but she walks off in silent.

Michael meets up with Geoff, outside of work, so Geoff can see if his little intimidation package works. Geoff seems to have lost some of his suave edge, looks like the criticism of the Assistant hit a nerve. Michael refuses to be intimidated – he’s going to keep the info he has so he doesn’t end up dead and Geoff is going to buy his silence with £350,000 per year – why Michael, blackmail? I never knew you had it in you! And he wants Anya out of prison and he and Jen want to meet with her. Now, today.  And Michael… bends and agrees that it may be acceptable. I’m cheering on a blackmailer – bad Utopia! Bad messing with my ethics! Bad!

Back to Jessica and Arby while Arby describes his unpleasant childhood, how early trauma has made him “disconnected” – as he takes her to the tree Jessica was having dreams about. Jessica breathes heavily in a panic attack as he tells her that he killed Christophe, the man who raised Jessica. He graphically describes how he tortured him and how Arby was only 15 at the time and that Christophe loved Jessica so much he didn’t talk. Arby wanted her to know she was loved. Arby really fails at emotional comfort.

He then gives her a choice – kill him in revenge for Christophe, or let him take her to the manuscript, what is left of her father. If she wants the latter, she has to trust him, he won’t takes her while she holds a gun on him. Jessica throws away the gun and hisses that she doesn’t need a gun to kill him.

At the mansion, Wilson goes into the room with Conran who begins to panic and cry and beg. Wilson moves behind him – and cuts his ropes. He tells him “you’re right, it’s better than genocide.” And lets him go. Conran gives him his Assistants contact details if Wilson gets the manuscript and leaves – Wilson stabs himself in the stomach to fake an escape.

At a prison, Jen and Michael meet Anya and Jen tells her that she will be freed. And Jen lay out her plan – they take Anya, keep her safe for the pregnancy’s duration and then she and Michael will raise her child. They will pay her £250,000 and Jen promises to love the baby – but Anya will not be able to see the child again.

Back to Jessica and Arby where Arby takes her to where he has hidden the Manuscript. There are two people outside, passers by – and Arby rams them in the car, gets out and pulls a gun (which he picked up, unbeknownst to Jessica, from the roadside café) and kills them both – Network agents. He goes into the building, a large abandoned complex, and it’s all set out and prepared by him before hand. He moves around lighting fires and barricades he’s already prepared.

Just in case we forgot what a dangerous man Arby is and, despite his deliberate ways, he is most certainly not stupid.

Arby takes her to the room he grew up in, the cell, and shows her a stone he has. An ancient stone that Jessica’s father gave her (she has one just like it) that he said gave Arby permission to do whatever he wanted – because the age of the rock proves they’re nothing more than a blink of an eye. Arby says he was the first person Corville experimented on – and says he was Corville’s son and the experiments went wrong. There’s an explosion and Arby adds that he has the manuscript but Jessica shouldn’t take it – don’t find out the truth like he did. She points a gun at him and demands it – and he shows her where it’s hidden.

She then leaves – without killing him.

Becky meets up with Donaldson and she smacks him for selling the manuscript to people who plan to sterilise the world. Donaldson hits back with some reality – if they sterilise the planet what does she think will happen to them as they get older? The Network says it’s not genocide but there’s going to be no pension plans or healthcare on a planet with no young people; without wealth you will die in the future if you are old. Becky says all the more reason to stop it but Donaldson counters that he doesn’t want to – because he thinks they’re right. She refuses to help him – but he gives her an ultimatum: he will be back tomorrow at noon with every last ounce of her medicine she owns. If she isn’t there, he’ll throw it in the lake.

Ian, Grant and Alice go to see Michael with their vaccine sample. And Ian tells them what it does (extra poignant for Michael since he and Jen have been fighting so hard to have children). He goes to call Donaldson to pass the vaccine on – but he keeps looking guiltily at his wife who is watching him the whole time, He agrees to pass the vaccine on and arranges to meet Ian again.

But as they leave they run into armed police (Michael seems to have called them) they run out the back door, Ian carrying Alice as the police capture Grant (who they still think is guilty of a school massacre).

Becky returns to the mansion to find Wilson on the floor with his knife wound.

Jessica reads the manuscript.

Conran returns to his office, staggering in to see the Assistant and Geoff; Geoff wants to know what Conran told them. Geoff keeps asking, Conran keeps lying until the Assistant tells him to finish him – he’s served his purpose and is now a liability. He gives Geoff a rope (he’s not going to do it himself now, is he?) and tells him that Conran’s medical records have been altered to show a history of depression. And the Assistant makes it clear it’s not a request, it’s an order.

Aaargh, someone’s dropped a huge terrifying ethical quandary into the middle of my evil conspiracy theory! The Network completely evil – so absolutely, horrifically evil killing and torturing and maiming and experimenting on people. Of course they’re evil and must be stopped.

And then Conran asks “and what’s your answer?” Damn, here’s a show that will do terrible things to your mind and thinking.

But then Donaldson turns round and really skewers the whole idea of it not being genocide – because in a world without young people you doom the majority of the population to a helpless, poverty wracked old age.

And then there’s Arby and Jessica, so dangerous, so deadly, so broken, so pitiable – scary and villainous and cruel and hurting… damn they’re so well acted and presented and so conflicted.

And so many people are hanging sides, but can we really condemn any of them? (Except maybe Donaldson). I mean, Wilson because he agrees with the Network – can you call him a naïve fool when he is more a victim than any of them? Michael who has just got his family back together and on the right track (though I hate that Anya has been turned into a forced surrogate. For a while I thought she was actually being cared for and protected, valued – but in the end she was valued for her womb and nothing more).

It’s a complex, heavy and very emotionally charged show.