Revisiting Utopia – Series 1, Episode 6

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Utopia Series 1, Episode 6 (2013)
Written by Dennis Kelly
Directed by Marc Munden
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“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.

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Revisiting Utopia – Series 1, Episode 5

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Utopia Series 1, Episode 5 (2013)
Written by Dennis Kelly
Directed by Marc Munden

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An easy unofficial title for this one: “Deals.” And this is a title that works on multiple levels. The easiest is that much of this episode addresses the fictional Deal’s disease that has been spoken about during the series. Becky’s father died from it, and now she fears she inherited it from him. Each character is also making deals with people they probably shouldn’t but are forced to as an act of survival. As we push into the finale, we see alliances crumbling, new ones forming, and everyone being pushed further to the brink.

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Movie Review – The Incident

The Incident (2014)
Written & Directed by Isaac Ezban

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Two brothers have been caught red-handed committing an undescribed crime. They are ambushed by a police officer who directs them down the stairwell of their apartment building to his car. However, on the way, a loud boom sounds from somewhere outside, and suddenly they find themselves caught in a looping stairwell without end or beginning. A family sets out to drop off the kids with their father while mom and stepdad are headed to the beach. On the road, they hear a loud boom and then find themselves on an infinitely looping stretch of highway. What is happening? Why are these people trapped?

It is literally impossible to discuss this film without spoilers so if you don’t want to know what happens, turn back now. The film is on Netflix, come back after you have watched it.

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Revisiting Utopia – Series 1, Episode 4

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Utopia – Series 1, Episode 4 (2013)
Written by Dennis Kelly
Directed by Marc Munden

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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.

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Revisiting Utopia – Season 1, Episode 2

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Utopia Series 1, Episode 2 (2013)
Written by Dennis Kelly
Directed by Marc Munden

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Episode Two comes out of the gate ready to lay the first real building blocks of the series mythos. We are introduced to The Network, a Cold War-era response by the West to Soviet Bloc countries building up arsenals of chemical weapons. The obvious question after learning about their existence would be, why are they still around then? That answer is not laid out in any sort of clear way this chapter, but their new agenda is hinted at. Outside of the core “gang on the run” cast, we have the background story of the Ministry of Health’s purchase of Russian flu vaccine coming under scrutiny and then a very convenient outbreak in the Shetland Islands. This helps flip the script on the government incompetence story and turn the Ministry into forward-thinking heroes.

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Revisiting Utopia – Season 1, Episode 1

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Utopia Series 1, Episode 1 (2013)
Written by Dennis Kelly
Directed by Marc Munden

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The first time I watched Utopia I knew I was going to have to binge watch the whole thing. It is rare that a television series in this polished, this sure of itself, and this damn good. Utopia gets dark, incredibly dark and it lets you know that from its opening scene (more on that in a minute). And it is a profoundly relevant show still five years out, talking about big ideas that are continuing to cast doubt on the future of humanity. Instead of framing this concept huge from the outset, the creators keep things small and intimate. The characters are where the story of Utopia starts and stays throughout its all too short run. And when you get to the end, you won’t forget those characters.

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Movie Review – Under the Skin

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Under the Skin (2014)
Written by Walter Campbell & Jonathan Glazer
Directed by Jonathan Glazer

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In the middle of the night, in a desolate stretch of road in the Scottish Highlands, an alien being arrives on our planet. This being is not here to bring a message of peace or even start a war with Earth. Her purpose is to harvest humans for consumption by her species. This involves driving around and picking up men who are alone, bringing them back to a facade of a home, and preserving them in a gelatinous liquid until they are processed. A problem begins to arise as the being starts to become interested in the emotions and experiences of these people. She finds them welcoming and warm and suddenly has an abrupt internal change of mind. But she is not a human, and this cold fact will inevitably take her down a tragic path.

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