Thursday, August 7, 2014

Utopia, Season 2, Episode 5

We start with Terrence wgho apparently has a miserable job in a fast food restaurant dealing with some awful people.

Except when he goes home he prints out news stories of all of the men who killed their families after spreading the deadly flu and lays them out. On each he puts a large sum of money in the denomination of the country they news is from and a passport. He also pulls out a gun – all from a Network-style yellow bag.

Over to the gang or what is left of it – Ian is determined to get Grant back while Becky is sensible and points out how dangerous Pietre is – and how Ian certainly can’t take him on with a curtain pole; but also Pietre being so deadly means he probably doesn’t want Grant or them dead – or they would be.

Becky and Ian also have the dead translator to deal with – or dispose of – with it’s own little moral quandary. While doing that, Becky sees the news of Ian’s brother’s death. And Ian being suspected of it. Ian has an amazingly well acted response of shock and horror and grief (especially since his mother thinks he did it).

The next morning Ian bricks up the translator into the walls and Becky has a little horrified moment about the whole thing. Either because of Deels syndrome or her own guilt, she hallucinates the dead man talking to her and playing gross games with the hole in his head. She goes to Ian and discusses her disease – basically that it will get worse, her medicine isn’t great and at some point she will want to choose suicide while she is still capable of it: and she wants him to help

And at Michael’s house he and Jessica have taken Milner hostage. Michael is shocked to realise who Milner is and talks about what a killer she is while she comments on a news story as tensions around the world escalate, going her usual doing what must be done route – and adding that Jen and Alice (hostages meant to keep Michael in check) are going to die because of him if he doesn’t free her. The news also shows Jessica the news about Ian’s brother’s murder.

While Jessica decides to go after her dad and Ian, Michael is worried about Jen and Alice. Jessica advises him to go visit and carry a mobile – he protests that they always search him. So she tells him to shove it up his arse (quite seriously), also that he shouldn’t use a big one.

He takes her advice. But as he leaves he runs into Ian with a knife, his protests and Becky’s gentle words talk Ian down who is obviously rather overwrought. They sit and talk and bring Michael up to speed with what they learned from Anton and Michael’s knowledge about who Mr. Rabbit is

Leah gets the kidnap photograph Jessica took – and shows it to Wilson. The problem now is that Milner leads – through secrecy and convoluted means (hence why no-one knows who Mr. Rabbit is) and Leah knows… some of it. Wilson decides they can use that; they are now Mr. Rabbit.

Just to make things more complicated for them, Geoff, their politician tool, is watching their machinations destroy his career and is rather irate about it – he sends a blackmail demand to Leah. Leah and Wilson consult Geoff about the silly demand and he, of course, advises they pay it for the sake of Janus. Wilson and Leah are not fooled for a second.

But following the clue from the picture Jessica sent, Wilson finds where they are and is able to send armed police to track down Ian, Becky and Michael.

With Wilson there they realise how deep Wilson is, how he knows about all the deaths that will come from the actual virus and he is still going ahead. When Ian reveals he knows about Milner being Mr. Rabbit, Wilson has Lee leave (he’s lurking in the background in case torture is needed). Using that shocking revelation and Ian’s rage over his brother dying, they send the Utopia page that Phillip/Anton altered to Wilson’s people to analyse to try and reveal the eugenics changes Phillip put in Janus.

While they wait, Wilson tries to be friendly. Becky’s contemptuous look could have made a rhino skulk off in shame. He tries with Ian but, given the whole brother murder, that doesn’t go well either

Leah returns looking rather upset. Because the page does show the adjustment Phillip/Anton made and something worse.

This is an organisation willing to kill hundreds of thousands to force the human race to sterilise itself possibly among racial lines. “Much much worse” is going to be freaking apocalyptic.

Of course, they could be lying because stopping Janus requires them finding Milner to stop her/it.

First they have to help Michael get Jen and Alice out – which begins with him sneaking the phone to them. Then the plan all goes to pot because of Alice’s fear of heights but it works out when they incapacitate and threaten the guard (he isn’t intimidated by Michael. Jen, however? Jen can do intimidating. And stabbing).

Garth is with Pietre and Anton and Pietre gives him his cover story; he also disapproves of Grant talking about killing – Grant claims he’s just like Pietre, Pietre denies this but refuses to say why. They walk off into the winter countryside  Pietre is enjoying his father/son outing with Anton – and so is Garth. With Pietre. Pietre also disapproves of Garth’s swearing – so garth does it more to random passers by which provokes Pietre, with more of the difficult Garth trying to be like Pietre. This confusing father/son emulation relationship just becomes more heartfelt and poignant when confused Anton decides that Garth is his son, Pietre.

Milner is still Jessica’s captive and tries to get under Jessica’s skin – it seems to work to a degree… but it’s a dangerous game to play.

Pietre has Garth pretend to be him to communicate with his father (which, yes, is uber creepy) and learns that Phillip/Anton left Pietre because he “wasn’t human.” The questioning is interrupted by Jessica and Milner – Jessica pointing a gun at Pietre’s head and asking “where’s dad?” Oh Pietre’s face to know his sister is back!

She has Garth hold Pietre at gun point (which Pietre isn’t happy about – they’re family! Awwwww, Pietre, you murderering monster, how a school shooter makes me want to hug him and take him home I don’t know)

Jessica goes to see Anton/Phillip and cries, asking what he did to her. He recognises her, greets her and hugs her even while she pulls a knife on him for touching her – but when he says “I love you” she drops the knife.

Milner decides to work on Pietre – who is poleaxed watching the affection between his sister and his father (the father who just said he was a monster) and how much Jessica ruined everything.

They try to talk to Phillip/Anton to get details of the adjustment but he has sunk back into confusion – and Jessica trusts Pietre enough to give him a gun. Alas, they also decide to let Miolner speak alone to Phillip/Anton since it makes him rational (Milner briefly tries to get into Grant’s head but Grant is a bit too full of anger for it). There he reveals what he did – he began with an almost scientific approach to picking which race he wished to be spared Janus – picking one with the lowest rate of long term diseases like cancer. But in the end, emotion won out and he chose his own race – Roma. Milner’s still on board so long as it keeps going to plan. Which means moving on with the plan

Phillip/Anton returns to Garth and takes the gun – Garth runs. He then goes to Jessica and Pietre who are having sibling bonding moments. He shoots Pietre. He yells at Jessica to run, then fires at her as well. She falls down a ridge and disappears. Phillip returns to Milner, frees her and kisses her.

Jessica runs with Pietre and tries to keep him alive

Wilson catches up with Milner and Phillip and he tries to convince Milner to reverse the command to release Janus because of the lack of random selection. She refuses, she doesn’t agree with the racial selection, but thinks it’s still best to go ahead. Except there’s also another problem he didn’t mention. Janus has a side effect - it stops the Russian Flu Vaccine from working. So the plague they’re unleashing to get everyone vaccinated won’t be stopped by Janus. The only people who will be saved from this devastating, weaponised flu that Milner has already unleashed on the world will be the Roma. He says he did it for Jessica because he loved her so much. Milner protests that they tested it – but they tested it on Jessica who is, of course, Roma.

Wilson gives her a phone so she can stop it… she takes the phone and sets it in motion. Because to bring about Janus she’s willing to see hundreds of millions die. Wilson can’t tolerate it and points a gun at her she points out she’s the only one who can stop it – so he points the gun at Phillip. Milner steps in the way

And she’s shot. Not by Wilson, by Grant. He disarms Wilson, has him on his knees and prepares to execute him – when Ian jumps in the way. Between his words and Phillip’s desperate grief over Milner’s death, Grant lowers the gun and cries in Ian’s arms

Back to Terrence from the beginning of the episode, who got the call from Milner. He leaves his job and takes his bag of dofferent identities and money

Anton, Pietre and Garth is a wonderfully complex and difficult group. We have seen how much Garth is hurting, how scared he is, how lost and even how guilty – then along comes Pietre. Tough, invincible, icily calm at all times, powerful – everything Garth wants to be at the moment. Garth latching on is really understandable and excellently portrayed. Especially since it plays into Pietre’s own wounds, his insecurity about his father (who always seemed to prefer Jessica to his damaged son) and desperately trying to connect with him

3 very hurting, confused and rather lost people seeking a connection and it was done so well. And creepily. And there’s Grant all ready to become Pietre, to follow in his footsteps – when Ian intervenes

And Pietre may be a murderer who has killed children but I still want to hold him and tell him it will be all alright.

Which is part of the very powerful acting on this show which sells every moment of pain (like Ian’s grief and Garth and Jessica) every moral conflict (Milner and Wilson) and a whole lot of creeping dread (Becky) and just terrifying creepiness (Jessica and Pietre) so very well – and helps sell the whole conflict and difficult complexity of this show in general.

Wilson’s morality is an interesting part of that. He has accepted a brutal and horrific ends justifies the means. Like Milner, he genuinely thinks he is saving humanity from itself, that all the appalling things he has done, that she has done, is justified by the result that will save them all. With the ongoing hints of a grim future in the news, we can see they’re not just scaremongering when he covers the horrendousness of the future of scarce resources

But it is worth wondering where he draws the line. He agreed with thousands dying from the plague. He agreed with hundreds of thousands. But draws the line at millions. What is the upper limit of acceptable death in Wilson’s vision of saving the human race? How many people is it ok to kill? Aren’t his lines very arbitrary?

Now to the grossness that cannot be talked about as just moral depth and complexity. It is grossly not ok to draw direct comparisons with the holocaust – to invoke the concentration camp number on Anton’s arm – and then turn him into the perpetrator of mass, racial genocide. Appropriation is never ok, but it’s a special kind of sickening to make the victims of such horrors the perpetrators of it (also, given the huge diversity throughout the Roma diaspora and the numerous Roma and Sinti groups within, I’m also leery as to how much that would work).

It’s not even just the mass sterilisation which would be appalling enough, but it’s outright wilful, engineered murder. Having genocide victims be the instigators of world wide racial genocide is not even close to ok.