TV Review – Utopia Series 2, Episode 6

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Utopia Series 2, Episode 6 (2014)
Written by Dennis Kelly
Directed by Sam Donovan

utopia s2e6

The ending is finally here. The story, at least in the U.K. version, doesn’t continue from this point, so we have to examine what we are left with. In many ways, this episode is less the ending of the story than the aftermath of episode five. The core story of Carvel, his children, and Milner is over now and as this last chapter opens they are in a state of shock, the clock still counting down for the release of the Russian flu. In many ways this finale is focused around the idea of what happens with an extreme ideology is carried out to its inevitable ends.

Terrence, the sleeper, has awakened and is getting ready to meet up with his contacts and receive the locations of the canisters containing the virus. He delivers a monologue to a mother caring for her ill child in a bus terminal. In this speech, he lays out the Network’s clear ideological case, and it feels like he is rational and reasonable. But the Network has never taken into account alternate theories. The ideas of the Network are based on Malthusianism, which claims population is potentially exponential in growth while resources are linear. The only solution would be to curtail reproduction and allow pressure to be taken off of essential resources.

What is interesting about Malthusianism is that it doesn’t align with a single modern political ideology. You can find people as different as socialists and feminists that believe this is a dangerous path to go down and Libertarians and social conservatives join them. Cornucopians are one group that has a clear alternative solution to the problem of limited resources. They believe that through the progress of technology and the biological sciences that matter and energy can be recycled and repurposed to make adjustments for spikes in population growth. There is also a growing school of thought that argues resources are plentiful enough but have not been globally distributed equitably. The developed nations continue to possess the majority of wealth, food, and resources on the planet and so an argument has been made that with correct redistribution the types of suffering seen in the undeveloped nations could be alleviated to some extent. But therein lies a whole other host of problems and debates. Milner stated in this series that the Network knew of no other way than using Janus, but we know that there are some alternate population control/resource distribution theories out there. She and Terrence and now Wilson are closing their minds to the idea of an alternative. Why?

Because they have inflicted trauma upon themselves in the name of the cause. Wilson is a murderer now. Milner has been responsible for the deaths of thousands. Terrence has no purpose in life other than to be the bringer of death and what he believes will be salvation. Ian is pushed into a situation this episode where he becomes a murderer, having avoided this for so long. I was a bit disappointed that the episode never dealt with the trauma Alice must have after murdering the food executive in series one. Grant kills Milner, and we don’t ever really see him coming to terms with this either. Maybe if there had been a series three?

Throughout this series, Wilson is continually told that what he is doing isn’t him. Wilson doesn’t counter this statement until episode six when he tells Ian he isn’t sure who he is anymore. The series ends on a dire and bleak note as Wilson ritually mutilates himself to have the Chinese character for Rabbit, taking the reins of power. He makes the final move to sink into the darkness of the Network’s ideology; he closes off his mind to any other form of thought. We risk our humanity and our empathy when we come to value a dogma as the most fundamental thing in our lives. When self-reflection and critical thinking is abandoned then so too goes what makes us us. Then we no longer maintain a sense of self. Instead, we’re talking points steering an empty shell.

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