Utopia – Series 1, Episode 4 (2013)
Written by Dennis Kelly
Directed by Marc Munden
As I have come up with unofficial titles to these episodes so far, I feel compelled to do so with this one. It’s a toughie to pinpoint the exact theme on this chapter, but I think I would go with “We Become What We Hate,” as the episode features many characters crossing that line and playing The Network’s game. People become killers, they engage in manipulation, and they find themselves struggling to survive. Relationships definitely begin to fray, and we see that our group on the run may not be able to hold together for much longer.
Dugdale is buried in it at this point. He has been meeting with disgraced scientist Donaldson who reveals that his career was ruined when he discovered that SARS was invented by The Network. Very few people contracted it, and very few people died from it. He has never been able to determine what the purpose of such a small scale controlled outbreak would be. Dugdale hands over the sample he obtained from the Shetland Islands and is promised he will be given the results in a few hours.
However, our intrepid civil servant has his head in this twisted espionage game and has finally learned to trust no one (™ X-Files). Of course, Donaldson is about to abscond with the results (no outbreak on the Shetland Islands, chemical poisoning to create the illusion of an epidemic). Donaldson’s plan to blackmail The Network is so comical, especially when he has seen that they don’t shy away from murder. What’s even more cringe-inducing is that Dugdale takes the results and tries to do the same thing with his superior at the Ministry of Health. The tables on turned on him in an intelligent and dire way. Duggy still hasn’t learned how to play at their level.
Ian, Becky, Grant, and Wilson are all engaged in various levels of deceit against each other. Grant is hiding pages of the manuscript in the manor home they are currently staked out in. Becky is making secret phone calls to an unseen benefactor about the medicine she is running low on. Ian leaves a note about going into town when he is actually staking out his brother. He’s steered off an obvious trap by the network thanks to Millner. She instructs Ian about the new paradigm he must embrace to survive. Here Ian is becoming a player in the game, learning that clandestine meetings in parking garages are every day and that he must always keep a lookout for counter agents hiding all around him. The level of paranoia is amped up.
Ironically, Wilson is the most earnest character of the bunch. When the crew is dealing with the hysterical Alice, who has just witnessed her mother’s murder, he very honestly offers up the solution of “putting a bullet in her head.” He’s not homicidal, he genuinely believes that it would be an act of mercy for her and would also protect the group. When they ambush a food corp executive they think is Mr. Rabbit, Wilson spies a newspaper that announces the death of his father, a fact the rest of his friends has been lying to him about. His level of anger over this betrayal is wholly justified, and he is entirely ready to take out his rage out on this man they have captured. But then the concierge calls from downstairs. And we get the unexpected visitor. And then Alice…oh poor Alice. She indeed becomes what she hates.
Finally, Arby flips on his handlers at Corvadt. He has seen the manuscript and his own place it, connecting his deep seeded feelings against the heinous acts he is being forced to perform. By the end of this episode, he has gone rogue, his path has crossed with Jessica’s again, and that brings us to the next chapter.