TV Review – Utopia Series 2, Episode 3

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Utopia Series 2, Episode 3 (2014)
Written by Dennis Kelly
Directed by Marc Munden


There is a universal human tendency to value the lives of your loved ones over the lives of others, particularly strangers. You’ll commonly hear new parents express that they have a sudden sense that they would die for their newborn children. People will make drastic moves to protect their loved ones even in the face of death. But we don’t see often is what a person will do when it comes to harming another in the name of saving their loved one. Would you be willing to kill to protect the people you love? Not kill someone who intends harm, but someone whose continued life might put your family in jeopardy. This is an innocent, for all intents and purposes, who isn’t an immediate threat, but could become one. Would you kill them?

Utopia is famous for its spectacular cold opens, and this episode is no slouch. We find Lee at Ian’s place of work attempting to plant evidence on the hard drive of his computer that will implicate him as a terrorist. However, Ian’s boss stops by interrupting Lee’s Sunday morning scheme. The boss refuses to buy the story Lee gives about being an inspector with the police so Lee must dispatch him. It’s a spectacular kill scene with a box cutter and shows just how hard it is to kill a human being. The boss doesn’t drop like a limp sack of potatoes. He gasps for air while spraying blood all over desks and the floor. Lee eventually has to make use of a fire extinguisher to finish the man off.

Petrie is protecting the runaways this time plus Donaldson. We see them implementing the same protocols taught to them by Jessica Hyde in series one. Petrie is still a figure of apprehension for them all, notably Grant who witnessed the executions of Bejan and Alice’s mother firsthand. Petrie is displaying a more profound gentleness this time around, telling the crew to take Grant out of the room if he has to resort to violence. “There are some things a young boy just shouldn’t see.” Petrie claims at one point he is “turning over a new leaf” as he offers the group a breakfast of quinoa, a meal he previously remarked to Lee was a “superfood.” Petrie is attempting to repair his whole being with what he eats and what he does and how he makes amends to his previous victims. His confrontation with Lee near the end of the episode highlights this change because he doesn’t outright kill his former partner. He is willing to turn over Grant, Ian, Becky, and Donaldson in exchange for the safety of his girlfriend and daughter. Petrie will sacrifice the innocent for his own.

Jessica is also undergoing a transformation. She escapes the clutches of the Network in a spectacularly visceral fashion and goes right back into survival mode. There’s is one catch this time though, her time with the runaways awakened a sense of family in her, and now Jessica has an urge for domesticity. She wants a partner, maybe a child. She and Petrie are in the midst of recovering from past trauma. As seen in Series 2, Episode 1, Jessica and Petrie are the product of a profoundly abusive and unstable man, Philip Carvel. Petrie has little value to the Network beyond his previous lack of empathy and the way he is developing makes him increasingly useless to them. Jessica, however, has the secret of Janus within her, so this makes things more complicated in her search for peace. Fiona O’Shaughnessy does such a spectacular job conveying Jessica’s physical strength and indomitable survival skills but also her emotional instability and lack of social conventions. As Gillian Flynn develops Utopia for Amazon, this has to be the most critical and challenging role to cast and honestly I would say just hire O’Shaughnessy.

There are two tense and near-breaking partnerships featured in this episode: Becky & Ian and Wilson & Lee. Becky hasn’t come clean to Ian about everything she was doing during series one and Ian still holds a little too kind of an image of her in his head. This all comes crashing down when Donaldson decides to spring the knowledge that Becky was secretly working to steal the Utopia manuscript for him back in series one. It’s is in the middle of their argument that another bombshell is dropped by a third party whose reveal promises to shake everything up for good.

Wilson is forced into a partnership with Lee by Millner who needs them to track down Becky, Ian, and Grant. Wilson protests but is told to just follow orders. Lee promises that they aren’t even and Wilson eventually pulls a gun on him but doesn’t have the gumption to go through with it. Lee has a gun pulled on him a second time by Petrie and how he reacts tells us a lot about how Lee reads a person. Wilson’s attempt is met with bemusement, Lee tells Wilson he knows he won’t hurt him because he just isn’t that sort of person. When Petrie pulls a gun on him but doesn’t fire Lee remarks that the fact he’s still alive means Petrie wants to negotiate.

Three characters showcase devotion this episode. The previously mentioned Petrie, who is willing to give up the people he is protecting for the people he loves is one. The other two are Dugdale and Millner. Dugdale is confronted by a researcher for the Ministry who has found glaring discrepancies in the Russian flu vaccine testing. Dugdale covertly gets her to meet with him outside of work and explains about The Network and their agenda. They manage to the smallest of vaccine samples and test it in her home lab and find a protein present that should not be there. Dugdale has a decision to make at this moment, and the one he goes with is to call The Network and have this researcher killed and her work destroyed. He has a family he has to protect.

Millner is revealed as having feelings for Carvel this episode. No longer is there any question about the nature of their relationship. She delays the dissection of Jessica for so long the woman escapes, and Millner blatantly states its because Jessica is the last piece of Carvel she has left. The rollout of V Day is put on hold until it must occur because Millner is so caught up in her personal drama over Jessica and Carvel. But in the end, she succumbs to The Network and performs her duty.

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