Utopia Series 1, Episode 6 (2013)
Written by Dennis Kelly
Directed by Marc Munden
“Who We Are, Who We Become” is my unofficial title for this final episode of Utopia’s first season. Jessica Hyde has brought the manuscript to the runaways, and now it feels like all the pieces are coming together. But throughout this episode, we see characters either confirming they are who we always thought they were or revealing a turn and surprising us with their actual role. It’s the sort of surprise overload you would expect for a series finale of this sort of program. The paranoia is amped up, and bonds are either shredded entirely or strengthened through trust being revealed as earned.
Becky comes to realize she will be another victim of Deals despite her fighting against the symptoms. Her short encounter with Donaldson sees her chance to have medication to ease her pain evaporate. Donaldson also confirms what an insipid worm he indeed is, a character trait that will be amplified by a change in actors in the second season. Becky tries to get caught up in the idea that she and Ian can be happy together, but her first significant seizure from Deals is interpreted by her as a sign that she is damned.
Dugdale reveals three truths about himself. First, he is a natural parent. When Dugdale actually speaks to Alice since Grant’s capture, he truly listens to her when she reveals that she watched her mother get murdered. He comes to the decision that he and his wife will adopt Alice and we see that his journey to become a parent was something he actually wanted. On the flipside, we see that Dugdale can be vengeful. When the truth comes out about the child, he and his wife are waiting for we see him take brutal action, yet still feel some regret when he understands what he’s done. We also see he is a man who will do the right thing. His guilt about turning Grant over to the Network surfaces and he becomes a valuable ally to the runaways, particularly in discovering the identity of Mr. Rabbit.
Grant learns that, when the right pressure is applied, he can be a killer. Conran Letts’ assistant has Grant under threat of torturing his mother if he doesn’t complete a coded drawing he copied from the manuscript. Grant is pushed to his brink and takes a cue from Jessica Hyde. He discovers how quickly a weapon can be made from his surroundings, but he also has to go through a lot of psychological stress to work himself up to actually killing a person. For a twelve-year-old kid, this is a massive wound to his psyche and something that will continue to haunt him in the next series.
Wilson Wilson reveals what we could already see coming since he allowed Letts to escape. He fakes out letting the press know about the Janus virus and when the moment is right turns the table on Jessica. Where he is left at the end of series 1 brings a lot of questions, but don’t worry he’ll be back and looking for revenge in series 2. Along with Wilson, we have the multiple fakeouts and reveals surrounding Millner. I would argue she is one of the most crucial characters in series 2 and has one of the best stories in the entire run. That final turn by her is such a satisfying way to wrap up things and leave us clamoring for the next six episodes.
I haven’t mentioned this yet, but I really want to talk about how great the show’s soundtrack by Cristobal Tapia de Veer is one of the best things I’ve ever heard on a television program. He is a brilliant Chilean-born Canadian composer with a specialization in percussion. The music he produced for the show entirely matches the paranoid story happening on screen. It is made up of strange mouth pops, synthesized voices humming, and odd squicky wet noises. I would argue the music is the equivalent to feeling bugs crawling under your skin. Alongside the masterful direction of Marc Munden and colorist Aidan Ferrell, an atmosphere of otherworldliness is constructed. Utopia ends up being a story vitally relevant to our time, yet also like glimpsing a bizarre heightened parallel reality.
We won’t be looking at series 2 until June, but meet us back here when we do!